About Us

Our Mission

equipping churches for Christ-centered discipleship.measurable results.eternal outcomes.

Our mission is to equip churches for Christ-centered discipleship. We promise that we will equip your church to grow individuals across all stages of their spiritual journey, showing eternal outcomes. By deepening the faith of followers, we help you restore your church to its core purpose. Your results will be measurable and your outcomes lasting.

Rev. Dr. Mike Johnson


Let's start building together

who we are

Our Team

Dr. Michael Johnson
Founder and President
I love, love, love that we labor together in joy and mutual appreciation. This is the kind of team I have always dreamed of - unified, together attacking the problem of ‘slacker' discipleship.

Belief | Connectedness | Focus | Responsibility | Strategic
Rhonda Spriggs
Operations Manager
I am so very excited to be working here at Ascending Leaders. The mission of helping others grow in their discipleship is very meaningful to me. I love the Lord, and I am excited to be within an organization that has the same values.

Context | Belief | Woo | Communication| Developer
Teri Watson
Accounts Assistant
It may sound boring, but I enjoy working behind the scenes. I am thankful to be able to serve the Ascending Leaders community by helping to ensure we are good stewards of the resources entrusted to us.

Achiever | Consistency | Developer | Discipline | Harmony
Ellie Tow
Special Projects
The best part of my role is knowing that I am contributing to the Kingdom via the mission statement of Ascending Leaders. If my work is done well, it enables the ministry to focus on the process of making disciples via coaching, teaching, and resourcing.

Belief | Empathy | Harmony | Maximizer | Responsibility
Ann Pang
DiscipleOn Coordinator and President's Assistant
I really enjoy being part of a dynamic group of people who work together to impact churches across the US by making known the role of discipleship on a very personal and individual level.

Context | Harmony | Restorative | Empathy | Deliberative

Mr. Rick Fopma
Lynnville, IA
Rick is from Sully, Iowa, a small-town farming community, of which Rick was born and raised on a farm. Rick has been a life-long member of Sully Christian Reformed Church in Sully. Rick always felt God was calling him to work in the farming community as he was growing up. Other than 5 years of his life, he has always lived on the family farm.

Rick married a local farm girl, Carla, and they have been married for 36 years. They have three adult children and are also now richly blessed with three grandchildren, all of which live within less than two hours from them.

Rick firmly believes in the Lord Jesus Christ as his savior and that, from his birth, God has been in control and has guided him along his journey. God has given him the gift of leadership and a deep passion for each part of life that he serves.

He is currently Vice President on the board of a local farm cooperative that serves a large area of central Iowa farmers. He has served on that board for 30 years, of which he has also served as the President at various times.

After serving as chairman of the Sully Christian Reformed Church council in past years, Rick was asked to form a vision team and is currently the chairman. Rick has a strong passion for discipleship and how the church can move people to become more like Christ within the church and community.

Rick first met Mike Johnson around 15 years ago through their bonded involvement with Ascending Leaders. Rick believes God has called and gifted each of us to help others to grow and serve as disciples of which God has intended us all to be. He loves and strives to help people move through the four stages of Faith Formation.
Rev. Dr. Mike Johnson
Sugar Land, TX
Mike believes he is formed by Christ to form others. He is an ordained Minister of the Word in the Christian Reformed Church in North America. In March of 2004, Mike received his Doctor of Ministry degree from Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California. He specialized in adult lay leadership development.

Prior to that, Mike served as resident pastor at New Life Church in Spring, Texas, planted and pastored Community Life Church in Missouri City, Texas, and also developed and implemented the Texas Leadership Development Network, which was the predecessor to Ascending Leaders. Mike has also helped church leaders refocus and has been involved in the city-reaching efforts in the greater Houston, Texas area.

Mike is the core author of most of Ascending Leaders' material. He sees his calling and gifting as being a faithful tool for creatively forming others. His passion is to help people grow and serve effectively as discipled leaders in God's Kingdom.

Mike, his wife, Gina and their two children, Emmelyn and Nicholas, have made Sugar Land, Texas their home since 1990. Mike enjoys gardening with his wife and family activities, such as traveling and camping. He also enjoys friends and reading.
Ms. Teresa Rossy
Houston, TX
Since 2008, Teresa has directed Adult Christian Education at Chapelwood United Methodist Church, a 7,000-member church with six worship communities on three campuses in Houston. As Director of Grow Ministries, she collaborates with lay leaders, ministry staff, and clergy to provide a discipleship pathway that leads to mature Christian faith. Her passion is seeing persons grow more in love with Jesus Christ in a way that makes a difference in their relationships with God, self, others, and the created world. Her role in that work is teaching Scriptural principles and modeling spiritual disciplines and equipping leaders to do the same. Strategies include leadership training, starting small groups, writing and adapting curriculum, teaching spiritual formation and Bible studies, and caring for leaders and members.

She is active in various professional organizations, including being Chair of Professional Certification, Board of Ordained Ministry, Texas Annual Conference, 2016 – present and Director of Christian Education and Children’s Ministry Professional Certification courses, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, 2018 – present.

She has been married since 1982 to Ken Rossy. They have two children and two grandchildren. They love babysitting their grandchildren as often as possible, their book clubs, and walking together. They also enjoy travelling in the U.S. and internationally and gathering with friends. They are both active in Chapelwood UMC as members and leaders.
Rev. Darrell Delaney
Grand Rapids, MI
Darrell is the Campus Pastor at Madison Church, Square Campus. Discipleship is his passion, and he has been a key player in developing it at his church. He has worked with Ascending Leaders since 2014 and was instrumental in the decision for the church to do the REVEAL assessment in 2019. The church has been very intentional in making discipleship a top priority. His strengths include strategic thinking and planning in a collaborative fashion and learning and understanding contexts while looking for innovative future decision making.

His life calling is to create and facilitate life-giving environments where all people can thrive, in which he uses his gifts of shepherding, teaching, evangelism and mentoring.

He has a Master of Divinity from Western Theological Seminary as well as a Master of Theology from Calvin Theological Seminary. He has published three articles in The Banner, a publication of the Christian Reformed Church and is a Board of Trustee Member of Kuyper College in Grand Rapids, MI.

He has been married to his wife Kia for 16 years and has three children. He enjoys walks on the beach and the park, blogging, family time, chess and video games.
Dr. Judy Enns
Solana Beach, CA
Judy’s professional career has been focused on Human Resources. She established a successful HR staffing and consulting firm which conducts business nationally. She has been influential in enhancing the role of HR in companies of all sizes. She is currently using her professional skills to serve various non-profit organizations in capacities such as board chair, board member and various committees.

She has a doctorate in Communication Theory and Research from Ohio State University and has taught Communications at Illinois State University, California State University Los Angeles, to name a few. She has also served as director of the Women’s English Language Center, King Faisal University in Dammam, Saudi Arabia.

She is an active member of Solana Beach Presbyterian Church, as an active elder, chair of Nominating committee, and a 30-year choir member. She was on the board when her church contracted with Ascending Leaders in 2018 to coach them through the REVEAL discipleship assessment and applying its results, and she was part of the REVEAL task force. The church is showing some dramatic improvement in their discipleship, so she has experienced first-hand the impact of Ascending Leaders.

She and her husband, Robert, enjoy singing in the choir, hiking, theater, camping, good movies, reading and world-wide travel, especially to tropical climates and warm waters.
Dr. Stephen K. Wilke
Winfield, KS
Steve came to Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas, on October 1, 1991, and since 2004 has served as the Executive Director of the Richard and Julie Wilke Institute for Discipleship. Prior to coming to Southwestern College, Dr. Wilke worked as a licensed psychologist on the staff of Prairie View Psychiatric Hospital. In 1987, he became the founding president of Recovery of Hope Network, Inc., and stayed in that position until 1991. The Recovery of Hope Network helped local organizations establish programs in the community for troubled marriages.

Dr. Wilke received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology (CSPP) in Fresno, California, in 1982. In his doctoral research, he studied the role of the church and clergy as agents of community mental health. Dr. Wilke has served on the staff and board at the Counseling and Mediation Center in Wichita, Kansas, and has provided American Association of Pastoral Counseling (AAPC) training to pastors. Dr. Wilke has also coauthored a set of five marital books.

Steve was reared in Kansas in a United Methodist clergy family and completed his undergraduate work at Southwestern College. Dr. Wilke began his work at Southwestern College in 1991 as the Dean of Students. He then transitioned into the VP of Student Development and Enrollment Management. His next transition was to VP of Enrollment Management and Planning. Later he functioned at the college’s VP of Strategic Planning and New Programs. In his work with new programs, the Institute launched under his direction. In July of 2017 Dr. Wilke transitioned off the administrative leadership of the college and went full time as the Executive Director of the Institute. In 2010 Dr. Wilke was nominated as United Methodist of the Year by the United Methodist Reporter for the development of BeADisciple.com, a program for on-line workshops and classes to nurture Christian leaders.

He and his wife, Beth, have four children. Beth served as the Associate Pastor at First United Methodist Church in Winfield for over twenty years.
Dr. Tyler Greenway
Wayland, MI
Tyler Greenway serves as the Research Director at the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) and supports various research activities including literature review, grant writing, study design, data collection and management, statistical analysis, and presenting and publishing results. He started working with Ascending Leaders in 2021 and is passionate about discipleship and faith formation.

He holds an MDiv from Calvin Theological Seminary and an MA and PhD in Psychological Science from Fuller Theological Seminary. He is also an ordained Minister of the Word in the Christian Reformed Church in North America.

He has been married to his wife, Johanna, for 10 years and they have three children. They live in West Michigan and actively serve at their church, The Caledonia Gathering.

Bob Johnson
Houston, TX
Achiever | Connectedness | Learner | Context | Analytical

Bob retired in 2019 after 30 years of full-time ministry. After serving as either solo pastor or lead pastor for several churches, the last 15 years of his ministry were as the executive pastor at Chapelwood United Methodist Church in Houston. In his retirement, beside coaching for Ascending Leaders, he has written fifteen books on discipleship and Bible study, including, “The Genesis Project: The WHY of Discipleship.” He believes that disciples are the means God has chosen to implement His will of ONENESS through four key relationships in a broken world, a will first revealed in the beginning of Genesis. So for him, disciple formation and working with Ascending Leaders goes right to the heart of God.
International Coach
Achiever | Belief | Responsibility | Maximizer | Strategic

As a follower of Jesus and a strategic thinker, I get pretty cranked up about the work of helping the Church thrive and flourish in making disciples. It isn’t just about my specific church. It’s about following Jesus together as the Body of Christ in obeying His great commission. There is no greater cause than that.
Peter Cammarano
League City, TX
Activator | Relator | Communication | Connectedness | Futuristic

Peter has always seen pastoral ministry as coaching. He often says, "I don't want to be the sage on the stage, I'd rather be the guide alongside." Peter grew up in one of the largest evangelical Methodist churches, attended seminary at Duke University and completed a doctorate at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. Prior to seminary, Peter worked at various Texas churches doing youth ministry - Atascocita UMC, FUMC - Conroe, and Perritte Memorial UMC in Nacogdoches. Peter felt his first call to ordained ministry at a summer sleep away camp where he first heard God call him to preach the gospel and to care for the least, the last and the lost. For the last 25 years Peter has served the United Methodist Church in the Texas area as a lead pastor, including: Bellaire UMC, First UMC - Brazoria (Associate), First UMC - Port Neches (Lead), Chapelwood UMC - Lake Jackson (Lead) and currently League City UMC (Lead). Peter's faith and ministry is marked by a welcoming, open spirit that seeks to see people move closer to the heart of God. Peter feels strongly that faith is always preceded by doubt and a time of searching for answers, and that faith requires sacrifices, both emotional and social.
Marilyn Wadkins
Fredericksburg, VA
Arranger | Learner | Responsibility | Maximizer | Belief

I am extremely passionate about the value of coaching in any situation. When people grow in their faith, there is hope. When their relationship with God is strong, the world is a better place.
Matt McClure
Prairie City, IA
Connectedness | Input | Developer | Belief | Responsibility

God has ignited a zeal for discipleship in His church and for His people in me. My interactions over the last 5 years with AL has been God-honoring and inspiring, and I am excited to be a part of this ministry. I’m loving the opportunity to collaborate on discipleship with like-minded leaders.
Julia Johnson
Katy, TX
Arranger | Responsibility | Context | Developer | Maximizer

Because God’s love has moved me, I want to follow Him and join Him in making disciples. What I experienced in DiscipleForward and DiscipleOn had a profound impact on me and how I lead, and I want to share it with others. Coaching with Ascending Leaders allows me to do just that!
Mike Johnson
Sugar Land, TX
Belief | Connectedness | Focus | Responsibility | Strategic

I love, love, love that we labor together in joy and mutual appreciation. This is the kind of team I have always dreamed of - unified, together attacking the problem of ‘slacker' discipleship.
Jim Pic 2020
Jim Flagg
Humble, TX
Positive | Trustworthy | Compassionate | Dedicated | Flexible

The step by step process outlined in Ascending Leaders makes perfect sense to me. It is a process that is not characterized by the thirty days to a thriving church philosophy found in so many sales pitch programs. Just as a child must learn and experience certain periods in life to grow to a mature adult, so must a person learn and experience Christianity in stages to go from a new follower to mature disciple. Jim is excited to be able to help other congregations reach out and make disciples of Jesus Christ.

Sunny Hyun
Graphic Designer
Rochester Hills, MI

Achiever | Developer | Empathy | Positivity | Strategic

It is an honor for me to do God's work with my friends who love God. I want the kingdom of God to expand through our efforts.
Audra Dezfulian
Church Liaison
Houston, TX

Input | Learner | Achiever | Intellection | Responsibility

My desire is for churches to reclaim their core purpose of bringing people closer to God and equipping them as agents in his mission. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, I help connect churches to the resources they need to thrive and flourish. Building relationships with those God has called into ministry is an honor and a privilege.



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