Executive Summary of the Congregational Assessment Tool (CAT) for West Des Moines United Methodist Church 

As you recall, a few weeks ago our church conducted a survey called the Congregational Assessment Tool (CAT).  This survey is devised and analyzed by a consulting firm called Holy Cow! Consulting and was paid for by the Iowa Conference.  The purpose of the survey is to identify the drivers of our church’s satisfaction, our church’s goals, and what our church seeks in a new Senior Pastor.  What follows below is an Executive Summary of the findings prepared by our Staff Parish Relations Committee and our CAT Logistics Team.


545 persons were invited to take the survey, and 140 persons responded.

Overall, the survey found that we are a healthy church that has a relatively high level of energy and satisfaction compared to the thousands of other churches that have taken the CAT.

Findings Regarding Our Church

Drivers of Satisfaction:  The survey identified five attributes that drive satisfaction in our church.  When we feel positive about these attributes, we feel positive about the church.  Because these areas drive our satisfaction,  we should always pay careful attention to them.  These areas are –

  • Providing high quality Christian education to all ages and stages in life
  • Adapting our worship to the needs and circumstances of people in the community
  • Representing membership in our leadership
  • Providing quality spiritual content in our worship service
  • Providing quality and appropriate style in our music

Goals:  The survey found broad consensus across age and level of involvement in the top four goals for the church.  These goals are

  • Attracting families with children and youth to the church
  • Reaching new people and incorporating them into the life of the church
  • Providing more Christian education and spiritual formation for all ages and stages of life
  • Creating opportunities for relationship formation (examples: small groups, nurtured friendships, shared meals)

The survey found three goals that are unusually strong for our church compared to others.  Even if these goals aren’t among the top priorities, they may still warrant attention.  These goals are

  • Creating opportunities for relationship formation (examples: small groups, nurtured friendships, shared meals)
  • Expanding outreach to those on the margins of society (examples: homeless, immigrants, transient persons)
  • Working for social change so that society reflects God’s kingdom

Findings Regarding Church Performance

The survey determined our percentile ranking among other churches on several areas of performance.  Our top two areas of performance were Readiness for Ministry (80th percentile) and Spiritual Vitality (71st percentile).  Two opportunities for improvement, according to our self- ratings, are Hospitality (38th percentile) and Conflict Management (43rd percentile).

Findings Regarding Our Next Senior Pastor

Critical Abilities:  The survey found that the top three critical abilities that we are seeking in our new pastor are

  • Preaching with a capacity to inspire and connect people to God’s word
  • Strategic leadership – casting a vision and leading towards that vision
  • Pastoral care – empathetically caring for persons in times of need

One ability that was not in the top three but rated highly in comparison to other churches was

  • Administration – managing the church operationally


These are the principal findings of the CAT for our church.  If you have more in depth questions about the results and would like to learn more please contact one of the following individuals.

Craige Wrenn, SPRC Chair and CAT Logistics Team Contact

Sue Brownlee, Church Council Chair and CAT Logistics Team Member

Mike Plymale, CAT Logistics Team Member

Greg Fitts, SPRC and CAT Logistics Team Member

Cindy Willson, SPRC Member

Kathy Williams, SPRC Member

Anne Elly, SPRC Member

Sandy Smith, SPRC Member

Lisa Mitchell, SPRC Member

Phyllis Clark, SPRC Member

Linda Holz, SPRC Member