Leveraging Energy Management to Impact the Nations
“Fulfilling God’s mission for His Kingdom’s sake starts with the recognition that the place where we are standing is Holy ground,” Rich Elliott (Park Street Church Facility Manager). Exodus 3, shows us a transformative picture. Here we find a man, once favored by Pharaoh, but now a lowly Shepard. But what he does not know is that God had favored him for a mission that would impact the faith as we know it…. On one end we see a land of corruption and injustice (Egypt),. On the other end of the spectrum, after the Exodus, we see a rescued people finally free, but in between the two we find an ordinary man encountering an extraordinary God. It was this encounter at the burning bush that humbled, transformed and empowered the vision of a single man, who God would use to transform a nation.
Moses’ hand in the Exodus and rescue of a nation, was completely dependent on his encounter with God; it was catalytic. It was in that encounter where he saw the value of his call from God’s point of view. The same thing can be said of Paul’s encounter with God on the road; it was catalytic to his role in expansion of the church. Or of Martin Luther’s encounter with God in the Thunderstorm; it was catalytic to his role in the Reformation. They all experienced truth, and were charged to seek change. Our role in response to environment and missions is completely dependent on our encounter with the Father because it is only there where we will experience the true value of our call.
According to ‘State of the Plate,’ Americans tithe $50 Billion via the US church. Of that, 20 percent ($10B) is spent on utilities and maintenance of our buildings, yet 2 percent ($1B) is spent on global missions. What would happen if energy stewardship was seriously considered at all 370,000 congregations in the US? What would the environmental and missional impact of this be?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 30 percent of the energy we use is wasted, which means we can save energy at no cost. If we promoted energy stewardship across all congregations and seminaries in the US, we could reduce our energy expenditure/waste by 30 percent, maintenance expenditure by 20 percent, and potentially triple our missional giving and impact.
By the way, cutting 20 percent of energy at 370,000 congregations would cut electric use by 3.6 billion kWh and prevent 2.6 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions. This is equivalent to the emissions of 480,000 cars or the equivalent to planting 600,000 trees. The connection between missions, stewardship and the environment is uncanny.
I am a Mission Pastor, a Certified Energy Manager, and Alum of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. In 2012 I was part of starting a firm called LIT, which sits at the intersection of Energy Management and Missions. We have performed over 5,000 in-depth energy audits at seminaries and churches around the world. It is this experience that we leverage to challenge a church/seminary to steward God’s creation and impact missions (India, DRC & Kenya). We are spending the money on utility bills anyways, so why not redirect the funding from utility companies to Global Missions (making disciples of all nations).
Energy Management is not rocket science, and you do not have to spend money to save money. LIT recently performed an energy study at Houghton College. Here are a few common no cost items we identified:
- If you are out of your office longer than 23 seconds it pays to turn your lights off.
- Every degree you adjust your thermostat can save up to 1.5% on the HVAC portion of your utility bills.
- Prevent simultaneous heating and cooling, a common and expensive practice, by keeping the delta between your heating and cooling setpoints to at least 5° (74° cooling 69° heating).
- Keep unoccupied temperatures at 50° for heating and 85° for cooling.
- Minimize the amount of outside air that comes into the building, as outside air requires both heating and cooling of ambient air.
- Delamp over lit areas (reduce the number of bulbs per fixture).
The opportunity is here. Most of the time, the cost of an energy study has instant payback. We should promote renewables, we should lobby for climate change, we should become empowered and aware, but we should start in our own backyards. Energy efficiency is doable and fruitful, it is part of our call to think and act strategically, it can save money, and it will impact missions. We encourage your school to follow the likes of Houghton College, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Hood Theological Seminary and others. “Fulfilling God’s mission for His Kingdom’s sake starts with the recognition that the place where we are standing is Holy ground.”
Colby May is a Certified Energy Manager having specialized in energy efficiency for the past 15 years.Colbyhas a Masters degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in the area of Ethics & Society (Integral Missions) and a BA from Texas Tech (International Business/Spanish). He is passionate about empowering the church and sees energy sustainability as means to change. He is also passionate about Integral Missions and sees the key to combating injustice starts in the heart. Learn more about his work at www.consultlit.com.