“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.” Proverbs 19:21
Dear Church Family,
We hope and pray that you continue to experience the Lord’s blessings during this difficult time. Our faith and confidence in Jesus reminds us that, while we may not know exactly how God’s providential hand is active, we can trust that He is working all things for His glory and for the good.
Among the many other ways God has been active in your life during this time, we hope that you have taken advantage of some of the opportunities for worship, nurture, fellowship, and education offered online through the church (hebrononline.org). Please continue to join us on Sundays for worship, and check out the website and Facebook pages for other ministry options.
The leadership at Hebron have been working on what it means to continue to advance the glory of Christ as circumstances develop. Attached you will find a rudimentary outline of our current thinking. Please note that this is at best a tentative plan—as you know, things are constantly evolving, and the plans we make today may not be relevant in weeks to come. We are aware of that, but have felt it would be beneficial for our church family to see some of our current thinking. As always, of course, we recognize the truth of Proverbs 19:21 and await His guidance and direction.
We are assuming that we will be transitioning between a number of different steps or phases in the months to come. We are presently operating in the “Current Phase”—with online worship, very limited use of the facilities, ministries primarily operating online, and so forth. We will continue in this mode until we are able to gather in groups of at least 50, when we will begin to offer a modified on-site worship time, with most of our other ministry programs still being restricted. As circumstances allow, we will slowly expand our gathered worship and ease into more on-site ministry. Finally, though again this will likely still be evolving, we will pursue our worship and ministries as best we can in the new environment we find ourselves in.
What is the timing of the steps outlined below? None of us knows. We know what we can pursue currently, and we know that that will change in the weeks and months ahead. But, we cannot know when we will be able to safely worship together and/or gather together in larger groups. The plan we have charted is a sketch awaiting a timetable that only our Lord knows for sure.
Finally, I want to offer a few words about our attitude with one another in the months ahead. As you are aware, there is no universal “Christian” approach to the COVID-19 crisis. Some folks are more cautious—and sometimes that caution is a reflection of fear, sometimes it is a reflection of wisdom. Some folks are more unguarded—and that can be because they are resting in the Lord, or because they are being unwise. Most likely for us all, it is a mixture of things; our caution is a combination of fear (bad) and wisdom (good), our freedom is a mixture of trust (good) and rashness (bad). Knowing this, how do we gather together and minister to one another?
Tip 1: Show humility. If there is anything that should result from our grasp of the Gospel, it should be a humility, a hesitation to trust to our own way, a recognition that our sinfulness distorts our thinking. Unless you are an expert, you do NOT know everything relevant to this discussion. We do NOT know of God’s leading and guiding one to another. So… let’s respond with grace and humility—be willing to admit that another’s views might be correct, that our own may not be the only (or best) way to proceed. This display of humility—certainly, that is what our Lord has done for us.
Tip 2: In Romans 15:1, recognizing that some will have a weaker faith than others, Paul writes: “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” Without determining who here are the strong and who are the weak, can we not all agree that we should be sensitive, go out of our own way, even sacrificing our own comfort for our brothers and sisters? Certainly, that is what our Lord has done for us.
Tip 3: Overall, let us show charity towards all. Let’s face it, some people you might respect in some ways are going to act in ways that stupefy you. You could scrunch up your face, make comments behind their backs, get into arguments with them… Or, you could exercise humility, self-sacrifice, and show charity to them. Give them that which they do not deserve: Grace. For, certainly, that is what our Lord has done for us.
As we move closer and closer to being able to gather again in worship together, to serve the Lord face-to-face, and to experience Christian maturity that comes from our community, let us seek to be mindful of God’s love and grace to all.
If you have concerns or questions regarding our tentative plan as we move forward, please contact me at email@example.com (724-622-1283), Doug at firstname.lastname@example.org (412-605-4629), Jerry at email@example.com (412-512-6576) or any of the staff or elders.
To the praise of His glory! Henry