Costa Rica, with its coastline, mountains, and rainforest, is a beautiful place to spend your time. What about spending your sweat, your work, and your heart there as well?
July 4 a group of 15 Access Church adults and teenagers returned from a week-long globalX trip to Costa Rica, where they did just that. Why go to the trouble? Why give up a week of vacation, take the time off work, save and raise funds, pack work clothes, and brave the language barrier, different food, and cold showers? Why visit a city and head straight for the places children live in the ravages of poverty and need when it is easier just to stay away? Why work to serve people you may never see again? “It was the hardest work I’ve ever done, but it was the greatest,” said a teen globalX team member. “It’s hard to explain how it could be hard and fun like that.”
How could doing hard things be the “greatest thing” to do? … Read the restPosted July 14, 2017
One-day Conference for Access Volunteers
Thursday, November 9
All Access volunteers are invited to join us November 9 for Deep & Wide, a one-day conference with Andy Stanley. Deep & Wide is designed to help church leaders turn up the irresistible in their programming and community presence. Andy will share what he’s learned in the past 25 years about creating churches unchurched people love to attend.
The day will be structured around four talks delivered by Andy along with two extended Q&As. The content will be practical, actionable, biblical, and field-tested. Don’t miss this great opportunity!
The cost for Access volunteers is only $29 through June 7. The cost includes transportation, lunch and dinner, and the conference. (Register early because the cost increases to $39 on June 8. Then on Sept. 1 it increases to $49, and on Oct. 13 it increases to $99.)
Angie and Shane Hamilton thought they knew church. They both grew up attending church and had tried various churches off and on as adults. “It was boring, and I felt I had to change my life to be a part of it,” Shane said. “It just seemed easier not to go.”
Angie’s disenchantment began as a teenager. “I didn’t want to stick to the strict rules of the church and, for the most part, I stopped going,” she said. “I never lost my faith in Jesus, but I lost my faith in church.”
To Angie and Shane, church seemed to ask for a lot without giving much in return, and church like this didn’t seem worth the requirements involved.
After they had their boys, Isaac (now 11) and Mitchell (now 9), Angie and Shane felt the need to go to church again for their kids’ sake. They tried several churches, but couldn’t seem to commit to going much. Then Angie went for a run on Losco Road near their home and saw that Access Church had moved into the neighborhood.… Read the restPosted April 28, 2017
Thanks to Brian Smith for being bold and publicly professing his trust in Jesus though baptism on Easter!
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.… Read the restPosted March 24, 2017
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.… Read the restPosted February 23, 2017
“Fun and laid back” describes the Grass family perfectly, so it’s no surprise these are things they would look for in a church. Because of where they were in their faith journey, they knew they also needed “open-minded and practical.” “Dave and I both had been away from church for so long and had questions about our faith,” Cheryl said.
Dave and Cheryl both grew up going to church. Cheryl’s family attended a non-denominational church until her parents’ divorce when she was 11. Dave was raised Catholic, but stopped attending when he got older. Aside from Christmas and Easter, church wasn’t a part of their lives until their boys, Gavin (now 6) and Caden (now 4), came along. Dave and Cheryl felt church could be valuable for the boys as they grew up, so they started looking for a church that would be a good fit for all of them. They were living in Nashville at the time, and a friend told them about the North Point partnership church there.… Read the restPosted February 9, 2017
Before the diagnosis, life was “pretty normal” for Kristi and Joe Arns. They spent their time keeping up with kids (JT, 14, Adri, 19, and Jeremy, 22), family, work, and their neighbors’ tennis team and enjoying the beach on weekends. “Normal” also included being a part of Access Church, serving in Waumba Land and Guest Services and going to Community Group every week.
When Kristi got a callback after her routine mammogram this past July, she didn’t think too much of it. It had happened before and turned out to be nothing. “It was when I realized they were not looking at the same spot as they did the last year that the fear started,” she said.
A day after her follow-up tests, she had two biopsies. When she and Joe talked with her doctor, the fear grew. “I really tried to find peace in knowing God was in control and that he does not make mistakes, but negative feelings continued to grow inside me,” she said.… Read the restPosted January 24, 2017
Millennials are described as many things in our culture. What about “The Jesus Generation”? That is how the people behind the Passion conference see them, and they’re helping Millennials embrace this as their calling. In the first days of this new year, 55,000 young people from 90 countries and 16,000 colleges descended on the Georgia Dome in Atlanta with a common purpose. They came to hear from God and worship him together. A group of our Accessibles were there to be a part of it.
This was the 20th year for the Passion conference, which grew out of a Bible study by Louie and Shelley Giglio as a way to reach college students interested in a deeper understanding of Christianity and God. Two decades later, Passion 2017 opened to a packed house enjoying a surprise performance by Carrie Underwood and a live video chat from space with the commander of the International Space Station!
Communicators including Andy Stanley, John Piper, Christine Caine, and Francis Chan challenged attenders’ thinking and their hearts.… Read the restPosted January 17, 2017
Every Sunday the Access volunteers and staff share and celebrate “win” stories – the ways we’ve seen God at work in people’s lives. Christina and James Joyners’ story is one such “win.” Both James and Christina grew up going to church. But after a painful experience with church as adults, they stopped attending altogether. For 10 years church was not a part of their lives. They were done with church.
The Joyners’ neighbors, Troy and Stacey Youse, started inviting them to Access Church – repeatedly – throughout several of their kids’ soccer and football seasons. “Troy just kept asking and asking,” Christina said.
Finally the Joyners said “yes” and visited Access. Their kids, James (now 10) and Devon (now 6), loved it. “Access was different from any church we had been to before,” said James. “And everyone was so welcoming.”
Once they walked through the doors, the environments and the practical teaching at Access kept the Joyners coming back week after week.… Read the restPosted January 6, 2017
“This church is like a Christmas miracle!” is a quote that’s pretty well known around Access Church. It all started during a Community Group meeting, when Justin Smith was asked why he and his wife, Jasmine, are committed to Access. Here’s the story that led Justin to compare Access to “a Christmas miracle.”
Justin and Jasmine met and married in the Atlanta area. Soon after their wedding, they moved to Tampa and prepared to welcome their first child. Justin and Jasmine’s marriage had a rough start. “We got married after knowing each other less than a year,” Justin said. “There was a lot to learn, and we had conflicts over silly things.”
Then the couple was devastated by the loss of their baby, Queenie. Grieving, with their faith reeling, they questioned everything. “It took a toll on our marriage,” Jasmine said. “My dream for my life had turned into a nightmare.”
Looking for a fresh start, Justin took a job in Jacksonville.… Read the restPosted December 8, 2016
Whether it’s the dinner menu, a family activity, or the music in the car, it’s a challenge for families to find something every member of the family enjoys. Could it be possible to find this in a church? Jeff and Lisa Hootselle knew that it was possible, having experienced the environments of Woodstock City Church in Georgia, a campus of North Point Community Church. When Jeff accepted a job in Jacksonville, finding a church like Woodstock City Church was a high priority for the family. When they learned about Access, they were excited. “We immediately knew we had a new church home and checked that very important box off of our list of essentials even before we moved to Florida,” Lisa said.
When the Hootselles attended Access, it immediately felt familiar. With all the changes involved in a move, particularly for Hayden, 11, and Maddie, 8, they felt a sense of relief to be in the familiar surroundings of a church they loved.… Read the restPosted November 16, 2016
You never know exactly what you’ll get when a hurricane comes to town – how much wind or water. You never know what you will lose either, the very least of which are power and plans.
Access Church’s plan was to launch services at the new Baymeadows location that weekend, but when predictions of Matthew came into play, the plan changed. The doors to the Baymeadows building were closed that Sunday, but Access Church was open for business.
Mandy and Ryan Howard decided to wait out the storm at a friend’s house. When Matthew came through Friday, the Howards’ neighbor called to tell them a tree had fallen on their house. Waiting for the storm to clear before returning home made for an anxious night. “Once we got to the house on Saturday morning, it was shocking to see a tree that big laying on top of our home,” Mandy said. “The tree had gone through the roof of garage, knocked down the overhang, broken holes in our deck, and knocked over our fence.”
That afternoon, Mandy received a text from Maggie Goodhart checking in on the Howard family.… Read the restPosted November 3, 2016
September 25 was our last Sunday at our Losco Campus, and it was also the Sunday we had the privilege of baptizing four people. Each journey is unique, and we’re so grateful that God allowed Access Church to be part of each story. Watch the videos below, and join us in celebrating these baptisms.
Our last Sunday at our Losco Campus was September 25, and it was an amazing day of celebrating all that God has done in that building. Check out this video, and celebrate with us!