Annual Report 2020-21
When I was appointed as Senior Minister to Living Waters Church back in 2009, little did I know how the church would grow, gain influence, and reach so many people with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Twelve years in the senior role has flown by and Michelle and I feel so honoured to have worked with so many amazing people here, and to have played a part in so many people’s development, it is our greatest honour.
We could never have imagined how this last year would bring so many changes and challenges due the global pandemic that literally overnight dismantled our current model of church and required reactive, visionary, and strong leadership to work through. I am pleased to say that with the support of so many amazing team players we are rebuilding in every area. Our current physical return rate to church sits at 60-80% of pre-pandemic numbers, which is ahead of the curve for many churches. Notably we are witnessing the largest influx of people new to church in recent years. Our YouTube following has gone up by 500 people to around 600, with our services being watched live, or via catch up around 200-300 times on average at the current rate. Our technical capabilities to livestream with a high-quality output has taken significant financial investment, commitment, and work. Through this ministry we are seeing staggering growth in new volunteers and current team members.
"to have played a part in so many people’s development, it is our greatest honour"
Your Leadership team is united, cohesive, and relationally purposeful. It is a joy to serve with them. Provision across missions, children’s work and youth is thriving and I offer my heartfelt thanks to all the staff team and volunteers. The connect café continues to serve the church and community so well and LW storehouse has grown beyond recognition. LW Storehouse is now a charity in its own right and has acquired a new building on Chorley West Business Park and is reaching out to thousands of people in need thoughout the year. It is a blessing to see these areas thriving and growing.
On a personal level Michelle and I will be first to admit of our 12 years in service, this has been the most stretching, challenging and particularly tiring. We continue to hope and dream for the most amazing days ahead but are also aware that this season has demanded much and will require sensitive and wise leadership in the days ahead. As a leader I have learned more in the last two years, than in any other period in my ministry. When we are challenged, we grow in wisdom and faith. I look forward to seeing what LWC will look like over the next 12 months.
With our love and blessing
John and Michelle
Adaptability has been the word of the year! This approach has allowed kids programmes to continue in a meaningful way. There have been limits to negotiate but the resilience of our families, children and team has meant we could this year re-engage more in person and have seen a steady growth in numbers including new faces, our added blessing. It has been great getting know each one and re-engaging with old friends.
"we come to worship God, to discover and grow in our faith"
This last year has allowed us to take stock, re-group and ask ourselves what really matters?
Coming out of this period we head into a new era for Rock Solid as we re-brand into ‘Limitless Kids Chorley’ adopting the same values as Limitless Youth, and helping our children identify as part of a wider church family across Elim, we are all very excited!
We have also looked at the church model and this year will introduce several features from the structure of the main service, into our morning in the hall. Not only will this ‘normalise’ aspects of church for our children, but it will make clear that what we do each Sunday is church too, and that we come to worship God, to discover and grow in our faith.
We are thankful as a team for the opportunity to journey with our children, thankful to parents for allowing us to do so, and thankful for one another as we serve together.
Tots and Babies
The last year has certainly had its challenges for the Tots and Babies team, but what has been very evident through this period is the dedication of every volunteer on the team who has had to adapt to changes in an ever-changing environment.
"a huge thanks goes to every person on the Tots and Babies team who has well and truly ‘stepped up’ over the last year"
First and foremost, the safety of our children, their parents and volunteers has been our main priority. Every Sunday the team have ensured that the children have been provided with a safe, clean, welcoming environment, whilst dealing with the limitations we have had to have in place. It has been so lovely to see the growth in numbers of our babies, with this age group now making up the majority in the Tots and Babies room. Going forward we are now returning to providing teaching activities for the tots. We have also welcomed a new member of the youth to our team, which is always great to see.
Finally, a huge thanks goes to every person on the Tots and Babies team who has well and truly ‘stepped up’ over the last year to enable us to keep providing this provision for our children, and who I know will continue to do so with the same commitment and enthusiasm in the year ahead.
"It’s been a year of consistent change and challenge, but we are thankful for what God is doing in every single young person"
In December 2020 we began a fresh season of Limitless Chorley and were able to meet face to face (with masks) for several Sundays on the lead up to Christmas.
We started 2021 back into a third national lockdown and so continued to build relationships and momentum with the introduction of ‘Friday Night Youth Zoom’s’ and then a monthly ‘Inside Outside’ marquee event as restrictions eased.
A highlight of this year has been our ‘Summer Sessions 21’ which were a series of activities planned to rebuild community throughout the summer holidays. Highlights included canoeing, bushcraft, a movie night, Limitless Festival online and singing Christmas songs in the sunshine to an unsuspecting Astley Park audience!
It’s been a year of consistent change and challenge, but we are thankful for what God is doing in every single young person and we look forward to all that is ahead with great faith and anticipation.
Worship and Production
The Worship and Production team have worked throughout this last year so diligently and they rose to every new challenge, which were many! The production side of the team has grown, and new roles have been developed to allow us to digitally take our services to people when they were unable to come to us. We have had new members join the team, many of whom are young people bringing a modern flavour to the area that they are serving in. It is so encouraging to see our young people being involved.
"The team must be commended on how hard they have worked, adapted, and taken on new challenges"
Over the coming months we will continue to look at how we can improve our output. Our chosen platform for live streaming (YouTube) has seen a large increase in subscribers from 128 in 2019 to over 589 to 2021. On average each service is watched 300 times before the numbers settle. This is a fantastic tool that allows people to ‘look in’ at the church before stepping through the doors and we have heard of many cases where people have been watching weeks or even months before attending in person.
The team must be commended on how hard they have worked, adapted, and taken on new challenges so a huge ‘thank you’ to all who serve through this team.
As with all catering establishments the latter part of 2020 into the first few months of 2021 were challenging with covid rule changes and closures. Here at cafe connect we decided to advertise meals for takeout and eat at home affordable afternoon teas, which proved quite popular. We also offered support to LW Storehouse (foodbank) with meals to go and helping to sort and pack fresh food bags and Christmas hampers.
"We would like to thank all our customers for their loyalty"
Cafe connect reopened its doors for indoor dining at the beginning of June and we saw many of our previous regular customers returning. The cafe is now back to full seating capacity. We have decided to continue with table service rather than the order at the counter service. Café Connect has been chosen as one of the days for the Chorley talking tables scheme and therefore has gained additional custom on a Friday morning.
We would like to thank all our customers for their loyalty. A massive thank you to our volunteers who have returned to support Café Connect in providing meals and drinks to our customers plus the provision of meals to LW Storehouse. We hope shortly to have new signage for the front of the building followed by new updated menus.
We are pleased to be able to report a different but exciting year with overseas missions. We are involved in the following three countries: India, Zambia and Liberia.
Due to the restrictions, there have been no overseas trips, and all communications have been via zoom and phone.
This year we have seen the completion of the student accommodation block at our centre in Punalur, Kerala, thanks to the giving of LW first fruits 2020. The Bible college has continued online but now students are coming back into the school. The graduation of students went ahead, and we were able to join them on Zoom. The Boys Home has ten children and is rated as one of the best in the area. We have requests coming from the state to take children that cannot stay with their parents due to abuse. Overall, the work is moving forward and sometimes we have a job to keep up with the ongoing demand.
We have been saddened by the passing of Pastor Samuel in Orrisa due to COVID earlier this year. We will continue to support his daughter in her education.
It has been an exciting year for the work in Ndola seeing the completion of the new church building again thanks partly to the help of LW first fruits giving 2020. Stir the Fire ministries continues to thrive reaching out to many children in the school. Students and Pastors continue with their studies with LWMI online learning, and the first graduation took place.
Although we only have a small input into Liberia, we see signs of growth in the work. The church is seeing people saved and baptised. Our support is mainly to Pastor Moses and his family who head up the work in Monrovia.
"Our God is awesome!"
Our aim as a team in this coming year is to continue the development of the existing works. Our prayer is to see God move in power and blessing in all the areas in which we work, that people will come to a knowledge of Jesus as their saviour.
LWC mission has been able to send £20,634 to help finance the overseas works. We continue to give thanks to God for His bountiful supply. Our God is awesome!
The full Finance Officers report will be emailed to all church partners prior to the Annual General Meeting.