Summary: Talk about an audience hungry for truth and hungry for Christian community! B90 groups have made a huge difference not only to prisoners, but especially to the prisons where they thrive. These notes will help you help men and women find spiritual freedom — even if they live behind physical bars.
The Bible in 90 Days has been exceptionally well received by Prison Fellowship for over five years in several states. We have seen very positive results from using The Bible in 90 Days within the faith-based dorms in the prisons of Texas. In addition to the individual spiritual growth that comes from reading the Bible from cover to cover in only 90 days, we have seen that the use of the materials has produced a tremendous sense of community among the participants. Many inmates have invited family and friends on the outside to read along with them, thus bringing them closer to those on the outside. Below are some of the “Best Practices” we have observed when using the materials in prison ministry:
- Always remember that each prison is unique; therefore, work closely with both the chaplain and warden when implementing the materials.
- The small groups are the key to the success of B90 in prisons. Ask the chaplain to select qualified inmates to serve as facilitators of groups. Let facilitators choose co-facilitators from within their group. Spend some time training the facilitators emphasizing that they are to facilitate discussion, not be a teacher. Allocate as much time as possible to the small groups (at least 45 minutes). The leaders are very comfortable using the questions in the Participants Guide. You don’t need to add to this. I have had many of the groups meet between the large group sessions for prayer and to support one another.
- Always be yourself, although it may not be adequate from your perspective. The inmates are very flexible and appreciative of the opportunity to read God’s Word.
- Don’t miss a week. Keep on schedule. Work with the chaplain if any conflicts develop within a group.
- Your role as leader is to set the tone. Be continually positive and encouraging. Remind them frequently that B90 is a Bible reading class, and not a Bible study. They are to focus on the big picture and the unity of the Bible, not on all the specific questions they might have from a particular passage. The best preparation for the leader is to participate yourself by reading along with the inmates. Share what you are learning as you read the Bible with them. Preview the DVD for each session choosing the one that best fits your situation. Inmates have responded well to Jack Modesett’s presentations.
- Work with the chaplain to plan a celebration event at the end of the class which might include a meal, testimonies from inmates and a presentation of a certificate of completion.