The Hibernating Church (By Dan Adams)

Over the past few weeks we’ve been able to enjoy northeast Ohio slowly but surely emerging from its annual wintry hibernation.
Aside from this week’s sudden and record snow fall, it’s been exhilarating to see the flowers bloom, the trees begin to bud and blossom, and the furry creatures become more active. These are encouraging signs of life.
I can’t help but think that in some ways, especially throughout 2020, that PHBC has been in a bit of a hibernation – not from snow and cold, but from a global pandemic and all that came with it: masks, social distancing, stay at home orders, toilet paper shortages, working and schooling from home, etc. For over a year, our society has been conditioned to play it safe, stay away, and take shelter in various forms.

I’ve been so encouraged to see how the various ministries of PHBC have pivoted to ensure that vital ministry continues, albeit in new and creative forms. Thanks to many faithful, dedicated, and talented volunteers and staff, and by God’s grace, we have been able to:

  • Launch and sustain a quality live stream service for those who aren’t able or ready to meet in person.
  • Hold outdoor services throughout the summer and fall in our beautiful Cross of Hope Pavilion.
  • See the regathering, in multiple stages, of many of our Growth Groups.
  • Reopen both Sonshine Preschool and Parma Heights Christian Academy with robust sanitizing protocols so that they can meet in person each day.
  • Successfully relaunch our Children’s Ministry on Sunday mornings.
  • Have a Youth Ministry that meets weekly throughout, and now twice weekly.
  • See no significant COVID spread resulting from our services or schools.


These are encouraging signs of life! Make no mistake, the ministry of PHBC has continued in new and creative ways and is steadily gaining momentum. Of course, we are thankful our many faithful givers who have, and continue to, financially supported these ministry efforts.
While we’ll likely never go back to “the way things used to be,” we are fast-forwarding towards a new normal. These encouraging signs of life tell me we’re shaking off the year of hibernation. It’s exciting to see the faces of new guests most weeks, and wonderful to be reunited each week with long-time churchgoers who are back for the first time in a long time.
With the return of our outdoor services in mid-May at 11:00am, where we won’t have to wear masks, and the growing number of people receiving the vaccination, I see very little reason that most, if not nearly all, of the PHBC family can gather together in person for weekly worship. Of course, we realize that not everyone can, or is ready yet, but we’re getting closer and closer!
I do have a growing concern, however. In our efforts to provide a quality streaming worship experience for our church family worshiping at home, we may have made it too comfortable and easy to simply stay at home. This was never intended to be a replacement for the gathered body of Christ – which we all need. I get it – it’s comfortable to “do church” from home, in the comfort of our stretchy pants, in our family rooms, and with a hot cup of coffee. But the church is so much more than an hour service online. We were made for Christian community. The author of Hebrews gives us a timely reminder…
Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25, emphasis added)

If it’s been a while since you’ve gathered in person to worship with your church family, let me encourage you to consider what’s holding you back. We certainly understand if you have health concerns and complications. But if you’ve simply become too comfortable at home…let this serve as a personal invite and encouragement to shake off the hibernation of the past year and rejoin your church family. We love and miss you. God has been working in powerful ways, and I believe He has big plans for us in the days to come. I hope you’ll be a part of it!