[Ed. note: This article is part of our series of weekly church activities,Cultivating Community, published on Thursdays.]
Creation care so often happens in a group—be it a neighborhood, a church or a family—so why not learn about creation care in a group as well? Studying the Bible in the context of community can be a powerful way to get more out of the Word than reading alone, especially when it comes to learning about creation care. That’s where others’ thoughts and ideas can be so helpful in connecting the dots between the theological and the practical.
- Get your group together. Find a few people who are interested in learning about and discussing the Biblical roots of the call to steward creation, and invite them to form a study group together. Think outside the box. Are there people at work, at church or, say, on the intramural softball league who are interested in “green” things and want to learn more? Think about non-Christians as well as believers. Talking about issues of overlapping interest is a great way to start a dialogue with friends who might not otherwise be involved in a Bible study.
- Have an introductory meeting. Get together with your group to talk about what group members want the study to be. If there are people in the group who don’t know each other, set aside some time for introductions. Talk about their experience with nature and what brought them to the study. Ask what they hope to learn and what are a few questions that they are bringing into the group? Talk about practical matters like time and place. Get creative with ideas about format. It doesn’t have to be simply meeting in a living room and discussing Scripture. Watch documentaries on alternating weeks. Make plans for outdoor projects. Go on a hike.
- Get together. On the day of the study read the passage and have 5-10 minutes of journaling to give people time to collect their thoughts and digest the verses. Then open the discussion up with a few introductory questions such as: What stood out to you about the verses? Did it trigger any new thoughts? What ideas is the text concerned with? What is the main idea? Do you have any questions? Were you confused by anything?
- Let us know how it goes on our facebook page.
Watch documentaries on alternating weeks. Make plans for outdoor projects. Go on a hike. Get creative!
Five Basic Studies
Here are five sections of scripture that talk about some of the foundational ideas of creation care to give you a few tracks to run on. For every passage we’ve given the key ideas and some discussion questions to get things started.
1. Genesis 1 & 2: Creation
Key Idea: God is committed to his creation because he made it and loves it.
Q: What does this passage say about the relationship of humankind to the rest of creation?
Q: What associations come to mind when you read the words “subdue” and “dominion” in verse 1:26?
Q: Why did God rest on the seventh day? Does that have any implications for our own rest and work?
Q: When God made Adam and Eve he gave them tasks (work), minds (reason) and each other (relationality). What are some other characteristics of what it means to be human as pictured here?
2. Genesis 3: The Fall
Key Idea: Though the world was originally made good since the Fall it has been under a curse and is no longer as it was supposed to be.
Q: What was the essence of Adam and Eve’s temptation?
Q: What areas of life were cursed as a result of Adam and Eve’s sin? Were any areas left untouched?
Q: Adam and Eve’s sin also had consequences for the natural world. What were they and what does this say about the connection between the condition of nature and humankind’s sin?
3. Job 38-42: God is in the Details
Key Idea: God’s glory, wisdom and power are displayed in his maintenance of the natural world.
Q: What are some things in the natural world that God says he is intimately involved in? Can you think of other places in the Bible where God speaks of his involvement in nature?
Q: Is nature like a watch that God designed and which he now simply watches tick or does he have a more immanent involvement with it? Are there things on earth that happen apart from God’s activity?
Q: What does Job’s response say about our posture before the Lord?
4. Romans 8: The Groaning World
Key Idea: The earth is under a curse and longs to be redeemed.
Q: How do verses 8:19-22 further illuminate the connection between the natural world and our sin or righteousness?
Q: What promises does Romans 8 hold about the future of the earth?
Q: As we wait for the earth to be renewed what should we do? How should we feel?
Q: What do verses 8:38-39 have to say about the certainty of God’s redemption?
5. Revelation 21-22: A New Earth
Key Idea: One day God will make everything new and restore it to its intended glory, including the earth.
Q: Where will we spend eternity? Heaven or earth?
Q: What does it mean that John “saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had passed away”?
Q: What do you think it means that John takes such pains to describe the beauty and richness of God’s city?
Q: A tree is mentioned at the beginning of chapter 22—where else are important trees mentioned in the Bible?
Conclude every meeting with a discussion about how to take the theology and make it practical. What sorts of things can you do to care for creation in your daily lives? Around the house? The neighborhood? Church? Then pray that God would bless the study and use it as a way to help all the group members to become better stewards of the environment.