Prison ministry takes on a different perspective then other ministries because it actually has so many facets where you can minister. It simply cannot be categorized into one area of service.
Before you can apply techniques you must be sure that this is the purpose or calling on your life. If you do not understand that you will not succeed in this type of ministry.
According to Isaiah 61:1-3: “The Spirit of The Lord God is upon me; because The Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek; He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of The Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint to them that mourn in Zion, to give to them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of The Lord, that He might be glorified.”
Your first question or statement might be, “I don’t believe in God, so can I still do prison ministry?” Remember I said prison ministry has many facets. There are other areas you can work that you will not have contact with the inmates. The decision is completely up to you! The techniques that I am referencing to are from the spiritual side.
What is a prison? A building (or vessel) in which people are legally held as a punishment for crimes they have committed or while awaiting trial. Yes there are people who are innocent. Sometimes they were in the wrong place at the wrong. However once you are confined you are subject to all the rules of the facility and some that are not. As the old saying goes, “Do as I say not what I do!” That is in regards to the rules. When you are inside a prison or jail, what the deputy says is the law. The facility is maintained in a way that should make you never want to return. The conditions are VERY horrible and the rules are many. It is also very dangerous inside the prison or jail. You must be conscience of your surroundings at all times. Remember prison ministry is not a game and it takes dedication and determination to minister. You cannot apply techniques if your mind and heart is not committed.
What are techniques? Techniques are a way of carrying out a particular task, skill or ability in a particular field. It is your approach to how to accomplish something. Others have experienced similar situations and found what really works and they share them with others. That is what techniques are. Simply put, a way to do things effectively!
Technique #1 you must be strong in your faith! This is very important because the inmates can sense your sincerity in their well being. How? You must study your Word, know your Word, be able to define your Word, express your Word to name a few and be able to attest to your faith and not stray to other faiths. In order words, do not get in a debate against one faith as oppose to another. As it is said in the world, “Stay in your lane!” Remember you can’t teach what you don’t know!
Technique #2 put together a team. You should be like believers with the same goals or purpose.
According to Matthew 6:24: “No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one; and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
Putting together a team of like believers gives you strength and the security you need to go on units where the inmates have free access to you. Sometimes a large group of inmates are released to be in your church service or class. It is not safe to be alone. Women should NEVER teach/preach to men alone and vice versa. Men should NEVER be with a group of women alone. This is not a good practice because you always want to be a blessing and not a curse. A curse because you can get accused of acts you did not do. To alleviate that – practice ALWAYS having someone with you. You did not ask but again men can accuse men and women can accuse women. It is not worth your ministry to be sabotaged by lies or accusations.
I Thessalonians 5:22: “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”
If you practice team work you will have a successful ministry.
Technique #3 let yes mean yes and let no mean No! I cannot express that enough. The chaplains are depending on you and the inmates are expecting you to come. Some of the inmates only see outsiders when they go to a class or service. It is more than a class or service to them. It is a touch of reality or life with the “Free World!”
These techniques WORK! Apply them to your ministry and you are on your way.