A MESSAGE FROM MATTHEW
Forty years ago I loved to collect creepy-crawlies, and my prize possession was a tank containing giant spiny stick insects. Twenty years ago I was obsessed with taking part in triathlons and would fill my week with as many sessions of swimming, cycling and running as possible. Ten years ago I caught the marathon running bug and would run over 1000 miles in a year. Today there isn’t a tank of creepy-crawlies in my bedroom, I haven’t done a triathlon in fifteen years and I have absolutely no desire to run another marathon. Over the years our interests and energies can shift: but we mustn’t lose our passion for the gospel!
Hebrews 2:1 says, Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. It is one thing to drift from a hobby that we were once devoted to; it’s much more serious to drift away from the gospel.
We have been living in extraordinary times and weariness, temptation and the pressures of life can cause us to stop paying attention to what we have heard and to drift. I am so grateful for the extent to which the Lord has kept us from this at Gateway. In a very challenging season we have seen more people joining with us and have experienced real spiritual life and vitality. We have known the most amazing generosity, which has allowed us to continue the mission of the church and to press on with our building plans at Alder Road. And we have felt the stirring of God to lean into new adventures of faith.
As we give thanks for all that the Lord has blessed us in over the past year we need to pay much closer attention and keep applying the gospel in the context of community so that we do not drift.
Gateway church, apply the gospel when weary
There have been many things to make us weary over the past couple of years. In response to this we need to keep meditating on the goodness and greatness of Christ Jesus. Taste and see that the Lord is good!
Gateway church, apply the gospel when tempted
Jesus is the pearl of great price, the treasure worth pursuing over everything else. Let’s remind one another of this gospel truth and allow its reality to empower us to say no to sin. We need a vision of what is eternal and solid to help us overcome the temptations of what is fleeting and flimsy.
Gateway church, apply the gospel when pressured
The pressures of life can be very real and at times feel overwhelming. Certainly, there have been times this past year when I have felt squeezed on every side. We need to remember the example of Christ “who endured from sinners such hostility against himself” (Hebrews 12:3). It is possible to take our stand and not give ground.
Gateway, it has been a demanding year and a blessed year. In this coming year let’s keep paying close attention to the gospel and keep on in our adventure of faith, living in purity and demonstrating the compassion of God.
BUILDING PROJECT & GIVING
After years of dreaming and planning builders finally moved onto our Alder Road site in January. Our last service in the ‘old’ Alder Road, just before Christmas, was a moment of thanksgiving for all that the Lord has done in that building and anticipation for what He will do in the new one.
Our aim is to be in our new facilities for Christmas 2022. The provision of finance to cover the £1.85 million build cost has been extraordinary: the weekend last November when we needed to have £300,000 given in cash plus £7,000 pledged in monthly giving was a breathtaking moment. Our God again proved he is able to meet all our needs!
We are still praying for ongoing provision through a number of grant applications and - most importantly - by the ongoing faithfulness of members of Gateway Church. Giving can be directed through our Vision Fund:
Sort Code: 20-68-79
Account Number: 63157318
AREAS WE'VE BEEN ABLE TO BLESS, THROUGH OUR GIVING
We always give away ten percent (a ‘tithe’) of our income at Gateway. We use this to bless other ministries, to help plant and strengthen churches, and to serve the poor. As we have been preparing for the Alder Road building project our giving to the Vision Fund has enabled us to considerably expand our giving, which this year has included:
We’ve also been able to bless other local organisations and churches in a variety of ways as we partner with them to see the gospel reach our city.
Giving away to help our brothers and sisters around the world is such a joy and a vital part of what we are called to. Let’s expect more in the coming year!
We give generously to the mission of Jesus because we love him, we love partnering in his mission to reach and save the lost and bless the poor, and because we want to reflect the generosity that he shows us through the gospel.
Giving of our finances is a significant act of faith, and a mark of a disciple of Jesus. All that we have, we receive from Jesus in the first place. Whatever the economic conditions and geo-political pressures, the people of God are called to fight fear with faith, and trust him to meet our needs as we trust him with our finances.
Here are some of the ways that we have met that challenge in the last year. Our General Fund is how we pay for our day to day operations. Our Vision Fund is used for ways in which we feel God calls us to respond to his plan for us for the future, such as with the Alder Road building project.
Teaching and applying the Bible is absolutely central to the life and ministry of Gateway Church (“We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard!”). Over the past year we have dug into these teaching series:
Staying the Course
7 Churches of Revelation
Jesus: Man of Action
A House For My Name
SOME SIGNIFICANT STATS
Faithful preaching of God’s Word is something we will always strive for at Gateway: let’s pray that through this preaching God is glorified, the church strengthened, and those far from Christ brought close to Him.
STORIES OF GOD'S FAITHFULNESS
Ministry Update: Kids
The past year for the kids' ministry has been like a rollercoaster; full of excitement and surprises! Lots of things have changed: the structure of the team, the teaching material and the medium we use to deliver the sessions, from online provision to face to face all together in one building. In all this, we have learned how to cope with change, we have learned how to react when things don’t stay still, and we have learned how to be flexible.
Since we have been meeting all together, we have seen a change in the atmosphere of the meetings, we have seen change in the lives of the kids and in the leaders as well. Having mixed teams with different talents, different skills and different personalities, it has been beneficial not just for the teams but for the kids as well because the sessions are more engaging and more fun.
We have seen a positive change in some of our kids' attitudes as well and they are coming into the sessions happy, wanting to be there, engaging with one another and with the leaders. We have been praying for new friendships to be formed, we have been praying for the kids to get closer to God and for personal relationships with Jesus and we have been praying for the kids' lives to be transformed. We praise God because through the Holy Spirit, He is working through all the activities and teaching we do. Our team works so hard and we are seeing all of the things we’ve been praying for starting to happen! Alleluia!
So, yes, it has been a challenging year but an exciting one where we have seen many more kids coming along and the kids ministry growing rapidly.
A big commendation to the whole team and the efforts they put in Sunday after Sunday, no matter what!
Ministry Update: Youth
We've seen God's favour over the last year in a number of ways...
A fantastic five-night residential in August where we saw our youth crying out to God in worship and listening to the Holy Spirit.
A sleepover at the church with our friends Laurence and Millie over from Northern Ireland to speak and lead worship.
A number of new youth joining the church and getting connected into the group.
Fortnightly life groups across three age groups have been a highlight for many of the youth.
Our youth band has continued to meet up and practice. We've loved seeing some of the youth join the Sunday worship team.
We've benefitted from having a committed team, each playing their part by using their gifts.
Ministry Update: Students & 20s
Over the last year, our Students & 20s group has continued to grow, not just numerically but also in depth of friendship with one another and relationship with God. We love the diversity of our group and have welcomed new people from different parts of the world. Food is a central aspect of how we do life with our S20s and this year has been no exception!
We’ve hugely appreciated the countless members of Gateway who have opened up their homes to our students and made them feel part of the wider family. Our goal is always to encourage our s20s to forge friendships across the church and invest in the church whilst they are here in Bournemouth.
We have developed stronger links with the Bournemouth University Christian Union and have seen people find us on a Sunday morning as a result of this partnership. Our S20s life group has been hugely popular, where food and discipleship merge and we've been able to run ‘Hot Topics’ evenings where we discuss a current issue in culture in light of what the Bible teaches us. At this time of year it’s always bittersweet as we celebrate another year of university study and workplace achievements but also say goodbye to those who are graduating and moving on to the next chapter. Ultimately, if our young people can say that Gateway has been their ‘home away from home’ then we’ve done our job and will trust God with the rest!
Ministry Update: Truth Be Told
Over the last year, TBT at Gateway has taken many forms, making sure that we’re reducing loneliness and bringing joy however we can. As Covid restrictions eased in the summer we were quick to run sessions at Alder Road and you can see the delight it delivered. My favourite quote was from Val who said “The children’s happiness rubs off on me, we’re part of a little family.” Becky Clarke continued running the group in the Autumn and feedback showed that 80% of guests felt more connected to the church because attending TBT.
We have also been running Zoom sessions for care homes across BCP with our partner care home provider telling us that “The residents have been enchanted.” They explained that “By being involved in the sessions, residents including those with dementia have had a sense of self-empowerment, of validation and recognition of their age and status.” Thanks to the pioneering work of Gateway with TBT in Poole we recently had the privilege of launching the project with GodFirst Church in Christchurch too, who have now received training and begun running sessions locally. We love to see what began as an intergenerational project has become a fully embedded value for Gateway – it’s just real family life!
Ministry Update: Oasis
Oasis is developing fast, reaching more families in the local refuge and maintaining relationships with those who have moved on. This would not have been possible without the new initiative of the befriending team. By showing God’s love in practical ways our befrienders are helping to restore confidence in those who have experienced real trauma in their lives. The Oasis team has endless opportunities to show God's love and have deep conversations about God's ability to transform lives.
The 'I Am Confident' course has opened up the opportunity to meet more broken families and single women, read scripture to them and speak truth into their lives. The course aims to develop participants’ confidence through recognising what is the truth about them - that God has a plan for them and all they are capable of.
We are also providing one to one literacy and maths support support to women who lack these skills but now have the opportunity to learn and feel capable again.
Ministry Update: Golden Generations
Each week at Golden Generations we have had 25-30 regularly gather for coffee and a social catch up. Highlights have been our fish and chip lunch and seeing the interaction between all ages, as we have had a few toddlers and babies also pop in with their mums and grandparents. We have also had one or two folk join us when they have been passing on Ashley Road. It has all felt very community focused and a good start to our first term.
Advance and hosting conferences
Gateway is part of Advance, a movement of churches that exist to plant and strengthen churches. In June 2021 we were delighted to host a conference for elder teams from the Advance UK churches – the first time we had been able to gather like this since before the pandemic.
Through our financial giving we have contributed to the needs of Advance churches in the UK and around the globe. Advance underwent some leadership changes in 2021 that have led the Global Leadership Team, of which Matthew is a part, to consider how we can better help strengthen our lead elders, lead couples, elder teams and local churches to health.
We are looking forward to being the host church for the Advance Global Conference in Bournemouth in May 2022 and are grateful for the mutual strengthening of our partner churches.
The Gateway Staff team over the past year has comprised of Matthew, Rich, Jon, Liam, Becky, Hayley, Donna & Ben. As well as being charged with the day to day operational leadership of the church, here are some other things that the staff team have been up to this year, as we seek to make Jesus known across BCP and the nations:
As well as leading our team of elders, Matt also leads the Advance UK team. This means that Matt has responsibility to help shape Advance UK’s mission to plant and strengthen churches which has taken him around the world and around the country teaching and preaching. He is also a member of the The Christian Medical fellowship's Medical Studies Group which prepares papers and briefing notes on medical ethics and is a governor at Parkstone Grammar School.
Has started an M.A. in Theology and Christian Leadership this year. Rich has also been involved in serving Advance UK and has preached in various other local churches this year. As well as being a trustee at Gateway Rich also serves Faithworks Wessex, Godfirst Church Cheltenham and Glasgow Grace Church.
Has been involved in leading worship in various Advance UK church contexts and has trained and strengthened worship leaders across the Advance movement. Jon has been working to help promote and support Adoption and Fostering in BCP Churches alongside Home for Good and has also just finished an eight-year stint as a governor in a local Primary School.
As well as keeping the Gateway office on track and maintaining numerous essential functions for us, Becky has also started working part time for Advance UK, and has been busy organising the Global Conference in May.
Has just completed a GDip (Graduate Diploma) in Theology through Union School of Theology. He has been on a two-year training contract working for Gateway which comes to an end in the Summer. Liam & Prisca will be staying on at Gateway, but please pray for Liam as he considers his next career move.
Has been working incredibly hard to further our mission to serve victims of domestic violence and abuse. It has been such a pleasure to make some new friends from the refuge this year.
Has been on maternity leave since October. We’re looking forward to having her back soon!
Is our intern. Ben has tirelessly served the youth, kids and worship team this year and has completed Impact Year training in ‘Theology for Life’. In September Ben will be starting University in Bristol.