What. A. Year.
Regardless how you feel about anything, 2016 was a whirlwind of a year. Between celebrity deaths, natural disaster, terrorism rampant globally, and everything we can amass for our personal lives, it is a wonder how we all made it. Yet here we are. To some 2016 was just another year, but for others 2016 was a monumental celebration!
For my family this was an exciting year. We left the life we knew for so long to begin a new adventure in Arkansas. We’ve transitioned homes, learned new roads, sights, and faces. We’ve hiked many a trail, ate many a slice at Larry’s, and have bypassed the hype of newlywed romanticism and fallen deeply in love with a place and people that was beyond our wildest imaginations. All credit belongs to the Lord. The mission of following Jesus and accomplishing His Will has been so satisfying.
This has also been an incredible year in the life of Gateway Church. From a time of transition to the arrival of the Morrow family on April 24, 2016, there’ve been many ups and downs, many changes and beginnings, but one constant: an unwavering love of Jesus. We count all of those things, the ups and the downs, and especially your love for Christ, as a blessing from the Lord. We count it an even greater blessing that there were LOTS of ups!
Here’s some of the ups that I’ve captured about 2016. Sadly not every great thing can be gathered in one image:
Here are some images to show our consistent growth in giving and attendance (based off of a 9-month time frame):
Those are so many great things! 2016 was a catalyst for the future, the kickstarter for the many great things ahead! 2016 was important because:
- It gives us a taste for what “a church for everybody” can be. (We’re a crazy, eclectic group of people — I’m excited to explore this more in 2017)
- It gave us a foundation for our mission: Meet. Move. Multiply. (This is our approach to how we make disciples!)
- It centered our past, present, and future around the story of Jesus and His victory! (This is the only place to start!)
- It showed us the power of our service for one another and what a unified people can accomplish. (We made a huge impact this summer!)
- It opened our eyes to seeing Jesus through art and meeting our neighbor across the table. (Advent was a new time and season for Gateway.)
- It brought us closer together than we could have ever imagined! (I’ve heard more stories of how someone from Gateway met the needs of another more than you can possibly imagine!)
- It forced us to bathe one another in prayer and to lift up those closest to us. (When bad things happen we stuck together!)
Many times growth and good things don’t come to us bright packages, with the pomp and circumstance, instead it’s slow and consistent, unsuspecting in its’ arrival, and that was the amazing year of 2016, full of growth and excitement, but it’s no longer 2016. We’re gearing up for a new time and a new season ahead of us… Here’s some of what we can look forward to:
- Exalt Jesus as Savior & King
- Invite others into a relationship with Jesus Christ
- Continuing to pray that God would diversify our body, making us a throne-room picture of God’s children (‘A church for everybody’ can only increase in its’ diversity)
- Preach the gospel without compromise
- Maintain a simple and unified faith in Jesus Christ
- Meet the needs of our community through Serve Sunday, Life Groups, Food for the Hungry with LRC, and CJCOHN
- Increase our membership through more Covenant Membership classes
- Expand our Life Groups
- Upgrade and Expand our Children’s/Nursery Facilities
- Upgrade parking and exterior safety
- Increase our partnerships with Arkansas Church Planting Network and Nexus Church Planting as we all work to further the gospel of Jesus Christ
- Equip the body for ministry through EQUIP:ME courses
I’m looking forward to 2017 as we follow Jesus together!
Brandon Morrow, Lead Pastor