Original Research - Special Collection: Sustainable leadership in times of uncertainty

Mobilising towards environmental sustainability – challenges and chances for churches in Germany

Thomas Kroeck
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 44, No 1 | a2701 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v44i1.2701 | © 2023 Thomas Kroeck | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 24 August 2022 | Published: 16 May 2023

About the author(s)

Thomas Kroeck, Department of Development Studies, Akademie für Christliche Fühungskräfte, Gummersbach, Germany; and Department of Practical Theology, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


The current ecological crisis is considered a major challenge for humanity. Various scholars suggest that Christian congregations may contribute to the changes of mind-set and behaviour necessary to meet this challenge. The article presents the results of an empirical study on how Protestant congregations in Germany deal with this issue. Data were collected in an online survey and group discussions with members of the Evangelical Church of Germany (EKD), the Free Evangelical Church (FeG) and the Gnadau movement. The study showed that the environmental awareness of church members is similar to the population in general. Major pragmatic obstacles to mobilise congregations for environmental sustainability were the (1) views that it may compete with other tasks of the congregation, (2) that church members may feel excluded and (3) the lack of knowledge and competence regarding this topic. However, creation care was seen as a bridge to the community which allows the congregation to engage with people outside the church. The study shows which issues need to be addressed for Christian congregations to play a more active role in creation care.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The research is concerned with church management fostering ecologically sustainable practices and is situated in the discipline of practical theology. As church management is based on the understanding of the mission of the church it is linked to ecclesiology. The practice of local congregations may have effects on the general public and can therefore be studied from a sociological perspective as well as in development studies.


sustainability; environment; creation care; awareness; churches; Germany; mission; exclusion.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 13: Climate action


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