Spiritual Life

Christ-centered Care at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch 

Our success in serving children and families is attributed in great part to our Spiritual Life Program. We walk side-by-side with children on their spiritual journey—in many cases introducing them to Christianity for the first time. So many of our children come to us exhausted from just fighting to survive. Over, they've lost all hope. They need to rest, learn to trust again, and work hard to make what they have only dared to hope for into a reality. With the anchoring wisdom of the Gospel, they can find rest, safety, and the promise of God's abiding love. That's what enables them to find stability in the storm, and then chart their true course.

Our Spiritual Life Program is funded completely through the generous support of individuals, churches, Thrivent Choice, and foundations. The Spiritual Life Program provides:

  • A Spiritual Assessment upon each child's arrival at the Ranch,
  • A Bible and other Christian resources to introduce children to Jesus and help them grow in their faith,
  • Regular chapel services for children and employees, with worship and teaching from God's Word,
  • Weekly Spiritual Life groups,
  • A Christian environment—with therapists, counselors, teachers, and youth care workers able to bring faith into the discussion,
  • Vacation Bible School,
  • Ongoing Spiritual mentoring by our Chaplain and Spiritual Life Coordinators.

The teachings and love of Christ are at the very core of all we do, and all we stand for. While not all of our staff, kids, or donors are Christian, Christianity is the foundation of our social mission. 

Helping Children and Families Grow Spiritually

Upon admission, children are assessed regarding their spiritual background and beliefs. From spiritual histories and life maps to questionnaires and individual treatment plan discussions, this assessment addresses all aspects of a child’s life. Assessment results are shared with our treatment teams for consideration in treatment planning.

Children have the opportunity to attend Chapel and Spiritual Life Groups, and meet individually with an on-campus Pastor or Chaplain. They also are invited to minister to others by working with the elderly off campus, attending Bible camp, volunteering for the community during special events, and more.

Children who choose not to take part in Christian programming participate in a values program—which teaches many of the same values of love, compassion, and forgiveness, but without a religious connection. 

If it weren’t for Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, I’d probably either be dead or telling this story from a prison cell. The most important thing they did as the Ranch was to point me towards faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of my life. Today my home is a place of love and laughter-- a place for my family and I to grow together and to be shaped in the image of Christ.

former resident

The people at the Ranch honestly cared for me and loved me at a time in my life when I thought the whole world was against me. With their help, and the introduction of God as a Father, I realized I could do it and that I could change.

former resident

Helping Ranch Staff Grow Spiritually

Our Spiritual Life Program extends to our staff, who receive a daily devotion from our on-staff Chaplain, and have access to individual spiritual guidance as requested.

Spiritual Life Staff

Our Spiritual Life staff includes pastors and Spiritual Life Coordinators who consider it a blessing to work with residents, study Scripture, and hold chapel services on a weekly basis.

Chaplain Rick Jones

Chaplain Rick Jones oversees our Spiritual Life program. Chaplain Jones attended Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO, and served his vicarage at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Minot, ND. One of his roles as Vicar was to conduct Spiritual Life groups, chapel, and other duties at the Ranch. When he later graduated from seminary, he joined the Ranch as Chaplain. He has since been named Vice President, Spiritual Life. In this role, he not only serves as the Chaplain, but plays a critical role on the Ranch Leadership Team.

Read more about Chaplain Rick Jones.

Church Affiliations

Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch is a Recognized Service Organization of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) and a founding member of Lutheran Services in America (LSA), through which it is an Affiliated Social Ministry Organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). We are also a Mission Partner for Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC) and a Partner Ministry of the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). We adhere to our founding body of members, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, for its doctrine of beliefs within our Spiritual Life program.

While the Ranch's Spiritual Life program is rooted in Lutheranism, we promote principles of respect, acceptance, and character building that are common to all faiths. The Ranch collaborates closely with hundreds of churches across the nation in various ways, including service projects and congregational awareness and engagement activities. Each year, Servant Teams from across the U.S. volunteer their time and skills to help us advance our mission.