Strategic Plan 2016-2021: Preamble
In the shadow of the upcoming 2012 general election, twelve young evangelical Christians gathered together in Washington D.C. to discuss an emerging reality: an entire generation of evangelical Christians was coming of age and preparing to vote in their first election but was largely conflicted about how to translate both their Christian faith and their concern for climate change into authentic political engagement.
Like every voting bloc, young evangelicals are a diverse group with a myriad of political concerns and priorities. However, it was becoming clear that, across the spectrum, young evangelicals were frustrated with the arbitrarily partisan battle lines drawn around the issue of climate change over the last several decades. Dissatisfied with the choice of checking either their faith or their minds at the door, young evangelicals were seeking a new way forward—a way that deeply engaged scientific discovery through the lens of their Christian faith and that pursued faithful action to address one of the greatest moral challenges facing our generation.
It was out of this reality that Young Evangelicals for Climate Action (Y.E.C.A.) was born. In the intervening years, we have seen tremendous progress in our work on climate action, both for our generation of young evangelicals and for the church at large.
We have visited dozens of campuses within the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) to share the mission and vision of Y.E.C.A. with our generation of evangelical Christians. We have engaged over 10,000 individuals through our Call to Action. We have trained and equipped three cohorts of Climate Leadership Fellows—totaling over a dozen college students in both the U.S. and the Democratic Republic of Congo—to raise awareness and mobilize toward climate action on their respective campuses. We have hosted two Days of Prayer for Climate Action, leading thousands of evangelicals of all ages in prayer across dozens of locations around the world.
We have also seen progress through our successful engagement with senior evangelical leaders. In 2013, we co-hosted a learning tour for senior faith leaders to visit and learn from a front line community in Malawi that is sharply feeling the impacts of climate change. As a result, many leaders were compelled to share what they had seen and heard and to find ways to galvanize their own communities towards action. In 2015, we spearheaded a petition to the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors for the National Association of Evangelicals, urging them to affirm the principles for creation care outlined in the Cape Town Commitment and to issue their own call to action on climate change. We collected over 200 signatures from young evangelicals, thus playing a critical role in moving the committee toward the release of its declaration “Caring for God’s Creation: A Call to Action” in October 2015.
We have also successfully engaged the larger political movement toward just and compassionate climate policy at both the domestic and international level. In 2014, we organized a group of young evangelicals to have a presence at the People’s Climate March in New York City, joining over 400,000 others in urging national action on climate change. In 2015, we sent a delegation to the COP21 Paris climate negotiations to provide a public witness that evangelical Christians care about God’s creation and about those who are made vulnerable by its degradation. Over the course of our young history as an organization, we have also participated in numerous EPA hearings; met with members of Congress and the Administration; and joined key policy discussions facilitated by the Department of State, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the White House.
We praise God for these successes, and so many more, that we have enjoyed over the last four and a half years. His faithfulness has been evident through it all. It is with gratitude for the work already accomplished and in hope of the good work yet to come that we present the following five-year strategic plan.
II. Mission Statement
We are young evangelicals in the United States who are coming together and taking action to overcome the climate crisis as part of our Christian discipleship and witness.
III. Vision Statement
Our vision is to see the U.S. evangelical community respond faithfully to the challenge of climate change as a fundamental component of Christian discipleship.
IV. Focus Areas
- Mobilize our generation of evangelicals to act and advocate together.
- Influence our senior evangelical leaders to set an example and support climate action.
- Hold our political leaders accountable to enact responsible and comprehensive climate policies.
I. Objective: Develop our core constituency in both numbers and depth of engagement
Y.E.C.A. is a movement predicated upon the involvement of an engaged and passionate group of young evangelicals, loosely identified as being between 20 and 30 years of age. Since Y.E.C.A.’s inception, we have continued to grow this constituency through targeted programs and campaigns. Over the next five years, Y.E.C.A. will seek to develop our constituency in both numbers and depth of engagement so as to enhance our impact and increase our ability to achieve sustainable climate action.
II. Objective: Increase diversity in both organizational leadership and partnerships
We celebrate the racial, cultural, and gender diversity that defines the Evangelical community and we recognize the unique insight and perspective it offers to the work of creation care. We recognize that even with the best of intentions, internal and external barriers still exist. Barriers that, though unseen to the majority, are felt by those in minority groups and create distance between Evangelicals in minority cultures and Y.E.C.A. In order for us to successfully come together as a representative body of Christ, and to robustly work toward our mission and vision, our organization must identify these barriers to racial, ethnic, and gender inclusivity. As such, Y.E.C.A. leadership commits to working toward removing these barriers both personally and as an organization.
III. Objective: Assist our constituents in deepening the integration of their faith with hope-filled climate action
Y.E.C.A.’s identity as an organization is unequivocally evangelical, and we want to provide opportunities for people to learn and grow in connecting their faith to the actions they take. The Good News provides us hope for the present unveiling of God’s Kingdom and the future redemption and restoration of all things, which motivates us to act on climate today. Faith-rooted social action is distinctive in a world full of despair and complacency, and our objective is to offer our constituents the chance to explore how their walk with God leads them on a journey of hopeful climate change action, and to share that journey with one another. We will accomplish this objective through inter-generational sharing of wisdom; offering engaging content in the forms of testimonies, spiritual and prayer resources; online training modules; transformative prayer opportunities; and deeper partnership with Christian academic institutions.
IV. Objective: Increase the active civic engagement of young evangelicals in response to the climate crisis
Since Y.E.C.A.’s inception, effective engagement with public policy has been a key component of our work. Our very first action as an organization was a civic demonstration of prayer and public witness at the 2012 presidential debate at Hofstra University. In the intervening years since that first event, we have seen significant progress in the dual efforts to mobilize our generation of young Christians to act on climate and to call on legislators to enact just and compassionate climate legislation. As the focus areas outlined above in section IV indicate, both of these efforts remain fundamental components of our strategy moving forward. Since both of these focus areas are also directly related to the civic engagement of young evangelicals, objective four is a critical part of Y.E.C.A.’s strategy moving forward.
As millennial Christians are beginning to exercise their right to vote and are developing themselves as actors in the public square, a corresponding distrust of democracy and democratic institutions among young Christians is drawing many of them away from the political realm altogether. It is imperative that Y.E.C.A. engage in the work of encouraging civic engagement among our peers in a way that articulates participation in democratic systems as an act of Christian discipleship, particularly as it relates to enacting comprehensive climate policy. Because of the clear moral implications of a changing climate, and the ability of just and compassionate public policy to address many of the root causes of climate change, Y.E.C.A. has a unique role to play in inviting our peers into civic participation, for authentic Christian discipleship demands engagement in the democratic process on behalf of the earth and on behalf of our global neighbors.
V. Objective: Achieve financial stability and growth by creating and maintaining a grassroots fundraising campaign, developing a robust donor base, and securing grant funding.
Attaining financial stability is key to the long-term future of Y.E.C.A. To achieve this, we aim to increase the amount of available unrestricted funds, establish funding mechanisms to support sustainable and appropriate staff growth and retention, and engage activists in meaningful financial partnership. Therefore, in fiscal year 2016-17 Y.E.C.A. will enter a new phase of organizational development by establishing a grassroots fundraising program focused on inviting our contacts to partner in Y.E.C.A.’s mission through individual donations. Our newly adopted NationBuilder contact management system will allow Y.E.C.A. to make targeted, specific, and timely email-based appeals to all of our contacts.
VI. Objective: Engage senior evangelical leaders at personal, denominational, and national levels and urge them to take tangible leadership on climate.
We look up to the women and men who serve the body of Christ in leadership positions, whether they are denominational leaders, pastors, elders, theologians, or popular artists and filmmakers. Our desire is that evangelical leaders will be united on confronting climate change, which is why influencing our senior evangelical leaders to set an example and support climate action is a central pillar of Y.E.C.A.’s organizational strategy. Precisely because we love the church and its leaders who have raised us in the faith, we want to see these leaders set an example in word and deed on climate change.
We recognize the urgency and dire need for unity among evangelical Christians today. Through this objective, we affirm the vital role of spiritual leaders to bring evangelicals together to act on climate change as a moral imperative.
VII. Objective: Increase our network and audience through expanded communications efforts and robust outreach to young evangelicals
As a body of young Christians, Y.E.C.A. is called to be a voice for climate action and to mobilize others to be the same. Many Christians, however, remain unaware of the magnitude of the current climate crisis, while others are aware of the current need for climate action but lack knowledge and resources about how they as individuals can have an impact. Therefore, it is important for Y.E.C.A. to continue to develop robust communications in order to inform our target audience and our constituents about how they can take action on the climate crisis. Indeed, if we are to be effective in our three focus areas of mobilizing our generation, influencing our senior evangelical leaders, and holding our elected officials accountable, clear and effective communications is vital. By developing communications tools that are flexible, clear and compelling, and that are effective in an increasingly digital world, Y.E.C.A. will continue to reach more evangelicals across the U.S. and will equip them to join us in taking action on climate change.
 See Key Documents: Commitment to Diversity Statement
 Colossians 1:15-20.