Survey shows young Christians want to see churches get more involved in creation care

Written by Abby Ciona

Today’s young adults have grown up with environmental concerns at the forefront. We are more globalized and connected than ever before, making us in tune with the ripple effects of world events, such as how wildfire smoke affects cities hundreds of kilometres away and how droughts and floods cause destruction and food insecurity that disproportionately affects the Global South.

Noticing a drive from young people to become involved in creation care, particularly within their church contexts, Tearfund, a relief and development organization, partnered with the environmental organization A Rocha to get tangible data. They surveyed 742 individuals under 40 years of age from various Christian traditions across Canada on their views on climate change.

They found that 92% of respondents believed climate action is part of the church’s mission. Most respondents wished their church was doing more in terms of creation care.

“When you can see around you how climate change is affecting you, it starts to become an issue that you want to act on,” says Lauren Ens, a day camp coordinator at A Rocha. 

The survey results sparked the founding of the Creation Collective, a network of Canadian churches and Christian organizations that want to take environmental action. The website features theological resources, educational articles, and suggestions on how to get involved in caring for creation.

However, the survey found that young Christian adults recognize that caring for the environment extends further and deeper than recycling and renewable energy.

“Right now, I’m very much at a learning stage of life,” says Jubilee Connor, who is studying Biology and Art at Redeemer University. Currently, she is doing a co-op with Environment and Climate Change Canada, a practical experience learning how climate change is combated on a large scale. “I want to be very informed before doing things,” she says. This learning is her way of finding effective ways to help the environment in her everyday life.

Caleb Scholtens, a 2022 graduate of Redeemer University who is now an ecologist, recognizes the importance of a holistic approach to creation care. Many people already know about reducing fossil fuels, but that’s a large-scale change beyond the reach of most of us. Yet a lot of us do have a lawn or garden—often filled with non-native, sterile plants.

“If you replace those with native plants,” says Scholtens, “you’ll see more wildlife and be interacting with your local ecology. You’ll see more butterflies and birds in your garden, and then you’ll be personally connected to the local environment … Supporting ecosystems locally helps climate change through natural carbon sequestration but also conserves biodiversity and ecosystem services and inspires support for creation more broadly.”

Climate change can feel overwhelming, and in a world permeated by sin and brokenness, individual churches cannot invest significant time in every local and global issue. But we serve a God who multiplies our small, faithful offerings to change lives. No action of creation care is too small, whether citizen science projects or picking up litter.

For that reason, Ens emphasizes the importance of simply talking and praying about climate change in churches and forming more awareness about the theology of creation care. Climate action is often sparked from fear for the future or anger at past environmentally-damaging actions. But Christians have a different motivating reason. Creation care is our response to God’s grace, and we do so joyfully, looking forward to God’s restoration of all creation one day.

The positive framing of creation care is something Ens loves about the Creation Collective’s mission. A hope-filled, love-inspired response to environmental concerns can be a relief and encouragement amid climate anxiety.