The Green Congregation Program
How to Proceed
Frequently Asked Questions

This section is designed to help Green Teams know how to take the next steps in the Green Congregation Program. This is basically a briefing on community-organizing within your congregation. Here are some of the questions that give focus to the training:

Why should Christians care for creation?

  • The environmental state of the world, such as climate change, ozone depletion, loss of bio-diversity, depletion of forests and arable land, waste, and population affect all of God's creation.
  • All people, particularly the poor, people of color, and third world countries, are affected by these conditions.
  • The biblical view that creation is good and the biblical mandate for humans to take responsibility to care for creation, all of the earth community.
  • The theological understanding that God is present and active in the ongoing creation of the world.

What is the larger vision and purpose of this program?

  • To contribute to the transformation of society so that humans live in harmony with other life and preserve the earth for future generations.
  • The more immediate goal is the transformation of the congregation to be an intentional community celebrating and restoring creation.

What is the goal for the congregation?

  • To revitalize the identity and the mission of the congregation by integrating care for creation in what the congregation is and what the congregation does.
  • To be different and to make a difference.
  • To encourage spiritual transformation to a new relationship with God and with all creation.
  • To be actively promoting (outside the congregation) ecological justice for the earth community.

What are some key principles and strategies to keep in mind?

  • Care for creation is a religious issue and a religious practice.
  • Obstacles may be theological, political, financial, and/or strategic.
  • Working with other groups and other congregations strengthens everyone and increases the impact.
  • See more strategies and principles.

What is the function and role of a Green Team?

  • To be the greening catalyst in the congregation.
  • To promote care for creation in every part of the life and mission of the congregation.

How does the Green Team work with pastor(s) and lay professionals?

  • Involve pastors and lay professionals insofar as they are able to participate.
  • Inform them of your concern for environmental justice, the nature of this program, and invite them into the dialogue about ideas and actions.
  • Take responsibility as lay leaders for initiating and following through with the program.
  • Discuss how you can support the pastor/staff supporting you.
  • Address concerns: possible controversy, another project, control, etc.
  • Listen to concerns and be pro-active about keeping lines of communication open.

How does the Green Team work with the church council?

  • Approach the church council as a group. Discuss it beforehand with the pastor, the council president, and the executive committee.
  • Present your concern for environmental justice, the goals of the Green Congregation Program, and your committment to follow through.
  • Seek to show how the program fits into the mission of the congregation. If it is not explicitly stated, ask if care for creation could be made part of the congregation's mission statement.
  • Address concerns: financial cost, volunteers, accountability, etc.
  • Listen to concerns and be pro-active about keeping lines of communication open.

How does the Green Team work with existing committees?

  • Seek to make care for creation part of the task of all committees, activities, staff tasks, and decisions; build it into job/committee descriptions.
  • Meet with committee chairs and committees: share your concerns, explain the program, invite their input, suggest collaborative projects, and offer to be helpful.
  • Follow through with each committee and each project to provide support and accountability.
  • Publicize and celebrate the work of the particular committee.
  • Thank the other committees for their work throughout a project.
  • Listen to concerns and be pro-active about keeping lines of communication open.

How might the Green Team assess the congregation: its interest, its assets, its needs, and its opportunities?

  • Do an "asset/interest" based assessment by drawing upon the resources and commitments in the congregation to develop plans and programs.
  • Do an "opportunities/needs" assessment by looking at the programs, possibilities, and eco-justice crises of the community in which the congregation is located.
  • Gauge support for various projects, whereby you survey the congregation with a list of possible projects, costs, and benefits.
  • Do a comprehensive environmental audit of the building and the grounds and develop consequent action plans.

How can the Green Team promote the Green Congregation Program?

  • Clarify the message and communicate it seven different ways: worship, education, newsletter, personal contacts, bulletin board, bulletin announcements and inserts, and email.
  • Choose different projects that gets everyone involved at some level.
  • Use symbols, signs, actions, banners, and slogans that bring the issues before the congregation.
  • Incorporate public teachable moments into worship, education, and projects.

How do we deal with obstacles and resistance?

  • Be pro-active in talking with people. Share your concerns about the environment and explain the source of your Christian commitment to care for creation. Give reasons/evidence to support your ideas.
  • Listen. learn, and work constructively to address the issues and differences of opinions. Seek a consensus and compromise where necessary. Seek to avoid confrontation and pressure tactics.
  • Explain and keep on going with the things that can be done.

How does the Green Team make action plans and move ahead with them?

  • Use the five-part program to set goals in each (worship, education, buildings and grounds, discipleship at home and work, and public ministry).
  • Brainstorm special projects for the whole congregation and community.
  • Make plans to implement each project and identify the committess who could be responsible for the projects.
  • Meet often as a group so as to keep plans alive, develop new ones, and maintain accountability.
  • Seek to institutionalize the changes to become integral parts of the congregation's life.

Other quick suggestions:

  • Seek partners among community agencies and other congregations, especially to complete projects that would be difficult to do alone.
  • Communicate regularly with your denomination at local, regional, and national levels.
  • Make use of the resources on this website and the links to many other faith-based environmental websites.
  • Make your Green Team meetings fun with healthy snacks and meals, walks in nature, poetry, and visits to environmental sites.