WS Update: Habit of Reconnecting

January 31, 2022

A recent Christianity Today article titled “Here’s Who Stopped Coming to Going to Church During the Pandemic” highlighted the public health toll of the isolation brought on by the pandemic, pointing out among other things that in person attendance decreases depression and addictive behaviors that have impacted so many over the last two years.  In addition, a Barna survey revealed that those who have ceased to regularly attend worship are more likely to feel “insecure and anxious, compared to practicing Christians who didn’t stop attending services in person”. There are many factors that continue to impact decisions to attend public worship and other in-person gatherings, particularly in NYC where the most recent variant has once again wreaked havoc on public life.  Reflecting on the article I was drawn to Hebrews 10 where the author is writing to Christians to persevere in a time of crisis and persecution:

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.  And 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

In particular I was struck by the author’s use of the word “habit”, one definition of which is “a pattern of behavior more or less fixed by tradition and generally sanctioned by the society.” The point being that the author is saying that we can get into fixed patterns of behavior that become culturally normalized, which in this case is Christians ceasing to gather together in person. Interestingly the author of Hebrews echoes the CT article noting the toll that habit can take: discouragement, indifference to the needs of others and cynicism or despair (the opposite of hope).  My pastoral exhortation is for each of us to meditate on the wisdom of this text and its application in our lives.  Christians are individuals adopted into God’s family which means it is the exception, not the rule, to follow Jesus apart from community. And as the text reminds us even if you have fared relatively well during the pandemic many of your brothers and sisters haven’t and need your encouragement and help.  It has been a long two years that has habituated isolation as a cultural norm, so my prayer is that as winter turns to spring we will once again exercise the habit of reconnecting with one another – “and all the more as you see the Day approaching”.

In Christ,


Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God

John 1:12-13

P.S. Here are some ways you can begin to practice the habit of connecting with others at RWS:

  1. Corporate Worship 
  2. West Side Men, West Side Women
  3. Upcoming classes
  4. Community Groups

Spiritual Gifts Seminar

“God has embedded a theo-genetic code in every human being. He wired us all for ministry. And as we uncover and awaken the fivefold typology in our missional communities and in our neighborhoods, we will not only be able to live out our calling but also help others discover theirs… These are people gifts, vocational intelligences and theo-genetic codes that have been implanted in our DNA. Discovering them makes all the difference in the world.”

JR Woodward & Dan White Jr.

Coming Up

  • Follow Jesus Youth adapted, Feb 4: Classes that gives us a foundation to live on as a follower of Jesus and helps us understand the greater Christian story we are part of. Condensed into three weeks and adapted for youth.
  • Become a member of RWS, Feb 6: Our Membership Class helps you learn the gospel theology and ministry of Redeemer West Side. WE cover what’s behind the five membership vows, how a PCA church is led, and how members step into our sacred call to love our neighbors and heal our city.
  • Getting married?, Feb 12: Plan on attending Redeemer’s Premarital Seminar. You don’t have to be engaged to participate in the seminar. Even if you’ve just begun considering the possibility of marriage, this is a powerful way to discover whether you should continue in your relationship. This seminar is a lively day of biblical teaching on marriage, exercises that help a couple learn more about each other, and ending with a time of Q&A. 
  • Don’t Walk By changes for 2022: This year, Don’t Walk By is moving to March/April and shortening to three Saturdays: March 26, April 2, and April 9. Our goal is to continue serving our homeless neighobors but also keep everyone (guests, volunteers, staff) safe. Volunteers are still needed!