Heucks Retreat Newsletter 5/13/20

From Daniel’s Den

Defining Church

Have you ever tried to explain or define “church” to someone in terms that are simple, concise, and easily understood? If so, you likely based your explanation on your own experience and participation with a church or several churches over the years. A standard dictionary might offer something like (1) A building for public worship; (2) A specific Christian denomination (i.e. the Baptist church); (3) A religious service; (4) A congregation.

A few weeks ago, I shared a perspective that the church has a caring, sharing, declaring, and preparing ministry. The individuals or groups of people who help carry out or deliver these various aspects of ministry to a world in need are often understood to be or recognized as the church.  Perhaps you have heard a preacher, Sunday School teacher, or someone else say “Remember, the church is not a building or an address. Rather, the church is the people.”

Within the context of defining church, allow me to submit to you that the church is comprised of individuals who are Personalized and Characterized through a love relationship with Jesus Christ. Highlighted in the discipleship study “Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God,” is the reality that “God pursues a love relationship with you that is real and personal.”

Against the backdrop of a real and personal love relationship with God, every individual must come to the conclusion that “All have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory” and that “the wages of sin is death.” Yet, “God demonstrated His love for us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” as He offered “the gift of…eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Through faith, each individual receives God’s gift of eternal life inasmuch as “whosoever believeth (faiths) in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” and “For by grace are ye saved through faith…” (Ephesians 2:8). Not only is one’s love relationship with Jesus a personal relationship, but the relationship is characterized by love on display. Jesus instructed “Love your neighbor as your self.” He taught his followers to “love your enemies” and that the world “will know that you are my disciples by your love” (John 13:35).

Second, the church is comprised of individuals who are Organized and Specialized. We understand in 1 Corinthians 12 that the church is depicted or organized as a physical body with Jesus Christ being the head of the body. “From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love…” (Ephesians 4).  Using the analogy of the body, Paul informs us that each member of the body has a specific responsibility or role to play within the life of the church. Some are ears while others are eyes (1 Cor. 12). The specific role is an expression of the spiritual giftedness bestowed upon a person through the Holy Spirit. Thus, the church is designed in accordance with God’s desire and is to function cohesively and cooperatively as a living and breathing organism.

Because the church is comprised of individuals who are organized and specialized, this group of individuals also is Energized and Synergized. Acts 1:8 speaks of the incredible, unending, and energizing power available through and received from the Holy Spirit. As noted above, the church is comprised of individuals organized by God with each person having a special assignment from God. Yet, “as each part does its work” we have synergized relationships (the whole is greater than the sum of its parts) inasmuch as “we are laborers together with God” (1 Corinthians 3:6). 

Lastly, the church is comprised of individuals who are Authorized and Mobilized by Jesus Christ for His purpose. Jesus declared “All authority is given unto me in heaven and in earth” and “As you go, make disciples, baptizing them…,teach them…(and) I am with you always…” (Matthew 28:18-20).  Furthermore, “ye shall be my witnesses in Brookhaven, Lincoln County, the state of Mississippi, the United States and to the uttermost parts of the world” (Acts 1:8, my paraphrase).

Hopefully these words offer a summary definition and understanding of “church.” Thank you HRBC for being on mission and in action fulfilling all of these various aspects of church! I look forward to worshiping with you this week. I also look forward to the next time that we can be the church gathered. We continue to monitor guidelines and other information related to COVID-19. Some procedures and protocols related to “reopening” the church are being developed that will be shared with the church in the not-too-distant future. In the meantime, thank you for your prayers, patience, partnership, and participation!

Daniel

Notes From Brett

I hope everyone has had a great week and continues to grow closer to the Lord.  Here at Heucks, we’ve been preparing for your return, which I’ll detail some information about in the notes below.  Continue praying for all the families who’ve lost loved ones or have some in the hospital.  I’m a big believer in the power of prayer and believe that God can do amazing things in and through our congregation if we just pray.

A few notes this week for you:

1.  Many have been asking about our plans to return to corporate worship.  Our current plan is to wait until Governor Reeves allows for gatherings of fifty people.  Once that takes place, we’ll begin worshipping together again.  With that said, there will definitely be precautions taken, and it won’t just be back to normal for us.  Expect to hear more about that in the coming weeks, including expectations for those in attendance and what we will do to provide for the health and safety of congregants who do come.  Do know that your church leadership is doing all they can to make sure we are back together soon, but safely.

2.  Vacation Bible School has been moved back to July 20-24th.  We believe that this will be for the best for our congregation and kids.  For more information, please contact Allison Wallace.

3.  The U. S. Small Business Administration is providing eligibility for loans to churches as part of the massive financial stimulus bill passed by the U.S. Congress and signed by President Donald Trump.  Expenses like payroll, utilities, health insurance payments,  mortgage payments, interest on other loans, etc.  are eligible covering the period of February 15 through June 30, 2020.  A key feature of these loans is forgiveness of all or a portion of the expenses covered for an eight-week period following the origination of the loan. Tax exempt entities , including churches, have been specifically recognized as eligible to apply for these loans that are guaranteed by the Federal government.

Generally the membership votes on approval for a loan but because of the “shelter in place” directive we are under, no meetings of the congregation are taking place.  Therefore upon recommendation of the Stewardship Committee, the Deacons have unanimously approved our applying for the SBA loan.  More information will follow as we progress through this process.

4.  We are currently collecting email addresses to mail out this newsletter and any other communication we might need.  If you haven’t yet sent us your email address, please text 601-757-4140 with your email address.  If you’d prefer to receive a physical copy, or if you have family members that would need a physical copy, please let us know so we can be sure that everyone in our church family is connected and receives communication.

This week, I was able to reconnect with Edwin and Amy Sampson about their ongoing work in the Philippines.  We’ll have an interview for you to see all that God is doing down there soon.  An abridged version will be shown during our live stream, but expect the full interview to be posted online as well.  I hope you’re as excited as I am to partner with them again!

Brett