By Andy Patton
[Ed. note: This article is part of our weekly series of church activities, called Cultivating Community, published on Thursdays.]
2010 has come and (almost) gone so we here at Flourish are taking a retrospective look back into the archives. We’ve dug up 6 practical ways for churches to start bringing creation care out of the pulpit and into the real world and consolidated them in one place. But first…. read Flourish Co-Founders Rusty Pritchard and Jim Jewell’s “Eight Starter Ideas for Churches Who Care About Creation.”
- Give your church an energy audit. Being more energy efficient reduce energy bills and frees up resources (literally) leaking unnecessarily out of your church. Contact your utility provider for a consultation on where your church is most energy inefficient and in the mean time get started on your own. Read “The First Two Steps to Becoming and Energy Efficient Church” to learn how.
- Take steps toward energy efficiency. So you’ve finished your energy audit, now its time to make some changes. Caulk windows. Replace incandescent bulbs. Tint windows to make the air conditioning more efficient. Change air filters. Maintain heating and cooling systems. Install dimmer switches and occupancy sensors.Winterize your church. Read on here for a few more ideas.
- Plant a garden. Gardening is a great way to get your congregation outside and tied into to the Earth and the food system in a practical, tangible way. Tilling, planting, and pruning offer ample time to have conversations and facilitate the work of ministry in the warp and woof of real life. Plus, a church garden, like the Anathoth Community Garden, is a great way to address social justice needs in the community by feeding the poor and hungry with what the garden grows. Here is a guide to gardening from Flourish.
- Start a compost bin. Composting is an easy way to get reduce waste and get people outside with their hands in the soil. Most churches generate lots of food waste in the course of a month. Also, most churches have landscaping which could be helped by more fertile soil. Composting bridges the gap between food waste and soil fertility, reducing waste, cost of landscaping, increasing the beauty and health of plants on your property, as well as providing a tangible teaching tool for talking about creation care. Here is our guide to composting for more on how to get started.
- Set out a reusable coffee mug bin for your congregation rather than polystyrene cups that will just be thrown away. Churches that serve coffee generate massive waste in disposable coffee cups each week. One way to reduce that waste is to have a bin of porcelain mugs to use instead. It means doing dishes, but its better for the environment, cheaper for your church, and doing dishes together is a great way to get to know someone. You can also encourage people to bring their own from home. Generally, if the church provides disposable cups people will use them. A great way to get started and get your congregation behind the transition is to have a mug donation drive.
- Do a walkability audit. Walking is good for the health of your congregation, the local economy, as well as helps to connect people with each other and with the land. How conducive to walking is your church? One way to start answering that question is to plug your address into walkscore.com. For where to go from there read about how to do a walkability audit from Flourish’s archives.