As evangelical Christian pastors we are called to share the good news concerning Jesus Christ and to care for the congregations that God has entrusted to us. The popular persona of our evangelical tradition often suggests that we are those Christians whose primary emphasis is on the salvation of souls. To a certain extent this is absolutely true. If this were not our theology, we would be in danger of de-emphasizing a central teaching of Jesus Christ.
Jesus is known for many things but one of his most memorable and important teachings is summarized by these words: “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Mark: 8:36). Words like these have motivated evangelicals to emphasize the salvation of souls.
However, the good news about Jesus Christ is broader than the redemption of individuals. The mission of Jesus was to restore all things to their rightly ordered design, that is, the restoration of creation itself reflected in the Garden of Eden.
If the teachings of Jesus are followed completely then it is imperative that his followers commit themselves to care for God’s creation. The creation mandate in Genesis gives us a charge that is similar to the job of a master gardener. We have been given the responsibility to be caretakers of the beautiful creation that has been lovingly gifted to us by God. This means that misuse or abuse of God’s garden is irresponsible behavior for everyone, but especially for those who believe in a benevolent creator.
As a result, our religious commitment as evangelical Christians must extend to creation itself. As stewards of God’s garden, we are committed to cultivating the earth rather than exploiting it. We believe that promoting activity which contributes to clean air and clean water is our theological responsibility. We are convinced that this mission is not only about us but also about our neighbors, those we are called to love as ourselves.
Furthermore, it is important that our actions are done on behalf of those who are poor and disenfranchised and are frequently not in a position to make decisions that are economically costly in the short-term. Because of the commitment to our mission, we are interested in promoting the option of renewable energy to our congregations and neighbors.
We are aware that the topic of environmental stewardship is politically polarizing, but we are also convinced that it doesn’t need to be. Charitable dialogue is important to finding common ground because we are all in this together, sharing water, air and land. Recently, several of us have come together to develop solutions for our common concerns.
A newly formed organization, Creation Care Partners, has acquired a $500,000 grant for distribution among 20 evangelical churches to encourage the installation of solar panels on our houses of worship. Additionally, we will sponsor congregational workshops to address energy conservation for churches and individuals. We hope this will incentivize churches that might not otherwise invest in renewable energy because of prohibitive cost.
We are motivated by our desire to live out our calling as caretakers of creation and to promote practices that are in the best interest of our neighbors. As Christian pastors we desire to move beyond political fears to address practical issues that we can act upon. We hope that the grants and the accompanying workshops for churches across the state will provide a strong first step.
Pastor Bob Whitaker, Evangelical Community Church; Pastor Mike Bowling, Englewood Christian Church; Pastor Brad Pontius, Sherwood Oaks Christian Church; Pastor Matt Shockney, FX Church