Access is committed to being a church that’s easy to invite people to. “Invest and invite” is shorthand for our desire for the people in our lives to experience what has impacted us. Yet as easy as we try to make it, inviting remains a very personal thing. What makes Access people so passionate about inviting?
Jamie and Andy Kichert are two of these passionate people. They have invited many to join them at Access. Recently a family came to Access because they overheard Jamie and Andy inviting their Publix cashier! We asked Jamie for the story behind their passion.
Give us a snapshot of your faith story.
God really drew us. Neither of our families were church-goers. I would say I was a self-absorbed person. After we were married, in our twenties, we came to one of those crisis points. Andy was going to UNF and was in the military. Our son, Aiden, was five months old, and we found out we were going to have Lila. Money was very, very tight. We were arguing more and more. Things came to a head when the engines on both our cars blew. It was one of those times where it felt like crisis, like everything was falling apart.
I was sitting at a stoplight near our house that was always red. Everybody just knew you had to run it, it wouldn’t change – ever. I stopped though, and I was sitting at the light, and I said to God “I need to know you’re there, that you have a plan.” When I looked up and the light actually changed to green in that moment, I decided to go home and start reading the Bible. I told Andy, and he said he’d read with me. It was like an adventure we were going on. We started going to a church that taught the Bible, and we got in a group. They really helped us.
How has your story influenced your passion for others to experience what you have experienced?
We are broken, and God drew us. His grace is a gift. He is our glue. So as we get to know their stories of the people in our lives, we can say, “This grace is a gift for you, too.” Because I was there. I remember the darkness, the anxiety, the pride, and the laziness. But now God allows me to be fully me, covered in love and grace. We want everyone to have that, to know how much he loves them. It rocks your world.
From your perspective, what keeps people from trying church?
Everybody wants to be comfortable, to feel loved and accepted. If, where I was before, I felt like someone started jamming things down my throat, I would’ve taken off like a shot. You don’t want to feel like you are being judged. You want to come on your own level and have permission to get there yourself.
What is it about Access that makes you willing to invite the people you care about to church?
At Access the main focus is Jesus, and we know our friends won’t be judged. Wherever they are, that’s okay. At Access I can be me in my walk with God without having to fit into a mold. There is freedom to figure out what faith looks like, to put down your barriers. We love how Access strives to do things in fresh ways that impact people.
What are the challenges you’ve felt in inviting people to join you at Access?
It takes time, sometimes. You’ve got to know that it’s God working. He drew us. He draws people. It’s his timing. He knows what is going on with people. God gives us opportunities with people, and the words, as we go.
What keeps you putting the invitation out there even when people don’t respond?
We look at people, and from the outside, we think they’re doing well. But at some point, just like us, they’re going to feel they are missing something or they’re going to get to that crisis point. When that happens, that bridge will be there, and we can offer them what we have, what we’ve experienced.
You have to build a bond with people. I had a friend I invited for a year and a half, and she never came. Then some awful things happened, and she called me. I just listened and asked her how she was feeling, and she said, “hopeless.” I said it might help to get away from thinking about it for awhile and asked her again to come to Access. I knew that she could just come in and feel safe. She could feel unloaded.
What would you say to people who feel challenged by the idea of putting themselves out there with people and extending an invitation to Access?
When you’re not comfortable is when God steps in and works. He knows it’s hard. This is where faith comes in. And after all, it’s not about what you’re doing, it’s about how you’re loving. It’s about really loving people.
It’s evident that inviting people to join you at Access is a way of life for you. Why?
It comes back to Jesus. He drew us, gave us grace. Our part is to bear with each other. Somebody bore with us in our story.
What do you mean by “bearing with each other”?
To us, bearing with each other means loving and accepting each other. It means sprinkling in truth without judgement as people come to Jesus, maybe slowly. It means loving without judging. It’s hard. It can be easy to just throw up our arms and give up on each other. But that’s the exact time to throw our arms around each other. Jesus did that.Posted March 24, 2017