Last December we had our first ever all day Leadership Seminar inside the prison that I serve at. We had the day planned with multiple speakers from our church inside of prison as well as some pastors from the outside. I spent that day taking notes and over the next three weeks I want to share these with you. This is the first of three blogs that I will be share with you about our time that day.
Our day began with the 28 chaplain selected men arriving to the chapel at 8:30 am with their Bibles in hand prepared to stay for the whole day. Our chapel was set up with tables with name tags at each spot and a tablet and pen for note taking. They were welcomed by one of our Elders who introduced them to the day as well as the expectations of this seminar. After the brief introduction they began in worship with hands raised toward heaven crying out, “Hallelujah we adore you, Lord we worship you.” The spirit of the Lord most definitely showed up during this time.
After worship our first speaker began his message entitled “What is Ministry?” He began his time with three questions, “What is ministry? What is a minister? Where do I fit in?” He challenged the group by saying “Church it is time to get the ministry out of this Chapel and into the prison! We are God’s instruments of ministry. Ministry is about sacrifice, it is about doing things you sometimes don’t want to do. Ministry my friends, is not about how much theology you know or your education level but about meeting the need. Ministry is an honor and a privilege, we can only testify of the Lord if he has shown himself to you. Are you spending time with Jesus? Jesus’s purpose on this earth was to glorify His Father in heaven and give his life for the lost and His ministry was to meet people’s needs. We cannot be doing detached ministry, we cannot be fake we must be serious about ministry; we cannot do this only halfway! We must be faithful ministers here in this prison, are there any under oarsmen in this chapel that are willing to move this gospel ship forward?” This message was met with much shouting and amens as the men dug into multiple scripture passages! At the end of this message there was a time of silence where men spent time praying that God would show them how they may get more involved in ministry.
Our next speaker was a local pastor who has spent the last 50 years in ministry and the title of his message was “Staying in The Game.” He became his message with several football analogies, using Alabama’s running back Derrick Henry constant ability to move the ball and his longevity in the game as an example to the men about moving the gospel forward not giving up when it gets hard. He challenged the men by saying, “We are all in ministry and we need to abide in the call that God has called you in. We must think of ministry long-term, we must make that commitment! We will not bare any fruit unless we stay put in ministry! Don’t put off the ministry that God has called you too, begin immediately in that call! Get in the Word and study! We are the workmen that Paul talks about; we are to study to show ourselves approved unto God! As ministers of the Gospel we must always make ourselves available to those around us. And if we want to experience longevity in ministry we must develop a team spirit and raise up fellow Christians in this prison for ministry. Men, ministry is not about satisfying your needs ministry is about satisfying other’s needs.” He also shared four keys that will create longevity in ministry: “1. Remember who you serve. 2. Remember what you are called to do. 3. Remember that you are not alone. 4. Remember the ultimate goal” The men received this message well and were challenged at the end with Paul’s words in Colossians 1:28-29, “We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power which mightily works within me.” After the message the men walked around the chapel praying for each other, the time was heartwarming and impactful as people asked for forgiveness, friendships were strengthen and many tears were shed.
I will be posting next week part two of this first ever Leadership Seminar inside of the prison that I serve at. Thank you for reading these posts and I pray that you may be challenged by these words which were mostly spoken by men who were once known as murders, robbers, rapists, but now are known as faithful ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.