Nelson Searcy

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Nelson Searcy
Born (1971-10-03) October 3, 1971 (age 45)
Nationality American
Occupation Pastor, Author

Nelson Searcy (born October 3, 1971) is an American evangelical minister and author. He is the founder and lead pastor of The Journey Church, an evangelical Christian church in New York City and Boca Raton, Florida. Founded in 2002, The Journey Church has grown to include multiple campuses across metro New York City (in Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island) and a campus in Boca Raton, Florida. The church continues to grow and innovate and serve the people of metro New York City and beyond. The Journey has been featured in articles in Time Magazine,[1] Rolling Stone,[2] and The New York Times.[3][4] In addition, he is an author of many Christian books on church leadership and numerous resources for pastors and other church leaders. He is also the founder of Church Leader Insights, an organization that provides training and resources for pastors.


Personal life and education[edit]

Nelson Searcy grew up in North Carolina. He started a computer programming business at age 13 and was selected as one of the nation's Top Ten Young Entrepreneurs while in high school.

Searcy met his wife, Kelley, on a blind date while they were in college and the two were married in 1994. They have lived in North Carolina, Southern California, Manhattan, and currently reside in Boca Raton.[5] They have one son and are longtime bulldog owners.

Searcy received a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, North Carolina. He received his Master of Divinity (M.Div.) from Duke University and has pursued additional study at North Carolina State University, Gardner-Webb University School of Divinity, and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Early Ministry[edit]

After becoming a Christian while in college, Searcy entered full-time ministry in 1990.

Searcy served with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina and pastored churches in North Carolina from 1990 to 1999.

Searcy went on staff with Rick Warren in 1999. There he was the founding director of the Purpose Driven Community at Saddleback Church, with more than 5,000 member churches, and a key architect for Warren's[6]

The Journey Church[edit]

Searcy and his wife, Kelley, moved to New York City in late 2001 to start The Journey Church of the City.

On Easter Sunday of 2002 a handful of people gathered in two Manhattan locations as The Journey launched weekly services. From the very beginning, The Journey was "one church that met in multiple locations" - on the Upper West Side on Sunday mornings and in the East Village on Sunday evenings.

From there, The Journey has steadily grown in numbers and ministries . Over the years the church has met in comedy clubs, church basements, off-Broadway theaters, public schools, hotel ballrooms and even in larger concert venues. As of July, 2012, The Journey meets in two locations in the Metro New York area.

Most recently, The Journey launched a new campus in Boca Raton, Florida, on February 13, 2011.

The Journey has always been a diverse group of people united by their desire "to give people the best opportunity to become fully developing followers of Jesus".

Over 1,200 people attend services each Sunday and over 1,400 people get plugged into a Journey Growth Group each semester.[7]

Church Leader Insights[edit]

Searcy founded Church Leader Insights (CLI), an organization that provides training and resources to pastors and to church leaders. As of 2014 more than 16,000 pastors receive his bi-weekly Church Leader Insights newsletter (formerly known as Evangelism Online) each month,[8] and Searcy has personally trained more than 1100 church planters.[9]

CLI hosts live training-events throughout the United States and online through webinars, and offers free resources for church planters, as well as resources for pastors in the following areas:

  • assimilation
  • church planting
  • evangelism
  • growth barriers
  • leadership
  • sermon series
  • small groups
  • stewardship
  • strategy
  • worship planning

The Eight Systems of the Church[edit]

Searcy proposes eight systems for churches for maximum health. These systems are featured throughout his coaching, teaching and books:

  • Weekend Service System (How to plan, implement and evaluate your music, preaching, transitions, etc.)
  • Evangelism System (How to attract people to our church)
  • Assimilation System (How to take people from their first visit to fully developing members of church)
  • Small Groups System (How to fill and reproduce small groups in our church)
  • Volunteer System (How to mobilise people for ministry)
  • Stewardship System (How to develop strong givers)
  • Leadership System (How to develop staff, lay leaders and high-powered volunteers)
  • Strategic System (How to evaluate the above systems for constant improvement)


  • 2004 Purpose Driven Church Health Award[10]
  • 2008 Alumni of the Year - Gardner-Webb University
  • 2006 Top 100 Fastest Growing Churches in the US (Outreach Magazine)
  • 2007 Top 10 Most Innovative Churches in America (Outreach Magazine)

Conference Speaking Highlights[edit]

  • Willow Creek Community Church
  • Saddleback Church
  • Fellowship of the Woodlands
  • Outreach Convention
  • On Target Evangelism Conference of the California Baptist Convention
  • Assembly of God National Church Planting Conference
  • Baptist Convention of Ohio
  • Florida Baptist Convention Pastors Conference
  • Southern Baptist Convention Pastors Conference
  • Church National Conference
  • Easum Bandy & Associates
  • Purpose Driven Church Conference
  • Preaching for Life Change Conference
  • Liberty University Convocation Speaker
  • General Baptist Convention
  • National Servant Evangelism Conference
  • Great Commission Research Network Conference



  1. ^ Time Magazine article - The Gospel According To Spider-Man
  2. ^ Rolling Stone article - The Young & the Sexless
  3. ^ New York Times article - Finding Jesus on Facebook, and Checking Podcasts for a Pew That Fits
  4. ^ New York Times article - Have Faith, Lose Weight. But First, Candy
  5. ^ The Journey Church Offices in Boca Raton, FL
  6. ^ Launch - About the Author
  7. ^ The Journey - About Us
  8. ^ "Fusion: Turning First-Time Guests into Fully-Engaged Members of Your Church"., Inc. 2014. Retrieved 2014-09-12. Nelson is an active church planting coach, church growth consultant and publisher of the semi-monthly online resource Evangelism Online, which is distributed to 16,000 pastors each month. 
  9. ^ "Fusion: Turning First-Time Guests into Fully-Engaged Members of Your Church"., Inc. 2014. Retrieved 2014-09-12. Over the last three years, Nelson has personally trained more than 1100 church planters through his own seminars and training events with Saddleback Church in California. 
  10. ^ Purpose Driven Church Health Award - Previous Winners

External links[edit]