A Witness for the Creator (Part One): Creation Care as Stewardship
Taking care of our planet can be a winsome witness to unbelievers and the next generation of Christians. Here are simple ways to get started.
Christi Huizenga Renaud and Lynne Marian
In a recent blog post, we shared that believers are the most well-equipped to lead in the face of a global climate crisis because of our faith in Christ. Many people read that article and asked, "What should I do?" This two-part feature provides a framework and helpful tips for getting started.
We want to look away...but don’t
“There is a tendency at every important but difficult crossroad to pretend that it's not really there,” said author and environmentalist Bill McKibben in his seminal book, The End of Nature. That rings especially true as we face our global climate crisis.
It’s truly overwhelming, but just as we wouldn't ignore a house fire or bald tires on our car, we as Christians must courageously take action to prevent greater suffering. Thankfully, we are not alone. When we take action, we join our global church family, as believers from Europe, Asia, South America and many climate-vulnerable countries are already taking a leading role as advocates for people and the planet. Even small steps make a difference. Begin where you are, then keep walking.
As we take action, God uses moments along the way to cultivate our hearts, pruning and shaping us. We've seen individuals, families, and entire communities respond to God through environmental stewardship. It regularly leads to greater awareness of God's presence and love.
A framework for change
In Acts 1:8, Jesus gave his followers a framework for reaching the world with the good news. It feels natural to borrow this framework to think about how we can continue to be Jesus’ hands and feet in our world: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Notice that the movement is led by the Holy Spirit. In this moment (and always), we should go where the Holy Spirit guides us. For the early church, that guidance sent them to Jerusalem (where they were), to all Judea and Samaria (their community), and to the ends of the earth.
Many Christian communities argue that we should focus entirely on spreading the gospel. Keep in mind that taking action on climate change can be an effective way to introduce God’s good news.
The environment/climate change is the #1 concern of Gen-Z and Millenials. It’s also a top concern for much of the world’s population.
When we care for the environment, we serve the “least of these” (those vulnerable, marginalized and living in poverty), both in the U.S. and globally.
Jerusalem (Where you are)
Learn about it. A 1.5 degree warmer world doesn’t sound like a big deal until you look more closely at the delicate balance in weather and ecosystems. A small change has a significant impact. Here’s a video that explains it better.
Talk about it. Katharine Hayhoe, Christian and globally-renowned climate scientist says that the most important thing you can do to fight climate change is to talk about it. Start conversations with the people you know and the things you care about mutually.
Model responsible choices. There are many easy ways to make a difference, even in our homes. As consumers, how we live, shop and invest also has a ripple effect driving changes up the economic chain.
Go Green. Do you have a yard? Plant a tree, stop raking your leaves, or create a butterfly garden for migrating pollinators. No yard? Help your town green up urban areas, organize a stream clean-up or trail renewal. These actions may feel small, but they add up. Research shows that 30% of our recovery from climate change will come from nature-based solutions.
Be a community voice. Advocate for sustainable practices in your community (schools, city, region). Talk to your parks service or city planner about ways to get involved with tree planting and other conservation areas.
Support the vulnerable. Look for ways to serve those most impacted by climate change and related effects. Think about older adults, those who are economically disadvantaged, those in urban areas, and refugee populations.
Pray. Aside from personal prayer to align our hearts with the heart of God, and to plead for his intervention in the face of global suffering, consider organizing a “climate vigil” prayer event. Visit climatevigil.org for resources and ideas.
What does environmental stewardship look like in “Samaria” (our nation) and “the Ends of the Earth” (going global)? Read part two of A Witness for the Creator, and learn even more practical strategies for faith and action in the face of our climate crisis—along with a full resource and reading list for further study.
Support the work of HDI in the world. Your gift will enable researchers and students navigate humanity’s most complex and catastrophic challenges.
Christi Huizenga Renaud, vice president of development and marketing, and Lynne Marian, director of marketing, serve with Plant With Purpose. Plant With Purpose is a global Christian organization working at the intersection of global poverty and environmental degradation. They’ve worked alongside almost half a million people (who have planted more than 50 million trees) in some of the world's most vulnerable communities.