A Biblical Basis for Parks and Recreation

Parks are a place where all the people of a community can gather and meet one another. (cc image courtesy of banoootah_qtrv ia Flickr).

Micheal Hickerson at Think Christian asks the question: “During an economic downturn, why should the county spend tax dollars on an apparently non-essential service like public parks?” He writes:

While this must be answered according to the context of each local government, I propose a few questions, drawn from Biblical principles, to help Christians think about public parks and other public spaces.

Hickerson proposes three questions to ask when thinking about the value of public spaces:

  1. Does this use of land honor God as its creator, sustainer, and ultimate owner?
  2. Does this use of land serve the good of the whole community?
  3. Does this use of land help neighbors know each other better and strengthen the community?

The article is focused on the political and economic debates surrounding parks. However, Hickerson comes up with a few universal principles to apply when thinking about creation care in general. He writes:

  • Public parks create space for children in our public life and they enable people of all income levels to enjoy the common grace of God’s creation.
  • The theme of stewardship runs throughout the Bible: from God’s gift of the Garden of Eden to Adam and Eve, to the psalmist’s reflection that the cattle of a thousand hills belong to the Lord, to Jesus’ parable of the talents.
  • Christians are called to work for the common good [of the community].
  • A striking amount of Jesus’ ministry took place in common spaces that belonged to the whole community.
  • Because of the relative anonymity and privacy in contemporary American society, it can be difficult to get to know our neighbors, even those who live just one or two houses from us. Public spaces such as parks make it easier for us to meet, know, and serve our neighbors, especially when these spaces are integrated with the immediate community.

Follow-Up Questions About Your Local Places

  • Do you agree with Hickerson’s view of the value of parks and public spaces?
  • How close is your home to a park?
  • Are you willing to spend tax dollars to support public spaces?
  • Do you spend enough time in parks? Do you wish you spent more?
  • What does it look like for you to make lifestyle choices that reflect the value of public spaces?

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