Environmental Ethics And Church Marketing

May 3, 2007 by

Creation care. Environmental ethics. Going green. All right, go ahead and pull your jaw off of the floor and calm the smoke from your ears. Many evangelical Christians hate the idea of acknowledging environmental issues. They believe there are much more pressing issues of moral decadence where we ought to be doing battle instead. Some churches, however, disagree.

Many Christians have joined the environmental movement. Some have even apologized for their initial reaction. (Now if we could only lead the way in culture instead of shunning it to finally give up and apologize.) The growing minority of environmentally-minded Christians is growing–slowly, but surely.

Northland: A Church Distributed, a particularly environmentally-aware church in Longwood, Fla, is growing. They were having trouble reconciling their growth with their ideal of creation care. Increased paper use, a new building, and LEED issues are mentioned in their press release on their study to reduce the environmental strain of a large church.

They’re taking to an interesting method, however. Their congregants are getting together and taking to the dumpsters. By looking at what they’re throwing out, they can see what they’re wasting. Too much paper? Find a way to increace efficiency there. Too much food? Find a way to get extra food to the homeless.

From a marketing perspective, this is an interesting move. What message does this send to the community? These people are willing to spend a day wallowing through their own garbage to find out how they can help me, my neighbor, and my unborn great-grandchildren. It’s utterly selfless and a bold proclamation that they aren’t too self-righteous to cover themselves in trash.

For some, creation care is hardly a top priority. Perhaps there’s nothing wrong with that. But either way, everything you do in public sends a message to your community. What will your message be? That you care about changing the future for the better, or that you could care less?

Post By:

Joshua Cody

Josh Cody served as our associate editor for several years before moving on to bigger things. Like Texas. These days he lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, and you can find him online or on Twitter when he's not wrestling code.
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11 Responses to “Environmental Ethics And Church Marketing”

  • Vinny
    May 3, 2007

    re: the apology from James Dobson on the Wittenburg Door site – look at the date of the posting. When I first got it over email I admit I was duped.
    Would that it were true!

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  • Brian Niece
    May 3, 2007

    Letting our actions speak within our communities is really at the heart of creation care (everything else we do for that matter).
    I’m noticing Glenn Beck on Headline News is gearing up for some major conservative perspective on the global warming.
    He seems to miss the point from the perspective of a follower of Christ. Regardless of whether humans are the cause or not, we should act as good stewards of the creation because we know who the Creator is. More than that, God is reconciling all of creation to God’s self. Couldn’t we come alongside God and help in that endeavor?
    The community of faith I serve as pastor holds creation care as one of our primary values. We’ll be doing a series on it in June: “The Birds and the Trees.” I’ll let you know how it goes.
    Thanks for bringing more attention to this facet of the Christian life.

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  • Geoff Brown
    May 3, 2007

    A few months ago one of our parishioners promoted the showing of the Al Gore video in our parish, in conjunction with a pot luck supper.
    I had expected few beyond the hard core who appear for anything the church hosts, plus a few who come whenever we had a pot luck.
    We’re a tiny rural church, and I had thought we would see perhaps a dozen people at the showing.
    Surprise! With almost no publicity, the showing drew around 40 people, and at least 25 of them had not been to our church before.
    I would never suggest that a church should adjust its theology to attract new faces, but from our own experience, it can certainly help get people in the door.
    I confess to a mistake on my part: I didn’t anticipate we would see new people, and I didn’t prepare to welcome them in a way that would help them integrate their environmental interests in our own religious practice.

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  • brad
    May 3, 2007

    There seems to be a growing awareness of more injustice and destruction, and this seems to be creating a perception that life is getting increasingly complicated. But I think that, though problems are getting larger in scope, it’s actually simpler to comprehend.
    My emerging understanding is that there is one story. It started in Genesis. God made the entire world, populated it, and established community between mankind and Himself. Sin is anything that breaks the order that God implanted. So when we look at the world holistically, we see that we are each responsible for the stewardship and fostering of that creation and community.
    We don’t need more legalism in the church. That’s because living by grace is supposed to create broader and more successful life change than mere rules ever could.

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  • IPMblog
    May 3, 2007

    Good Christian stewardship = A sustainable lifestyle.
    See some of my other thoughts on these issues at: http://theaestheticelevator.com/tag/sustainable-living/ . There are also the related tags on the blog called “mass-transit” and “live car free.”

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  • Gloria
    May 3, 2007

    I’ve always been a fan of our environment and I’m glad to see this change coming about– and I wonder it it might have to do with people my age getting in more positions of influence.

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  • Gloria
    May 3, 2007

    if… obviously.
    >.if… obviously.

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  • Jason
    May 3, 2007

    This is definitely another in which the church should seriously be taking the lead. At some point, the church needs to get pro-active, rather than re-active to the events happening in our world. Progress is being made…I mean, Pat Robertson is even saying that he now believes in global warming. As Christians, we have a responsibility to be good stewards of all of creation…not just our tithes and buildings. I’d love to see more churches recycling (especially the numerous bulletins and other documents floating around our buildings), using recycled materials, using solar power, and so on. The bottom line is that we should be leading lives that show our great care for the Creator and His creation.

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  • Dan
    May 3, 2007

    I think it is important to note that we likely lead the world in environmental causes and I think that is largely because a majority of our leaders of the past and present believe or believed in preserving God’s creation. Many of the nations of the world whose laws are not or are no longer founded on Christian principles do not protect the environment. I’m not really sure why we should feel pressured to join any type of political movement as believers. We should be putting our faith first, live by example, and not try to control the world by trying to jump on every political bandwagon to try to make ourselves look good.
    If you remember back to the spotted owl crusade, scientists later discoverd that their decline is due to a competitive species of owl rather than logging. Meanwhile, many families were ripped apart and devastated after they lost their jobs. The environment is important, but not at the expense of those Christ came to die for. He died for the creation he valued the most. Our timber industry is very responsible with our environment and we have the most well-preserved eco-systems in the world. We can maintain that without worshipping the creation rather than the Creator.
    This could lead to some serious legalism if we start judging each other because someones car is not fuel efficient enough. I’ll buy a hybrid when I can afford it, but don’t judge me because I don’t drive one yet. Environmentalism appeals mainly to the upper class whose incomes do not depend on our natural resources. The working class and the poor place more value on their relationships in general because that is all many of them have. Joining any political movement is likely to alienate somebody from finding Christ.

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  • Truth Seeker
    May 4, 2007

    Afternoon all!
    I for one do not buy into the environmental agenda. I do what I can to reduce waste and to care for the surroundings in which I live, but I do not accept the ideology of the environmental agenda.
    But there is something that I fear and that I dont think many Christians think about when they approach the environmental issue. Yes, we are to be good stewards of what God has blessed us with, and yes we are to use the environment for economic and social gain. Both are necessary. But one thing that most do not think about is that the Global Warming agenda places man at a higher level than what he is supposed to be. Instead of God acting soveringly in the world man is choosing to place himself as the care taker and provider of the world. The GW agenda is a very man-centered religion. It says that man caused the problem and man can fix it through legislating man and by putting economic reforms on man. Its all man-centered.
    It is another form of atheism (does not believe that a creator God did create the world in a way that it has cycles of warming and cooling) or another form of deism (that a God who created this world cannot control or even repair it, if man is the culprit which the science cannot prove or even point to). Both options are invalid for believers.
    I for one will not sign on to any environmental agenda. Rather, lets teach and share the gospel, which for many churches they can’t even do that, what makes you think they can go green.

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  • jordan fowler
    May 13, 2007

    A must read…
    The Skeptical Environmentalist by Bjorn Lomborg. Lomborg was a hard green who is also a statistics professor. His department head challenged him to do statistical analysis on tons of the data interp of major green groups. Upon this huge exercise, he remains a green but is much more moderate now. I feel this is a balanced and responsible position for the church.
    In addition, his work Global Crisis, Global Solution. He gets 30 world class economists together to prioritize global solutions to problems by return on investment and cost benefit analysis of lives saved per dollar. (a mindbender of mathematical equations). He has a “non-mathematics” version entitled How to Spend $50 Billion to Make the World a Better Place.

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