Friday, June 29, 2007


Hey kids, if you just finished Kindergarten through Grade 5, you'll want to join us for sure at KidVenture, August 3.

Of course, this would only be if you want to get wet, have a ton of fun with your UpStreet friends, and hang out with your small group leader for a couple of hours.

KidVenture will be held at Adventure Landing Waterpark on Beach Boulevard from 6:00-8:00pm. Cost is $5 per student. More information is available at UpStreet.

See you there!


Monday, June 25, 2007

House Sold!

God's timing is always perfect, and we are so grateful to report that we closed on our house in Ohio last week! It was on the market for a little over one year.

We have so many warm memories of that house, and feel sentimental about another family moving in, but WOW - what a great feeling to not have that financial burden.

Thanks to so many of you who have been praying for this!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Access Welcomes 20 New Volunteers

Recently we challenged you to get "involved," and you responded in a fantastic way! In fact, we've had 20 new volunteers sign up for positions in Waumba, UpStreet, Host Team, and Service Programming. Amazing! We are so encouraged by this.

Over the next couple of weeks, you'll have a chance to speak with Zoie, who will explain available positions and help you determine where you might be able to jump in at the point of greatest need. We'll pair you with someone who's already doing that job, for some "intentional apprenticing." Finally, we'll have a training day on August 12 to answer any questions you might have about your role.

Then, BAM! Before you know it, you're a pro! September will be here, Access will be meeting in two services in the morning, and you will be making it all happen!

For those of you who are still considering trying Access, let me explain what this means for you:
  • A volunteer will help you find a parking space
  • A volunteer will greet you in the hall and help you check your kids into Waumba (Birth-PreK) or UpStreet (K-5)
  • A volunteer will lead your kid's small group, lead them in worship, and tell them a Bible story
  • A volunteer will help you find a seat in the Auditorium
  • A volunteer will run the lights, sound, and video during the service, so that you can enjoy the experience with excellence and without distraction
  • A volunteer will answer your questions at the Information Desk
  • A volunteer will equip you with resources to take home for yourself or a friend
Wow! Do you understand why our volunteers are so key? We're really pumped to have these 20 new folks on board. We could still use five or ten more. Are you willing to get involved? Shoot us an email!

Watch this video to see what our current volunteers have to say about serving at Access.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Coffee Connection

Join us following the service Sunday for a Coffee Connection. These short, informal gatherings are designed as the first step to getting involved with a Community Group.

At Coffee Connection, we'll have several tables, each labeled by the following areas: Westside, Southside, Northside, Beachside, and Singles. It's a chance to have some dessert and meet someone who lives near you.

You'll also have the opportunity to sign up for GroupLife Preview, which is a taste of what our small groups can be like. These medium-sized groups will meet in July and August on our "off-weeks" and help you connect with some great people in your area. From there, the step to joining a long-term group in the fall should be a cinch.

See you in the upstairs foyer, right after the service!


Thursday, June 14, 2007

In Good Times and Bad

When we experience hardships, we tend to wonder where God is.

In times of prosperity, we often forget about God and adopt the mindset that we can handle everything on our own.

And, when we've been hurt by someone, we are apt to look for an opportunity to pay that person back.

The Old Testament character of Joseph, Jacob's son, had every right to give up on God as a result of his circumstances. Instead, Joseph lived his life believing God was with him.

At Access, we're about to begin a three-part series in which Andy Stanley encourages us to ask ourselves what someone in our circumstances would do if they were absolutely confident that God was with them. If we looked at all of our circumstances through this lens, we could face each day with an unwavering hope.

Think of the struggles and conflicts in your life and ask yourself, "What would I do or say in those difficult moments if I were absolutely confident that God was with me?"

It's a humorous take on the major events of Joseph's life, and it will entertain and inspire you. Here at the start of a new series, it's a great time to invite a friend. Use this link to send them an email about the series!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Tim & Terea Stokes

In the summer of 2005, Tim Stokes helped take his church’s youth group to Big Stuff youth camp in Panama City. Big Stuff was produced by North Point Community Church and, during the camp, the youth leaders were taught some of the North Point’s ministry philosophies. The ideas were different than anything Tim had heard before, and they made perfect sense to him. “North Point had such a simplicity, such a focus on outsiders, and so much relevancy,” he said. “It was eye-opening.”

When Tim got back home to Jacksonville, he told his wife, Terea, about his experiences at camp and showed her the North Point resources he had brought home. “Tim came back from camp a different man, and he was so excited,” Terea said. “I got really excited about the new ideas for ministry, too.”

Tim and Terea sought out more opportunities to get resources from North Point to use at their church. They started traveling to Atlanta to attend North Point conferences and to attend church there whenever they could. They felt a strong connection with the ministry of North Point and began struggling with feeling content at their home church.

In August 2006, they took a group of college students from their home church to a singles’ conference in Atlanta. During the conference, they felt as if God was telling them they needed to accept their home church and make the best of their ministry there. That Sunday morning, they attended North Point and, during the service, it was announced that a North Point strategic partnership would be starting in Jacksonville.

Tim and Terea were shocked. “Not in our wildest dreams could we have imagined that a North Point church would be starting in Jacksonville,” Terea said. “It was totally unexpected. I didn’t hear a thing in the service after the announcement. Tears kept streaming down my face, and I kept thinking ‘where?’ and ‘how?’”

Although they were thrilled about the prospect of getting involved with the new church in Jacksonville, Tim and Terea still struggled with the decision to leave their church. But within two weeks of Tim and Terea hearing about the Jacksonville strategic partnership, God provided people to step in and fill the places where Tim and Terea served at their home church. That was all the encouragement they needed. They told their pastor that they wanted to go and help start the strategic partnership. Their pastor prayed with them, blessed them, and released them. “We stepped out in faith, and God handled it,” Tim said.

The families who were working to start Access Church welcomed Tim and Terea. “Everyone showed such passion and excitement,” Tim said. “It was great to be around others who understood what we were feeling about wanting to have a church that was an outsider-friendly place.”

“We have friends who just don’t get it, who don’t have a clue about what it means to have a personal relationship with God,” Terea said. “We can’t wait to invite them to Access to let them get a glimpse of the passion we have for them and God has for them.”

Even though Tim and Terea live an hour from Access, they are dedicated to the church. “The drive and the effort we put forth every time Access meets don’t feel like work at all,” Terea said. “Access is a mission for our whole family. We want to see it grow and reach the community. We want our children and their friends to be excited about it. We are so excited about helping to start this church.”


Monday, June 04, 2007


First of all, I have to say I'm a little disappointed to not have have incited any golfers to yet post a comment on this blog! I thought for sure when I challenged the guys in green jackets I'd get some pushback!

No matter—thinking about the "best of the best" in sports has me thinking about our volunteers at Access Church, who rank up there with my mom as the "best of the best" in hospitality.

As soon as we leave our driveway to head for my mom's house, my kids begin talking about the feast sure to be laid before them. They begin to drool as they anticipate her steak, 7-layer salad, key lime pie, and finally, her lemon pound-cake. We always leave with stomachs full of good food, but the experience includes so much more. There are photos of the kids on the walls, activities they might enjoy, and a carefully stacked pile of mail and newspaper clippings for Stephanie and I to read. It's a good feeling to know that someone is really glad to have you.

Perhaps you've had a similar experience, where you've been in someone's home and it's clear that they have been planning for your arrival. It makes you feel special, allows you to rest, and it's a place to which you're always ready to return.

Some restaurants have mastered this as well. They understand that people keep coming back not just for the food, but for an entire experience that includes the decorations, lighting, music, textures, and seating.

At Access, I'm amazed by a team of volunteers that seem to intuitively understand the importance of environment. They are truly the best of the best, and who make our environments so compelling. Would you believe what they do each time we have a Sunday service?

There's Tim, who's the first to arrive each Sunday about five hours prior to the service with two 10,000lb. trailers in tow, and his crew who unload the trailers and set up all of our Versipanels. Around the same time, the adult environment team is setting up for our worship service. Lights, sound, and video gear all has to be unloaded, carried in, and set up. Thousands of feet of cabling run. Sound checked. Problems solved.

Then Brenda, Terea, Kristin, and the UpStreet production team arrives to rehearse for UpStreet. There's the Waumba team, led by Susan and Gail, who show up a little later to transform a jazz ensemble room into a wonderful environment for babies & preschoolers. Then another team arrives to set up the hallways and the UpStreet environment. Signs, banners, backdrops, rugs, lamps, toys, sound system, projector, chairs... even a five-foot giraffe!

By the time we break for a hearty dinner, some 40-50 people have already logged several hours preparing our environments. After dinner, the finishing touches are put on, exterior signs placed, clothes are changed, and we're ready to hold babies, lead worship, and tell Bible stories. When the service concludes, it's time to tear it all down and pack it away!

The whole process takes about ten hours. Not everyone is there the whole time, of course, but nevertheless, it's quite an endeavor.

These volunteers are amazing. They come from all facets of life. Accountants, teachers, business owners, CEOs, doctors, homeschooling moms, bankers, and university students. More than a few have built businesses from the ground up. And yet, on Sunday afternoon, they're putting in so much time & energy to create these amazing environments. Not only that, but between Sundays they are constantly brainstorming about how we can do it better next time!

Why would they make such a costly investment of time & energy? For you! These volunteers are intent upon creating the kind of environment that allows you to come and ask questions about God and faith and life and purpose... and to come back next week and ask more questions. They want to make sure that you know your children are being cared for so you can relax and enjoy being at Access, and they want each sign and hallway decoration to remind you that we knew you were coming, and wanted to make every preparation so that you felt right at home here.

Maybe you've even been invited by one of these people. Guess what they have done? They have leveraged their time and their money, and invested it in their relationship with you. They have found something really cool at Access, and they've decided to share it with you.

Isn't it a good feeling to know that someone is really glad to have you?

Friday, June 01, 2007


Someone mentioned to me the other day that when they think of a new church, they think of a dozen people gathered in someone's living room, with the kids playing down in the basement. They were really surprised to learn of the environments we have for kids! They said, "What's UpStreet?" One of my kids gushed, "It's only the best thing... ever!"

The truth is, about a year ago Access Church was just that—a dozen faithful people meeting in someone's living room. Praying. Giving. Daring to tell God that they wanted to be used by Him however he saw fit. What an amazing year it has been! We can no longer fit in anyone's living room, and there is, well, "the best thing ever" for our elementary kids on Sunday evenings—UpStreet!

It's a pretty cool environment we've created just for those in Kindergarten through Grade 5. We want elementary students to know three things: that they need to make the wise choice, that they can trust God no matter what, and that they should treat others the way they want to be treated.

UpStreet is an engaging time for students to learn how to study the Bible, to worship through singing, and to build quality friendships with other kids and adult leaders. It consists of both a large-group energetic worship experience and small-group time. And there's a really cool guy named "Zach-Attack" who's about to make a comeback!

Have your kids check it out this Sunday!