prison+BW

Pastors Visit Prisons but Former Inmates Don’t Visit Their Churches

Half of Protestant pastors have not had a member of their congregation go to jail, so their involvement in prison ministry or restoring former inmates is largely aspirational according to LifeWay. Among pastors, 83% have visited a correctional facility. 31% of pastors report no former inmates attend their churches, and only 33% have three or more former inmates in their churches. The study highlights the challenge of following up with inmates after their release.

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Why this story matters for church leaders:

The U.S. prison population is by far the largest in the world, and inmates have a hard time getting reestablished, giving churches an important ministry opportunity.

  • Pastors Visit Prison: Most pastors have visited a prison, but it’s far harder to develop long term relationships with inmates and to get them involved in a church.
  • Safety Concerns? Some churches have had to add new services at times when there are no children in the facility in order to reach former inmates.
  • A Class Disconnect: Most pastors don’t know many people who have been in prison, so that means they face challenges to meet former inmates and to build relationships.

What are the needs in your community for prison inmates and former inmates?

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