Seven Simple Steps To Greening Your Church


You are concerned about the care of creation, and you want to help.Take a yearandgreen your church!

Here you will find step by step approach to greening your church. You will gain insight and inspiration from the people in the book who are succeeding in developing a creation consciousness in theircongregations. Develop one in yours, too. Includes examples of sustainability in the scriptures, challenges at home, and success stories from a variety of denominations. Order today and...

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Seven Simple Steps to Green Your Church

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You are concerned about the care of creation, and you want to help.Take a yearandgreen your church!

Here you will find step by step approach to greening your church. You will gain insight and inspiration from the people in the book who are succeeding in developing a creation consciousness in theircongregations. Develop one in yours, too. Includes examples of sustainability in the scriptures, challenges at home, and success stories from a variety of denominations. Order today and help your congregation take its first steps toward being a Green Church.

"I can't imagine a church of any size that will not benefit from using this book. It is lively, easy to read, and wonderfully practical. Get it and use it!" J. Ellsworth Kalas, author of Parables From the Back Side

To help your congregation understand more about what it means to be a green church and to live green from a theological perspective check out the Green Church resources from Rebekah Simon-Peter and for all age levels.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781426702938
  • Publisher: Abingdon Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2010
  • Pages: 143
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 6.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Known for teaching leaders how to bring out the best in the people who frustrate them the most, Rebekah Simon-Peter – developer of the highly effective group coaching programs, Creating a Culture of Renewal – helps clergy and laity across the country revitalize their congregations.

Raised in New England, Rebekah is now the Director of BridgeWorks, an extension ministry of the Rocky Mountain Conference. Rebekah is also an accomplished author whose books include The Jew Named Jesus, Green Church: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rejoice!, and 7 Simple Steps to Green Your Church.

A budding organic gardener, decent skier, and all out dog-lover, she lives in Casper, Wyoming with her husband Jerry Gonzales and their two furry friends, Max and Maddie.

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First Chapter

Seven Simple Steps to Green Your Church

By Rebekah Simon-Peter

Abingdon Press

Copyright © 2010 The United Methodist Publishing House
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4267-0293-8

Chapter One

Step 1. Form a Green Team

"Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them." Matthew 18:19-20

Tasks • Choose a model • Recruit team members • Name the team • Write a vision statement and goals • Decide on funding

There is strength in numbers. And there is wisdom. As you begin to green your church, you are going to need help. One person may get the ball rolling, but it helps to have backup. The broader the support you have, the better.

Green teams get formed in many ways: as the result of a Bible study, a common interest such as recycling or gardening, a perceived need for action at your church, a denominational emphasis, or a local environmental crisis. Perhaps your pastor has called you together, or the trustees have decided it is time to save money on utility bills. Maybe you yourself are the green team! You can move forward from any of these starting points.

Choose a Model

Two popular models for church-based green teams seem to work best: the church-wide green team and the small-group green team.

Church-wide Green Team

In the church-wide model, a green team is comprised of key members who have decision-making power, authority, or influence. If possible, include members from some of the following areas:

Clergy/leadership team Staff Business manager or church treasurer Administrative assistant or church secretary Governing board Trustees Christian education department Women's ministry Men's ministry Youth ministry Missions group Building manager or custodial services Groundskeepers Kitchen staff

Carol Matheis-Kraft says, "At First Congregational United Church of Christ [Longmont, Colorado] we did some things right and some things wrong when we were setting up our zero-waste program. If we were to do it over again, I would suggest a church-wide meeting to make sure we get everyone on board. We had a group of very interested people and Earth Day as a target date; but we didn't have a few key people on board. That would have made a big difference for us."

Small-group Green Team

The second model is the small-group approach. In this model, your green team may be composed of members of a single ministry area such as peace and justice, missions, trustees, or Christian education. Take action where you have the most consensus or authority. Seek the support of your priest or pastor, as well as support from the governing body of your congregation.

As your group grows, try to include people with the knowledge to transform your passion into broader action. Look for the master gardener who understands composting, the engineer who knows the physics of energy, the accountant who can calculate return on investments, the community worker who can organize people to clean up a river, or the blogger who can navigate cyberspace. Do not forget about the extrovert who can throw a good party!

Recruit Team Members

Announcements during worship are a great way to raise awareness about the formation of your green team. Likely, some people will join forces with you this way. Most effective, however, is a personal invitation. People appreciate being asked. Network with key people in the church to find others who may be interested. If your church maintains a talent bank or a spiritual gifts database, use the information to find those who may be professionally employed in a related field.

Holding an initial event is a great way to bring people together. Whether you show an environmentally oriented film, host a lecture, have a potluck, plan a hike, or throw a party, you can attract people through events that combine information with fun. Include people of all ages in your recruiting efforts. Each generation has ideas to contribute and gifts to offer.

Name the Team

Once you gather your group, think of an appropriate name. While Green Team might suit you just fine, consider other possibilities such as Creation Care, Earth Care, Earth Keepers, Ecophilia, Eco-Justice, Eco-Team, Environmental Action, Environmental Stewardship, Go Green, Inconvenient Youth, Sustainability, or Whole Earth.

You can call your group a team, a committee, a task force, a ministry, or an action group. Personally, I prefer team. A team plays hard to win at a common goal, while having fun and supporting one another. The game here is working together for the integrity of God's creation. The word team also implies action rather than simply meeting or deliberating. Ultimately, the choice is up to you. Choose a name that will energize and motivate you.

Write a Vision Statement and Goals

Now that your group has a name, focus on what you want to do together. A vision statement will help guide you. Consider the aspirations of your team. What do you want to accomplish? For whom? Why?

As you consider these questions, make sure your language is memorable and inspiring. Above all, let it be positive. "Caring for the earth and its resources as God's gifts for sustaining life" will likely get you farther than "Go green or go home!" Remember, however, the shorter the statement, the more likely it is that people will remember it, repeat it, and absorb it.

After you agree on a vision statement, write a list of specific goals that will help bring your vision to life over the next year. When writing the goals, be specific, clear, and concise. Shoot for goals that you can realistically accomplish in one year. "Reduce our carbon footprint 15 percent per year" is do-able and will keep the motivation going. Contrast that with "Use 100 percent renewable energy by 2015." It sounds good, but can you actually accomplish it? If so, go for it. If not, try again.

Once your vision statement and goals are written, use them! Post them on your website. Write and recite them often. Review and refine them as needed.

Decide on Funding

In the long run, going green will save you money. For instance, according to the Energy Star website, "an ENERGY STAR qualified compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) will save about $30 over its lifetime and pay for itself in about 6 months. It uses 75 percent less energy and lasts about 10 times longer than an incandescent bulb."

In the short term, there will be some costs, so you will need money to work with. If the church budget is tight, you will need to be creative. Not to worry, though. There are a number of ways to fund your greening efforts. Consider the following options.

Special Offerings

Take a collection on Earth Day. Encourage people to make a special donation for a livable planet upon the birth or baptism of a child or a grandchild.


People love to contribute to a good cause. Do not be afraid to ask for donations. Glen Miles, senior minister at Country Club Christian Church in Kansas City, Missouri, chuckles as he recalls, "Once our church began to see that we were serious about going green, several people approached me about making donations for our new low-flow toilets. It is not a sexy project, but every bit counts."


Hold creative fundraisers that advance the goals of going green and fund your next project. Try selling CFLs, garden plants, or worms for compost piles.


Ask people to contribute to your green efforts by contributing needed items. Hold a Bring Your Own Mug Sunday to put an end to Styrofoam cup usage. This can also work for cloth napkins, CFLs, seeds for the garden, and a variety of other projects.

Grants and Partnerships

Grants and partnerships may be available to your church through conservation organizations, waste management departments, government entities such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy, and scientific and community organizations. Check with your energy company about rebates for energy-saving projects. Remember to inquire about denominational resources.

Capital Funds

Many churches have monies that can be used only for building improvement and maintenance. By investing those funds in energy-efficient upgrades, your money will do double duty.

Pastor Jeff Rainwater of First United Methodist Church in Laramie, Wyoming, notes, "Using money from our endowment, we bought 40 motion-detector light switches that cost $60-70 each but would save 10 percent in energy use. Even with a 10-year return on investment, it becomes a gift for ministry. That 10 percent savings becomes 10 percent more money that can be used for other things."

Chapter Two

Step 2. Calculate YOur Carbon Footprint

Do you know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of the one whose knowledge is perfect? Job 37:16

Tasks • Learn about carbon footprints • Choose the type of carbon footprint to use • Collect data • Input data • Save your figures

Each of us has an impact on the earth and her natural systems. A carbon footprint is a metaphorical way of describing the depth and width of your impact, especially as it relates to climate change.

When it comes to going green, understanding and calculating your church's carbon footprint is essential. While some churches go green without taking this important step, spending the time to quantify your carbon footprint gives you key baseline information. Once you have this number, you will be able to measure your impact on the climate. Calculating your carbon footprint makes climate change real and going green imperative.

Learn About Carbon Footprints Carbon Dioxide

Over the last century, the earth's atmosphere has warmed about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit. While that does not seem like much, it is enough to disrupt the ecological systems upon which life as we know it depends. The polar ice caps are melting, which in turn raises ocean levels. Precipitation patterns are changing, leading to increased flooding and drought. As the soil dries out, there is a greater incidence of forest fires. Warmer air temperatures mean warmer ocean temperatures, which in turn lead to more severe hurricanes and typhoons.

This global warming or climate change, along with pollution and a global population explosion, is wreaking havoc on the creation. It is not just the weather that is changing; songbirds to frogs to polar bears are disappearing. Honeybees and bats are hard hit. With an increase of extreme weather events, the number of people forced from their homes—so-called climate refugees—contributes to social, economic, and political instability.

At the heart of climate change is carbon dioxide, or CO2. A commonplace gas, CO2 is necessary for life. Plants and trees take it in and give off oxygen; while humans and other creatures breathe in oxygen and exhale CO2.


Excerpted from Seven Simple Steps to Green Your Church by Rebekah Simon-Peter Copyright © 2010 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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