Off-campus Fuller users: Please use the following link to log into our proxy server and download this thesis.

Publication Date

Winter 12-2018


The topic of spiritual discernment is certainly one of the most challenging aspects of the pastoral role. Congregational members are at times presented with major decisions, placing them at the crossroads of life. Assisting such parishioners, to discern the will of God, is a fundamentally important element of the pastoral role.

This project proposes a Spiritual Discernment Retreat, which seeks to synthesize wisdom on discernment from the early desert dwellers, St. Ignatius Loyola and Dallas Willard. These writings are highly regarded for their insight into discernment. Focusing on their combined wisdom will provide a trustworthy foundation spanning two millennia, thus offering helpful principles for a discernment journey.

The Spiritual Discernment Retreat will be offered to people within Coast Community Church who are facing important, life-shaping decisions. The retreat will be preceded by two weeks of preparation and groundwork and followed up by a one-week period of consolidation and confirmation. Together, these three weeks will seek to provide an opportunity for the participant to consider their decision within the context of God’s sovereign will and their unique calling.

Part One investigates the ministry context of the church and the community, seeking to explore factors contributing to the issues of isolation, financial stress, tiredness and frustration, for those living on the Central Coast. These challenges have detrimental effects on the well being of local congregants and can lead to veritable struggles when seeking to discern the will of God. The church has responded to the spiritual needs of its members by developing a series of spiritual retreats, where individuals are given the opportunity, teaching and time to invest in their relationship with God. In addition to these retreats, the Spiritual Discernment Retreat will be offered to those in the church struggling to gain clarity and conviction from God, when seeking his will. The context of a retreat will provide the much needed and valued time and space to seek God’s leading.

Part Two explores wisdom from three traditions on discernment: the desert dwellers, Ignatius and Willard. Though these authors are separated by many centuries, this paper seeks to draw on their convictions on discernment. Part Two will also use Jeremiah 6:16 as a framework for the development of a discernment journey and to present a solid biblical and theological structure for individuals when seeking the will of God.

Part Three describes the content and implementation of the Spiritual Discernment Retreat, including the important role of the two weeks preceding the retreat and one week following. All together the discernment process extends to a three-week journey, where participants are led through proven Biblical principles drawn from three traditions known for their wisdom and value on discernment. Upon completion, the hope is for church members to be able to confidently make their decision with a Godly conviction and peace.

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)

First Advisor

Stephen Hinks

Document Type





Discernment, Decision, Decision Making, Ignatius, Ignatius Discernment, Dallas Willard, Desert Mothers, Desert Fathers, God's will, Hearing God


Biblical Studies | Christianity | History of Christianity | Practical Theology | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion


This was uploaded by the David Allan Hubbard Library from the Theological Research Exchange Network (TREN). If there are any mistakes in this record, please contact

Upload File


Date Uploaded


Collection Number


File Name



Material is subject to copyright.

Embargo Period