How to Start a Prison Ministry

March 22nd, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Ministry to prisoners, prison staff and their families can impact as much as one-third of the unchurched population in Texas. Prison staff members hold high stress jobs that can impact them and their families significantly. Prisoners and their families are confronted with the crisis of incarceration and are looking for answers, assurance and assistance.

Churches looking to begin ministering in the criminal justice arena can take some simple steps to begin, according to Emmett Solomon, president of the Restorative Justice Ministry Network.

  • Pray. Ask God to guide your actions. He will raise leaders and provide ministry opportunities in your path.
  • Form a restorative justice committee or team. Ministering to prisoners, prison staff and those affected by crime requires organization. Pull three-four people together who are passionate about ministry in this arena. They will provide leadership for this effort and advocate for the ministry.
  • Begin with prison or law enforcement staff. Meet prison staff and leaders or local law enforcement officials. Get to know them. Let them know they are appreciated. They work long hours and do difficult jobs. They appreciate words of encouragement, people looking to help and warm baked goods. As they see church members who truly care about them, ministry opportunities will arise. Prison chaplains are gateways to serve within prison walls.
  • Be creative. Ministry to prisoners, prison staff and families takes many different forms because different churches have different talents. Let a church’s talents and passions shine through ministry. Take bottles of water to prison guards. Take staff members cookies. Watch police reports and attempt to help victims. If someone breaks into a house, have a team that repairs windows and doors for free. Let the Holy Spirit lead.
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5 Responses

  1. Ronald Slater says:

    I have a Gospel Group with a Full Band…
    We also have a Preacher in our Group…
    This has been on our Hearts and Minds for a while..
    We would love to minister to the Prisoners, the Group does
    the old time and Southern Gospel songs.. I feel that Music
    touches lives so many times and then the message just
    inforces what has been sung…
    If this is something that we could do please let me know and we can
    visit more.

  2. Howard York says:

    I’m a 29 year old minister gone evangelist and an ex- offender as well. I grew up in the streets from Houston to the country roads of Crockett, Tx. , and the desire to do such tremendous work for the Lord has burned in my heart and spirit for almost 9 years. If there’s any possibility of being able to have such an opportunity, please contact me. My spirit and heart would grovel at the chance.

  3. Rick Vasquez says:

    If there are any Hispanic Bilingual individuals who would like to get involved in prison or jail ministry to immigrants and to Spanish speaking inmates. Please contact me. Office: 713-270-9434 or email

  4. Hazel Gamez says:

    I am in charge to get a prison ministry started in our church the Gathering for the year 2013. Our church has never had one before but the Lord has been touching my heart & spirit to start one for a year now. I don’t know know where to begin but it’s already been a year too long of waiting & now that I’ve been given the chance to begin one I am putting it in God’s hands & trusting the right people will come across & doors will be open. Im must be obediant.

  5. Rick Vasquez says:

    I received your fax and I reply’d with an email last week requesting for you to set up a phone appointment with me so I can help you develop your prison ministry. Please feel free to contact me directly. My office number is: (713) 270-9434 Looking forward to helping you and your journey… Rick Vasquez

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