I am increasingly convinced the greatest failure of the church in my generation is its complete silence and inaction on the climate crisis.
I confess my complicity in this.
I care about and invest considerable energy in many issues Christians should be on the frontlines for: lgtbtq advocacy, care for prisoners, hospitality for refugees, shelter for the unhoused, comfort for those who have experienced religious trauma, etc
But honestly, it is the climate crisis that will exacerbate and problematize all these other issues, and yet my own work in this area, and the wider work of the church, is tepid at best, negligent in many ways, and really even complicit.
Christianity is complicit perhaps especially because we have so emphasized God’s special relationship with humanity and so have disregarded and othered creation. The result is the anthropocene. And theology and church practice overly focused on personal salvation and meeting individual needs of privileged spiritual consumers.
For quite some time now I’ve felt one of the biggest problems in the North American church has been this tendency to prioritize “me” Christianity. Churches attempting to meet the many felt needs of religious consumers, as if we were Starbucks and everyone needs their special type of latte.
A “we” Christianity, if it had been central to how we were taught to think of church, would have prioritized the needs of others over our own, reminding us our deepest spiritual needs are met in acts of love toward our neighbors, because it is in the face of the neighbor that we encounter God.
The neighbor who needs us now is the planet. It will require the whole church on the planet, existing not for itself but for God’s whole creation, to lessen or mitigate the worst of what is already coming.
The church as a whole needs to think of itself more like the National Guard than the Rotary, not just a social club that does a little good on the side, but an all in society that puts boots on the ground and money into actual repair.
One way to do this is to pledge as churches to go carbon neutral by 2030. So we are launching a movement calling for this. 2030 Climate Sanctuaries. Because if we do all the other things bad advocate for the environment but don’t act, then our gospel will increasingly sound like a noisy gong and a clanging cymbal.