Climate change initiatives, particularly those led by people who lean to the left of the political spectrum, may not currently be in the forefront of your congregation's concerns. Caring for creation is not a political power move, however. It's an important part of stewardship that all believers should develop.
If you don't have consistent sustainability practices already in place, education is a great place to start the process of developing them. Consider creation care resources for your next book or text study. Make these resources readily available in common areas where members tend to gather.
A potluck gives you a prime opportunity to open a discussion about food waste and its impact on the environment. Encourage people not only to bring a meal to share but also to use leftovers wisely. Alternatively, volunteers can package food in reusable containers to give to college students or deliver to homebound members.
No matter how much you say you care about the earth, the importance of creation care is unlikely to sink in unless it's an integral part of your services. The expectation that members are meant to be good stewards not only of their personal resources but also natural resources can be included in blessings, prayers and sending messages. When given an opportunity to include instructions for leaving a smaller carbon footprint, it makes sense to address the topic in the sermon.
Many churches already worship in season, so it would not be far out of range to incorporate ecological responsibility into worship itself. Many different organizations have special events in which your faith community can practice, particularly during the spring:
No matter what you decide to do as a congregation, caring for the earth needs to be more than something you talk about. Actually making plans to turn conversation into action is necessary.
An energy audit can help you see how eco-friendly your facilities are and identify ways you can improve. You can enlist the help of your local energy company or you can inspect the property yourself. Do all appliances have the ENERGY STAR® rating? Are all the lightbulbs energy efficient? Do you have a visible recycling center that's accessible for everyone? These are just a few of the questions that your initial audit should answer. Revisit your assessment at least once a year.
A community garden offers many opportunities. It gives members who may not have frequent contact with nature a chance to experience it directly. Guest speakers can use a hands-on approach in the garden, expanding educational options. Members can feel more of a connection to the food they eat when they grow it themselves, and you can use the surplus to reach out to the community.
It is likely that you are already partnering with several organizations in your city that model ecologically friendly practices or count sustainability among their values. Meet with leaders in these groups to find out how you can support their eco-conscious efforts. Make it a habit to ask new groups you work with about the measures they take to protect the earth to ensure that volunteers from your church are sticking to their guidelines.
Branch out into other opportunities that have creation care as their main goal. An easy project to start or join is a park cleanup initiative. Many city dwellers don't get a chance to get out in nature very often, so the community parks are their main connection to the earth. By helping to keep them clean, you are not only performing a necessary service but also modeling how to respect nature to passersby.
Members of your faith community should do their part to live sustainable lives. You can help them by incorporating creation care into your education curriculum and common practices.