We’re excited that 19-year-old Zach Mengel has joined our Access Church staff. When he came on board this past summer, he jumped into helping with Waumba Land (preschool), UpStreet (elementary), and InsideOut (high school) and assisting Lead Pastor Rich Barrett.
Zach was invited by a friend to visit Access, and he attended for the first time in August 2015, at the start of his senior year in high school. The second time he visited, his friend was unable to attend, and Zach went alone. The week after that, he brought his mom. From there, Zach has regularly attended Access Church and said he loves it.
“I started going to Access because it provided me with a message style that was more applicable to my life,” Zach said. “I was going to church, but I wasn’t receiving anything. That was a really huge step for me personally, saying and admitting to myself that I needed more.”
Zach met Rich the first week he attended Access, and the second week when he returned, Rich remembered his name. To Zach, this set Access and its leadership apart from other churches.
Zach has grown up in Jacksonville. In his earliest years, he attended church with his family. Zach’s dad passed away from multiple myeloma, a white-blood-cell cancer that affects bone marrow and the immune system, when he was 3 years old. This tragedy left Zach’s mother to raise four sons, Zach being the youngest, without their father.
After his father’s death, it became hard for the family to continue attending their church, so they started attending a different church when Zach was 5. Zach was very involved there. He began attending youth group in the sixth grade and transitioned into becoming a small-group leader his sophomore year in high school for a group of middle-school students. He also spent time in Costa Rica each summer with the youth group. It was during his junior-year trip to Costa Rica that he began feeling as though he was missing something in his relationship with God.
“I didn’t feel any special connection with God that I had felt in past years during that trip,” Zach said. “I was really bummed out the whole trip and didn’t really know why or what it was that I was feeling.” This is what led Zach to try a different kind of church.
Zach said one of his favorite things at Access is the music. He said he hasn’t ever experienced church music presented the way that Access Church does, and it really drew him in. “It’s exciting, it’s really loud, and the singers are really talented,” Zach said. “Access has honestly ruined church for me because there is no other way I would ever want to do church now.”
Zach recently left Jacksonville for his second semester at Florida State University in Tallahassee. He has not decided on his major yet, but looks forward to following whatever path God lays out for him. Zach will return to work at Access this summer with an emphasis on leading a new program called Camp 95.
“The idea of Camp 95 is that it’s any easy way to invite families to church while creating a fun and relaxed environment for kids to get plugged in and stay connected,” Zach said.
Camp 95 is run by college students and young adults and will provide events throughout the city in different host homes. The goal is to promote a sense of community and support each other over summer break. “We hope to see a lot of participation in the program in the upcoming years,” Zach said. “It’s a way to keep kids engaged and excited about God.”
Zach loves working for Access and is grateful for the opportunity. “The Access staff and volunteers do their jobs so well and with the same mission in mind, which is to share Jesus in a real and practical way to churchgoers, but even more so to non-churchgoers,” he said. “I just love the way they do church.”Posted February 23, 2017