Don’t mention the warming

Posted in: Comment, Featured
Date posted: 25 April 2018

Stephen Edwards, Operation Noah’s outreach campaigner, looks at the obstacles that prevent our fellow Christians from relating to environmental issues – and what we might do to change this.

Front cover of the study guide, with photo of a small church in the mountains.As green Christians, we can often feel at odds with our fellow believers. Global temperatures continue to skyrocket. Biodiversity is plummeting. Polar ice is disappearing. The poor get poorer as lands and livelihoods disappear. Yet all the while, many Christians stand aside, blinking into the abyss. How frustrating!

Those of us advocating for creation care often can feel like lonely voices in the wilderness. Where our churches show little time for ‘tree-huggers’, we seek out shortcuts to accelerate their enlightenment. Dramatic, apocalyptic imagery. Keen, critical eyes. And a penchant for Old Testament rebukes. The trouble is, it doesn’t work. And it isn’t very loving.

At Operation Noah, we’ve learned that communicating climate issues with fellow believers must begin with hopeful prayer, and respectful conversation with our brothers and sisters, ‘bringing grace to those who listen’ (Ephesians 4:29). We’ve developed an outreach campaign to do just that: finding and creating common ground between all kinds of church traditions and social and political outlooks. Research shows that such bridge-building is vital if we are to help people come to terms with climate change. Rather than pointing to the failures of our church families, we need to remind them of their hope and mobilise them for God-empowered action.

As part of our outreach campaign, we have created a group study resource which we’re launching in May, Tenants of the King. This four-part series, including Bible-study booklets, leaders materials and a series of short videos, has been developed to help you and your church explore the Biblical foundations of creation care, and the practical steps that individuals and churches alike can take in response. We’re excited about the potential for reaching Christians who don’t describe themselves as ‘green’.

To find out more about the resource or register your interest in copies for your church, please email us at We’d love to help you and your church explore creation care together.

Tips for talking climate in church

  • Keep it human: The connection between people and planet isn’t always obvious. Human stories move us to see the social cost of environmental problems, and to act where we are.
  • Model specific ways forward: While most of us have heard thousands of stories about the climate crisis, many will still feel bewildered about how to respond. If you want to see your church act differently, your actions will always speak louder than words.
  • Point to allies, not enemies: Millions today are acting heroically to care for creation. Remind your church that they’re not alone; their voice can and will be heard.
  • Respect the scriptures: For many Christians, the Bible is the final word on how we relate to God’s creation. By honestly weighing its contents, we respect our fellow believers.
  • Involve church leaders: As Christians, we are called to honour our leaders (1 Thessalonians 5:12). In seeking to be heard, we shouldn’t seek to bypass or undermine their authority.
  • Communicate Kingdom hope: The Church can offer inspiring hope in a society despairing about the environment. Make sure your message is one that cultivates hope, not fear.

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2018 edition of Green Christian.

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