When we begin to honor God as Creator, Creation Care becomes part and parcel of everything we do. We begin to look at everything through a new lens.
Calvin B. DeWitt, author of “Earth-Wise: A Biblical Response to Environmental Issues, 2nd Ed.” gives the following eight biblical principles for creation care:
- The Earthkeeping Principle – As the Lord keeps and sustains us, so must we keep and sustain our Lord’s creation.
- The Fruitfulness Principle – We should enjoy but not destroy creation’s fruitfulness.
- The Sabbath Principle – We must provide for creation’s Sabbath rests.
- The Discipleship Principle – We must be disciples of Christ – the Creator, Sustainer, and Reconciler of all things.
- The Kingdom Priority Principle – WE must seek first the kingdom of God.
- The Contentment Principle – We must seek true contentment.
- The Praxis Principle – We must practice what we believe.
- The Conservation Principle – We must return creation’s service to us with service of our own.
Maybe it’s time to reread the Scriptures in a new light, searching for insights on God as Creator and how we can rightly live on earth.
…don’t worship the creation.
I recently completed an intensive consultation with a church wanting to know more about becoming creation care aware. One of the first questions asked at the beginning of the consultation was “What exactly does ‘creation care’ mean?”
It’s a great question, but not an easy answer! Creation care is sometimes used as a synonym for sustainable initiatives, environmental stewardship, green church, or eco-justice or something similar. These are all good words in their own right, but they seem to be just a little to trendy for my taste. I prefer creation care because it helps me focus on the right direction – the Creator, not the creation.
Jonathan Merritt (Green Like God) says it well:
The biggest reason I reject pop environmentalism is because it cheapens the issue. We have deeper reasons to go green. We serve the Creator of the planet that green living preserves. He created this earth and took the time to tell us His plan for it. The God of this universe has given us the great task of caring for our planet.
Why should we be consumed with a “trendy cause” when we have been given a sacred task? The story of God throughout the Scriptures is about a creative, eternal Being – who is committed to the preservation and redemption of everything.
In the creation narrative of Genesis, we find that every demonstration of power (and God said let there be…) is followed by a statement about God’s passion for the planet (and it was good).
After He was finished, He looks back over everything: “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good: (Genesis 1:31).
“The Beginning” was just the beginning – now we have a responsibility to “work it and take care of it.” The charge for Adam to care for the world is really a charge to us all. Nowhere in Scripture is it ever revoked.
Unfortunately, most Americans have forgotten that charge – they have more important things to do.
Any conversation about the green church must start at the beginning – literally.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…
The seven days of creation (yes, God “created” the concept of rest with the Sabbath) found in Genesis 1:1-31; 2:1-4 tell us that God made all things and declared them good.
In Genesis 2:15 we find that “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.” Those few words have a literal world of meaning. They convey a teaching that Adam is expected by God to serve the garden and keep it. God expected Adam and his descendents to meet the needs of the garden of creation so that it would persist and flourish.
In the same way, we are to keep the garden. The Hebrew word for keep (shamar) is also found in Numbers 6:24: “The Lord bless you and keep you.” When we think in those terms, it is not an inactive state of being, but rather a vital, living concept.
Is it too much of a stretch to think that the same kind of “keeping” is required of us in relation to God’s creation? Do we have a mandate from God to keep His creation, nourishing and maintaining it so it can continue to flourish?
How are we doing?
Green is not the latest fashion color – it’s about becoming creation care aware.
For me, being green starts with a foundation of stewardship – being responsible for all the resources God has blessed us with. As a church development consultant, I am committed to helping churches maximize their resources for the greatest ministry impact they can possibly have in their community. I believe that an important part of this challenge is to know how you can immediately improve your existing facilities to make them more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly. I also know that as you think about planning your next facility expansion, there are many benefits to thinking green.
Why should Your Church go Green?
- Churches are community examples – people look to their houses of worship and their spiritual centers for guidance. What happens in these places can have a positive ripple effect across the region as homeowners, businesspeople, government workers and others help their own buildings to emulate the ethical example set by the local church.
- All churches are good candidates for improvements – Most sanctuaries are large spaces used only periodically throughout the week. Something as simple as a programmable thermostat can save hundreds of dollars a year in utility bills. Most church offices are high-traffic, well-used areas where even small changes like weather stripping, Energy Star appliances, or compact fluorescent bulbs would make a huge difference.
- Church buildings stand for something – Your building was built to the glory of God, the service of humanity, and the potential of the spirit. Inside these buildings we celebrate Creator and His creation. We build a community, the Church. We should be good stewards of all Creation, caring for the earth and one another.
Bottom line? If your church can be more EFFICIENT in its use of resources, then it will be more EFFECTIVE in its ministry endeavors. I encourage you to enter the dialogue about how your church can become a community leader in environmental issues. It really is getting easier to be green!
I am presently consulting with a church in Atlanta as they begin a deliberate path toward becoming a green church. Look for more posts this week coming out of the preparation and consultation with Destiny Metropolitan Worship Church.