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In a previous post, we discussed what a Cultural Creative is.  These influencers of culture have many different attributes, and one of them is a relatively new emphasis on environmentalism.

SunriseLook, I know that environmentalism is a controversial topic within Christian circles.

However, where ever you fall on the political spectrum and beliefs concerning Global Warming, taking care of the environment is part of our purpose.  Genesis 1:26-28 tells us that as God made us in His image, we were also made to rule over creation.  We are to utilize creation to flourish.

But Jesus defines ruling and leadership as serving those we have authority over.  If we are responsible to rule, we cannot ignore our responsibility to take care of creation.1

So as a practical look at our churches participating in environmental sustainability, this article aims to give us tangible, and relatively simple ways to start our environmental campaigns in our local contexts.

Check out these 4 examples.

Urban Homesteading

In simple terms, urban homesteading is using the limited space you live in in a city to create as many resources for yourself as possible.

The CityFarm Project out of Hickory, NC, helps individuals and organizations to put systems in place that maximize the limited space and resources in a single home.  They help with chicken coop set up and maintenance, aquaponics, gardening techniques, and energy systems installation.  This organization sets an example for urban homesteading.

The CityFarm Project sets an example for #urbanhomesteading. Click To Tweet

So how does this apply to the church?  Well, what if our church uses homes or its property to set up this self-sustaining structures?

Picture this:  Your church sets up a commercial-grade aquaponics system on its property.  The fish supply nutrients to the plants via the water recycling mechanism.  Your fish grow, your vegetables grow, and now you’ve got a whole lot of food for the community.

Feed your members.  Feed the poor in the community.  Go to Farmer’s Market and sell it.  Whatever you want!  You’ll be an asset to the community while staying green.

Community Gardens

Many communities have public gardens as part of the city planning.  You rent a space and plant your vegetables or flowers and you take care of it.

Photo credit: USDAgov / Foter / CC BY

Photo credit: USDAgov / Foter / CC BY

There are a lot of reasons to do this one:

  1. You’ll be able to utilize the limited space in the city to plant fresh, local produce.
  2. You’ll be able to interact with your community as you work alongside neighbors.
  3. Why not plant a church at the very place where you plant your vegetables?

That last reason might be confusing.

To keep a complex subject short, church is meant to be an authentic community which involves shepherding, doing good works, and preaching the gospel.

You can do all those things very simply in a setting like this one – outside in God’s creation and enjoying fellowship while working together on a garden.

Participate in City Planning

Now we’re getting into a civic responsibility.  As citizens of the USA, we have a voice in the government.  We should work locally to ensure that our cities are creating economically and ecologically sustainable systems for us all.

Develop relationships with your local officials.  As many of your members as possible should be a part of this.  You can impact your community for the better.

A lot of times, the city doesn’t have the resources it takes to get sustainability projects off the ground.  So let your church be the ones to do the legwork.

Which brings me to my next point…

Start a  Community Project

Organize, organize, organize.

Photo credit: Mosman Council / Foter / CC BY

Photo credit: Mosman Council / Foter / CC BY

Get people together to plant rain gardens.  You’ll have to work with your city to use public property for this, then gather resources to actually build it.

Put together an Art in the Park event with an environmental theme.  Work with the city government to plan this thing.  A lot of times, there are art organizations that would be glad to help partner with you to put it on.

Organize teams to go pick up trash in different areas of the city.

Partner with researchers who test local rivers, lakes, and bodies of water for pollution, then assist in the come-up-with-viable-community-solutions stage.

The Church as a Resource

The manpower available in the church is engrossing.  Together, we can accomplish a lot.

Remember our purpose to rule over creation responsibly.

If nothing else, use these community outreaches to make your church a more influential force for good in your city.  Our culture understands the need for ecological justice.  Let your care of creation speak to the people of your city of the compassion in your hearts.  It’s another way to share the gospel through our actions.

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  1. Admittedly, the context of Matthew 20:26-28 speaks of leadership over people, and it could be argued that this passage does not apply to creation.  However, it is a general principle that leading is not about glory and position, it is about taking great sacrifice to care for whatever you have responsibility over.  Thus, when we look at our role in ruling over creation, if we do not first take care of it, then we deny our responsibility and a large purpose of God’s purpose for us.