The popular introduction to Christianity, Christianity Explored has recently developed a "Prisons Edition" of the course. In April 2013 it was reviewed in Evangelical Now Magazine (read full article here) and has already been trialled in a few prisons. In the following, two Chaplains from Wales describe their impressions of the course:
Why did you consider using the Christianity Explored course?
“All my time of being a chaplain you are looking for new courses to share the gospel, like Alpha. When CE came along it looked good material and relevant for HMP Cardiff, so we decided to give it ago.”
“An excellent introduction to Christianity”
What would you say is good about the course?
“The course is at a level that prisoners get, its not academic, it meets them where they are and then they are taken on an encounter with Jesus without getting overwhelmed with the 16 chapters in Mark’s gospel”
“It teaches prisoners how to read the Bible, Mark is a great place to start”
What have been the positive effects, if any, of running the course for chaplaincy here?
“Since running CE. I have noticed that there have been more prisoners attending Sunday worship and prisoners who are or who have been on the course wanting to be at Sunday worship. We can average about 60 prisoners before we started the course 4 yrs ago we were below 50. The course gives prisoners a positive focus and allows them to be more in depth. It’s something that chaplaincy can feed prisoners into, as chaplains have an already busy schedule. Chaplaincy is a team effort, CE is a good part of that team evangelizing and helping them come to know more about Jesus from Mark’s gospel. Mark is a good place to start because he is very immediate in his message.”
“It has helped us build a sense of community. The group has grown in numbers and has grown together.”
Have you seen any significant changes with participants who have sat through the course and what are they?
“Obvious changes have been more baptisms. Some of the prisoners who do the course want to be baptized. The course inspires them to make a Christian commitment, which implies that there has been a change. I now get 4 or 5 prisoner wanting to be baptized every year whereas before the course was used in Cardiff it was 1 or 2 baptisms a year.”
“The group has helped some members to grow in confidence. One member is now so confident he is even willing to speak and read in church.”
Would you recommend other chaplaincies running the course and why?
“I wholeheartedly recommend the course because the practical origins of the prison edition have been shaped in the prison environment, tested and shaped for over 4 years with the problems that the prison regime can throw up. We have living proof that the course has had a positive influence upon prisoners who go through the course”
“I would strongly recommend this course to all my colleagues”