Ministry is stressful. It’s the same for those in full-time ministry and for tent makers like Paul. Whether it’s the weight of leadership, spiritual dryness, compassion fatigue, the grind of preaching every week, or church conflicts, eventually we all are challenged.

In our Soul Shepherding Institute we (Bill and Kristi Gaultiere) help you unhook from the stress and noise of your ministry and life in order to be immersed for five days in a vibrant community of apprentices to Jesus. Have you ever “unplugged” that long? You’d be amazed at the energy and clarity of vision from God you’d experience!

Come visit us in Southern California to soak up the sunshine and the ocean! We’ll show you how to make space to hear God’s voice, be renewed spiritually, and engage in soul training activities that will transform your life and ministry. You’ll be primed to share your new experiences and learning with your church or leadership group and we’ll help you do that through Soul Shepherding curriculum.

Our Institute is for pastors, ministry spouses, spiritual directors, missionaries, business leaders, and other men and women who are serving the Lord. The program is inspired by our training as Doctors of Psychology and Spiritual Directors, being personally mentored by Dallas and Jane Willard and Ray and Anne Ortlund, and our history of helping pastors, leaders, and marriages.


Spiritual Formation and Soul Care Training for Men and Women in Ministry

Soul Shepherding’s Institute is an 18-month program of experiential learning. We feature four retreats (five days each) with dynamic teaching, deep-spirited community with other leaders, rest in a beautiful setting, and customized coaching in utilizing spiritual disciplines to cultivate greater fruitfulness in life and ministry. Also we offer optional supplemental training to earn a certificate in the ministry of Spiritual Direction, which features monthly online groups for learning and supervision.

We assist the Lord Jesus in personally caring for and guiding you through extended blocks of “TLC Time” (solitude and silence with Jesus), interactive learning, guided experiences, individual and group spiritual direction, and small group sharing and prayer.

For each retreat you’ll receive a curriculum guide of Institute readings, assessments, diagrams, and tools. Each of the four modules in the program integrate Christ-centered spirituality and psychology to form a progression of learning and transformation for your life, relationships, ministry, and leadership:

  • Spiritual Formation: The way to overcome stress, hurt, and sin is not “believe and do what’s right”, it’s through apprenticeship to Jesus in the Kingdom of the Heavens. Living and working in Jesus’ easy yoke transforms our whole life. We help you customize a rhythm of life with Jesus for intimacy with God, emotional and relational health, and fruitful ministry.
  • Spiritual and Psychological Development: The spiritual life is not one size fits all. Depending on what stage in the journey you’re in, you need different teaching, ministry, and disciplines to practice. Our field tested LIFE in CHRIST model of spiritual and psychological maturity provides customized coaching for you and the people you shepherd to thrive with Jesus.
  • Soul Care Ministry: Our spiritual psychology sheds light on the stress and struggles that defeat life with God. We show you how to receive and share Christ’s personal healing and growth through soul shepherding relationships, small groups, and church ministry.
  • Relationally Healthy Leadership: When we minister or lead out of ego, self-reliance, or hurry it depletes our soul and hurts the people we love. The most effective leadership and ministry follows the way of Jesus as a spiritual healer — it’s loving, relaxed, joyful, empowered, and fruitful.

Spiritual Hospitality and Home Cooking!

At a Soul Shepherding Institute Retreat you receive personalized care and teaching in authentic community. We limit each cohort to about 20 participants. All teaching, guided experiences, and spiritual direction are personally provided by us. (You can learn more about us here.)

Instead of just teaching the content — as life changing as the ideas are! — we also guide you into experiences with those ideas that facilitate greater intimacy with Christ. Our goal is to help you thrive with Jesus in your life and ministry.

Our retreats are especially helpful for ministry couples to experience together, but many people participate without their spouse or as a single person. (We can provide a discount if you bring your spouse or a friend and share a room.)

Renew Your Soul and Your Leadership!

In our spiritual formation and soul care retreats you will not experience the typical “conference overload”. Each day features very generous spaces of “TLC Time” for quiet reflection in nature, Scripture meditation, conversation with friends, or a nap! You will receive personalized care and coaching in a small group and individually to help you thrive with Jesus in your life and leadership.

Small Groups

Personal Soul Care

Spiritual Direction Certification

The Soul Shepherding Institute includes an optional two-year certificate program in the ministry of Spiritual Direction (serving as a Soul Shepherd for others). This is an online training program that adds onto our four residential weeks of retreat and training in Southern California. This track in the Institute features monthly online groups with live teaching, discussion, and supervision in the ministry of Spiritual Direction. You’ll be learning soul care ministry by experience and practice and you’ll receive encouragement and feedback from Soul Shepherding supervisors and teachers. This program is led by Bill & Kristi Gaultiere and some of their Associates and it meets the qualifications of the Evangelical Spiritual Directors Association.


Since we launched the Soul Shepherding Institute in 2013 over 100 pastors and leaders have experienced renewal and growth. Each cohort is evenly divided between men and women. We’ve had diverse ages and ethnic groups participate. People have come to us from Africa, Indonesia, Mexico, Columbia, China, the Philippines, New Zealand, England, Canada, and throughout the United States. Some participants have used the mentoring from us to start their own soul care ministry to pastors and leaders. (Let us know if this interests you.)

“This is the most helpful leadership training program I’ve participated in and it’s a bargain!” Ron Thompson Senior Pastor ~ Twin Cities Church ~ Lake Tahoe, CA

“I am so thankful to God for bringing you into my life. Your spiritual direction and retreats have changed every part of the way I live, think, love, and work. Bless you!” Eileen Callahan Psychotherapist & Facilitator for Cloud & Townsend Leadership Intensives ~  Newport Beach, CA

“I like the team teaching that Bill and Kristi do. It models shared leadership, male and female. It also opens up different pathways to apprehend the presence of Christ.” Rev. Dr. Jeff McCrory Lead Pastor ~ Little Brown Urban Mission Hub ~ Long Beach, CA Seminary Professor ~ Fuller Theological Seminary ~ Pasadena, CA

“Yippee! That’s how my soul is responding to Jesus after Soul Shepherding’s Institute. My heart says ‘yes’ to be being Jesus’ affectionate apprentice. I feel known in my secret places and filled up with empathy. My wife and I have received spiritual fathering and mothering that we can pass along in our own ministry call.” Rev. Aaron and Laura Damiani Church Plant Pastor ~ Immanuel Anglican Church ~ Chicago, IL

“Thank you Bill and Kristi! It’s so obvious that this is your life and not just a program that you put on. Your love for the Lord, each other, and us has been a profound blessing.” Suzanne S. Community Development Practioner ~ China

“The last thing I wanted was another ministry conference/training. My wife and I were enticed by Soul Shepherding for one reason: we saw in Bill and Kristi a vibrant, authentic, transcendent life with Jesus. Two years later we are walking with Jesus in a level of intimacy that has transformed our marriage, family, and ministry.” Steve & Cathi Phillips Lead Pastor & Children’s Pastor ~ Journey Christian Church ~ Irvine, CA

“My compassion tank was empty when I came to Soul Shepherding, but my experience of empathy has been so enriching and enlivening!” Stu Krogman Pastor of Hope Ministries ~ CrossRoads Church ~ Alberta, Canada

“The Institute has transformed my entire life! It is totally ‘out of the box.'” Susan Wood Leader of 30 Bible Study Leaders ~ Community Bible Study ~ Seattle, WA

“Soul Shepherding brought my theology from my head to my heart… It has slowed down my hurried life and thoughts. Today I am a more loving, giving, kind, and patient person.” Mark Harvey Business Owner and Missions Team Leader ~ Irvine, CA

“I couldn’t keep going on the mission field. The teaching and vulnerable sharing helped me press in closer to Jesus. I am renewed!” Linda Gawthorne Ex-Pat ~ Wycliffe Bible Translators ~ Colombia

“If you’re hungry for Jesus and want a community of like-minded Christ-followers to journey with you in spiritual transformation Soul Shepherding’s Institute is specially designed for you. It will satisfy your soul!” Mildred Gerner Pastor’s Wife and Spiritual Formation Teacher ~ King of King’s Church ~ Omaha, NE

“I felt like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon… The learning practices helped me into a deeper walk with Christ and soul connections with others in their journey.” Patricia Niednagel Ex-Pat ~ South America

Upcoming Institute Retreats for Pastors and Leaders

Six times per year Soul Shepherding offers 5-day retreats in sunny Southern California and each year we start two new Institute cohorts of men and women in ministry. Our venues are beautiful, hospitable, spacious, and relaxing. We serve delicious and healthy home cooked meals and snacks (some not so healthy!). For upcoming Cohort dates click here.


$900 per person for each five-day retreat. This covers everything: lodging, food, materials, and personalized spiritual direction. $3,600 is the total cost for the four retreats over 18-months. (The online Spiritual Direction certificate program is two years long and costs an extra $150 per month.) Payment reserves your space. Checks are made to “Soul Shepherding” in one lump sum or in four payments before each retreat. (If needed, you can apply for a partial scholarship.)

Pleases mail a check or use our secure online payment page. (We’re sorry, but we are not able to offer refunds.)


Other Soul Shepherding Retreats for Pastors, Churches, and Christian Groups

For pastor couples Bill and Kristi Gaultiere team up to offer intensive coaching and/or private retreats. Often this is part of a pastor’s Sabbatical. It may include being hosted in the home of one of our ministry partners in Orange County, CA. The cost is $1,200 for a day of coaching. (If needed you can apply for a partial scholarship.)

We customize Soul Shepherding retreats/trainings for church staff teams, elder boards, or other groups of ministry leaders. Periodically, we offer retreats and events that are open to the public. These are posted on our Events/Calendar.

Contact us to learn more about how we can help you to thrive with Jesus in life and leadership!