How to Start a Creation Care Task Force at Church

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead. (cc image courtesy of Marcie Casas via Flickr)

[Ed. note: This article is part of our series of weekly church activities,Cultivating Community, published on Thursdays.]

The tasks of ministry and life tend to fall into one of three categories:

  1. Important and Urgent: These are the tasks that speak with a loud voice and need to be taken care of immediately. They interrupt you and make you change your plans. When you finish them you feel like you’ve accomplished something worth your time. You’ve fixed the sound system. You’ve cleaned the paint off the carpet before it stains. You’ve put the final touches on the sermon. You’ve saved the day one more time.
  2. Unimportant and Urgent: These are the jobs which feel urgent and speak with a loud voice but could easily be set aside. When you complete them you feel like you’ve lost time and not accomplished something worthwhile. These are the time wasters. As the saying goes: The rusty screw gets the oil. To this category belong the rusty screws.
  3. Important and not Urgent: This is the category of things that can wait but shouldn’t. The tasks in the third category tend to pile up at the bottom of the to-do list and you keep telling yourself you’ll get to them “when things slow down.” If these tasks don’t get accomplished no one writes in and complains.

Sadly, too often the work of creation care gets consigned to this category, but if we are to be serious about the call to steward God’s creation we must find a way to elevate the care of the environment out of the neglected third category.

One answer: a creation care task force.

What:

A creation care task force is a small group of people specifically interested, informed and empowered to take practical steps around your church to care for creation.

How:

  1. Get the word out: The first step in creating a creation care task force is to let people know about it. Put a message in the church bulletin or email. Announce it during the worship service. You never know what skills and passions lie dormant in your congregation until you invite people to step up and get involved. God made the church a body and gave each individual different gifts for the building up of that body. Don’t let people be spectators in church for lack of an invitation—get the word out!
  2. Start a Bible study: A Bible study on creation care is a great way to form a group as well as equip and inform people. The metaphor of the church as a body doesn’t just mean that people will serve in different ways, but that there is also love, service and cooperation within a church—in short, community. A Bible study is a great way to start building that. Here are five basic creation care Bible studies to get you thinking in the right direction.
  3. Brainstorm: For your first few meetings make a rule that no one can say negative things or criticize anyone’s ideas. This is the time for brainstorming and for thinking big. Dream outside the box. Pray about fresh ideas to work out the call to care for creation in your unique context. The time for criticism comes when the group settles down to actually figure out what of your brainstorm you can accomplish. (If your brainstorm is not much of a storm just yet don’t worry, we’ve got lots of ideas for you…)
  4. Choose a single task: Sometimes in the beginning it is best to start small and do one thing well. Will the task force spearhead a movement to change out all the energy-inefficient lightbulbs in the church? Install rain barrels or a bike rack? Use this first project as a way to raise the issue of creation care as a topic of discussion in your church.
  5. Keep it going: After you’ve got one project under your belt move on to the next. Get together with the group and talk about long-term projects you can start preparing for in advance. Read and discuss a few good books about creation care to get inspiration and new ideas and to become more theologically astute in your thinking about environmental stewardship. Pray continually that God might be pleased to use the efforts of your group to restore some tiny part of his creation.

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