Recently, many of our DMM Churches have been focusing their going out among the lost efforts on the county jail. Some had been working primarily in low-income areas & others had been visiting the sick, but the results out at the jail have been so outstanding that they couldn’t help but take notice. Then we found out that the team in the jail really needed more workers, so we all wanted to go where it was clear to us that God was already working.
While we found God working in the other areas we had been going, nothing even came close to the fruitfulness our team was seeing in the jail. In just a short period of time, the team in the jail had seen 50+ groups started and several were at 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and even 5th generation. Our churches would see & hear about it each week in our coaching meetings as the teams in the jail reported their results for our Team Scoreboard. We couldn’t help but want to join them and saturate the jail even further.
The teams that were working in the jail gained access through leading classes in each of the pods on how to become the spiritual leader of your family. That was definitely a felt need. The inmates would admit that they had not been the spiritual leaders of their families and wanted to become the spiritual leader once they were released. We used that felt need to draw men into the classroom each week.
I want to use this blog post to share what we teach these men in the classes about how to become a spiritual leader. Perhaps this would be appealing in other jails across the country as well.
We’ve been using the acronym HOSS to help them remember it.
When we enter the classroom each week, we’ll tell them that we’re there to help them become the spiritual leaders of their family. Then we’ll tell them that the way to do that is to become a spiritual “hoss.” That’s a word that people in the jail definitely understand.
Here’s what it stands for:
H – Heaven
We tell the guys that if they want to become a spiritual leader for their family, they need to make sure that they & all of their family know how to get to heaven. After all, how can you lead your family spiritually if you don’t know how to be made right with God?
That makes sense to these guys, so then we go around the room and ask each of them, “How sure are you, on a scale of 0%-100%, that if you died today you’d go to heaven?” Most of them give a very low percentage & it’s rare to hear someone say anything close to 100%.
Then we ask, “What do you think it takes for someone to get to heaven?” Often they will say that they don’t really know. One interesting piece of information is that when you ask this question outside the jail, it feels like 9 times out of 10 people will say, “You’ve gotta be a good person.” But inside the jail, probably because they’re aware of their own sinfulness, you don’t get this response as much. They aren’t nearly as self-righteous as people on the outside.
Then we tell them that we want GOD to share with them how they can get to heaven. We tell them that God’s way to heaven is the only way that matters. It doesn’t matter what you believe, what your parents taught you, or what your friends think. God is the one who gets to decide how you get to heaven, so we’ve gotta hear from him to know how to get there. Then we tell them that one of the ways God speaks to us is through the Bible.
At that point, instead of just sharing the gospel with them, we give them 4 verse references they can memorize that answer this question. We use the Roman Road. We want to make it very easy for them to pass it on to someone else.
The first verse in the Roman Road is Romans 3:23. We’ll have them turn to that verse in their Bible & have someone read it out loud.
Romans 3:23 – For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.
After reading the verse, we’ll ask the class, “What is that saying?” Instead of just telling them what it says, we want them to discover it for themselves.
Typically, after this verse people will give responses like:
- We’re all sinners
- Nobody is perfect
- We fall short of what God wants
- We don’t deserve to go to heaven
We will affirm that what they said was true & then we’ll move on to the next verse.
The second verse is Romans 6:23. Again, we’ll have everyone turn to it & then someone will read it out loud.
Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
We’ll ask them again, “What is this saying?”
Usually they respond with:
- We deserve to die because of our sin
- Eternal life is a free gift
- Jesus is the one who give us this gift
Often, when there is a difficult word in the verse, we might ask them specifically what it means. In this case, the first time we take them through this, we’ll ask, “What is a wage?” They’ll respond with something like, “It’s what you get paid or what you earn for something.” Then they understand that this is saying that what you earn for sin is death.
The third verse is Romans 5:8.
Romans 5:8 – But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
When we ask them, “What is this saying?” they’ll usually respond with:
- God’s love for us is great
- He loved us so much he sent Christ to die for us
- He sent Christ even while we were still sinning against him
Again, we’ll affirm what they’ve said & try not to add too much of our own insight, especially if they get the gist of the verse. We want them to believe they can hear directly from God through his Word without our intervention.
The last verse is Romans 10:9.
Romans 10:9 – If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Here’s how they usually respond to this one:
- You need to declare that Jesus is Lord of your life
- You need to believe in your heart that Jesus was raised from the dead
- These things lead to being saved
Usually after this verse, we’ll ask them, “What is Lord?” We think that’s an important word for them to understand. They’ll usually say something like, “Master, in control, in charge, boss, etc.” We want to make sure they pick up the idea of repentance in the first part of that verse & faith in the second part, resulting in salvation.
Just to drive home the good news in this verse we’ll ask, “Did it say, ‘Be a good person and you will be saved?’” They’ll say no. Then we’ll ask, “Did it say, ’Go to church and you will be saved?’” They’ll say no again. We might ask that several more times inserting various phrases in there that people think lead to salvation. By the time we’re finished, the guys in the room usually have confidence in exactly what it takes to get to heaven based on the verses we just went through.
To conclude, we’ll ask them, “Did we teach you this or did you learn it from God?” They’re quick to say that God taught them through his Word.
As you might imagine, when these guys first hear this, it really excites them, especially because they know they have fallen short of God’s standard. Some of our teams have even had guys start clapping when this presentation is over. How cool is that? The gospel is truly GOOD news!
At this point, we’ll transition to the next letter in HOSS.
O – Obey
We tell them that in order to become the spiritual leader of their family, they need to listen to God & obey what he says (James 1:22).
In other words, they need to be an example to their family of what it looks like to follow Jesus.
We teach them the 7-Question DBS Process as a way of hearing from God & obeying what he says. We make sure they write down each of the questions so they remember them and can use them during the week. We’ll go over each question, explain why we ask it, and see if they have any questions about it.
We’ll assign a new Bible passage for them to go through each week & we’ll either do it with them there in the classroom or have them do it in groups during the week.
After walking through this, we’ll move on to the last two letters in HOSS.
SS – Start New GroupS
In the same way they need to listen to God & obey him, we tell them that they need to help their family & friends listen to God & obey him too. And they can do that by starting Discovery Groups with their family & friends. In those Discovery Groups, we tell them that they can use the same 7-Question DBS Process that they learned previously.
Since they are in jail and phone time is limited, we encourage them to teach this to their family on the outside & then they can both work through the passage of the week separately & talk about it on the phone when they visit each week. Some of them don’t have any phone time available and we encourage them to use letters to write to their family. But while they’re away from their families, we challenge them that they can still be spiritual leaders by beginning Discovery Groups with their fellow inmates.
We tell them that they can begin starting groups on the inside to prepare for starting more of them on the outside when they are released.
We’ll spend time in this section coaching them on starting groups in their pod.
Each week when we come in to the pod, we do the exact same thing.
We tell them we’re there to help them become spiritual leaders of their family. We introduce HOSS as the way to do it & then we walk them through it. The time we spend in each section depends on how long we’ve been meeting & how many new people we have. On the first week, most of the time is spent on the H, but by week 4 or 5, you’re spending most of your time on the SS section coaching them in starting groups.
The HOSS tool has been an amazing way to gain access, find potential PoPs, and see groups started in the jail.
In the next post, I want to share a powerful story about how using HOSS has impacted an entire pod.
Part 2 – A Hoss Story