5. Certified Jail Minister

Program  Description


Incarceration provides an environment where many men and women come to understand their need for God, and many of those make decisions to follow Jesus Christ, but the opportunity to grow and be discipled by a more mature brother or sister is often scarce, especially for those in solitary confinement.  Too often, such new believers wither spiritually under the harsh conditions of jail life, or else find themselves discharged with inadequate preparation and community connection to continue their walk with Christ on the outside.  Recidivism and fruitlessness are so common as to be proverbial, with many onlookers rejecting the validity of those conversions because the inmates relapse so often.

While there are Christians in Butte County churches who are (or could become) qualified to provide biblical discipleship, the Butte County Jail only allows the public to visit inmates on weekends, and the visiting rooms are packed and noisy.  However, licensed ministers and certified counselors are considered part of the therapeutic team, and are allowed to visit inmates on the glass weekdays until 9 pm for an hour a day.


ARM will train, certify, and monitor Certified Jail Ministers to provide weekly visits to screened and matched inmates willing to invest time and effort in biblical training.  That training is designed to help inmates grow in their walk with Christ, and in their ability to apply biblical principles to their current and future circumstances.  This would include creation of a plan to be executed upon their release from custody, enabling them to continue their personal spiritual growth, to connect and serve God with a faithful congregation, to stay clean, sober, and out of jail, to find and hold a job, to manage their finances, and to form, heal, and maintain healthy personal relationships, to the glory of God.


ARM has assembled a certification process that sets standards, conducts background checks, and assesses a person’s motivation, ability, and competency to provide such life skills / discipleship ministry, and will train and certify Jail Ministers to work with inmates screened by the Lead Chaplain.  Upon completion of the certification process, ARM will provide documentation that will meet the Butte County Jail’s requirements for volunteers to disciple inmates during the week, and will pair ARM’s Certified Jail Minister with an inmate who desires help.

Jail Minister Selection Criteria

Potential ministers must be carefully screened, as they will be representing ARM both to the inmates and to the Butte County Jail.  Evaluation of minister candidates will therefore consider the following criteria:

  • Profession to be a follower of Jesus Christ, and known by members of their church to live a life consistent with that profession, demonstrating a mature, active, and generous faith.  Membership/attendance and participation in a local Bible believing congregation is required.  We will contact each candidate’s home church to verify their Christian walk.  Cooperation with other Christians is essential to functioning as a member of the kingdom of God.
  • Bible Knowledge, whether evidenced by formal training or practical experience.  Ministers are not required to “know it all,” but they must be familiar with basic themes in the Bible, and be able to use standard study tools to research answers to questions they will face.
  • Doctrinal Orthodoxy: agreement with ARM’s basic Christian statement of faith.  We do not disqualify true believers of any orthodox denominational affiliation or persuasion, but we will not allow heretical groups to spread error among young believers in the jail.
  • Teaching and Discipling Skills, whether acquired by formal training or practical experience.  Confirmation by a congregational leader will be required.
  • Commitment to Ministry, as evinced by a history of service, and reliability in fulfilling commitments, and agreement with ARM’s purpose and core values.
  • Compassion and Humility befit servants of God, saved by grace, just as inmates are.  Harshness, pride, or legalism, disqualify a person from serving, especially in a jail setting.


We  begin with the Navigators’ Lessons on Assurance book, then go through their Design for Discipleship seven-book series.  This provides 42 weeks of study, counting the first meeting.  The curriculum cost is $45.04 to set up each Jail Minister (including a leader guide), plus $38.79 for each inmate who finishes the series.  If you are able to help with these costs, it would be greatly appreciated, but ability to pay for curriculum is not a requirement to be certified and put to work as a Jail Minister.  A Jail Minister may disciple more than one inmate in a week, if they are able and willing.  The Jail Minister does not need additional curriculum for themselves when mentoring multiple inmates or future inmates.

If the Jail Minister develops a strong relationship with an inmate, and wishes to continue meeting with them after they finish the course, they may continue to study additional curriculum. Our desire is to provide discipleship and support to each inmate, as much as they need, and we want to be flexible to meet the needs of a variety of situations.   We want to  encourage inmates to pass on the knowledge they are gaining, by teaching and mentoring other inmates, practicing their spiritual gifts in the jail, as God has supplied to each.