Friday, June 13, 2014

Jail. I don't like it.

Student ministry.  I love lots of things about student ministry.  I love camps, retreats, weekly youth group, sitting at McD's with a group of students, high fiving and fist bumping students in the lobby at church on Sunday morning, writing messages and small group discussion, whooping them in foosball, laser tag, mini golf, bowling, parties, the list could go on and on.

This is the part of youth ministry I don't like.  I don't like going to jail.  It's not something I look forward to for a few reasons:
A.  I feel like I need to shower when I leave (I keep hand sanitizer in the jeep)
B.  It's not in my comfort zone
C.  It means a teenager has made some very poor life choices.

What I have learned in my minimal amount of jail ministry experience:

1.  The inmate (teenager) sitting across the table from you will say whatever they think you want to hear.

2.  Jailhouse conversions or commitments often don't go beyond the cell walls when they walk away from jail.  (with the inmates I have visited)

3.  They often blame everyone else or circumstances "beyond their control".

My new jail house ministry approach:  (I formulated this as I waited in the waiting room of our detention center on Thursday)

1.  I don't want to know why you are in here or who's fault it is that you are in this place.

2.  I don't want to know how much you don't like it in here.  It's jail!  You aren't supposed to like it.

3.  I want to know this:  Have you ever put your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior?

4.  I share about grace and mercy and God changing lives.

5.  I ask the inmate to think hard and long, since they have time on their hands, about what it would mean in your life if God radially changed your heart and life.

6.  I pray and walk away.  (going to follow up in about a week)

So I'll be in prayer during this next week and a half for this student.  Praying this student comes to know Christ and experience new life.  Interesting that as I sat in the waiting room I saw another 16 year old brought in with handcuffs on by their school resource officer.  Praying for that kid too.

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