Congregational Assessment Tool

Updated August 8, 2019


“Better Decisions in Less Time with More Confidence”

The Congregation Assessment Tool (CAT) provides the congregation and the Iowa UMC Conference with objective organizational information that includes energy level, satisfaction/wholeness, flexibility, and ministry priorities.  Every person connected to the church is invited to complete the assessment, providing the leadership with broad and in-depth information about several areas:

  • The Level of Satisfaction and Energy in the Congregation
  • Critical Success Factors for Improving Organizational Climate
  • Pinpoint the Strengths of Your Congregation’s Culture
  • Discover Where Members Would Like to Go in the Future
  • Gauge Readiness for Change

Developed by Holy Cow Consulting, every CAT survey starts with 93 questions (86 base questions plus 7 the Iowa UMC adds to learn more about every United Methodist Church in Iowa). Additionally, the church can add a module or write its own questions with the maximum survey length of 100 questions.  Common supplemental modules include: 

  • Strategic Planning Module – identify if people believe in your current mission and vision.
  • Missional Church Module – identify how equipped and interested people are in reaching out to others with the Good News. 
  • Stewardship Appeal Module – learn the perspectives of people towards your current and future financial and stewardship processes.
  • Worship Experience Module – learn about what people experience and expect in their worship experience.

A trained interpreter, provided by the Iowa Annual Conference, will guide the church through the preparation and administration of the CAT survey and present the detailed results to church leadership.  The detailed report provides both the individual responses and a benchmarked comparison to other churches that have completed the survey recently.  Leaders can then decide next steps based on the results, including how best to communicate the survey to the rest of the congregation.

To learn more about the CAT, visit the Holy Cow Consulting website. 


CAT Process for an Iowa United Methodist Church

In order to simplify the process for the local church, the Conference will handle much of the internal administration of the CAT while a logistics team in the local church will handle critical tasks in the local church as follows:

  • The Conference Will:
    1. Provide the Trained Interpreter.
    2. Choose the Supplemental Modules and extra questions based on conversations with the District Superintendent, Director of Congregational Excellence, and local church.
    3. Order and Pay for the CAT.
    4. Provide a Draft of the Assessment to the Logistics Team.
    5. Provide the Link and PDF Document to the Church Logistics Team.
    6. Provide Weekly Updates of Participation Rates (Comes Directly from Holy Cow Consulting).
    7. Process the Results and Provide Interpretation to the Church Leadership.
  • The Church Will (refer to the CAT Checklist for more details):
    1. Decide which body is responsible for taking action, if necessary, with the survey results (typically the Board/Council or SPRC).
    2. Establish a small three-to-six person logistics team that will handle preparation, communication, and follow-up with the CAT at the local church.  This team typically includes representation from the Council and Staff Parish as well as someone to facilitate mass communication with the church. The team needs to have a single contact person for the Interpreter and Holy Cow Consulting.
    3. Communicate about the CAT and encourage people to complete the survey.  While completion by a minimum of 30% of your average worship attendance is needed, most churches benefit from a higher rate of response.
    4. Invite leaders to hear the results in an in-depth Church Leadership Interpretation (presentation) led by the Interpreter.
    5. Communicate a summary of the results to the congregation and follow up with any next steps prompted by the CAT. 

CAT Church and Logistic Team Checklist and FAQ

CAT Logistic Team Worksheet

Detailed Congregation Assessment Tool (CAT) Explanation