Survey Results: Leading the Way in Faith-Driven Climate Action
May 2, 2023
Updated May 3, 2023
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If 90% of your congregants were struggling to understand an issue, wouldn’t you consider it a priority to help your church discover what the Bible has to say on that subject? According to a new study by A Rocha Canada and Tearfund Canada, there is widespread concern about climate change in many Canadian churches. Yet in spite of those numbers, very few churches are taking seriously the need to disciple church members in how to respond to climate change.
Over 90% of those surveyed say that they are worried about climate change and nature loss, with 60% stating that they are “quite” to “seriously worried.” (“For All the Earth Survey” pg. 8)
The survey focused on evangelical Canadians between the ages of 18 to 42, with the majority faithfully attending church each week. Respondents were from all across Canada and represented a variety of lifestyles, income levels, and education. The survey results give churches a better understanding of what is on the hearts of young adults in their congregation.
"Over 1 in 3 young Christians said that climate change is among their highest concerns – second only to global poverty. (“For All the Earth Survey”, pg 9)
Yet while young evangelicals are seriously concerned about climate change, a majority says that they don’t know how to respond to the crisis and that their churches aren’t helping them grapple with the issue. These believers want to live out their faith in tangible ways, but don’t know how. What is the responsibility of the Church in the face of this worry and uncertainty?
“Christians should be at the forefront of environmentalism. We should be leading the way, not dragging our feet, because the Bible tells us that God charged us with the care of his creation.” – Tim Keller (“For All the Earth Survey”, pg. 14)
As church leadership, we are tasked with helping God’s people love Him above all else, and love their neighbors as themselves. And this is the heart of what it means to disciple church members when it comes to climate change issues. As a church, we work together to steward creation faithfully, not because it is a culturally hot topic but because we love God and love our neighbor. .
The CRCNA has made it a priority to address human-induced climate change. With this goal in mind, the Climate Witness Project was launched as a joint initiative of the CRCNA and World Renew, providing resources to help Christians live out this calling practically. In the words of the synodical report that established the Climate Witness project, the project helps believers be “voices for justice and public examples in the effort to live sustainably within our God-given resources, to promote stewardship in our own communities and our nations.” (Acts of Synod 2012, pp. 803-805).
The Climate Witness Project has a wide range of creation care resources for your church to better understand and address these topics:
CWP also has regional organizers through Canada and the United States that are available to help your church find resources, hold trainings and take action in your own community. Connect with your regional organizer here.
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Has a similar survey been done recently with Christians in the US?
Hi Terry - not that we're aware of. We'll keep our eye out though.
I'm so thankful to be part of a denomination that made a clear statement in 2012 that climate change has come as a result of human action, and calls for action to mitigate it. This jibes with science and leaves us in a position that we can do something about it, rather than fatalistically saying that nothing can be done. Thank you for this article and for all the work that all of you who are part of the Climate Witness Project do.
Thanks for your encouraging words Mark!
Yes and amen, Mark!
I agree that we in the CRC ought to do more to inform ourselves, from a Scriptural perspective, about Climate Change. But my focus is a little different...
It is clear that environment & climate was a common theme among many of the demon-gods of antiquity (the false idols worshipped by people who did not worship the One True God). The other 2 main themes were child sacrifice and sexual immorality. Those 3 things, deification of elements of the environment, child sacrifice, and sexual perversion were the 3 main aspects of demon worship.
I believe that the CRC has been tempted to flirt with the environmental idol. The "science" offered to pass the overture that jumped on board the global warming bandwagon has been proven to be false. And I think the environment (pun intended) within the CRC has changed a lot since then.
I hope that a future Synod will refocus our denomination away from the demon-god of environmentalism, and back toward the One True God of Scripture.
I and a few others would agree with you Dan. For decades we have been fed the message that humans have negatively impacted the climate. "If a lie is only printed often enough, it becomes a quasi-truth, and if such a truth is repeated often enough, it becomes an article of belief, a dogma, and men will die for it." This is attributed to Isa Bragden but others such as Lenin and Goebbels have used a version of this as well. It is known that water vapour in the atmosphere is a far better absorber of infrared energy than is carbon dioxide ( over 100 times better ) and we humans have little ability to affect the concentration of water vapour. We should be asking, "Who is pushing this climate hysteria and why?"
First, Kudos to the CWP for providing resources to churches that enable climate literacy, suggest climate change mitigation and adaptation actions, facilitate energy stewardship projects in/on our buildings, and foster faith-based advocacy with local, state and national elected leaders.
Second: I'd like to suggest that one particularly effective mitigation initiative is electrification. The general idea is to replace old fuel-burning machines with electric machines over the course of a decade or two as they reach end-of-life. A very useful resource for planning electrification projects is this site and especially this calculator: How much money can you get with the Inflation Reduction Act? — Rewiring America
Third: I've heard the idea bandied about that taking climate change action means bowing to a "god of environmentalism or sustainability." Now if I were a pantheist or perhaps a wiccan, that might be true. However, I'm a reformed Christian trained to think we have a role to play in transforming culture (per Niebuhr). I've since come to understand there are some pitfalls with that way of thinking (per articles like this: 5 Reasons Why “Christ Transforming Culture” Is a… | Zondervan Academic). In spite of the cautions, I still see God's great commandments (to love Him above all and my neighbor as myself) as a call to work for transformation in the way we treat His good creation (at least as an Enneagram 1 who finds it natural to "always reform.").
For me, respect for the Artist's good work calls us to more than stewardship. We're also called to bring healing to damaged places (like Plaster Creek, as noted in this lovely book: Refugia Faith - Debra Rienstra). We can also work for optimization (transformation) of our societal systems such that they promote more neighbor flourishing in the future than they did in the past. The old scout adage to "leave it better than you found it" is decent shorthand for this call for respect and flourishing.
So if I can poke a bit, if there is worship of a false god happening in the CRC, to my eye it looks like that false god is...SUVs and BIG trucks! (OK, if you're a farmer or a contractor or have a big family you get a pass. Especially if it's beat up and not a gleaming chariot.) More seriously, doesn't it LOOK like we're worshipping our stuff if you just observe our parking lots at church on Sunday morning? Some verses make me wonder: Isaiah 2:7-8 NIV - Their land is full of silver and gold; - Bible Gateway
More to the point on climate change, to my eye it looks like many are worshipping the current status quo of fossil fuels. Yes, those fuels have helped (some of) us flourish, but they are also killing people, including our children (sacrifices to Molech again?). Better ways are rapidly becoming available that will save lives: Cutting fossil fuel air pollution saves lives : NPR. We can choose those cleaner technologies as faithful, hopeful ways of honoring our Creator God. (And I hear you, they're not perfect either; we need to figure out battery recycling and alternatives to cobalt. Here are some promising developments: Lithium-ion Battery Recycling - Li-ion Battery Resource Recovery | Li-Cycle and What’s next for batteries in 2023 | MIT Technology Review.) ((PS: the deepest thinkers I read question the whole techno-optimist mindset: Opinion | The dangers of techno-optimism (stanforddaily.com))) So yes; it's complicated but committing to the status quo as "the best of all possible worlds" is both illogical and unreformed.
In summary, I don't think Christians motivated by love for God and neighbor need to fear that by taking actions to improve the environment, they are unknowingly worshipping false gods. I think the burden of proof (for faithful worship of the one true God) is on those who are clinging to the status quo with religious zeal. (That big diesel "coal-rolling" truck is NOT going to save you!) We're all called to live in tension with the assumptions of culture, both old and new. Exodus 20:3 NIV - “You shall have no other gods before - Bible Gateway
Dan, starting in Genesis 1 and throughout Scripture we are called to care for the very good creation God made and of which God has made us stewards. But you are saying that all who voted in favor of the 2012 Climate Change synodical report are idolaters. All of us who believe the science that human action is causing a warming of our planet are idolaters. And all who advocate for making changes in human action to reduce our release of carbon and methane into the atmosphere are not only idolaters but are leading others into idolatry. Do I have that right?
Mark, does Scripture tell us to "care for creation"? Where? Or are we instructed to use it for our own flourishing, and give thanks to God for it?
Yes, to the extent that global warming alarmism is preached by Christians, it is idolatry and false religion.
I would love to meet with you and talk more about this. Will you be at Synod this year? I will be there as a delegate.
"The earth is the Lord's and everything in it..."
Oh what a JOY and gift it is to bear witness to God's heart and divine design in all of creation, from the design of the human body to the critical role of insects in the food we eat. Given such an incredible, thoughtfully designed gift, how could we not want to steward it to the best of our ability?
Thank you, Jesus, for a growing number of people learning about more sustainable ways to do things like drive to work, grow and compost food, and stay warm.
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