How I Started Coaching Pastors (Part 2 of 2)

Yesterday I told you how I coached my first 200 pastors by traveling around the country during one frantic week a month. I learned a lot from these first 200 pastors. It was during this time that:

– I developed my proprietary approach to coaching based on the Eight Systems of a Healthy Church. Some of those early coaching members are still engaged today and they remember me teaching the Assimilation System or the Stewardship System for the first time. While these systems have radically improved over the years, their genesis was from all that time crammed into late night flights across the country.

– I learned that I love pastors. If you look at my ministry prior to started The Journey Church this shouldn’t have been a surprise as I’ve always been involved in helping other pastors in some way or another. But through coaching, I’ve come to have a deep love and respect for the calling we share.

Frankly, my first love in ministry is the people of The Journey Church but a close second to that is my love for pastors and helping them (you!) live out their calling in a healthy, fulfilling and fruitful way).

 I learned that it’s easy to call yourself a coach but that true coaching is hard work. I might be able to take credit for inventing modern pastor-to-pastor coaching as I don’t too think any pastor was officially doing it before me (C. H. Spurgeon and, before him, Martin Luther both had gatherings that I might classify as ‘coaching’ but I don’t have time to detail those here).

To be clear, my coaching is not pastor to pastor counseling (although I suppose some benefit from it in that way); nor is it an extended prayer meeting (although we do pray….a lot); nor is it an indoctrination or orientation to a denominational way (so many denominations are now calling their orientation and accountability process ‘coaching’ but it’s really not. Forgive me if that steps on any toes).

To have a true, deep, practical yet biblical based coaching process is hard work. To build a ministry with a team of people to support that coaching is even harder. Most who use the word ‘coach’ in a ministry context haven’t thought deeply enough, worked hard enough or developed . a ‘back end’ process proficient enough to be worthy of their title.

Forgive the rant (true as it is), I am supposed to be telling you how my coaching went from 200 to 2000. The short answer: the Internet and God’s grace.

The limitation on my early coaching was that I could only be in so many places at a time. My priority was pastoring The Journey (and still is) so I gave one week a month to travel; one city a day for five days, ending in my home city of NYC.  I couldn’t add more.  But at the same time, there were great pastors spread out in the USA/Canada and even beyond who couldn’t travel to one of my coaching cities but wanted to experience the network.

As the bandwidth of the internet grew, I realized that I could accomplish 85-90% of the same results through online coaching as I was doing through in-person coaching. And things blew up!

My first online coaching network attracted over 80 pastors (more in one network than I could coach by traveling to 5+ cities) from all over the US/Canada. I split the network into two groups and staggered the sessions so I could manage it. All the time that I saved from not having to travel or sit in airports during long layovers allowed me to still give personal attention to a larger group.

As the networks grew, we built an organization behind it to support it, namely Church Leader Insights and, more recently, The Renegade Pastors Network. Our support staff and executive staff of this new ministry — separate both organizational and financially from The Journey Church — grew and strengthened the coaching networks. I still delivered, innovated and led the coaching networks but we added staff to support the new online coaching experience and handle the daily operational side of coaching.

Today, by God’s grace, I have coached 2100+ pastors from the USA/Canada and around the world. If records were kept I have probably coached more pastors than anyone in history. I have probably coached more female pastors than anyone in history. My networks are multi-cultural and multi-denominational (I have coached pastors from almost every Christian denomination — which I define as Bible believing, salvation by grace preaching and Jesus loving — from AME Zion to Vineyard). I prayed this would be the case when I committed my coaching networks to the Lord but could never have envisioned what God has done. All Glory to Him.

A year ago I had crossroads where several things came together: a major health issue (which I will most likely deal with the rest of my life), multiple locations/increased complexity of The Journey Church and a demanding writing/publishing schedule (I live off my book royalties and do everything else for free). This led me to ask if I should keep coaching.  After all, I had a network of 2000+ coaching alumni that I could nurture for the rest of my ministry.

But God strongly led me (and my wife) to the conclusion that I should continue to lead new coaching networks, doing all I can to promote, fill and lead them.

So, here’s an invitation…

My next pastor-to-pastor Coaching Network starts Tuesday, March 6. I want to invite you to apply. I’ll tell you more about it next week.

But for now, you can read all about it here and even go ahead and secure your spot (with some cool early registration bonuses), just visit:

I call this my Gold Level coaching network as it’s the foundational one for any senior pastor who wants to grow personally and see their church grow. It’s based on the eight systems I mentioned above and outline on the website. Yes, I do have higher networks called Platinum (focused on just one system) and Titanium (my only in-person network that meets 5x per year in Orlando) but Gold is the best place to start and the best entry point (dare I say most blessed network) for you as a Senior Pastor.

If, after checking out the website, you still have questions about the network, just send an email (every reply is read) with your question and cell phone number to You will get an answer via email or phone call.

Thanks for reading. Your partner in ministry,


P.S. This is the fourth email in a series — I did a two-parter on My First Coaching Experience and this email is Part 2 of How I Started Coaching Pastors. To read the previous ones, they are posted on my blog at the following links.

My First Coaching Experience
Click here for Part 1
Click here for Part 2

How I Started Coaching Pastors
Click here for Part 1
See post above for Part 2

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About Nelson Searcy

Nelson Searcy is an experienced church growth strategist, pastor, church planter and coach, consulting with churches around the world. As founder of Church Leader Insights and the Renegade Pastors Network, he has personally trained more than 3,500 church leaders in over 45 denominations through live events, seminars and monthly coaching. Nelson is also the Founding and Lead Pastor of The Journey Church, with locations across New York City and in Boca Raton, FL. Nelson and his church routinely appear on lists such as “The 50 Most Influential Churches” and “The 25 Most Innovative Leaders.” He is the author of over 100 church growth resources and 18+ books, including The Renegade Pastor: Abandoning Average in Your Life, Ministry and The Difference Maker: Using Your Everyday Life for Eternal Impact, and At the Cross with the People Who Were There. He and his wife, Kelley, have one son, Alexander.

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