Minister's Study

Ministering, writing, and wrestling in a land flowing with sweet tea and deep-fried food

Saturday, February 23, 2008

They let me out again. Two of them.

Certain old friends of mine might say that it's tempting fate for me to be involved in jail or prison ministry. But I did both yesterday, and they both let me out again!

Both sorts of ministry are a surprising blessing, though I'm sure it's helping quite a bit that I'm building on foundations already established with those ministries, with the help and guidance of men who are very experienced in them. I tend to do a lot of discipleship-related work at the jail, answering questions and dealing with concrete issues one-on-one, or in a small group of interested men. It's such a pleasure to deal with people who are listening because they want to, because they've seen the difference Bible truth can make in their life.

At the prison, it's more of a formal preaching service when I go (they have an informal Bible study on Saturday). I've only been out there twice, but it's so much fun going to prison, I wish I could do it more often! The men out there are again in that service, not because their mom expects them to show, or because they won't look good in the community if they're not part of a respected church -- they're present because they want to hear what you have to say. They read and study their Bibles on their own, and they're enthusiastic in the services. They seem genuinely pleased that I'm there, and it's a genuine pleasure to be there. Especially since I can leave when I'm done.

Strangely, I fell a greater freedom in preaching while I'm there than I often do in my own pulpit. It's a narrower audience, most dealing with the same issues in life, rather than the broad range I face on a Sunday morning. Many of these men are also able to receive and benefit from things much meatier and deeper than many who casually attend church on a Sunday morning. Sure, there's the spectators there too, there's the first-time visitors -- but the bulk of the group knows their Bible, knows the hard side of life, and they want something real from the Bible to take back to their lives.


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