Study 6
The Future

Reading for this study:     Chapter 7 and Chapter 11 of CTE.
Key point:             Christians have hope to offer a world in crisis

Preparation
If possible find a globe or otherwise a map of the world. Purchase some small post-it notes (3cm x 4cm). Give a couple of notes to each person and ask them to write on them:
a.    an environmental problem that a specific part of the world is experiencing
b.    what they would like that part of the world to be like in a perfect future
(e.g. Bangladesh flooded now, one day to be fertile; The Sahara, desert now, one day it will be green).

Opening discussion
Look at the map/globe with its current problems and a future vision for a perfect world. What is the gap between reality and hope? It is this gap that we will look at in this final study.

Read Colossians 1:15-20
1.    What hope can Christians give for the future?
2.    In the opening discussion we talked about the gap between reality now and our future hope. Can we explain our hope to people in ways that bridge that gap?
3.    How can we demonstrate this practically?

Read Revelation 22:1-22
4.    What overall image of the future is given in these chapters?
5.    What is the promise for the natural world?
6.    What is the promise for humans?

Read Acts 2:43-47
7.    Why is community so important for Christians?
8.    What would be the environmental implications of deepening our community lifestyle?

Discussion
How can we develop our communities to be a witness that points toward that future vision for our world?

Practical action
Have a look at the Ecocongregation website: http://www.ecocongregation.org/
You may like to discuss whether your church is at the stage when it might be able to start this scheme. If the whole programme were too much you could begin by introducing part of it. You could try the audit to begin with to see how much would be needed to lead your church community toward sustainability and a caring for creation approach.
As a second stage, you might like to put together a worship service to share the ideas that have come from these studies with your church to help them catch the vision.
If you are outside of the UK, you can still use the ecocongregation material. You will have to adapt it for different situations.

Points to consider
As you end these six studies I hope you will not simply put them aside and move onto the next thing. It would be good to think up a follow up plan and have another meeting in about six months time to see how far you have all got. This may begin a regular six monthly meeting in your church to look at sustainability. It could be round a sustainable meal and somewhere you could all get to on bike, bus or foot!

You might like to consider joining a Christian organisation with a concern for the environment such as A Rocha or the John Ray Initiative.

If you live in the States or another very western country and feel that the task is just too big Ė donít despair! There are groups all over the world bringing Christian faith and a concern for environment together. You can find many on intelligent web searches. If you have any difficulty, A Rocha and JRI are worth contacting for possible links in your own country.

Thank you for doing these studies and I hope that they will help you towards a more sustainable lifestyle and a closer walk with our Lord.

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