I would like to serve in an InPrison & Beyond Class. How do I get started?
Instead of volunteering for a role, it is the Lord who calls us into various roles, including leadership in CBS. Through prayer, CBS has developed a process for discerning the Lord’s called leadership for all of its classes.
If you are a current CBS participant, contact a leader of your class for connection with the Zone Director (ZD) in your area. The ZD will assign a U.S. Ambassador to walk with you through the “Impact Group” process. This will include meeting weekly for 6 weeks with a team of people who are interested in supporting or serving in CBS prison ministry.
If you are not currently enrolled in CBS, please contact [email protected] and you will be guided through the process of connecting with a Zone Director and US Ambassador as described above.
What is the first step at the prison?
As part of the Impact Group process, you will contact the prison chaplain or prison volunteer coordinator for more information on requirements for access into the facility. You may contact the prison before you are part of an Impact Group if you desire.
Are there sample lessons and brochures that can be given to prison officials explaining CBS?
Yes. This, too, is part of the Impact Group process. An InPrison and Beyond information package can be sent to you by the InPrison & Beyond Support Team.
If I want to serve in a CBS class in a prison, would I have to go in alone?
No, in fact, CBS guidelines require that at least two leaders attend each class in a prison. As a team ministry, we value shepherding, accountability, encouragement, and support.
Going into a prison sounds scary. Will I be safe serving there?
It’s safer in the jungle in God’s will than it is in a church pew outside God’s will
It may feel intimidating to enter prisons, but they are extremely safe for volunteers. No one, including CBS inmate class participants, will want to jeopardize the continuation of the class. Inmates will be on their best behavior because they so appreciate the opportunity to learn the Word of God and interact with people from the free community. The staff is also very attentive to security and procedure and have a vested interest in preventing incidents on the premises.
Descriptions related to prison
I’ve never been in a prison. What will it be like?
Although prisons vary, there are similarities. The facility will train you on an entry procedure, which includes your assigned badge, a metal detector, and a guarded escort to the class location for a specific amount of time.
Prisons are often plain, practical, lacking updates and décor. You are unlikely to ever see the residential areas/cells, nor will you generally interact with inmates who are not participating in your class. Prisons are also highly rule-oriented environments, with clear expectations for both inmates and volunteers.
Will the inmates be difficult to interact with?
Individuals who are incarcerated are not unique in value or needs, however their circumstances are incredibly stressful and lonely. They are very protective of time spent with CBS leaders and will not want to risk class closure by acting out. Any difficulties in interaction are related to the prison environment and its rules. Both CBS and any prison facility will conduct extensive training to thoroughly prepare CBS leaders for distinctives such as restrictions on personal contact and sharing, and guidelines on security procedures.
How does CBS “work” inside a prison (how does it look different from “regular” classes I’m familiar with)?
Like all CBS classes, InPrison CBS includes an Opening, Individual Study, Core Group Discussion, Prayer, and a Central Idea Teaching. We use the same CBS lessons as outside classes, in a slightly different format.
There are several distinctives because of the population and the environment, which are detailed in a document called “InPrison & Beyond Class Distinctives”, found on FISHER (CBS database for leaders and participants).
What CBS materials do the prisons use?
InPrison & Beyond classes use either “Condensed” or “Global” lessons. These courses include the same study questions as “Standard” lessons, but they are not bound in a spiral notebook, which helps in prison compliance and printing costs.
Where do I get the lessons to use in prison?
Condensed and Global lessons are found on FISHER (CBS database for leaders and participants). These can be downloaded by class leaders and either printed for a prison class or emailed to the prison chaplain. CBS enjoys a significant discount from Staples, and CBS leaders are fully reimbursed for any printing costs.
Do I have to become a Teaching Director to serve a CBS class in prison?
No, CBS InPrison classes are led by a TD and an ATD, and often also include Core Leaders. For a new class, the Impact Group process will help discern roles for the leadership, and in existing classes, the shepherds of the class will help in this capacity.
Do I have to be a part of an outside CBS class to serve in a CBS class in prison?
No, CBS leaders typically serve in only one CBS class at a time, and participation in other classes is optional.
Can my spouse join me in the prison?
Any person called by the Lord to serve as a CBS leader in a prison class may be approved by CBS to serve, so men and women may serve together. CBS requires that in each facility, however, at least one of the two Teachers (TD or ATD) must be the same gender as the class participants. Some facilities do not allow mixed-gender leadership, so please check with the chaplain of your potential facility.
What kind of training will I receive?
Prison facilities conduct extensive training for every volunteer before issuing a badge. They include topics such as facility orientation, safety, establishment of roles, facility rules, and dress code. Training is usually required annually at the prison for maintaining badge status.
Additionally, CBS trains leaders comprehensively. Teaching Directors and Associate Teaching Directors will attend national training, and other leaders in a prison class will be carefully trained by them in CBS methods and prison distinctives, both before they begin serving, and on an ongoing basis throughout the year.
What is a Beyond class?
A Beyond class is one whose participants are former inmates, their families and families of current inmates.
Can the inmates do virtual classes?
Prisons generally do not allow online access of this kind to inmates. There may be an exception, however, so please check with the chaplain of your potential facility.
Can a Beyond be a virtual class?
Yes, as with many classes outside prisons, participants may be offered the option to participate virtually.
How many people are needed to start and InPrison & Beyond class?
A new class may begin with a minimum of two leaders (a Teaching Director and an Associate Teaching Director), however the Impact Group process may include many others who will pray and help discern leadership.
Is there a list of prison/jail facilities in my area? How do I access this?
Yes. Simply Google: prisons near me.
Is there a minimum class size requirement?
The minimum class size is 5 participants who can commit to at least 6 weeks of study with CBS. The chaplain or volunteer coordinator at the facility will help determine the possibility of meeting this requirement.
Are there dress code requirements to go into prison?
Yes. Dress codes can vary from institution to institution. Each facility trains volunteers extensively on many topics, including appropriate attire.
How much time is required to help lead an InPrison and Beyond class?
Most classes require 90 minutes to effectively cover the 5 essentials of a CBS class, but your institution will dictate your CBS time allotment. Classes meet weekly (or, at a minimum, bi-weekly) year-round. Leaders will also attend Leaders Council for approximately 1 hour before or after class.