A coach’s role is to provide sacred space, listen well,
capture what is most significant and reflect back the leader’s
wisdom and expertise. Coaching conversations can be life changing –
providing a path toward deepened self-awareness
for one’s personal and professional life.

Thought Partners for Ministry Leaders

Ministry is a complex and demanding vocation. Coaches are available to work with leaders in a spirit of mutual respect and trust. Coaches:

  • Listen carefully
  • Ask thought-provoking questions
  • Help identify leader’s goals and work with internal and external barriers
  • Provide support in maintaining health and good boundaries
  • Support leaders in honing their gifts and skills
  • Help navigate the challenges and benefits of one’s community and context
  • Hold leaders accountable to their goals and plans

Healthy and vital ministry is led by healthy and vital leaders. Being intentional and purposeful about self-care and professional growth is key for healthy, faithful and effective leadership and for healthy faithcommunities.

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Who We Are

Clergy Coaches is dedicated to providing personalized coaching focused on self-care and leadership, providing faith communities, their leaders and those preparing for faith community leadership a caring partner in mission.  

Clergy Coaches was developed in 2000 through a partnership between Fairview Health Services and Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota (LSS) in collaboration with Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Synods in and near the Twin Cities.  The Rev. Dr. John Martinson has served as its director since the beginning.

After working 19 years with Synod/District offices to care for pastors dealing with the challenges and demands of their ministries, it became clear many of these pastors simply did not have the support they needed and deserved. This led to a commitment to develop coaching as a resource for pastoral leaders. Leaders who have chosen to work with a coach consistently report the experience is helpful and valuable.

Questions & Answers

What Is Coaching?

Coaching is a dynamic one-on-one relationship grounded in respectful and careful listening. The coach is a thought partner, exploring challenges and possibilities and asking thought-provoking questions while trusting the experiences and expertise of the client. Coaching is grounded in the coach’s belief that the person being coached has the ability to develop effective leadership. The coach also acts as an accountability partner.

Development of Coaching for Vocational Growth

Coaching has a long history rooted in the coaching of athletes and musicians wishing to perform at a high level. Today many professionals, including corporate leaders, work with a coach. Faith community leaders have not always had the same support.

Coaching and Faith Community Leadership

Faith communities are learning the value of coaching for leaders who are looking for ways to care for their relationships, their physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing, and their vocation. Today, increasing numbers of faith community leaders have chosen to work with a coach who understands the complex challenges of ministry.

Comments from Clergy

Coaching through Clergy Coaches is . . .


Coaching sessions are usually offered by telephone or video conference calls, allowing for maximum flexibility and efficient use of the leader’s time as well as making coaching available regardless of where the leader lives. A coaching session is normally 30 to 45 minutes long and is generally scheduled every two to four weeks.


Coaching supports leaders as they clarify challenges, develop leadership effectiveness, and set professional goals. Coaching is not for leaders in the midst of crisis. It is not therapy or spiritual direction. Coaching is the mining of a leader’s own agenda, goals for growth, and wisdom.


The cost for 12 coaching sessions is $360 – much less than comparable individual leadership resources. Some judicatories, faith communities and ministry sites have been able to provide financial assistance. You may wish to explore these possibilities for support. We also have grants available. Please don’t let finances get in the way –­ contact us to request a Clergy Coach grant.


The content of coaching is confidential.


Coaching is a time set apart, allowing leaders space to reconnect to their deepest values and vision for life and ministry in a trusted relationship.

Meet The Coaches