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Case Study: Parkway UMC

REVEAL Executive Summary excerpt: Parkway UMC Demographics

REVEAL Executive Summary excerpt: Parkway UMC Demographics

Sugar Land, TX

Sugar Land, TX

  • 697 members

  • 395 average weekly attendance

  • 11 active small groups

  • Celebrating 20 years as a church



The Challenge

We had spent a year working on the vision frame of our church. The result was a clear vision of who we are and who we are to be. Yet, we still did not have a clear idea of how to get there.


We enlisted the help of Ascending Leaders, especially through the coaching of Mike Johnson. Mike led us to develop a definition of a disciple to add to our lifemarks of a disciple so that we would know what, precisely, we are talking about when we discuss growing disciples.

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We were still struggling with where to start. Mike then suggested that the results of a REVEAL survey of our church would show us places to start working in order to better grow these disciples.




Administering the Assessment

Mike coached us through way to promote the REVEAL survey to our congregation to get a high rate of participation. This included how to frame it so that we gave a clear and correct message.





After the Survey

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Mike helped us interpret and communicate the results to our larger congregation and to our leadership so we know how to make progress in making disciples here at Parkway.

He picked out the bright spots and the areas of concern and shared these with our “Intentional Faith Development Team,” and later with our small group leaders.


Key Discoveries

Some of the positives:

Yet, we scored below average in our spiritual beliefs, spiritual practices, and actions of faith.



REVEAL Placed Us in A “Complacent” Category

That emotionally charged label would put our people in defensive mode and could get in the way of progress. We asked for a more positive word, and Mike adjusted for us, suggesting “Under-Developed”, which showed more hope for the future.


Moving Toward Vibrant

After debriefing with our leaders and brainstorming potential next steps, we decided the first best step was to get more of our people into scripture and to address the core Christian beliefs.


We scheduled a 7-week sermon series on the gospel of John, which would focus on various beliefs like God being a personal God, the person and work of the Holy Spirit, etc...

Pastor Matt Neely

Pastor Matt Neely


We pulled together everyone who had a leadership role for something going on in the life of our church. Mike led us through a brainstorming activity in which each group brainstormed what they could do to help us focus on the John sermon series and better help people extend the sermon into the week.


Many great ideas came out of that collaboration between groups. For example, our women’s retreat shifted and planned to focus on something from the gospel of John. The staff chose John for their devotions at their meetings. While the children’s and student ministries already had their curriculum selected, they found other ways to incorporate the gospel of John.



We wanted to get started right away, so we simply let our leaders loose with the charge to implement any of their ideas they felt they could in the amount of time given. We invited our small groups to study the gospel of John, based on the messages. We began three brand new groups.

Mike provided us with excellent small group discussions each week that worked well for discussing the sermon message.



One of our members built a daily reading plan through the gospel of John for the series. We created bookmarks with this reading plan on them, and invited those who wanted a reminder to join our group text. Each noon we texted out the reading for the day, including a link to it online.












Goals for the Series


We wanted people to get in the daily habit of scripture reading and we wanted to move the needle on our congregants’ understanding of Christian basics. We’re working on a way to actually track the number of people who engage in the reading plan.

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What’s Next?


We’re going to keep the daily scripture reading going by providing a scripture reading card and texts for our advent series.

We’re planning a Lent series on the Psalms, again including daily scripture reading and questions for our small groups. The brainstorming with group leaders went so well that we will have Ascending Leaders lead us in that again, but this time have it three months before the sermon series (instead of the month before!).


The Coaching Difference

Mike has helped us get the most out of taking the test, analyzing and processing the results, building action steps, and completing them.

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Also, we contracted Ascending Leaders to provide quality small group discussion questions for each sermon. People’s responses to the questions were very positive.

The “participatory planning” process Ascending Leaders guided us in was so helpful for ideas to come from our ministry teams. We plan to use that more in the future.


Looking Ahead

We’ll continue to bring our coach in, especially when we are making critical decisions to facilitate the process of moving toward a vibrant church archetype.

Mike and the Ascending Leaders team are quite adept at knowing where to poke and prod us in order to help create movement.

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In 2-3 years, we hope to take REVEAL again – and show strong progress!


Our Advice to Other Churches

Take REVEAL! Showing us which of the archetypes of churches we were most like gave us new self-awareness as a church. It showed us where to start.

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Use a coach! It made the process much less complicated and overwhelming.

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