Congregational Vitality Initiative
The VST initiative for Congregational Vitality through Community Engagement connects parched leaders and congregations to best practice leaders, congregations and strategies that stimulate a holistic approach to being the church in the world. In its first three-year cycle, director Chris Pullenayegem hopes to position this as a learning exchange that will accompany, connect, equip and resource congregations and be known for researching, creating, curating and distributing resources that facilitate congregational vitality. Special attention will be directed towards the growing influence of migrant churches across North America and how the established church can learn and support them as they grow together.
Many congregations struggle with issues of viability: for e.g., managing and maintaining buildings, paying for staff and other related expenses. We hope that this holistic approach to facilitate congregational vitality would help communities of faith to re-focus on core principles of church health and begin to explore new paradigms of what it means to be a thriving church. Some congregations have, and are discovering innovative ways to thrive and adapt to their changing internal and external environments while others are still struggling. And of course, the pandemic has placed an additional layer of complexity and anxiety over all of this. It has challenged deeply held beliefs and assumptions about “church” and disrupted our cognitive and experiential perspectives of our understanding of what we call church.
There is considerable effort being made to identify the challenges that congregations are facing, what the future might look like and the interventions that congregations are experimenting with in dealing with these strange and unfamiliar times. Recent surveys and studies have identified principles and indicators of churches that have managed to weather the storm and successfully navigate the currents that have sunk other churches.
We hope to curate resources and best practices around congregational vitality and make them available to the rest of the Church. We hope to identify and make available strategies and processes that will help communities of faith move intentionally towards being healthy and vital.
We hope to connect congregations so that they can share and learn from one another. No one needs to walk alone, least of all congregations. There is a sense of shared and mutual responsibility when congregations journey together and many good things happen on that journey.
For communities of faith that are struggling or need special accompaniment, we will accompany them and try to be a support as they transition. Many new migrant communities of faith for e.g., need institutional championing and lots of advocacy to be mainstreamed into the denomination. We would like to help in any way, to catalyze that process.