Congregational Excellence

The Office of Congregational Excellence will connect, equip and inspire local congregations to make God's hope for the world real through faith, fruit and fire.

The purpose of the Office of Congregational Excellence is Preparing Churches to Multiply.

Circuit Ministry Support and Resourcing

The purpose of circuit ministry is to develop a circuit of missionally effective clergy and laity leading together in partnership through:

  1. Leadership Multiplication
  2. Missional Accountability & Oversight

The Office of Congregational Excellence provides ongoing support for circuits, coaches circuit leaders, and resources circuits as they identify a common opportunity or need.

Learn more about circuits at

Consultation and Assessment

The process of helping a church see, name, and claim its current reality.

At the request of a District Superintendent, the Office of Congregational Excellence may deploy a team with a team and process designed for the church and situation.

Often, consultations begin with a Congregation Assessment Tool (CAT) survey that provides a snapshot of the church’s current reality.  For more information about the CAT, visit or contact Ryan Christenson (


The process of moving a church or a circuit from its current reality to a better one.

We can strategize with you for individual, staff, or church coaching.  Contact Jaye Johnson ( or your district superintendent to consider what kind of coaching may be most helpful to you.

Healthy Church Initiative / Healthy Small Church Initiative

The Healthy Church Initiative (HCI) seeks to grow communities of faith through continuous learning communities, consultation, and coaching.

While we are not currently launching new HCI cohorts, the HCI curriculum is available for use by circuits or individual churches.  Contact Jaye Johnson ( or visit for more information.

Conflict Transformation

The Conflict Transformation team seeks to walk with churches through times of destructive conflict by equipping local church leaders and by deploying Conflict Transformation Teams.

For more information, contact Dave Crow ( or Jaye Johnson (

Our Team

Rev. Dr. Jaye Johnson

Director of Congregational Excellence

Rev. Dr. Jaye Johnson is the Director of Congregational Excellence & New Communities of Faith for the Iowa Annual Conference. He works as a cabinet member striving to create churches that plant churches. Before being named to his current position, Jaye served five years as the Field Outreach Minister in the South Central District. The Field Outreach Minister’s primary task was to help pastors, congregations, and communities live boldly into the future God dreams for them by being a coach, consultant, resource person, and encourager for gatherings of all sizes. Jaye served a variety of ministry settings, including a “blended congregation” that functioned in mission, structure, and polity as one church but maintained five worship centers. He led a “vital ecumenical merger” of a United Methodist and a Presbyterian congregation to create United Faith Church and Community Center, where he served as the lead pastor.

Jaye is the author of Missional Accountability: The Vehicle, Driver, and Destination of your Congregation, which is available on Amazon or from Cokesbury. Jaye also serves as an Affiliate Professor of Church Leadership at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary. He earned his Master of Divinity from the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary in Dubuque (2004), Iowa, and a Doctor of Ministry in Leadership and Congregational Development from Saint Paul School of Theology in Kansas City (2012) and is currently a Ph.D. student in Organizational Leadership at Indiana Wesleyan University. 

Jaye is married to Rev. Amy Johnson, also a UTDS grad. They live in Osceola, IA. They have two children. Alex is a recent UNI graduate as an English teacher and Andrew who attends Des Moines Area Community College. Jaye likes to camp and takes photographs in his free time, both of which he admits he does not do enough.

Rev. Ryan Christenson

Assoc. Director for Congregational Excellence​


Rev. Ryan Christenson serves as the Associate Director for Congregational Excellence for the Iowa Conference of The United Methodist Church, working as part of the Office of Congregational Excellence to “inspire, equip, and connect communities of faith to cultivate world-changing disciples of Jesus Christ.”  Often, Ryan is deployed to walk with churches or leaders to get a clearer picture of their current reality, discern God’s vision, or decide the critical steps to move from their reality to vision.  Ryan also takes on special projects to further the common mission and ministry of United Methodists in Iowa.

Prior to being Associate Director, Ryan served on staff with the Iowa Conference as Interim Associate for Congregational Excellence and Field Outreach Minister.  Additionally, Ryan served as lead pastor and associate pastor with ministries ranging from congregational revitalization, to leading team preaching, to leverage hands-on outreach and partnerships to build discipleship, and to playing 4-Square with youth.  Ryan holds a Master of Divinity from Duke University and a Bachelor of Science degree from Iowa State University.

Ryan is married to Kristi and enjoys being “dad” to Olivia and Jack.  Ryan calls Indianola, Iowa home and enjoys hiking, kayaking, and all things Star Wars.