How Can Churches Care for Creation?
As delegates from around the world gather in Scotland to discuss climate change, how should churches respond?
He waters the mountains from his upper chambers;
the land is satisfied by the fruit of his work.
He makes grass grow for the cattle,
and plants for people to cultivate. (Psalm 104:13-14)
Over the next few months, climate and related issues will feature more and more in our media and in our corporate awareness as the UK hosts the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26). Delegates and others will gather in Glasgow 31 October to 12 November 2021.
Why care about climate change?
Even without COP26, creation care (of which action on climate change is a core element) is an urgent issue for churches that we neglect at our peril. Our response reflects, on and has implications for, fundamental areas of our belief and practice.
Involvement in creation care:
- Honours God - the Creator - the gospel, and the biblical revelation – theology.
- Helps fight avoidable human suffering – justice and compassion.
- Shows the world that God and his people care for creation and provides opportunities to see and discuss the damaging effects of sin, and the world’s need for Christ – evangelism.
- Is a natural outworking of the gospel and an expression of our love for God and others – discipleship.
How we care for our planet is, rightly, a huge concern for the world, about which the Bible has much to say. Yet evangelical churches are often silent.
For reasons of theology, justice and compassion, evangelism, and discipleship we need right thinking and urgent action. Otherwise, we risk society around us, as well as a growing number of believers in our churches, concluding that either the Bible or the church is irrelevant on this issue.
How can churches care about creation?
Get a good theological basis
Douglas and Jonathan Moo have combined their theological and ecological scholarship in an extremely helpful book in Zondervan’s Biblical Theology for Life series: Creation Care – A Biblical Theology of the Natural World. I recently reviewed the book for the FIEC website.
Find good practical resources
A Rocha is a Christian charity committed to equipping Christians and churches to care for the environment. Their website is full of information to help clarify thinking and then apply it – starting small and building up as momentum is gained.
TEAR Fund also provides excellent resources (see their Climate Emergency Toolkit) and their material is particularly good for younger people (see their Christianity and Climate Change video series).
Be open to working with others
As we respond in our churches, we will find others with similar thinking. The non-Christian world often sees the church as part of the problem. We can play our part in challenging this view.
Seize the opportunity
The season for Harvest Sundays is imminent. COP26 will soon be in the awareness of those in our church families and more widely in our society.
Now is the time to plan!
- Look imaginatively at your church calendar for September and October.
- Find those in the church who are already aware of the importance of creation care. They will relish the opportunity to help.
- Make this a matter for prayer in both ‘scattered’ and ‘gathered’ settings.
- Visit the websites listed and include the links in your church communications with members.
- Put Creation Care – A Biblical Theology of the Natural World high on your reading list or ask a co-leader to read, to summarise, and move on to application.
“The time is now!”
It is right that we should care for that which God cares about and to recognise that creation care is an integral, vital, yet often sadly neglected component of Christian discipleship.
The media have recently reported heatwaves in the US, floods in Europe, and destructive monsoons in Asia. People are more and more aware that this is one of the pressing issues of our time.
So, how might God want you to respond?
Written with help from, and undersigned by:
- Steve Bell, Pastor, Grace Church, Isle of Wight (contact via email).
- Matthew Clay, Pastor, Trinity Baptist Church, Tenterden, Kent (contact via email).
- Paul Mallard, Pastor, Widcombe Baptist Church, Bath (contact via email).
- Jonathan Thomas, Pastor, Cornerstone Church, Abergavenny, Wales (contact via email).