Engaging the Community, Revitalizing the Church

with Chris Pullenayegem

If you want to find out how your neighbourhood is changing, don’t walk into a church: walk into a store. What can you buy now that would have seemed totally exotic twenty years ago? What did you enjoy back then that seems for some reason to have disappeared from the shelves? And why have these things changed?

Church, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to have changed to the same extent. Have you ever wondered why the church is one to two decades behind its context or why many congregations look like relics of the past, not representative of the present and certainly not heralds of the future?

Could it be that the church hasn’t understood the “why, what, and how” of how to be the church in the neighbourhood? Do we even think about the neighborhood around the church—which is what “parish” used to mean?  Understanding who the church is, what our neighbourhoods are, and how we engage them can be life-giving to a community of faith. In fact, one of the ways to measure the health of a congregation is to watch how effectively it engages with its communities.

What You’ll Learn

This course will help you to:

  • Understand who the church is, and why it’s important to get this right
  • Grasp the breadth of your community, learn who your neighbours are, and see the ways this context are changing, religiously and culturally
  • Learn what community engagement has to do with discipleship
  • Ask how we can better engage our communities and neighbourhoods
  • Put into practice the things discussed during class

How It Works

Join our instructor, Chris Pullenayegem, and a community of fellow leaders and missional practitioners, live online.

  • Participate in six two-hour sessions with Chris and the learning community.
    The learning community will meet weekly on Thursday evenings, 7:00p – 9:00p, October 13 – November 17.
  • Practice in your context. 
    Each week, there will be practical assignments for you and/or your parish team to carry out in your community in order to apply what you are learning.
  • Reflect within the learning community. 
    Your new knowledge and experience will become more meaningful when shared with other learning practitioners like yourself. There will be the option of online discussions between sessions to further integrate your learning.

Meet the Teacher-Practitioner

Chris Pullenayegem

Chris Pullenayegem is the Director of the Congregational Vitality through Community Engagement initiative at the Vancouver School of Theology. is a ministry practitioner committed to a holistic approach to ministry, integrating faith, justice, and compassion in contextualized, incarnational ways. He has held senior positions in private, government and not-for-profit sectors. He also has decades of experience working in the areas of church renewal, new ministry and migrant church development and discipleship/faith formation.

Chris has an academic background in law (specializing in refugee and Immigration law and policy), psychology, leading change and innovation and adult education. He grew up in a multi-religious and multi-ethic context among communities fractured along these lines. An immigrant from Sri Lanka, Chris lives in Ontario, loves working collaboratively and has a keen interest in peace and reconciliation. He is a trainer in cross-cultural competencies and multi-faith awareness and is a keen observer of people movements. Chris finds recreation in music, wood-working and outdoor activities.

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We acknowledge with respect the history, spirituality, and culture of the Indigenous peoples with whom the Upper Canada Treaties were signed and the territory wherein our church resides.

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