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Institute and Spiritual Direction Training FAQ

Soul Shepherding Institute 

Soul Shepherding’s Institute is tailored to pastors, ministry leaders, missionaries, lay leaders and men and women serving the Lord in ministry. These Institute retreats will deepen your intimacy with Jesus and overflow in positive ways into all of your ministry work and relationships.

New cohorts begin one to three times a year. Here you will find information on current and upcoming cohorts, we typically have fall/spring cohorts and winter/summer cohorts.

Cohorts generally average about 35 participants for each retreat. Participants have come from all over the world including 15 states and 11 countries (UK, Mexico, Africa, Philippines, Indonesia, Canada, Columbia, China, New Zealand and more).

Bill and Kristi were mentored and trained under Dallas and Jane Willard. Their unique mix of biblical, theological, psychological and experiential training provides a solid foundation for spiritual, emotional, and leadership development. Our retreats are unique and feature:

  • Dynamic teaching on soul care
  • Guided experiences for spiritual formation
  • Customized spiritual and psychological coaching tools and experiences
  • Spiritual direction groups and soul friend conversations
  • Rest, solitude and silence in beautiful surroundings

You’ll leave each retreat feeling rested, rejuvenated, encouraged, and equipped with the tools you need to thrive in your life, relationships, ministry (or work), and leadership.

We begin at noon on Monday and wrap up by 12:30 pm on Friday. Each day begins with breakfast, followed by teaching, group training and small group breakouts (men and women).  Afternoons are spent in what we call TLC time (To Love Christ). This time is set aside for quiet reflection in nature, scripture meditation, recreation or a nap! You will also receive personalized care and coaching in a small group. Following dinner, Bill & Kristi provide another teaching time often leading participants in a group spiritual exercise. And of course there is plenty of free time to connect with other fellow retreat participants.

There are four unique week-long modules:

  • Spiritual Formation
  • Spiritual and Psychological Development
  • Soul Care Ministry
  • Relationally Healthy Leadership. 

For each module you will be provided with a PDF or you can purchase a printed copy onsite for $25 (this covers our printing costs). Each workbook is filled with stories, biblical teaching, spiritual exercises and more. Most people prefer having the printed copy for note taking during teaching times.

That is the best way to do the Institute but, as space allows, we do allow guests to jump in for a later week during a cohort.

Each of the Institute retreats costs $1200 per week.  This covers the cost of tuition, 4 nights of housing and 11 meals. You are responsible for all transportation costs to and from the Institute location.  Participants who pay in-full 60 days prior to the retreat will receive a $100 discount. There is a discount for spouses.

Soul Shepherding can offer partial scholarships for pastors and missionaries who are unable to pay the full tuition. These are provided on a case-by-case basis. If you are in need of financial assistance, please contact mark@soulshepherding.org.

Your first step is to complete the application and provide one reference. Have the person providing your reference use this link: Reference Form.  After we review your application and reference, you will receive an email notification from Soul Shepherding regarding your acceptance status. If you are accepted, you will be required to make a $250 deposit to secure your spot.

Spiritual Direction Training (SDT) Program 
The SDT program is designed to accompany the Institute retreats for those who sense a call to become trained as a spiritual director. It is an optional 24 month program of additional training with a cohort of other like-minded people.

SDT is an online course completed with a cohort over 24 months. It includes:

    • 4 Institute retreats
    • 12 online classes (one every other month)
    • 11 supervision sessions and 1 individual supervision session
    • Receiving a minimum of 12 spiritual direction sessions (one every other month) from one of Soul Shepherding’s Sr. Spiritual Directors 
    • Enriching reading assignments with short reflection papers on what you’re learning
    • 20 spiritual direction sessions you lead with a friend or someone you’re ministering to — using practical tools that we give you

If you have already been approved for the Institute or Coach Training program, simply complete the enrollment form and make your first payment.

If you have never applied for the Institute, you will need to complete our training application. You will also need to provide two references. (Have the people providing your references use this link: Reference Form.) Once you are accepted, you can confirm your participation by completing the enrollment form and making your first payment online or by mail to Soul Shepherding, 4000 Barranca Parkway, Suite 250 Irvine, CA 92604.

The cost of this program is $349/month for 24 months. This covers online classes, supervision groups and more. (The Institute retreats are included in this price).

Curriculum books and individual spiritual direction sessions are not included in the $349/month payment. Discounts for spiritual direction are available to students who meet with one of Soul Shepherding’s certified Sr. Spiritual Directors. A full breakdown of these program costs can be found at this link.

Soul Shepherding can offer partial scholarships for pastors and missionaries who are unable to pay the full tuition. These are provided on a case-by-case basis. If you are in need of financial assistance, please contact mark@soulshepherding.org.

Soul Shepherding’s SDT program is a cost effective way to receive spiritual direction training without the added time commitment and expense that often comes with seminary based programs (usually requiring a Masters degree). The SDT Program exceeds the certification requirements of the Evangelical Spiritual Directors Association (ESDA). You can find out more about those requirements at their website: Grafted Life Training Minimums


Graduates are eligible to be listed in our exclusive Soul Shepherding Spiritual Director’s Network. You can join the Soul Shepherding Network for access to our leadership community, ongoing supervision groups, and a vault of extensive resources and tools. Once you are certified by Soul Shepherding you can have your profile listed on our website to increase your visibility, network with other leaders, and generate referrals.


If you have further questions about our retreats and the SDT program, we would be happy to meet with you.  You can schedule a free Zoom call here or you can email Sue Wood at sue@soulshepherding.org. We are here to serve and help you get started.

Soul Shepherding