Starting a Crew of Ripple Makers (Also known as starting a Green Team.)
Often known as green teams or creation justice teams, you can think of such church groups as ripple makers for change. While a team’s efforts may at times seem small, never doubt the ripple effect of what is done. Here are five suggestions for starting your own paddle-wielding team of ripple makers:
Find Co-Conspirators. Starting a team can be a fun and exciting process of finding kindred spirits. Think of who in your church has a noticeable passion for the environment. Sidle up to them during coffee hour and say, “Hey, I noticed you’re passionate about the environment. Would you want to be a co-conspirator with me in making this church come alive with energy to care for God’s creation? Let’s form a green team.”
Make It about Discernment. When your team of co-conspirators meets for the first time, make your meeting first and foremost about discernment. What is God calling you to do? You may want to use this quote by Frederick Buechner to spur reflection: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Give an opportunity for everyone in the group to share their story of being called to this particular ministry. Why do they have a passion to care for God’s creation?
Make Creation Justice Part of Your Church’s DNA. A reoccurring problem in many churches is that all of the energy for a particular ministry gets funneled to a small group of people while energy and ownership of the ministry dissipates in the rest of the congregation. Creation justice should be a part of an entire church’s DNA. A green team can instigate change in church practices such as energy conservation, but ultimately the goal is for every committee and ministry to have caught the environmental bug so that they are caring for creation on their own.
Focus on Sending Your Ripples Outward. A temptation can be to focus solely on internal church needs such as recycling. While it is wise to begin by tackling “easy wins” close to home, remember that ultimately God calls us to the larger world beyond the walls of the church. Research local and regional environmental injustices. Give attention to socioeconomic factors such as race and class. For example, a number of churches get a good share of their energy from coal plants and often those coal plants disproportionately impact low-income, communities of color. Once you have done your research, discern how you can make a difference.
- Every Moses Needs an Aaron, while Every Aaron Needs a Moses. In addressing local and regional issues, discern what organization would be your best partner in making a difference. Consider both faith-based organizations such as Interfaith Power and Light and secular organizations like the Sierra Club or 350.org.
Download the Creation Justice Brochure to share with your congregation. For further ideas and resources in developing an environmental ministry at your church, explore the webpages of the UCC’s Creation Justice Church Program. One can also find lots of other guides to starting Green Teams such as this one supplied by Blessed Tomorrow