An Environmental Call to Action for Congregations

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In Genesis 1:28, God commanded Adam to “…fill the earth and subdue it. Take charge of the fish of the sea, the birds in the sky, and everything crawling on the ground.” However, should we take this as a license to do with the earth and its natural resources all that we want, without considering the consequences? On the contrary, Psalm 24:1 says that “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it…” As faithful Christians, we recognize that the earth does not belong to us, and we are called to be good stewards of the world that God has given us.

As church members, leaders, and administrators, what can we do to demonstrate not only good environmental stewardship, but also a wise use of congregational tithes and offerings? One area of concentration should be the places in which we worship. Like all buildings, churches (and the people who use them) consume large amounts of energy, water, and materials in order to function. Specifically, the U.S. Department of Energy reports that 40% of all energy consumed in the U.S. is by buildings, and 2% of that is by Places of Worship. In practical terms, energy utility costs can be a significant portion of a church’s budget, and reducing these expenses frees up dollars for mission work, benevolence funds, and other purposes that benefit the church and community at large.

A good place to start when looking to reduce energy costs in your church is the EPA’s Energy Star program. As one of the most recognizable ratings for energy efficiency products, the Energy Star label can also be applied to buildings, including churches, that demonstrate on-going energy efficient operations. A number of resources specifically designed for church congregations are available at the EPA website. There you will find an Action Workbook that describes in detail how to build an effective energy management program using the following steps:

  1. Make a Commitment to Saving Energy
  2. Assess Performance Using the Energy Star Portfolio Manager tool
  3. Set Energy Reduction Goals
  4. Create an Action Plan
  5. Implement the Action Plan
  6. Evaluate Progress
  7. Recognize Achievements

Look for future articles that explain some of the keys steps in this process in order to ensure success in your energy management program.


Clark Denson is a building performance engineer at Smith Seckman Reid, Inc., a proud father of three children, and a member of First United Methodist Church in Murfreesboro, TN. Although he spends his days making the indoor environment of new and existing buildings healthier, more comfortable, and more energy efficient, he spends as much of his free time as possible in the outdoor environment hiking, camping, and relaxing.