How green is your church? Maybe not a question you hear often… but God is consistently renewing our world and granting us an abundance of natural resources, and we have the great honor of caring for His creation. Doing just that is something we can all take part in, in fact we are called to participate. Genesis 2:15 says God placed man on this Earth “to work it and take care of it” (NIV) in order to preserve the beauty of what He has created.
Our church is a place where we can turn words into action, where we can live out our faith in our every decision as a community of believers, working alongside one another, actively seeking ways to foster sustainable living.
As an act of worship, one day at a time, one decision after another, we glorify God in his creation. Beginning with small, incremental steps is the perfect way to get started. We’ve compiled a list of quick, effective ways to make church more eco-friendly.
- Get Together for Stewardship
Building community is a huge part of our mission as Christians. Organizing group activities can be an intentional way to get the entire congregation involved in doing good for the community and the environment. Organize a clothing exchange. Don’t throw out those clothes. Bring that piece you’re tired of wearing and let it be someone’s new favorite fashion statement. Plant a church Giving Garden to provide food to your congregants and those in need. Community projects and events like these bring people together around stewardship.
- Less Paper, More Substance
The most inspiring of Sunday services too often leave behind a mess of paper programs littering the pews. While a great method for informing the congregation on what is happening in the church community, these programs inevitably waste a lot of trees. If your church is ready, try providing a virtual platform for your congregation to view important community announcements and programmatic info. When paper is a must, make sure it’s recycled and try posting a few church members by the door with baskets to collect the paper on the way out. This allows for easy cleanup and reminds us to be mindful of paper use in our everyday lives. Obviously, when those baskets are full, take them straight to the recycling center.
- Create a Creation Care Group
Getting together in the name of caring for God’s creation has infinite rewards. A dedicated team of motivated individuals will be extremely helpful in coming up with new and unique strategies for promoting long-term sustainability within the church. Areas of focus could be a trash audit — examining what is being regularly thrown out and how you can cut back on waste — or exploring efficient energy sources such as incandescent light bulbs and a programmable thermostat. A focus group will help to create small, incremental changes that fit easily within church operations.
- Consider the Coffee
Before and after church is prime time for social interactions and coffee, coffee, coffee. While a hit amongst many congregations, these social hours can fill up a landfill fast. A quick way to fix this is to cut out those plastic cups and silverware. Investing in reusable containers, or eco-friendly disposables, goes a long way to reduce waste. Make it extra fun by keeping tabs on how much space you’re saving in the landfill week to week. Get your artists involved to create a visual monitor. People love to know they are making an impact and an image helps remind them of the good they are doing for God’s green Earth.
- Open Your Doors to Spread God’s Love
Sharing your church building with other organizations is a great way to maximize your space and build community. All it takes is some thoughtful planning and oversight. This puts the building to good use when your congregation isn’t using it and engages individuals who may not even know you’re there otherwise. If you don’t have another group to share your building with, try using your space to hold community events throughout the week such as a food bank, after school tutoring, and support groups or counseling. These groups will then have a lower environmental impact by virtue of using the sustainable space and methods you’ve designed.
It doesn’t take much to get started. By focusing on simple changes that the church can make as a whole, we can steward God’s creation as we were meant to do. It’s a glorious gift.