Jibstay

Monday, July 09, 2007

Church in Jail


I went to jail last night again. This time I led worship in a tight sleeping room for about 16 guys, noisy, smelly and brightly lit by flourescent bulbs. It was a far cry from the beautiful sanctuary I led worship in earlier in the day. Not many of the MCC crowd were tatooed up their necks and on to their heads. At church we have a worship band that plays music well with powerpoint to lead the words. The jail church has a boombox and worship cd of Calvary Chapel praise songs.
I preach the same sermon at both places. But after the jail service, a young man came to me with a tatoo tear on the corner of his eye (meaning he killed someone) and said "I gave my life to Jesus seriously last year when my cousin was murdered. I was in jail at the time and gave my heart to Jesus at the funeral service. I want to study to be a youth pastor." Wow! we talked for about 5 minutes before the guard escorted us out.
I love having both experiences on the same day. Both are clearly church and both need a pastor. The jail is culturally distracting to me. I have a hard time imagining what it would be like to have all privacy removed and be locked into holding pens for months on end, waiting the disposition of a case or serving a short (year) sentence. Yet, there is something spiritually bare and vulnerable there. These guys sing loudly and badly and don't care if others sing along or not. They always choose the song "Sanctuary" to sing. They linger to visit and talk about Jesus, the Bible and requests for prayer.
The same types of conversations grab my heart at MCC: taking next steps spiritually, a request for prayer for a wandering child, a comment about God working deeply in one's life. Where I get distracted is by organizational busines details that are necessary, but not spiritually central. Or I allow myself to get diluted with conversations about water pumps, flowers, insurance, new locks, or golf. Is it me or the setting? I wonder if I kept a picture of jail bars near me, I would stay more focussed?

1 Comments:

At 6:06 PM , Blogger Kalon L said...

So why does the jail experience feel more "real" (if it does)? Maybe there is little need in jail in "keeping up appearances"? (title of an amusing British comedy series). And what does it mean for the church? A bit more rawness might be healthy.

 

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