Leader to Leader, Ministry Services

Energy Stewardship

March 6, 2014 | Posted by Art Scherer

What a winter this has been! Most of the United States remains shivering into March with snow cover on 49 of the 50 states. It reminds me of the old English hymn:

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan, 

Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone; 

Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow, 

In the bleak midwinter, long ago

But these cold months have also reminded me of the importance of the conservation and stewardship of our energy resources. Here are some hints, adapted from “Green Faith” resources, that will not only save you some money, but will also help teach stewardship principles to your congregation:

  1. Have your congregation make a formal commitment to conserve energy as an act of christian stewardship.
      • That sounds simple, but when congregations make a commitment and publicize it, they are not only making a stewardship witness, but are also more likely to change behavior in both church and home energy practices.
  2. Choose an “Energy Steward.”
      • Without making energy somebody’s job, conservation slips through the cracks. Most congregations have someone who loves finding new ways to save some money without hurting the congregation’s ministry.
      • The Steward should establish a baseline for energy use, monitor monthly use in relation to the baseline, report on conservation measures to the governing body and work with the pastor to oversee energy education that emphasizes the spiritual principles of conservation, not just the financial savings.
  3. Establish a baseline and a target for energy use.
      • Without a baseline, you won’t know if you’ve saved energy.
      • Gather your past two years’ energy bills.
      • Compare the monthly energy usage figures (not cost) to previous periods.
      • Set goals for quarterly and annual energy use, mindful that seasonal variation from year to year is inevitable.
      • Aim for a 10% reduction in relation to the baseline during your first year.
  4. Identify energy conservation measures.
      • Your local utility company can often provide an energy audit.
  5. Evaluate results, praise, publicize and take the next steps.
      • Have your Energy Steward monitor and report on financial and environmental impact. Remember, you’re educating about good stewardship and the link between energy, the environment, financial responsibility and our calling to be faithful stewards of the gifts God has given us.
      • Publicize your success; praise your leaders! Write a news release for your newsletter and local paper stating that your church is a leader in energy conservation stressing that your church believes care for the earth is a Christian value, a response to the generous blessings God has given and his call to be stewards of this world and its environment.

For more help on environmental stewardship, see the “Green Faith” web page.

Another resource for energy stewardship is the Environmental Protection Agency. It offers a host of resources for congregations under a program called Energy Star for Congregations. Most congregations can cut energy costs by up to 30% by investing strategically in efficient equipment, facility upgrades and maintenance. Materials provided by the EPA are especially helpful for congregations entering a building or remodeling program, but excellent resources are also available to help educate your members in proper stewardship of energy in their own homes.

AUTHOR
Art Scherer
Art Scherer is President Emeritus of the Southeastern District, LCMS, and a consultant in stewardship and capital funding for LCEF. Dr. Scherer is developer of LCEF’s popular Consecrated Stewards series and author of the Living as Children of a Generous God Bible studies.