Thursday, April 22, 2010

College Students, Discipleship & Creation Care

Happy Earth Day!

Today is the 40 year anniversary of Earth Day.  Are you taking advantage of this global focus?  Students LOVE things that take a 'global focus' stage!

While there are a number of reasons to challenge college students to be an active part of Earth Day, I wonder if we're helping them to make the important connections between creation care and their discipleship.

Consumerism is dominant in so much of our culture.  It's how we've been trained to view the world we live in... as those who have been made to consume it.  But as Christians I believe we've been given a different charge!

God created us to love Him, to love others and to be stewards of all that He has created.

As long as I have been a Christ-follower, I have been challenged to love God with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength AND to love my neighbor as myself.  Personal discipleship, corporate worship and even the service of others have been the focus of modern-day spiritual formation practices - and they should be.  Stewardship, however, has not been given its deserved attention in this process - unless, of course, it was to talk about money in relation to tithing (another important focus, but not the only one when thinking about the call to stewardship).  
Biblical stewardship is meant to extend far beyond the realm of money.
We see stewardship first described for us back in Genesis.  God called Adam to tend to the land and ALL that was in it.  Adam was charged to be a steward of ALL of the resources that God had provided.  That task of Adam has been passed on to us - as followers of Jesus - and is something we must pass on to this next generation.

We all know that the collegiate years are some of the most formative of life.  The things that they learn, and begin to make central to their life, set for them a trajectory of life and lifestyle that takes them well beyond their graduation.  By intentionally including the stewardship of God's creation into the discipleship efforts of college students, we are not only influencing the lifestyles of a large population of today's consumers, but we're also helping to equip them to train up the generations that follow them to be even better stewards of ALL that God has provided.

A few ideas for how you might begin to incorporate creation care into the discipleship of your college students are:

  • begin to explore the Bible with a special attention to God's reference to His creation - helping to inform our biblical worldview.
  • provide general education related to creation care - Dr. Matthew Sleeth is a great Christian resource for this.
  • identify some simple ways within your ministry space that you can honor God as stewards of His creation (start to recycle, reduce waste, reduce energy use, etc.).
  • identify some ways that your ministry might be a leading force for mobilizing your campus to be better stewards of God's creation (check out Chill Out from the National Wildlife Federation to hear about some great campus-wide initiatives).
Stewardship of God's creation needs to be a significant part of our discipleship with college students... and if it's not yet a part of our ministry, there's no better day than today [Earth Day] to make that shift!

What do you think?

What are your thoughts about including creation care in the discipleship of college students?
How often do you talk about stewardship with your students?
If you're ministry already includes some elements of creation care, what are they and what kind of impact have you noticed in the lives and practices of your students?

I'd love to know what you think.

Grace and peace.