Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Evangelism and Environmentalism

I know it's been a while since I've posted, but I wanted to let you know a little bit of what is on my mind and heart lately. Creation has been a very important subject to me for a long time. My understanding and interpretation of the book of Genesis, among other sources, leads me to the conclusion that we are to be stewards of God's Creation. Dr. Len Sweet puts it as we are to "conserve and conceive." I think we can all probably agree that in the United States, we are getting more and more disconnected from nature, and I would argue that as we disconnect from Creation we grow farther from the One who Created it.

In my recent travels, I have spoken with a great variety of people about environmental issues, often those revolving around how animals are treated. People choose to enter this conversation and issue in different ways. Some choose to be vegan, some choose some sort of vegetarian diet, some choose other types of diets (there is a really cool movement of people called "ethical omnivores"), and there are people that connect with nature through hunting, fishing, trapping, etc. There are so many disagreements between these people, and with those who put little time or attention into caring for creation, and this is a problem. 

In my lifetime, I have seen evangelism attempted mostly by argument. People focus on what they disagree about and try to convince the other of his or her point. I believe that effective evangelism starts at the point of agreement and I always try to practice it that way. The first thing we should always be doing with someone different than us is to find out what we agree on. The environment is a huge issue that can and should be resulting in agreement between the Christian being a good steward of creation, and the Atheist/agnostic/pagan environmentalist. There is so much work to be done together and yet, the focus regularly seems to be on where we disagree. Methods of caring for creation vary greatly and sometimes even contradict one another. However, we are really on the same side and want the same things in many ways. Here are some things we can do:

1. Acknowledge our responsibility and practice caring for God's creation in whatever ways we can.

2. Care about what is happening to and in our world around us.

3. Talk to others about how you care for creation and discover how they do it. (Always use the language of the other, so they can understand that you are talking about the same thing)

4. Connect with nature as often and in as many ways as possible.

As a theologian and as someone that lives on this planet, I don't think it's ok to ignore this issue, nor do I think we can afford to fight about it anymore. We live in a time where our children aren't able to connect with nature in the same way that we were and it's going to be even worse for their children. From the very beginning God has been trying to connect with us through Creation. Let's go meet God there!