Ron D. Borden

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)




Historically, the correctional system was concerned with locking up criminals and keeping them off the streets. Society's safety was, and still is, of primary importance. Unfortunately, most felons complete their sentencing and are released back into the community with the same belief systems and character traits that brought them to prison. Christian programming within the correctional setting is succeeding only at changing surface behavior, not genuine character transformation. This results in recidivism rates that are identical to those of non-Christian imnates. In order to address this problem, I propose that spiritual formation focused upon a covenantal relationship with Jesus Christ will create more measurable evidence of character change in those incarcerated than the current model being delivered by most Christian groups.

In chapter two I present biblical materials showing that reconciliation and redemption are a part of the saving message of the Gospel. I will reflect upon biblical narratives demonstrating that God desires a covenantal relationship with people and that entrance into this relationship begins the process of character transformation.

In chapter three I present materials from Christian history and thought that show the long history of the church in working with offenders. I will look at how spiritual formation has woven its way through the history of God's people. I will focus upon the monastic movement and conclude with the contemporary voice of Dallas Willard.

In chapter four I present materials from the field of corrections. I will outline criminal risk factors and how these contribute to a life of crime. I will look at how programming focused on spiritual formation can make a difference in the character of inmates.

In chapter five I will look at spiritual leadership as it relates to the correctional setting. I will address how spiritual leadership can utilize spiritual formation to effect change in inmate behavior and attitudes.

In the conclusion I present how entering into a covenant relationship with God, rather than focusing upon a generic spirituality, will have a greater effect upon behavior and bring about positive character change.

Included in

Christianity Commons