Cultivating Green Habits in Your Congregation: 5 Tips

Cultivating Green Habits in Your Congregation: 5 Tips October 10, 2023

It’s no secret that humans impact the planet’s climate, and caring for the environment can create a healthier Earth for future generations. 

With that in mind, here are five tips for encouraging green habits in your congregation.

1. Create a Recycling Program

Many churches rely on paper bulletins, newsletters and sheet music during worship services. Some offer refreshments, including plastic water bottles and aluminum cans. A recycling program can prevent those items from ending up in landfills to release harmful emissions into the atmosphere. 

Starting a program is easier than you think. Replace most trash cans with recycling bins and mark what can and cannot go into them. Explain how recycling can help your church preserve God’s creation. 

If your city doesn’t offer recycling pickup, research where you can take it to ensure you follow your promise to contribute to the environment. Keep track of the amount you recycle so you can update your congregation. Post information about the program on your bulletin or as part of your announcements. 

2. Invest in Energy-Efficient Appliances

Energy efficiency is a vital tool in reducing your church’s carbon footprint. Up to 20% of your energy costs could be from wasted energy, whether it’s through warm air that seeps out of cracks or old, overworked equipment. 

With thousands of churches struggling to stay open, dedicating funds to updated systems could seem fruitless. However, working towards modern heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, kitchen appliances, and other energy-sucking devices can lead to significant savings. 

Older, inefficient models must work harder to meet your building’s demands and you’ll lose more money than necessary. Explain to your congregation that you could save hundreds of dollars by investing in better appliances. 

When you have visible updates around your church building, it shows potential new members that you are putting care into your facility, which could inspire them to attend or make a financial contribution. 

3. Hold Outdoor Services

People gather together in a church and you can do so outdoors. If you have outdoor space, consider using it for services with little to no energy. 

An outdoor service allows your congregation to enjoy God’s beauty while enjoying the sunshine and fresh air. Outdoor spaces can offer a more relaxed feeling to services or events. They can encourage fellowship, helping members build friendships that make your congregation stronger. 

You can hold special events, like an Easter sunrise with a fire pit or a picnic worship, which could attract new members who feel intimidated by the traditional worship set-up. Ask your congregation to submit outdoor activity ideas. 

4. Choose Reusable Materials

Consider what single-use items you can replace in your church. Mini-plastic communion cups are standard in many congregations. If you prefer to use them, consider compostable ones with less impact. Consider the precautions you can take if you want to use a loaf of bread and a chalice, but worry about germ spread–like offering hand sanitizer before each member dips the bread. 

Instead of relying on paper bulletins, consider offering a virtual document that members with smartphones can use. You can also eliminate a worship service order or song pages by projecting them onto a screen or wall. While a non-tech-savvy church may resist the idea, the larger image can ensure everyone can see what’s happening and participate in worship. Projection also offers opportunities for creativity and getting more members involved in worship. 

The more you can eliminate the need to manage waste at the end of the week, the better your church will be for the planet. Making these changes could inspire your members to evaluate changes they can make in their homes.

5. Educate on Green Habits

One of the top barriers to eliminating climate change is a lack of education and spreading misinformation. God gifted us with one planet, but actions we take can have a direct impact on its health. 

If you want to encourage your congregation to form green habits, explaining the purpose behind each change is important. Offer guidance from reliable sources on how excessive energy use and waste contribute to the deterioration of the ozone layer. Explain that small changes like closing the doors or double-checking that a bathroom tap is off can significantly affect your church’s environmental impact. 

When you ask for them to make a worship change or contribute to building upgrades, you must let them know all the facts to decide what they want to support. Giving them this knowledge can empower them to implement better habits at church, work and at home. 

Green stained-glass windows with a section missing

Cultivating Green Habits in Your Church

Creating an environmentally friendly church benefits the globe and your church’s operation. You can set a positive example for your congregation by conserving energy and reusing and recycling items.

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