Aiphone banner

Starting a Green Team at Your Church

July 10, 2024 jill Blog
Share this:FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmail


A Green Team (or Environmental Stewardship Team or Creation Care Committee) is a core group of people in a congregation who are committed to raising awareness about the urgent need to protect God’s Creation and to work for environmental sustainability and responsibility.

Green Teams develop sustainability in church life by increasing energy efficiency and conservation, decreasing consumption and waste, and, if possible, encouraging the use of clean, safe, renewable energy.

Your group may also choose to engage in issues of public policy and to advocate for ecological and climate justice.

The Importance of a Green Team

Every congregation can find ways to better preserve and protect God’s Creation as an aspect of faithful discipleship. Forming a group that can inspire, implement and/or oversee environmental progress in your church is essential for long-term success. A Green Team avoids burnout by dividing and sharing tasks.

By praying together and by creating opportunities to reflect on how protecting God’s Creation connects with their faith, Green Team members can offer each other a sense of community and moral support. A group also shows church decision-makers that there is a constituency that supports real change.

To start a Green Team, begin by talking to friends within your congregation that might be interested in forming the core group with you. Talk with staff members to gauge their level of interest and support. Be sure to speak with whoever is in charge of facilities; begin to form alliances and to develop an understanding of how the church buildings work.

Once you have gathered several committed people, announce the first meeting in your church’s bulletin and during announcement time at worship services. Your Green Team can include any number of people, as long as you conduct meetings and choose projects that keep your scale in mind.

What should we do during our first meeting?

Organize a potluck if the group is small enough! Invite everyone to share what led him or her to come to this meeting. Discuss goals and brainstorm possible projects, drawing on the suggestions below, if desired. Choose your first project and set up a basic plan for how to complete it, with delegated tasks. Then set up a time to meet regularly to check in with one another.

What should we choose as our first project?

During your first meeting, after brainstorming, choose one project that can be quickly and inexpensively accomplished so that you build confidence and create momentum within your team. Be sure to consider the energy and interest of your group, the pace of change within your congregation, and how much support you have from staff members.

There are many different ways to start treading more lightly on God’s green Earth. Below are a number of possible activities. Consider this a guide to prompt brainstorming for your own congregation, rather than a checklist.

  • Set up a bulletin board and post news articles and photos that relate to Creation care.
  • Provide Eco-Tips for publication in your church’s service leaflets or newsletters.
  • Minimize waste during coffee hour by replacing Styrofoam cups with mugs.
  • Connect your church with local recycling, composting, or e-waste resources.
  • Replace incandescent lighting with CFL bulbs and LED lights for your exit signs.
  • Transition church land to organic greenscaping or community gardens.
  • Organize carpools to church services and events.
  • Encourage local, organic, and vegetarian-friendly foods at church events.
  • Ditch bottled water and serve tap water at church events.
  • Conduct an energy audit through your local utility company or with the assistance of Interfaith Power & Light.

How can we make our Green Team more effective?

As you consider ways to improve the work of your team, you might consider the following questions:

  • Are you accomplishing the goals you have set for yourselves?
  • Are you meeting regularly (even if only once per month)?
  • Do you have a sense of community commitment?
  • If your goals are proving elusive, are you able as a group to set new goals and to analyze errors without blame or despair?
  • Are you welcoming newcomers, and do you accommodate differing interests and schedules?

Tips for Success

Focus on achievable, incremental changes. Don’t try to do everything at once. Let engagement grow like a mustard seed.

Don’t be bashful! When your Team is graced with successful completion of a project, share this in your church announcements. Use the church website and banners to inspire others and potentially to attract newcomers. Reach out to regional denominational leaders. If your Green Team achieves something major, like divesting from fossil fuels or building a community garden, contact your local media!

Connect action and education. Combine a movie night on plastics with efforts to reduce your congregation’s consumption of petroleum-based products. If your church joins a compost pick-up, let church members know that they can do the same in their own homes.

Continue to reflect on how this work connects to the values of our faith.

Whatever you decide to do, have a blast doing it! Let it bring your church together.

This information has been updated and adapted by Patrick Cage and the Rev. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas from “Green Team FAQs,” the Episcopal Ecological Network (EpEN).