YEAR IN REVIEW
2023 has been a year like no other at 404 Sugar Ridge Road. We saw God work in tremendous ways as we celebrated the 101 year anniversary of the founding of the original Rock Hill Baptist Church and the 21 year anniversary of the birth of Lake Bowen Baptist Church. This past August, I was blessed to begin my seventh year as the Senior Pastor with the amazing Friends and Family that come to worship Jesus with us week after week. In the Bible, the seventh year was called the “Year of Jubilee” and that is a perfect description for what this past year has been.
As you read over this report, let me remind you that every number represents a name. The numbers of people baptized, the numbers of people that come each week, the numbers of people involved in ministry and the numbers of people that gave to make the ministry possible are all names known by the Father. Let this report be a source of encouragement to you, and also a call for your name to help be a part of what God will do in 2024. As we prepare to see construction of our new Kids and Students buildings rise to the next level in the coming year, let your faith also rise to the next level as we Deliver, Disciple, Deploy so that all may hear of the goodness of God at Lake Bowen Baptist Church.
Average Sunday Attendance
An increase of 26% from last year
43% increase from last year
First-time guests for 2023
The Guest Services ministry has worked to extend exceptional hospitality to all who have attended Lake Bowen throughout this past year. From those who visited for the first time, to those who have been coming for years, our goal was for everyone to feel like they had come home. In 2023, 535 adults connected with us for the first time at our First Impressions tent. We welcomed 214 to our quarterly New Member Orientation events, which led to 150 new covenant members for the year.
With our growing attendance and membership, having adequate space for D Groups became a new challenge. In 2023, we launched a brand new ministry we called D Groups at Home. We started with eight D Groups meeting in host homes at various times during the week. We trained and commissioned sixteen leaders who facilitate discussions based on the sermon each week. We are excited to see this ministry grow even more in the coming year!
Newborns-5th Graders Each Sunday
18% increase from last year
Temporary, yet terrific is how I would describe our transition from the former Kid's Wing to the Gymnasium. Our classrooms were small, and the renovated assembly room was overflowing with children. Discussion had taken place over the last year of the possibility that the Kid's Ministry would need to move to the Gym. What would that look like? Could learning take place?
A creative team assembled and fashioned a fabulous space until the new building is complete. Our kids loved the area, our leaders were highly flexible, and an unexpected ease in dismissal was a bonus. We have capitalized on this new space during VBS, Wednesday Warm-Ups, and our regular schedule on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. Parents enjoyed the area during our recent "The Art of Parenting" study. We look ahead to the future with joyous anticipation of what God has next for our children. Today, we marvel at what has been done over the last year as we continue to deliver the Gospel and disciple those who are precious in His sight.
Baptisms in 2023
Looking back over 2023, I can definitely see God’s hand at work at Lake Bowen, particularly from my perspective in the Worship Ministry. First, I am so appreciative of all those who have led and participated in the various worship programs in our church. Our volunteer leaders, as well as our paid support staff, are some of the best at what they do, and they do it with a servant’s heart. This year, we saw many new faces in the Worship Choir, as well as the Worship Band and Vocal Teams. Our Kids Praise program has truly taken off. Our Little Kids Choir (4K & 5K) and our Kids Choir (1st-5th grades) have averaged around 70 kids, and we saw them deliver the Gospel through dramas, singing, and interpretive movement.
New this year was our Junior Worship Team. They are a small group of middle schoolers who helped lead Kids Worship on select Sunday mornings. Also new this year was our Student Vocal Team. They helped lead Student Services, and participated in our Night of Worship in late October. This was our second Night of Worship in a five week span, as the first night was such a special time worshiping our Father, that it felt necessary to come together again! I’m thankful for what God has done in 2023, and I’m excited to see what He does in 2024.
Students on average
each Sunday night
Associate Pastor of Students
As I look back on 2023, one aspect of the Student Ministry shines above the rest, and that is the growth and leadership of the seniors in both classes of '23 and '24. These students have served the church, community and the Student Ministry with selflessness, always seeking to point others to Jesus. It is obvious they have fallen in love with Jesus and the purpose He has for their lives. One of the ways they demonstrated this was through the Summer Mission Project that involved Backyard Bible Clubs. Every Wednesday, in the heat of summer, they were committed to show up for the children they would be sharing the Gospel with at all four of the locations. The students had such an impact on the kids in each neighborhood.
The commitment to the Student Ministry from our older students has also positively affected the student ministry itself. We continue to see both spiritual and numerical growth, as well as more students stepping up to lead. One of the most important points of growth has been the participation of our students in Wednesday Night D Groups. Our senior students have led by example, inviting friends to be involved and being unafraid to live Jesus in front of anyone and everyone. It is always hard to see great students graduate from the Student Ministry and move on, but they have certainly paved the way for the next set of students to take their place.
Served in Alaska, Honduras and
our surrounding communities
Annie Laurie Atkins
Throughout this past year, Lake Bowen experienced countless stories of God opening up doors for our mission teams that can only be explained by the work of the Holy Spirit being active. Each team spent weeks taking the time to prepare before ever stepping foot in the place were they would be serving. The Lord graciously rewarded their preparation and the impacted of those divine moments will launch our coming 2024 teams.
I’m reminded of the Montana Creek Church body in Talkeetna, AK that came alongside our Alaska team in February to help us complete a project, and feed our team daily as we worked. Part of our international team was asked to bring the Gospel to an unreached people group in the mountains of Honduras as the rest of the team walked in the presence of a ten-year-long prayer being answered as they brought the Gospel to a Boys and Girls home. As we prepare for 2024, let me encourage you to begin asking God how He might use you in the mission field, both here at home and abroad, through Lake Bowen missions. Learn about all of the opportunities available here.
'Baptism at The Lake' is a night we look forward to each summer. I've documented this special service since 2016, and was excited to do it again this year, only the weather forecast was getting worse by the hour. Not even a mile from our location, downpours occurred, and many people stayed home, assuming we were in the same conditions. But our God never let a drop of rain fall on us, and we were able to see 15 individuals take their next step through believer's baptism.
Afterwards, it was my goal to provide further context to these baptisms through a recap video. It's always a daunting task, having all this footage and wanting to edit it into something cohesive and powerful. But, when I put Jeffrey's testimony and baptism on the timeline, and saw him emerging from the water with his fist in the air right as the climax of 'Back to Life' hit, I knew we had our special moment. A moment only God could take credit for!
2023 Financial Breakdown
Tithes & Offerings
Missions /Dollar Offerings / Food Pantry
As I think about 2023, I am amazed at what God is doing at Lake Bowen. The increase in attendance, giving, the number of salvations, baptisms, and people joining the church can only be explained by a movement of God. One specific area of growth that excites me is our Midweek Bible Study. Each Wednesday, over 100 people gather at 10:30 am or 6:30 pm to intentionally study books of the Bible verse by verse. Together, we are discipled by the truth and deployed into our circle of influences with the application of the Scriptures. I can’t wait to see what 2024 brings!