Is It Time for the Church to Take on Climate Change?
Our Children are Going to Die of Thirst
I have a couple of pastor friends that I usually chat with, when I see them down at the local coffee shop. On one occasion, one of them pulled me aside to ask me a question.
“I am putting together a panel to discuss why young people are leaving the church,” he said. “I was wondering if you would come, and offer your opinion as to why you think it’s happening.”
I thought about his offer for a long time, and although I didn’t eventually take him up on the idea, I’ve continued to wrestle with the concept. When asked for religious affiliation on surveys, more and more people are putting “none,” and religious groups wonder why that is.
To get to the bottom of why young people are leaving the church, maybe it’s time for the church to take a long, hard look at what it represents. Churches stand for traditional morals and social norms, and are usually the last to embrace progressive ideas. Yes, there are a few churches that will perform same-sex marriage ceremonies, but that is the exception rather than the rule.
Perhaps young people are leaving the church because they don’t feel the church represents their needs. If we had a millennial Pope, that might be different, but I don’t think that’s likely to happen in the near future.
There are many issues that are of concern to young people today, and climate change is one of the major players. Although people like President Trump joke that they’ll be dead before climate change is an issue, that’s little comfort for the rest of us. Furthermore, some of us worry about our children, and the sustainability of the planet we’re leaving behind.
Any structure of morality underscores the fact that human beings should consider themselves guardians of the Earth. This is our home, and cleaning after yourself is not only good manners; it’s also good sense. A clean planet preserves life, and allows human beings to thrive in peace and comfort. It’s hard to consider a person pro-life if they’ll sit there and do nothing, while the whole planet dies.
Churches represent a major infrastructure in our nation that can be utilized to sway the will of the people, and help them embrace charitable action and positive living. Perhaps a widespread religious movement, where the church takes up the cause of climate change, would help lead to a better nation and planet, and provide a reasonable incentive for young people to rediscover religion.
Your church is part of your community, and every member of the church has the right to approach their pastor, or the pastor of another church, and ask them if they are willing to incorporate responsible, proactive lectures and activities to help prevent climate change.
Discussing climate change does not have to be political. Most of the activities that regular citizens can contribute to amount to little more than good conservation practices, along with recycling. The church, with its great power and influence, along with a unified effort, can do a lot more than any single individual could do alone. But, a group of single individuals bringing the idea up to their pastor can have a cumulative effect.
Young people are leaving the church in droves, and the church is concerned. Perhaps by taking a step to embrace one of the major concerns of young people, the church can bring young people back into the fold, and help ensure that those young people and their children will have a world in which they can grow old, in peace and health.
Our religion is a reflection of our beliefs. We have the power to influence our churches to embrace the issues we feel are the most important. The church knows that people are turning away from religion. If you take initiative, and let them know what we need religion to be, they will listen.
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