As we began to build this year’s annual teaching calendar for XP3 partners, one topic stood out that we’ve never discussed before but felt absolutely necessary this year: Caring for creation.
Because we have limited time with students each year, it feels necessary to ask the same question about every topic, new or old:
Why should we talk about this with teenagers?
We think there are a few really compelling reasons.
Why the Church Should Talk About the Environment and Creation
1. Gen Z cares about it.
The environment is a topic our students are already seeing and hearing about in the classroom, social media, YouTube, and in friend groups. Over and over surveys show us that caring for the planet sits at the very top of concerns for GenZ. So as leaders, we have a responsibility to speak to the topics teenagers care about most and help them begin to process them through the lens of Scripture. And, we have a unique opportunity to help teenagers understand that God cares about what scares them, God cares what they think about and what is happening in their everyday life, not just what happens on Sunday.
2. Creation points to a Creator.
This simple idea on caring for the environment appears throughout Scripture. In fact, the Psalmist, David, reminds is, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Psalm 19:1 NIV). So teaching student to value creation and see God at work in it isn’t a cultural topic or a political topic. It’s a spiritual topic. Moreover, when we help these Gen Z students recognize God’s work in creation, we set up every tree and sunset and mountain and sprig of grass as a breadcrumb to follow back to God— even when they graduate from our program, even if they drift from faith, even if they don’t show up on Sunday.
3. Caring for creation is a way to “love your neighbor.”
Not only does Gen Z care about the environment and creation, but when they see us demonstrating an interest, it suggests we care about them, By taking an interest in causes that concern them, we illustrate what it looks like to love your neighbor enough to help them win. It’s one concrete way to say to those around us – you matter and our effort to make the world better is because you matter.
As a leader, we know this conversation can be a tricky one. That’s why this is a great week to prep your volunteer leaders and parents with a quick message about what you’re teaching (maybe send the teaching script or audio) and why it matters so much to the teenagers we serve.
In our world, topics like the environment can feel risky and complicated. But we want teenagers to know that no conversation is too big for God or off limits in a community of faith. And, no matter what media and politics say we should or shouldn’t care about, we want to teach teenagers the skill of examining every topic through the lens of their faith and God’s love for them before anything else.