“Baptism Only” And “Once-Baptized, Always-Saved”?

“Baptism Only” And “Once-Baptized, Always-Saved”?

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

Neal Pollard

The doctrines of “faith only” and “once-saved, always’ saved” have done so much to deceive religious people into believing things about the doctrine of salvation that are at odds with the Scripture, which teach that faith without works is dead (Js. 2:17,20,26) and that it is possible to fall from grace (Gal. 5:4; 2 Pet. 2:20-22). Therefore, many of our Bible classes and sermons have emphasized what the Bible teaches on these matters. We want to avoid an unscriptural position.

In the midst of emphasizing that a faith that saves is a faith that obeys, we rightly teach that repentance and baptism is part of saving faith (Ac. 2:38). We teach that baptism saves (1 Pet. 3:21). It washes away sins (Ac. 22:16). It clothes us with Christ (Gal. 3:27). These are just some of the Bible’s truths about the essentiality of baptism.

There is something we must guard against, however, in our properly emphasizing that baptism not only is part of God’s saving plan but is a pivotal part (1 Co. 12:13; Mk. 16:16; Rom. 6:3-4). We must not believe in “baptism only” or “once-baptized, always saved.” Is it possible to adhere to such a view? Perhaps.

  • A rush to baptism without grasping why it must be done and what must accompany it is insufficient. We read of people being pierced to the heart by the gospel (Ac. 2:37), asking what they must do, being told to “repent and be baptized” (Ac. 2:38), and receiving that word and doing so (Ac. 2:41). Baptism cannot substitute for the total heart and directional change which the gospel calls for (Rom. 6:17). 
  • The thought that baptism is the end of one’s commitment rather than the beginning is incorrect. As thoughtfully and deliberately as we can, we must teach the totality of discipleship (Mt. 16:24-26) and the necessity of counting the cost of discipleship (Lk. 14:28). Sometimes, the newly baptized conclude that since they have done so everything is settled. While baptism coupled with a correct understanding of Scripture does forgive one’s sins, one must begin and continue a walk in the light of Christ (1 Jn. 1:7-10). 

Christ’s Great Commission call to His disciples is to make disciples (Mt. 28:19). That includes baptizing them, but also teaching them (Mt. 28:19-20). In our teaching, we need to do all we can to paint Scripture’s complete picture not only of faith but also of baptism. There is no “magic” in the water (1 Pet. 3:21). Its saving ability comes when done by one who makes “an appeal to God for a good conscience.” We cannot leave babes in Christ to flounder without helping them form roots in Him. They need to know that baptism is not the end, but the beginning.

If someone in our directory has been baptized but shows no other sign of commitment, from attendance to involvement, we need to lovingly help them see that they are not spiritually OK (Gal. 6:1). When they die, we cannot preach them into heaven simply because they were properly taught and baptized years or decades ago. The life in Christ is about a “walk” (Eph. 4:1), not just about a moment when they got wet.

Motivations For Teaching Difficult Things

Motivations For Teaching Difficult Things

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

Neal Pollard

It becomes clear from reading the second letter to the Corinthians that Paul feels the need to defend himself and his actions among his readers. He feared that he had been misunderstood in his previous work among them (cf. 1:12-14). In fact, it seems as though this is the purpose of the letter (look also at 5:11-12). If you remember from the first letter, he had some pretty challenging and unpopular things to say about how they were behaving. It’s not far-fetched to think that some of them not only would not appreciate what he said, but would attack him as the messenger for saying it. Sometimes, however lovingly and kindly we share the truth, it will offend the hearer who, instead of repenting, tries to undermine the one who said it.  As we read this section, think of Paul as a man, just like his audience, who has feelings, struggles, difficulties, and temptations, too. He also needed them to know that it was because he cared so much about them that he would not “shrink from declaring to [them] anything that was profitable” (cf. Acts 20:20). What drove Paul to minister to the Corinthians? Notice several things he says in 2 Corinthians one.

THE GRACE OF GOD (12)

He would not boast in himself, whether his abilities or knowledge or influence. Those are empty and unsatisfying. His motives were pure and he was helped by a grace he wanted them to appreciate, too. When we understand our need of God’s grace, it will move us to give Him our all in response. 

THE JUDGMENT DAY OF GOD (13-14)

Paul wanted them to be able to legitimately boast together and of one another at “the day of the Lord” (cf. 5:10). The word “boast” in modern English has negative connotations–bragging, arrogance, and sinful pride. Paul wanted to have confidence in them as they faced this Day, as confident as he hoped they were of him in view of it. We should share the whole counsel of God to make sure people are ready for the most important day of all. 

THE PROMISES OF GOD (20)

He shared the positive and negative, the promises and the warnings, because he knew God meant what He said. He would not equivocate or talk out of both sides of his mouth. He was going to give them “the whole purpose of God” (cf. Acts 20:27). He knew God was the supreme promise-keeper (2 Tim. 4:8; 2 Cor. 5:11-14). 

THE GLORY OF GOD (20)

Paul taught them for the glory of God. The Word is God’s. The promises are God’s. The salvation is from God. How silly for the fragile pottery to brag (4:7); the glory belongs to the Potter. Anything worthwhile we accomplish is always because of God. 

THE WORKING OF GOD (21-22)

Paul was moved by the knowledge that God is the one who establishes men (21), sets us apart (21), and gives us His Spirit (22). Knowing this, we should share Him with people so that God can accomplish His work in their lives. 

THE WITNESS OF GOD (23-24)

Wise teachers and preachers will remember that God is watching their work. He can see where no one else can–our hearts and motives. Knowing He knows me inside and out, I will check myself and do His work to bring the joy and strength of the hearers (23-24). 

THE PEOPLE OF GOD (2:1-4)

We should be moved by genuine love and concern for people. Those who share the word should share life with those who receive the word from them. Building relationships, being together in all the ups and downs of life, is what it is all about. It’s hard to imagine staying motivated to share the gospel with people we isolate ourselves from. 

Perhaps there are some preachers and teachers who just love beating up on their listeners (or readers). Motivation is individual to each one (Phil. 1:15-17). I have to believe that every faithful proclaimer wants not only to please God but also help as many people as possible go to heaven. There are so many great reasons why Christians should want to share God’s Word with others. Paul gives us a handful of them here. 

What’s On The Ballot?

What’s On The Ballot?

Neal Pollard

For some, it’s their wallets. But, “beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions” (Luke 12:15).

For some, it’s their walls. Whether the one at our national border or the ones around our home. National security is important. Law and order derives from God and Scripture (Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Pet. 2:13-14). But, remember, “Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain” (Psa. 127:1). There should be higher motivation.

For some, it’s wokeness. Whether to protect hyper-racism or to combat cancel culture, some on either side will be driven by this issue. This certainly has been central to those whose vote is driven by education matters. Yet, it is so easy to let subjective ideas supplant God’s authoritative Word. We must be convicted by the truth of Jesus’ words in John 12:48: “He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.”

For some, it’s the womb. How sobering to vote in support of taking the life of the unborn or to be motivated by such. May we remember that one of the things God hates are “hands that shed innocent blood” (Prov. 6:16)!

For some, it’s worry. It may be general unease and anxiety about the “direction” of our country. There’s a fine line between civic duty and sinful worry. God is always on His throne. As ever, “…the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes” (Dan. 4:32).

For some, it’s the Word. The continued ability to teach the gospel to the lost, to worship together according to that Word, and to live according to God’s Word should underlie everything we do. That includes informing our votes in elections. But, may we keep in mind what the angel tells Zechariah to tell Zerubbabel: “‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts” (Zech. 4:6). No election, however favorable to our convictions, is a substitute for making disciples (Mat. 28:18-20).

Many say “democracy is on the ballot,” though what that means depends on who says it. Hopefully, we all prayerfully deliberate and do our best to align everything we believe, endorse, and encourage with what the Word says! But when we leave the voting booth, we need to “go into all the world” and give them what they need more than anything–the hope of eternal life!

Five Ministry Ideas For Member Involvement

Five Ministry Ideas For Member Involvement

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

Dale Pollard

You must have a plan. If the leadership has no plan to grow, then the members don’t have a path to follow. According to one Gallup poll taken in 2020, 47% of adults are affiliated with a religious group of some kind in the U.S. Those numbers drop even lower after considering the amount of members that make up the Lord’s church. Of that remnant, the faithful are in the minority. Knowing that God is able to help His church grow is one thing, but creating an environment that encourages growth is another. According to Paul, the more streamlined and dynamic we can be in our service to Him, the more growth occurs. 

“…from the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual.” 

  • Ephesians 4.16

So let’s simplify it. 

A growing environment focuses on two areas: 

A. For Spiritual Growth…

  • Have an excellent customized Bible curriculum
  • Focus efforts on the worship service planning 
  • Emphasis on group focused programs (teens, young adult, & seniors) 

B. For Numerical Growth…

  • Plan to grow your staff (outreach minister, youth minister, co-minister/associate) 
  • Look for needs and create jobs/ministries to fulfill those needs by getting others involved. Churches are often stagnant because there aren’t enough outlets for all members to plug in. 

Five Job Ideas For Church Families 

  1. Social Tech Team: Perfect for a youth group looking to get involved in public communications. Facebook, Instagram, church websites, podcasts, YouTube channels, e-banners, PowerPoint slides, and numerous other lights to help your “city” (Mat. 5:14) become more visible. Online presence is crucial and a team of young people seem perfect for that job. 
  2. Scoop Squad: There are visitors who walk in the back door each Sunday and for some reason they aren’t all coming back. What if your congregation had a few folks who have taken it on themselves to seek them out in the crowd and invite them to lunch? To their home? A cup of coffee? These people are soul focused and they’re determined to keep visitors coming back to hear more about Jesus. 
  3. Conversion Crew: Appoint someone with a passion for soul winning to head up a group that’s passionate about training others in the art of conversion. The more capable teachers you have, the more likely your members will invite the lost.
  4. The Howdy Boys: There’s nothing better than a warm smile and a handshake to make your presence in the room feel appreciated. The Howdy Boys (or the Welcome Women?) excel in conversation. They’re extroverts who can make a visitor’s first experience a stress-free one. After all, they get more than a “howdy” from a stranger. They’ll get directions to the nearest child care room, bathroom, classroom, and coffee room. Side note, “Caffeinated Christianity” isn’t a bad Bible study group name. 
  5. Builder Brigade: The question, “where can I help?” isn’t bad unless there isn’t an answer because there aren’t any options. Having a person(s) to help others find where their talents can bring Him the most glory is invaluable. If one were to place membership and then their talents were quickly put to work, the chances that apathy set in go down. Remove that “checklist mentality” by removing the option to simply attend without any responsibility. A team designed to create jobs or help others find their job is an important job. 
Why Do You Get Up In The Morning?

Why Do You Get Up In The Morning?

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

Dale Pollard

In Romans one we find that Paul feels a great debt to the lost in the world around him because he’s got a message from above that people need to hear from him. He’s strongly convinced that if he doesn’t speak up, he hasn’t only failed spiritually but he’s failed the people who pass him by. Later in his letter he’ll write, 

“Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” – Roman’s 10.1-4

From these verses we can learn a thing or two about the life of Paul and it serves as a mirror that reflects back to us our own priorities. 

His heart: It’s filled with a desire to spread the message of salvation to others. 

Paul is motivated by the amount of people walking around in darkness. What motivates us? What provokes us to action? For Paul, it was simple. There’s a great number of lost people in the world and we’ve been given an uncertain amount of time to make that number smaller. 

His eyes: They’re looking for those who might be saved. 

Paul is looking for those with a zeal for God, but who aren’t following Him correctly. There are people who are on fire for God, but their fire is misdirected. In other words, we should be looking for that fertile soil. 

His mind: Understands that there’s only one law and one path that the saved are walking. 

Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. The righteous are the only people who truly believe. That belief is in the singular way to God. Paul was an effective soul winner because he was convinced that there are lost people who will remain lost if he doesn’t act. He was convinced that God’s way is the only way, and he is responsible for the opportunities to share that message with those God places in his life. 

If our motivation isn’t to seek and to save the lost, our priorities must be rearranged. 

What makes you get up in the morning? 

3 Reasons Vacation Bible School Is Worth It!

3 Reasons Vacation Bible School Is Worth It!

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

Dale Pollard

This time of the year congregations are planning and preparing for another Vacation Bible School. When and why was this summer tradition started? It seems that even those who aren’t “church goers” still share childhood memories with those of us in the religious world. Across America kids will soon be drinking kool-aid and making Noah’s ark out of Popsicle sticks. They’ll also make memories that will stick with them for their whole lives.

The Hazy History 

 As much as this week means to many of us, one might assume the history to be well documented. However, who started the first VBS and when— is still debated. Some claim it all began in 1870, while others place the date closer to the 1920s. So the “when”’proves to be a little fuzzy, but the “why” seems constant. A thread that can be traced through many a VBS origin story is the reason it’s done. It was always designed with our children’s spiritual growth in mind. The goal was always to provide them wholesome entertainment while at the same time, introducing them to God and the Bible. 

So with that in mind… 

Here are 3 reasons why VBS is a worth the effort: 

  1. Youthful brains need this week. Studies done by Psych INFO, ERIC, MEDLINE, and Google Scholar as well as the University of Virginia library, all seem to agree that kids from 12-18 years old are the most impressionable. Meaning, the things they are taught and their experiences in these years will often impact their worldview for the rest of their lives. Any program within the church that’s geared towards teaching young people about Jesus can only have a positive influence on them. That window is relatively short so it’s crucial that parents do all they can to set them up for spiritual success. 
  2. Church families need this week. VBS takes a lot of work and it’s the kind of work that brings the church together. It’s mainly about the kids, but it’s not all about the kids. This is a time where members have an opportunity to bond and grow closer through the planning and preparation. Work days, crafts, skits, staff/teacher curriculum, decorating, T-shirt’s, and advertising all take teamwork. Team work is good work for good teams. 
  3. Adults need this week. The happiest among us are typically the children. With all of that work, the sweat, tears, and time that’s shoveled into this event— the payoff is the sound of an auditorium filled with energy and excitement. It’s good for adults to spend a week listening to the sound of voices singing loudly and unashamed. It’s good for the teachers and the chaperones to act and look a little ridiculous. There’s value in letting kids see us trade the khakis and neckties for face paint and costumes because it will send a message. To be a christian doesn’t mean to be serious, stoic, or stern— all the time. Those of us who have been members of the church for sometime know this to be true, but children who’s parents don’t think or speak highly of Christianity now have a chance to experience something to the contrary. 

While there might be mixed feelings about VBS within the church, there’s no denying it’s potential to effectively introduce Jesus to the young and young at heart. 

A picture of a Wyoming VBS from several decades ago.

The Volunteer Fire Department

The Volunteer Fire Department

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

Neal Pollard

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), fire departments received 36,416,000 calls to respond in 2020. That included over 23 million for medical aid, 1,388,500 for fires, 750,000 for hazardous materials, and 5,938,500 for other hazardous conditions (NFPA Study). While a relatively small percentage of calls are actually to fires, firefighters leave with a mindset to save a life every time they respond to a call. A study by Hylton Haynes finished in November 2017 for NFPA research, there are 29,067 fire departments in the United States (NFPA Study II). With the total U.S. population above 330,000,000, that’s over 11,000 people for every fire department. But, no community would feel safe without trained firefighters living there. If we could pick the way we died, I can’t imagine any of us would choose death by fire. 

Jude paints a dramatic picture in verse 24 of his short epistle, calling on Christians to “save others, snatching them out of the fire.” That fire is “the punishment of eternal fire” (7). We are talking about a fire which God prepared for the devil and his angels (Mat. 25:41), but will use to punish the spiritually ignorant and the disobedient (2 Th. 1:7-8). It is unquenchable (Mark 9:43). It is a lake of fire (Rev. 20:14-15) that burns (Rev. 21:8). While it is hard to imagine that any would choose that fate, Scripture says the majority will (cf. Mat. 7:13-14; 25:46). So, God enlists you and me as volunteer firefighters. The thing with this fire is that people do not experience tangible warnings of it through their skin or lungs, telling them that this fire is encroaching. The only way to perceive this is with the heart, mind, and the eyes of faith. God is counting on us to appeal to those in danger through these means. God has given us the firefighting equipment we need through His Word and our lives as living examples of that Word. Though many incredibly do not want to be rescued, others do! The exhortation is to “snatch” those in danger of fire, to “grab or seize suddenly so as to remove or gain control; to snatch or take away” (BDAG 134). We cannot forcibly rescue anyone, but we must remain vigilant to pull out of the fire all who would welcome our intervention. 

Society still holds firefighters in high regard and few if any argue against the need for their existence. It is good for us to remember how God regards His children who are firefighters and how much He is relying on us to stay at that job (Dan. 12:3; 1 Cor. 1:21; Jas. 5:19-20)! Let’s keep working on our skills and improving our abilities to “save others, snatching them out of the fire.” Those rescued will be eternally grateful! 

via PxHere (Creative Common)
Proclaiming the Lord’s Death Until He Comes

Proclaiming the Lord’s Death Until He Comes

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent

Brent Pollard

Though worship consists of five elements that worshipers may or may not participate in during every assembly of the saints, the one aspect of worship receiving the most attention on Sunday, at least, is the Lord’s Supper (aka Communion or Eucharist). One might say this is because the observance of the Lord’s Supper is exclusive to Sunday, or should be. However, I think we forget that giving of our means was commanded on every Sunday as well (1 Corinthians 16.1-2). So, it is not the relative rarity of this action compared to singing, prayer, and Bible study, making it precious to us. Instead, it is the purpose and meaning of the Lord’s Supper. 

The Lord’s Supper is an item of worship that is horizontal and vertical in its scope; it is something done to demonstrate our relationship with God and our fellow Christian. Though not as often referenced concerning the Lord’s Supper as 1 Corinthians 11.23ff, Paul highlights the communal aspect of the Lord’s Supper in chapter 10. He states that we cannot partake of the elements of the Lord’s Supper with our Lord and likewise eat and drink at the table of “demons” (10.21).  

Contextually, Paul’s words refer to the issue of dining in a pagan venue, even while professing that pagan gods are not real. The Corinthian Christians could not engage in activity, implying they shared the same faith with pagans. Even if they knew that those gods were not real, they created misunderstanding among the pagans and other Christians. So, while we commemorate our Lord’s death, burial, and resurrection with the Lord’s Supper, we share in the same hope and devotion towards the same.  

Yet there is another characteristic of the Lord’s Supper, making it precious to us. The Lord’s Supper provides us with the opportunity to evangelize. Paul states that this memorial feast is one we will keep until our Lord returns (1 Corinthians 11.26). And the very fact that we engage ourselves in its observance proclaims “the Lord’s death.”  

I am mindful of the opportunity presented by the Passover to fathers in their children’s instruction (Exodus 12.24-27). When the children asked, “Why do we observe this rite?” the fathers could explain the Passover and God’s deliverance of the children of Israel. So likewise, the child or visitor may ask, “Why do you observe the Lord’s Supper?” Or “Why do you observe the Lord’s Supper weekly?” In response to these questions, we can proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  

Despite being viewed as the “centerpiece” of the Sunday assembly, it seems odd how swiftly some congregations seem to fly through their observance of the Lord’s Supper. As it is a door to evangelism, one would think we should linger longer therein. Not only would the time of special communion be extended, but it could serve to plant seeds in good soil, which, if watered by Bible study, will enable God to provide an increase.  

So, next Sunday, as we observe the Lord’s Supper, let us remember everything making it a memorable feast, including personal introspection (1 Corinthians 11.29-31). We will demonstrate our fellowship with our brethren and the Lord. And we can use the time evangelistically. Therefore, let us provide non-Christians an opportunity to learn about the Gospel as we partake of the bread and drink the cup.    

Calling On And Looking To Jesus

Calling On And Looking To Jesus

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent

Brent Pollard

For practitioners of Japan’s True Pure Land Buddhism, one desires to enter the pure land upon death. In so doing, he could bypass our corrupt world and enter the western paradise where he could quickly achieve nirvana. Conversely, True Pure Land Buddhism has a hellish alternative in which souls are tortured by oni (i.e., demons) until they are purged of their sins and can enter the Pure Land. No one desires torture. So, the Japanese would recite the nembutsu: “I call on the Amida Buddha.” In medieval Japan, practitioners of True Pure Land Buddhism would lay on their deathbeds holding on to a string as an added measure. That string led to a painting of Amida and his cohorts. As they looked longingly towards the picture, they hoped that their escaped soul would travel the line and enter the western paradise. 

It may be that upon reading the previous paragraph, you thought of the apostle Paul in ancient Athens. He told the men of Athens that he perceived them as superstitious, literally δεισιδαιμονεστέρους—“very fearful of gods” (Acts 17.22). As Japan is often called the home of eight million gods, with the Buddhas incorporated into the mix, it is easy to label the Japanese as superstitious. Yet, I note something different when I hear about this True Pure Land Buddhism. It would almost seem that True Pure Land Buddhism rubbed elbows with Christianity somewhere. It is conceivable since Pure Land Buddhism arose in India during the second century A.D. before making its way to east Asia. However, note two intriguing features of True Pure Land Buddhism reminding one of Christianity. 1) Calling on Amida’s name and 2) Looking to Amida for hope. 

Joel prophesied that those calling up the name of the Lord would be saved (Joel 2.32). Peter and Paul quote this verse from Joel’s prophecy regarding salvation within the New Covenant (Acts 2.21; Romans 10.13). So, there is most assuredly power in the name of Jesus Christ. Peter says there is “no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4.12, all ref. NASB1995 unless otherwise indicated). But calling on Jesus’ name is not like reciting a nembutsu. Paul shows us that we call upon the name of Jesus when our faith moves us to action. After seeing Jesus on the road to Damascus, Paul has been fasting and praying for several days. The prophet Ananias finds Paul in his misery and says, “ Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name” (Acts 22.16 NASB1995). See then how Paul called on Jesus’ name. Paul submitted himself to baptism for the washing away of his sins. In so doing, Paul called on the name of Jesus. 

Do we not also look to Jesus to give hope? Well, we do not stare at an artist’s rendering of the Christ upon our deathbed. But we do look to Him in life as our hope. After citing many examples of those from whom we could find a worthy model of faithfulness, the Hebrews’ writer adds: “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12.2-3). The KJV says we look to Jesus. Either way, our eyes are drawn to and become fixated upon Him. This hope we have in Jesus is an anchor for the soul (Hebrews 6.19). 

It remains a challenge to preach the Gospel in those parts of the world where Buddhism has taken root. I’ve heard missionaries remark of the antagonism against Christianity within the Buddhist world. Yet, it seems strange that within at least one branch of Buddhism, there is a central figure who is something of a Messiah. Considering that so much of Buddhism asks you to find salvation from within yourself, there are at least some within that belief system who recognize the nature of the human condition is such that we must rely on the grace of someone greater. Therefore, even in hostile environments, may we endeavor to preach that the One willing and able to save is the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us tell the world to call upon and look to Jesus.

courtesy via Flickr

      

Bring Your Thinking Cap

Bring Your Thinking Cap

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Word

Gary Pollard

Today’s article may be a little chaotic. It’s about something not well-defined or understood, and its solution is unknown to me. This article will hopefully serve as a target; it’d be good to have lots of Christian minds brainstorming solutions to this issue.

Just about everyone’s had THE virus. I’ve had it once for sure, maybe twice. It don’t mess around. I started developing symptoms after recovery that, apparently, quite a few people have developed. It’s commonly called Long Covid or PASC. Symptoms include fatigue, cognitive difficulties, decreased mobility, respiratory and cardiological issues, pain, malaise, and many others (psu.edu). You probably either know someone dealing with this now, or are dealing with it yourself.

Research is not super easy to get ahold of, and what I could find was either low-quality or not peer reviewed. Its existence isn’t really contested, but little is known about its prevalence. Best I could find was that about 43% of those who recover will experience Long Covid. Many haven’t recovered after almost two years!

My concern with this is its potential effect on faith. Things like driving at night, interacting with lots of people, spending time together outside of worship, church events, service projects, teaching/preaching/song leading, evangelism, etc. are part of our Christian life. While some of these can be difficult on a good day, they’re now practically impossible (or significantly more difficult) for people with Long Covid.

The church has always had members with chronic, debilitating diseases. Normally, our shut-ins are a very small percentage of overall membership. With Long Covid often compared to the effects of chemotherapy, this number is likely to grow significantly. If roughly half of our recovered members end up with these long-term effects, how do we address this?

Since it affects both young adults and senior citizens, how do we navigate its impact? What can members who now have Long Covid do to stay active in their churches? While living with a chronic health condition is no cake walk, those of us who do are at least mentally equipped to accept it. Members who enjoyed good health before Long Covid are struggling to adapt to this change.

At some point in the near-ish future, I hope to write an article with potential solutions. It will be geared toward those who’re experiencing major health issues for the first time. In the meantime, it wouldn’t hurt to do a lot of praying, planning, brainstorming, and creative problem solving. Nothing’s too big for God, and we’ll find a solution with his help.