Has your congregation integrated care for creation into the life and work of its ministry teams, committees, and governing council? With the involvement of the pastoral staff and the governing body of the church, commission a green team or another appropriate group in the church to do a green church inventory, evaluation, and action plan. Use this process to discern both where your congregation currently stands in its lived commitment to care for creation and where it is called to act in the future. With this undertaking, be careful to be inclusive of various leaders and active members in the church in terms of their participation and input. Get their buy-in and commitment to working together before you begin. The goal is to make everyone a co-worker in the effort to green your church. This is about acting on shared, common values that ultimately bring a congregation closer together with a renewed sense of purpose and mission.
Steps in the Process
Step One: Write down a list of all the teams, committees, boards, and ministries in your church. Meet with each of these church groups to talk about creation care. Be a listener first. Then, work with them in developing a shared vision and plan for making creation care part of your church’s ethos. Consider with them whether there is room to “grow green” in implementing creation care practices. The Kitchen Team might consider ways to reuse, recycle, and compost. The Building and Grounds Committee might consider new practices for energy conservation, water conservation, landscaping, cleaning products, etc. The Communications Committee might consider how to make your church’s green commitments known and visible to both members and the larger community. The Christian Education Ministry might consider how to weave creation care and justice into its programming for all ages. The Endowment Committee might consider divestment from fossil fuels.
Step Two: As part of this process of envisioning and planning, research best practices for the different areas of your church’s life. There are a plethora of resources out there provided by Earth Ministry, GreenFaith, Creation Justice Ministries, Interfaith Power and Light, the Connecticut Conference’s Check List for Green Churches, and the UCC’s Carbon Neutral Web Resources for Congregations.
Step Three: Form a list of what you are doing and not doing.
Step Four: Celebrate the positives. There are always positives no matter where your church is in the process of growing green. Doing this evaluation is a huge positive. A congregation full of people who want to live out their faith and values is another huge positive.
Step Five: Out of the list of best practices that your church has not yet implemented, determine with each committee and ministry what would be the best action plan for the next year. What seems doable and has the buy-in needed?
Step Six: Bring a complete action plan to the governing council or body of the church to seek its feedback and support.
Step Seven: Over the course of the year, check in with the different ministries, teams, and committees to see how they are doing in implementing the action plan.
Step Eight: At the end of the year, prepare a report for the church governing body about how the church did in implementing its action plan.
Step Nine: Discern with the governing body the next appropriate step. Is another action plan needed? Or, have all the ministries successfully made creation care a permanent part of their commitment, ethos, and outlook? Can each ministry take responsibility for continually educating itself about best practices to be implemented?