Preaching That Connects Creation Care to Climate Change

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In the formal living room at our Airbnb, I sat amid a circle of writers discussing takeaways from the Religion and Environment Story Project fellowship we had just completed. Our cohort of nine had spent the previous days hearing from journalists and researchers in the field and sharing about our work.

The Pew Research Center statistic I couldn’t get out of my head was this: only 4 percent of evangelical Protestants who attend religious services regularly remember hearing “a great deal” of sermons discussing climate change, while 20 percent said some of the time. About 13 percent of mainline Protestants and Black Protestants said they heard sermons on climate change quite a bit. What’s more, congregants say they talk about climate change with other churchgoers even less than they heard messages about it from the pulpit.

Bekah Alper, a senior researcher at the Pew Research Center, presented us with research earlier that day to understand how religious Americans think about the environment. Most of you would probably find the first statistic in her presentation to be unsurprising: overwhelmingly, highly religious Americans say they agree (92 percent) that “God gave humans a duty to protect and care for the Earth.” The numbers vary by Christian tradition but remain over 80 percent for all who identified with a Protestant denomination.

After this stat, Alper points to the sermon statement, showing that climate change gets relatively little attention in churches despite Christians’ agreement with the previous statement. It might have something to do with the words “climate change” themselves. In responding to another statement, only 42 percent of the highly religious people Pew surveyed agreed that “global climate change is a very serious problem.”

Just under half of those respondents did not connect care for the Earth with a deep concern about climate change. Something got lost in translation between the theological statement and the scientific statement.


  • The Evangelical Environmental Network suggests sermon starters and provides audio or video to sample sermons. Going further than that, it also includes prayer and worship resources.
  • The Climate Witness Project, a project of the Christian Reformed Church, lists sermon resources.
  • Started just last year, Creation Justice Ministries’ podcast Green Lectionary hosts different guests on each episode to lead listeners through a text for the liturgical calendar.
  • Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, an Episcopal priest, provides theological starting points for preaching on climate in this paper. Her blog includes more accessible resources, including sample sermons.

Pastors on Preaching Through Tension

Meanwhile, church leaders seem familiar and comfortable with creation care sermons. Nearly two-thirds of evangelical Christian leaders say they have heard a sermon on our responsibility to care for God’s creation, according to a 2022 survey of the National Association of Evangelicals.

Kevin McBride, an NAE board member and pastor of Raymond Baptist Church in Raymond, New Hampshire, told me that phraseology matters. “When you say ‘climate change,’ for many that becomes a much more politically charged statement than a biblical statement.”

Jessica Moerman, a climate and environmental scientist, pastor, and president of the Evangelical Environmental Network, agreed that there is “unique ground that you have to walk between creation care and climate.”

Moerman said pastors can start with the open door of creation care and build a foundation. Once climate change is rooted in our faith, “we can head into that climate conversation without some of the political and cultural baggage that causes a knee-jerk reaction of shutting down.”

McBride thinks it’s important to be measured and thoughtful about communication on hot-button topics. Still, people who are slowly acclimated to issues like climate change can become more open to dialogue.

For McBride, the bigger question that pastors must address in their congregation is: do people see faith and science as enemies or partners? “Unless people are willing to have that conversation, chances are they’re not willing to have other conversations,” he said, such as the one that could bridge an understanding of creation care with concern about climate change.

Previously an aerospace engineer, McBride has always been interested in science. “If I believe God created all this, isn’t it amazing to pick it apart and understand how it all works?” he said. Helping others realize that faith and science shouldn’t be afraid of each other opens more conversations on contentious issues like climate change.

Building a Creation Care Foundation

In Moerman’s church, which she co-pastors with her husband, Chris Moerman, people know what she does, so the conversation is right there. But even then, she said they took a careful approach when they planted Grace Capital City church in Washington D.C. They thought, “We’re not going to come out swinging. We’re going to lay the groundwork,” she said.

They started by sprinkling care of creation in different sermons. They integrated it into a series on Genesis, and then did more of a standalone message. While doing a Revelation series, they talked about it there, too. Moerman gave a post-Easter creation care message on Romans 8, teaching how the power of Easter is cosmic and includes all of creation. “The integration part is key. We’re not just tacking on something new. This feels natural in the rhythms of our church,” she said.

McBride also does the standalone message—a series around Earth Day, for example—and integrates creation care into what he’s already preaching. “As it comes up in a biblical text, try to highlight it,” he said, but you can note it and keep moving. “Do that more frequently. The little reinforcements along the way have been much more effective than one big moment.”

“One thing to keep in mind for our church—for many of our churches—we’ve had many folks come in and come out,” said Moerman. “Sometimes you can feel like we’ve arrived and then realize we need to do more foundational teaching again.”

Our Mission Amid Climate Crisis

For EEN, Moerman teaches pastors to include climate change in their ministry. Creation care is one avenue to pursue an expression of God’s mission on Earth, she said, and climate action is just the next step.

She encourages pastors to find out their local climate impacts and make that connection in sermons. “At the end of the day, our churches are engines for serving our local communities, so when it comes to action, who are the people and places and problems that you’re already called to serve, and what’s a climate solution you can put in place?” she asked.

Is it planting a tree in the right place? Helping neighbors make their homes more energy efficient? Reducing food insecurity through food drives or pantries? “I love all the cascading benefits that come from looking at our ministries with a creation care or climate lens,” she said.

Like me and my colleagues, Moerman has seen the stats. She knows that fewer evangelicals accept climate science than the rest of the American public. That doesn’t discourage her. Instead, she sees the 86 percent who already understand a creation care mandate as the ceiling that could be reached: “We could reach 86 percent of the evangelical community if we talk about this in a way that meets them where they are at, rooted in their faith tradition and talk about why this matters,” she said.

That’s the opportunity of being on mission.

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