Best Practice (BP):

Best practices are specific, discrete ministry activities that measurably increase program scale, effectiveness, and/or efficiency, and can be replicated by other National Ministries. Best practices should be supported by evidence (data).

Leverage Church Partnerships to Mobilize/Recruit Volunteers

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Benefits

When looking for volunteers to work in prison ministry, the church should be a strong ally. The call to minister to the prisoner is specifically given to the church. The ministry doesn’t rely on church volunteers because they are a captive or easy audience; the ministry relies on church volunteers because they connect with the heart of Jesus and the ministry of reconciliation given to Christ’s followers. Your ministry and the local church are starting from a common ground.

Other benefits include

  • The ability to present to large groups of people at one time.
  • Existing communication channels.
  • Working across Christian traditions – we all grow as we are discipled by one another.

Planning Considerations

  1. Prepare
    • Determine what the needs of your ministry are and how volunteers could help meet those needs.
    • Develop a directory of churches in the areas where you work (near prisons or near children of prisoners).
    • Collect contact information for pastors and church leaders.
    • Determine the specific “ask”. How will you invite the congregation to volunteer and participate? State it clearly and multiple times.
    • Develop ways for the entire church to be involved in your ministry – through prayer calendars, program financial sponsorship, invitations to events, etc.
    • Build an engaging presentation (including images, data and videos) that the executive director or other representative can use for cultivation.
    • Develop material to leave behind at churches that should contain contact information for your office, including your website.
    • Build a volunteer sign-up for your website.
  2. Promote
    • Ask for opportunities to present your ministry to the churches in your area.
    • Invite groups of pastors or lay leaders to meet with the board or to visit your work.
    • Be the face of the ministry – let people know that you and your team are there, in the community, leading this work.
    • Ask the church to list you in their volunteer opportunities.
  3. Present
    • Utilize any current church volunteers by inviting them to share their experience with their church family.
    • Consider bringing a beneficiary of the program to provide insight and testimony as part of the presentation.
    • Invite creative volunteering ideas – be open to the gifts that are available in the churches.
    • Collect volunteer information on-site, but also provide a digital way for collecting information after you leave.
  4. Follow-up
    • Develop a follow-up session/meeting for those interested – to ask questions, to hear from your staff and current volunteers.
    • Build on the relationship. Develop a consistent presence at the church, not only when looking for volunteers.
    • Ask to present at denominational conferences or events where many churches are together.

It’s important to engage the people who are truly interested in being a part of prison ministry, because the time and resources you invest in them are exhaustible assets.

Required Resources

  1. Human Resources
    • The Executive Director and Board members will need to be available to establish relationships with and present to churches.
    • You will need someone to track volunteer applications and follow-up with volunteer candidates. • You will need someone responsible for church scheduling.
  2. Collateral
    • Promotional materials (print and web-based).
    • A general volunteer application (print and web-based).
    • General ministry presentation to be given by organization leadership.
  3. Time. Relationships require time — not only to build, but to maintain. When planning time, consider:
    • Assessment of organizational needs that can be filled by volunteers.
    • Development of church map in areas where you work.
    • Time to establish communication with churches (for example, 15-minute phone call, one-or two-hour visit/lunch/church service).
    • Time to build volunteer presentations and collateral.
    • Travel time to churches outside of current location.
    • Time to follow-up/stay in communication with churches (30 minutes per month per church).
  4. Space. You will need space to conduct presentations with churches or church leadership. 5. Cost. The cost varies. Considerations include types of collateral (web or print), presentation
    types, meal/snack expenses, travel expenses, types of communication (email, phone, text).

NM with Demonstrated Experience in this BP

Egypt
Guam
Liberia
Russian Federation
Rwanda
Togo
Uruguay
Zambia
In Quarter 3, 2021, PF Togo was able to recruit 145 volunteer mentors. This was accomplished with the help of local church leaders who support PF Togo. The implementation of The Child’s Journey (TCJ) provided PF Togo with the perfect opportunity to visit local church leaders to tell them about TCJ, the enhanced program services, the impact of the program, and how members of their churches could become involved. Those church leaders then took the message to their churches, and as a result, PF Togo was bombarded with people ready, willing and able to become volunteer mentors for TCJ!
Prison Fellowship Togo Africa Region
"PF Ukraine is a shining example of a national ministry that is harnessing the power of the church in its ministry to prisoners. Eleven denominations are represented on their board, bringing together thousands of volunteers from Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant churches who are working shoulder to shoulder to bring the Good News to prisoners throughout the Ukraine."
David Van Patten COO, Prison Fellowship International

Speaking of Leveraging

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Letter from the CEO

Recently, I have been thinking about something Isaiah was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write, and that we repeat often at this time of year: ‘Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end.’ What really strikes me is that all around the world right now, this is happening. Every time a person comes to believe and follow the Lord Jesus, it becomes ‘even more’ true. And no more so than in prisons all over the world.

And you are enabling this to happen. It is a profound and wonderful thing that God chooses to work through people like you and me. It would be fair to say this is His intention in order to strengthen and mature his sons and daughters in their faith, and in doing so extend his rulership across all peoples and nations throughout time. And this is where you, our volunteers, are so important and vital in our life-giving work. Not only because of the gifts and talents that you bring, but also because the number of ‘hands and feet’ on the ground who are meeting the Lord Jesus inside the prison walls (Matthew 25) get increased exponentially. The PFI family has always valued, affirmed, and relied heavily on our volunteers. Nothing has changed. We value each one of you in your God-given calling.

The Bible talks to us about never tiring of doing good to everyone, especially those in the household of faith (Galatians). Be assured that when we serve prisoners, their families, and victims, they reside in either one of these categories. And in this way, you fulfill this exhortation from Paul that is 2000 years old, but just as relevant.

Thank you,
Your brother

 

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
—Galatians 6:9–10

 

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