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Correctional Ministry

Bringing Our Church Inside the Walls of Correctional Facilities

 

Correctional Ministry at Elevate Life is unique in that we have planted the local church inside the walls of correctional facilities. We take the same Elevate Life Sunday Service and Small Groups experience you would find at each of our campuses inside the facilities to lead men and women to Encounter God, Embrace Others, And Elevate their world.

How It Works

Correctional Ministry at Elevate Life is all about bringing our Weekend Experience and Small Groups inside the correctional facility walls. Correctional Ministry serve team members play an important part in bringing these experiences inside the correctional facility, helping inmates cultivate their relationship to Jesus.

Become a Part of It

If God is calling you to become a member of the Correctional Ministry team, welcome. First, you’ll need to complete Explore. Then, you are required to take part in two mandatory trainings: one with us at Elevate and one for the correctional facility itself. Through these trainings, you will have the opportunity to learn all the rules, ask questions, and indicate where you’d like to serve.

How It Works

Correctional Ministry at Elevate Life is all about bringing our Weekend Experience and Small Groups inside the correctional facility walls. Correctional Ministry serve team members play an important part in bringing these experiences inside the correctional facility, helping inmates cultivate their relationship to Jesus.

Become a Part of It

If God is calling you to become a member of the Correctional Ministry team, welcome. First, you’ll need to complete Explore. Then, you are required to take part in two mandatory trainings: one with us at Elevate and one for the correctional facility itself. Through these trainings, you will have the opportunity to learn all the rules, ask questions, and indicate where you’d like to serve.

Service Opportunities

Locations and Times

Our Correctional Ministry services take place at the Clay County Jail, where our volunteers take part in inspiring inmates to pursue their relationships with Christ. Services and group discussions are held weekly. Volunteers arrive at 7:00pm and leave at 10:00pm.

Women’s – Saturdays at 8pm
Men’s – Sundays at 8pm

Explore

Before participating in Correctional Ministry, volunteers are required to complete Explore, to hear about the heart of Elevate Life.

Required Training

Once you have completed Explore, the next step is to participate in two mandatory trainings: one with Elevate Life and one with the correctional facility, as is required by the FLDOC. These will not only provide you with all of the guidelines you’ll need, but they are also a fantastic opportunity to ask questions, learn about the impact you’ll be making, and decide where you’d like to serve. To learn about the next available trainings, reach out to us.

Volunteer With Us

Frequently Asked Questions

I’VE NEVER BEEN INSIDE A CORRECTIONAL FACILITY—WHAT’S IT LIKE?

The areas inside the correctional facilities where we conduct our church services and small groups typically occur in the chapel or the visitation area. You will not go into the general population areas. The inmates who attend our services are generally as excited to be there as any church attendee at any campus.

HOW DO I DECIDE WHERE I WANT TO SERVE?

When you attend Training Day, you will be presented with all the ministry opportunities that we have. Before you leave the training, you will be connected with the ministry leaders at the facility you choose to serve at. All details that you will need to begin serving will be given to you at that time.

HOW MUCH TIME WILL BE REQUIRED TO SERVE ON A SUNDAY OR IN A SMALL GROUP?

You should anticipate a minimum of 5 hours. Each of our time slots are 2.5-3 hours with 30-60 minutes of drive time. It takes up to 30 minutes to go through security, 60 minutes to get set up, and 1.5 hours of service time, and 30 minutes of break down.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN WHEN I GET TO THE CORRECTIONAL FACILITY? WILL I BE SEARCHED?

When our teams arrive at the correctional facility, we generally sign a log book, turn in our driver’s licenses and walk through a metal detector. An officer may pat each person down in a gender appropriate manner. We always walk to the meeting room together as a team and are usually escorted by security both in and out.

WHAT CAN I TAKE INSIDE THE CORRECTIONAL FACILITY WITH ME? CAN I TAKE WATER, SNACKS OR MEDICINE?

On Training Day, the trainer will go over all the rules pertaining to ministering inside a correctional facility. Primarily, we only take in the material that is used for the Sunday Worship Service or small group. This includes curriculum, DVDs, pens and worship guides. We are not allowed to take gum, food, drinks, iPods or electronic devices into the correctional facility without prior approval. If you must have medication with you, you will have to leave it with the gate security and come out of the facility to access it if needed.

HOW DO I TRAVEL TO THE CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES? WILL THERE BE SOMEONE I CAN RIDE WITH?

Depending on where and when you serve, you can carpool with other team members. At the local facilities, the team usually meets at the facility or at the closest location.

WHAT TYPE OF COMMITMENT IS REQUIRED? WHAT IF I CAN’T MAKE IT TO A MEETING?

One of the most important factors in correctional ministry is consistency and faithfulness in our commitment. We schedule our Sunday serve opportunities on a rotation of 2 services each month. The small groups run concurrent with our Elevate Life semesters, which is a 12-16 week commitment. Every serve opportunity is team-driven, so if you are unable to make a commitment, we always have enough team members to conduct the service without interruption.

CAN I TAKE A SMALL GIFT TO THE INMATES, SUCH AS GUM, MINTS, PENS, SNACKS, MONEY, BIBLE, ETC?

It is easy to become very fond of the inmates and feel compassionate toward their plight. The correctional facility policies do not allow ministry serve team members to give anything to an inmate that isn’t previously approved. As a ministry, we have been approved to take certain items into our services that are available to every inmate, such as an approved pen, worship guide, Bible and communion elements. Nothing can be given to, or taken from, an inmate at any time that hasn’t been approved by Elevate Life leadership and the local correctional facility.

CAN I WRITE TO THE INMATES I’VE MET IN BETWEEN MY VISITS?

The current policies state that serve team members, who physically minister inside a correctional facility, are not allowed to visit, write or give money to an inmate, nor may a serve team member associate with an inmate’s family members. At Elevate Life, we will have Correspondence Teams who write to the inmates in response to their Connection Card prayer requests and letters that they write to the church.

AN INMATE DOESN’T HAVE MONEY TO SEND A LETTER OR TO CALL HIS/HER FAMILY. MAY I CALL THE FAMILY MEMBER AND CONVEY A MESSAGE?

We are not permitted to contact anyone on behalf of an inmate. Many times inmates attempt to persuade a serve team member to convey a message that is actually a coded message that they do not want the correctional facility to intercept through mail or a phone conversation. Conveying such a message could implicate you in criminal activity and, at the least, cause you and/or this ministry to be banned from entering the facility.

CAN I GIVE AN INMATE MY PHONE NUMBER OR ADDRESS SO HE/SHE CAN CONTACT ME?

Under no circumstances are we allowed to provide personal information to an inmate. We are not allowed to develop a pen pal relationship with an inmate if we are ministering inside the facilities.