In June this year, the Lausanne Movement gathered more than 700 Christian leaders from 109 nations in Manila for its Global Workplace Forum. Among the many topics discussed was where creation care should rank among other Christian concerns like evangelism and discipleship.
Should environmental concerns be a major priority for a Christian business owner? Here are the answers of Lausanne leaders:
Ed Brown, executive director of Care of Creation and Lausanne Catalyst for Creation Care (United States):
Yes! Without question, for two reasons. The first is uniquely Christian: obedience. Taking care of God’s world by responsibly caring for God’s creatures (Genesis 1) and by “tending the garden” (Genesis 2) was our first assignment from God. Lausanne’s Cape Town Commitment appropriately calls caring for God’s world “a gospel issue under the lordship of Christ.” This first task has never been taken away from us. Christian business owners are to be more than sound financial stewards and Christlike shepherds of our workforce; we’re called to be keepers of God’s garden.
The second is not uniquely Christian, but important nonetheless: survival. Business owners need to be concerned for the survival of the business, but also for the survival of the human race, including their community, customer base, and their own children and grandchildren. Yes, profit is needed for economic survival, but profit can’t be made in a collapsing world. Economic activity is a root cause of the environmental crisis, and wise businesspeople recognize that environmental collapse threatens their own business’ future, as well as the lives of their own grandchildren. Those who can run their businesses in ways that do not damage God’s creation will both survive and prosper.
Las Newman, Lausanne’s Global Associate Director for Regions (Jamaica):
Yes. Good business makes good sense. How can a Christian business operator witness for Christ and at the same time abuse his workers, short-change his customers, ignore environmental standards, contribute to environmental pollution, and affect the ecological balance of nature? Good business depends on three things: profitability that ensures return on investment for growth and development; care for the welfare of the people who help to produce such return on investment (i.e., workers and customers); and good environment for business that enhances the quality of human life and honors the Lord. Business operators in the aviation, food handling, transportation, tourism, earth extractive, manufacturing, and retail industries, among others, now recognize the importance of corporate social responsibility and include a green policy agenda to their business, including support of the arts.
Environmental concerns should be a major priority for a Christian business owner because of these three bottom lines of good business. This is the mandate of Micah 6:8. It means monitoring environmental standards surrounding the business, watching out for air and water quality, energy consumption, avoiding environmental exploitation and degradation of the environment, checking carbon footprint, etc. Green policy is good business. This is creation care. It should be given top priority along with other Christian concerns that promote and advance the gospel.
Graham Hooper, independent infrastructure consultant and author (Australia):
Yes. Let me start at the lowest common denominator. First, businesses (Christian or otherwise) are required to comply with environmental law. There is a basic compliance requirement on business owners and managers. Second, good businesses implement sustainability strategies and practices which go well beyond “box-ticking” compliance. Some become leaders in environmental management and remediation. Third, smart businesses also look for the “sweet spot” between good environmental practice and sustainable, profitable work which grows the business, provides employment, and generates economic growth. For the Christian, there are some overriding biblical truths: This is God’s world and he made it.
We are only on this earth for awhile; stewards entrusted to use and care for God’s creation in all its beauty and diversity. We live in a flawed world where human greed degrades the environment. How can we keep on trashing what God has made? Our relationship with God, with our fellow humans, and with all the creation are inextricably linked. The way we treat the environment is not therefore a mere side issue in Christian faith. By acting in a way which demonstrates these truths, Christian businesses have an opportunity—and a responsibility—to be much more than law abiding, smart, and profitable, but also to honor God the Creator in the way they do business.
Read more on the topic of Environment and Creation Care in BAM:
With thanks to Christianity Today for kind permission to post an excerpt of this article. Read original published article in full here.