Tuesday, October 30, 2007

FEE at Access Church

You absolutely don't want to miss this Sunday, November 4!

Andy is going to wrap up the provocative "Verdict" series, and we'll worship with Steve Fee.

I first met Steve almost seven years ago, before I'd even heard of North Point. I was a pastor to high school students at the time, and we invited Steve and his band ("Exit 10") to come and lead worship for a winter retreat in upstate New York. We had a great time that weekend, and he immediately became one of my favorite guys with whom to worship. Oh, and he's a good sport on the slopes, too—even when one of our high school students plowed into him and gave him a concussion!

Fast-forward a few gray hairs, and Steve is now one of the most sought-after worship leaders in the world. He continues to write incredible stuff, and leads with incredible passion and intensity.

Don't believe me?

Here's what Andy Stanley says, "We Shine is my favorite worship record and Steve Fee is the most energizing worship leader I’ve ever experienced. His sound is unique. His lyrics are compelling. These songs are going to be around for a long time.”

Louie Giglio has worked with Steve for a long time, first at 7:22 and then with Passion. Louie says, "Steve Fee has a unique voice in the world of worship, effectively leading a new generation to live in a Story so much bigger than their own. Birthing anthems for the church and songs for the culture, Steve continues to merge lyrics anchored in truth with a musicality that is current and fresh. We’ve shared so much of the journey together over the last decade and I’m excited to see how God will use Fee’s debut release ‘We Shine’ for His fame throughout the earth. ‘We Shine’ is one of the best worship projects of the year.”

Wow! And he's going to be leading worship at Access Church this Sunday! And you thought about skipping...

Sunday, October 28, 2007


Our strategy at Access Church necessitates that we have foyer, living room, and kitchen environments for every age level. We have launched some of those environments already, but there's more to come!

Recently we announced some exciting new environments that we plan to launch in the months to come. These environments are exact replicas of exciting, successful environments already helping connect people to God in 17 other cities across North America. We can't wait to launch them here in Jacksonville!

Our RoadMap (download the PDF here):

Student Small Groups (Grades 6-12)
November 2007
Small groups are the heart of the student ministry because life change happens best in relationships. In small groups, students build deep friendships with other students and leaders, discuss what it means to have a relationship with Jesus, and have fun together.

GroupLink (Adults)
November 2007
GroupLink is a two-hour event where you will connect with others and form a community group. Community groups are small groups of six married couples or eight individuals of the same gender that meet weekly in someone's home for fellowship, Bible study, and prayer.

Kaos and Rush Hour
March 2008
Kaos (middle school) and Rush Hour (high school) are ever-changing environments designed for our core students to bring their friends. You'll see these events show up in the form of coffee houses, concerts, parties, and other formats that help students introduce their friends to our ministry.

March 2008
KidVenture is a huge party that we throw a few times a year for UpStreet's small groups and their leaders. It could be Karaoke, bowling, jump-n-slide, or other events that help connect leaders and kids in a great social environment. Watch the website for these over-the-top, hilarious, wacky, crazy, fun events kids won't want to miss.

Student Retreats
Spring, Summer, Fall 2008
Weekend retreats and summer camps are an amazing time to pull away from the routine of life and to take a look at who Jesus is in a fun and meaningful way with friends. There are retreats scheduled for the spring and fall of 2008, and we are planning to go to camp in the summer of 2008 for the first time.

September 2008
Fusion is an environment where single adults come to build authentic friendships and get connected. We'll meet on the first and third Sunday night of each month in various locations around the Jacksonville area.

Fall 2008
KidStuf is where kids bring their parents to a 45-minute show that uses music, drama, storytelling, video, lights, and sound to teach character and faith by emphasizing a monthly value. KidStuf is value-driven, user-friendly, creatively wired, family-centered, kid-focused, and volunteer-fueled.

Xtreme and InsideOut
October 2008
Xtreme (middle school) and InsideOut (high school) will be our regularly scheduled events for students. They are the places to experience great worship, to get in-depth teaching, and to get connected into small groups.

Wow, that's pretty exciting! You're probably wondering what you can do to help. Well, keep checking in here and we're going to outline some very specific ways you can jump in!

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

RoadMap Message Online

Got a few (36) minutes? We'd love for you to listen to this important message on the future of Access Church, delivered October 21 in our morning services.

The message can be found here.

After you've listened to the message, please take a short, 2-minute survey and let us know what you think. Click here to take our survey.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Andy & Sandra Stanley's Story

For the last few weeks, I have been putting posts and videos up on this blog about GroupLink and Community Groups. On Sundays we've played videos, passed out reminder magnets and made anouncements about our upcoming GroupLink event. We even put a GroupLink table in the lobby for people to get more information and to sign up for a group.

Then, this past Sunday, Rich clearly laid out the plan for our church. He explained the idea of the Foyer, Living Room and Kitchen. One of the things he said was, "The foyer isn't for us. It's not for the volunteers. It's not even for you. The foyer is for your friends. For this community. And mostly for God, who deserves their worship."

Small Groups are for you! They are not an appendage to our ministry; they are our ministry. This is why it is so, so, so important that you get into community. It is our church!

Andy Stanley tells this story...

"In 1993, Sandra and I joined Bill and Terry Willits, along with three other couples, to form a small group. At the time, I was working for my dad at a Baptist church. There was no small group ministry in the church. Like most Baptist churches, adult education happened within the context of Sunday school, and as a staff member working with high school students, I was not able to attend an adult Sunday school class. Sandra and I felt that something was missing.

We had lots of friends. We both had older people in our lives to whom we looked for advice and accountability. We weren't having marriage problems. Everything was great. But, we were keenly aware that nobody was tracking with us as a couple. We weren't praying together with any other couples. We weren't sharing our lives with other couples going through our same season of life. And for some reason I still don't completely understand, we decided this was something we needed.

I shared our frustration with Bill. He and Terry had some of the same concerns about their own experience as a couple. So, we decided to form a small group. We each invited other couples to join us. Then one week before we were to begin, I met a family at church that was new to the area and needed a place to plug in. What I didn't know at the time was that the husband was not a believer.

What's important to understand at this point is that our group was not part of a church program; this was not a means to any preconceived end. We were just a handful of couples who sensed a need for community. We didn't use the term community back then. But looking back, that's exactly what we were missing. We all sensed a need to bring a layer of structure and intentionality to our otherwise random and unstructured friendships. We needed a predictable environment. We needed to "do life" together with other couples.

During the year we were together, several remarkable things happened. We celebrated the birth of a child, while at the same time locking arms with another couple in the group as they struggled with the pain of infertility. One man lost his job. Another couple almost lost their marriage. And toward the end of that year, we wept together as the gentleman I mentioned earlier shared that he had finally crossed the line of faith.

Those twelve months marked us. Sandra and I have been in a small group ever since. Our lives have gotten much busier. The demands of ministry have become heavier. Our three children require more time than ever before. But being in a small group is a non-negotiable for us.

We are about to begin our eleventh group. We have two couples from our former group and three couples we met through our boys' involvement with baseball. Most of these new couples have been attending North Point Community Church for less than a year and cover the gamut in terms of spiritual maturity. Sandra and I can't wait to get started."

Join us at GroupLink - November 4 at 4:30pm - UNF Robinson Student Center

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Access Strategy

So, if our purpose is to make disciples (or as we say, lead people into growing relationships with Jesus Christ), how do we do that? How do we pull it off?

Well, Jesus seemed to have only one plan for accomplishing this, the local church.

Maybe when you think about a local church you imagine a steeple, pulpit, robes, ritual, and tradition. And maybe Access Church rocks that image a bit. But the Bible teaches the church is any group of Christ-followers who are pursuing intimacy with God and community with each other. Jesus thinks of a group of people that are making a difference in the world around them. Access Church is one of those local churches. We're not just a campus ministry or people blowing through town. With our whole hearts we have embraced this city and this mission.

So if making disciples is the destination, and we are the local church, then the question becomes, "How do we get there?"

Since this whole thing is about relationships, we find it helpful to talk about our strategy like you would a home. Perhaps you've read my previous post on our foyer, living room, and kitchen.

We describe the foyer as an environment intentionally created for those outside the church to come and learn how God and the Bible matter in their lives today. There are plenty of other churches that are primarily for church people on Sunday mornings, but this church, on Sunday mornings, is also for those who are still asking significant questions about God.

Why is is this important? Because our culture is asking more spiritual questions in this generation than ever before. But this generation is also attending church in the lowest numbers ever in our nation's history.

Christians, and the church, as USA Today said this week, are suffering from seriously low approval ratings.

We wanted to create a church for people that don't really like church. That's our foyer. We've seen this work in 17 other cities across North America. We know it's working because people who don't even understand or agree with our message are inviting their friends!

The foyer isn't for us. It's not for the volunteers. It's not even for you. The foyer is for your friends. For this community. And mostly for God, who deserves their worship.

The best sentence I've found to describe this foyer strategy to people is to say, "We are more concerned with reaching people than we are with keeping people."

When you understand our purpose for the foyer, becoming a part of a small group (the kitchen) becomes even more important. The fact that our Sunday morning environment is for unchurched people means that community groups become even more important for believers, and November 4—GroupLink—should be in HUGE red letters on your calendar.

Access Church has a clear strategy for getting there, because we believe that navigation is every bit as important as destination. Therefore, we must provide environments that provide clear opportunities for life change to occur. Some of these environments we've already launched. But there are so many more that we want to launch in the months to come! Later this week I'll reveal exactly what those are, and when we plan to launch them.

Stay tuned!

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Importance of Good Navigation

I heard a story recently about a couple that purchased a GPS for a trip across the country to see friends. For nearly 1,000 miles this little unit sat on their dashboard and flawlessly directed them toward their destination. The only problem came when they were literally within sight of their friends' house. The little GPS insisted they continue 500 feet to their friends house on the left.

But the GPS offered no suggestions on how to cross the creek that lay between them and their friends.

Navigation is every bit as important as destination. This is true in life, too. It's not enough to know where you want to go in life. You have to know how to get there.

There's a place in Atlanta where northbound traffic splits into Interstates 75 and 85. One year, returning from spring break, my friend Wendell pulled up in the lane next to me to signal that he needed to stop for gas. I tried to signal back that he was in the wrong lane. He looked up to see the sign too late, and in an instant was headed for Greenville instead of Chattanooga.

Yeah, navigation matters.

Perhaps this has happened to you, even in your career, or your marriage, or with your children or your business. Where you say, "Honey, if we want our kids to end up like this, we'd better start implementing some changes in our home, now."

You recognize this truth in your career, right? If your goal is to work in entertainment industry, interning for a construction company probably isn't the best path to start on.

It's even more important for an organization to know, not only where it wants to end up, but exactly how it's going to get there. We've all been a part of an organization or a movement that has lost its way. Perhaps you've been a part of something, and you've realized these are good people. They mean well. They know where they want to go. They just don't know how to get there!

Thankfully, when Jesus left this earth he made it perfectly clear what our destination is. In fact, he wrote our mission statement for us.

In the final chapter of Matthew's account of his life, he gathers his disciples together, and he has a few words left before he leaves them behind and goes to be with the father.

He said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

It's his last chance to speak to them, to summarize the last three years into one command. He boils it all down to one thing. There is one imperitive verb, and three participles which help that verb. "As you are going..." MAKE DISCIPLES.

That's it. That's our purpose as a church. That's our destination.

So the big question remains: How are we going to get there? What is our strategy? Do we have a road map?

Yes, we do. Tomorrow we'll talk about it. Join us Sunday as we explore what God has called Access Church to accomplish in this community. It's challenging and exciting!

See you there!

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Reverse Psychology

We believe that community groups are the place where sustained life change occurs. Community groups are where real life and real issues are discussed. This is why we place such a huge emphasis on the group assimilation process. We recognize the importance of not just getting you into a group, but getting you into the right group. We have put together a very strategic process for doing this and we call it GroupLink. It first starts with a team of people we call Assimilators. These are volunteers who help people feel comfortable and connect into groups during the GroupLink event. Next, we facilitate some basic ice breakers and discussion questions to make mingling and meeting people less intimidating. Then, we provide a list of group leaders in your stage of life for you to choose from. Finally, we give you eight weeks to "test drive" the group. If you don't feel like it's a good fit, you're free to move into another small group at the next GroupLink event.

Success at Access Church is defined by how effectively we help people move from our large environments into small groups.

Join us for our next GroupLink on Sunday, November 4, at 4:30pm at the UNF Robinson Student Center.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Groups Are There For You!

We believe that community groups are the place where sustained life change occurs. Community groups are where real life and real issues are discussed. This is the environment where we celebrate the successes and good times of life, as well as comfort one another during the tough and disappointing times. It is a place to be encouraged, equipped, and challenged to become a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ.

Join us at our next GroupLink and get plugged in!

November 4th at 4:30pm - UNF Robinson Student Center

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Ringo & Brenda Robles

A visitor to Access this weekend marveled at our volunteers and asked how we found such individuals.

"God," is the very serious, not-at-all-trite answer. Ringo and Brenda Robles are just one more example of how God has put together this amazing group of people we call Access Church.

Ringo and Brenda Robles met in the singles’ ministry of First Baptist Atlanta, where Andy Stanley served as the youth pastor and where they first experienced Andy’s teaching. Ringo, with many singles, would sneak in the back to enjoy the upbeat music Andy performed for the high school students as well as Andy’s teaching. Andy led the band by playing the guitar, the piano, and singing. His sermons were engaging, and Ringo could instantly apply Andy’s teaching to his life. Even some of the high school students’ parents stayed to listen to Andy.

Andy and a team of five others started North Point Community Church in 1995. “Andy’s vision was to provide environments to reach to the unchurched using creative ways to make the gospel relevant for real life today,” Ringo said. “We understood his vision and bought into it from the beginning.”

Ringo and Brenda quickly volunteered as part of North Point’s production team. “At first, North Point met only twice a month on Sunday evenings and had only one computer to run the entire service production,” Brenda said. “It’s amazing to see how technology in North Point Ministries has grown since then.”

North Point grew tremendously, making it more difficult for Ringo and Brenda and their four children to attend and serve at the same time. “Every Sunday, as we drove 45 minutes to church, we asked ourselves, ‘Why are we doing this? Why fight the traffic on Sunday morning?’” Brenda said. “Then, after experiencing the service and hearing how the kids loved the children’s environments, we said, ‘this is why.’ What North Point provided for us—the messages, the music, the kids’ environments, and our connection to our community group—were all life-changing.”

In September 2005, Ringo and Brenda left North Point to be a part of the new Watermarke Church, a North Point strategic partnership. Their 45-minute commute became a 10-minute drive, and Sunday mornings became less-stressed for their family. Ringo and Brenda lent their production experience and service to help Watermarke get off the ground. Being part of launching a new church gave them additional insight on how the creative mind of North Point works and how it uses effective strategies for reaching people.

In the summer of 2006, Ringo came across a job opportunity in Jacksonville. It seemed like a great move because they had family here and their kids loved the beach. But they had never considered leaving Atlanta because they were so plugged into Watermarke Church and North Point Ministries. While they were at Watermarke, it was announced that a strategic partnership was starting in Jacksonville. That sealed the deal, and the family moved to Jacksonville in the fall of 2006. They immediately joined the group of people starting Access Church. “Access is a church we can get behind,” Ringo said. “We believe in its mission. We’ve seen it work at North Point and at Watermarke. Now we are excited to see the impact Access Church is having on the Jacksonville community.”


Monday, October 08, 2007

Not Leadership Summit!

Wow, what a week! Three days in Atlanta for Catalyst, then back in Jacksonville just in time to set up for church on Sunday.

Catalyst '07 was amazing, and several of us already registered for Catalyst '08! I strongly encourage anyone who is a Christian leader to attend next year, whether you are leading in a Christian or secular organization. It's great stuff!

There are lots of reviews in the blogosphere, and the Catalyst web site has a blow-by-blow of every session, but I'll go ahead and throw in my $.02.

First of all, this is not your ordinary management/leadership conference! I have attached a crude video from my cell phone to illustrate the point. The mood of Catalyst is fun, crazy, incredibly worshipful, and challenging. It's a great place to learn as well as connect with other leaders. Andy Stanley, many of the North Point team, and other partners were there and it was good to reconnect.

Stephanie asked me what the "NO WAY!" moment of the conference was. Last year it was when Lanny rode into the auditorium on horseback, preceded by an entire British Royal Guard blowing horns. This year I would have to say it was the worship, which was masterfully balanced between quiet, somber moments and super-hyper-dancing worship. The video doesn't show any detail, but there are actually two bands on stage, back to back, complete with two drummers & kits! Kristian Stanfill is leading one side and Steve Fee is leading the other.

I had just been marveling at how unworthy I was to worship God, and how this room was full of 11,000 other unworthy worshippers, when I heard the best quote of the whole conference, "The Church is a lot like Noah's ark. It stinks on the inside, but if you get out, you'll drown."

It's good to be in the boat with you!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

8 -Week Challenge Begins November 4th

GroupLink is a two-hour event where you will connect with others and form a community group. Community groups are small groups of six married couples or eight individuals of the same gender that meet weekly in someone's home for fellowship, Bible study and prayer. If you would like to take the next step toward joining a community group, please stop by the GroupLink table after the service Sunday.

At GroupLink you will connect with others, form a community group and begin the "8-Week Challenge." The purpose of this 8-week starter period is very simple. We want you to get to know the others in your group. If you are going to be with this group for the next 12 months, we feel that it's vital for you to begin to build real friendships with each other. So, for the first 8 weeks of each small group, we want you to relax and just enjoy getting to know each other. Give this group of people a real chance, and you just might develop some friendships that will last a lifetime. After the 8-Week Challenge, if you don't seem to be connecting, you have the option to leave the group and try it again at the next GroupLink. NO hard feelings!

SO, join us at our next GroupLink November 4 at 4:30pm at the UNF Robinson Student Center.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Catalyst '07

Posts might be a little light this week, as the Access gang is heading to Catalyst for a couple of days.

If you aren't familiar with Catalyst, you're missing out. It began seven years ago as a leadership conference that Andy Stanley and John Maxwell wanted to provide at North Point for young leaders. Stir in such trouble-makers as Reggie Joiner and Lanny Donoho, and you can see how it got out of control. Eleven-thousand attendees later...

Look at this speaker lineup!
  • Andy Stanley
  • John Maxwell
  • Dave Ramsey
  • Erwin McManus
  • Patrick Lencioni
  • Reggie Joiner
  • Rick Warren
  • Francis Chan
  • Jeff Henderson
  • Reggie McNeal
If you can't be there, I suppose the next best thing might be the Catalyst Podcast. Expect the eight of us to come back Saturday full of deep thoughts and ready to worship on Sunday with Andy, Michael Johnston, and all of you!

Free MP3s here!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Mission, Part 3

Lately I've been writing here about the three vital relationships we believe are essential for a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.

Besides intimacy with God, and community with insiders, we really believe our purpose in this world is to wield influence with outsiders. We aren't called to be separate from the world, but to relate to everyone around us with such grace and love that they want to know and worship the same God we do.

It's a pretty tricky thing when you really believe that you have an amazing and true message to share with someone you love, and you want to respect their right and ability to decide for themselves.

There are a couple of things we need to keep in mind as we seek to influence those around us. First, life change happens best in the context of relationship, and we are relational beings. You are trying to make an introduction, not win an argument. Second, actions speak louder than words. Cliché, but painfully true.

Here are some chapters to read this week as you're asking the question, "What kind of influence am I having on the world around me?"

Matt. 28, "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them...and teaching them."
Matt. 5, "let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."
Col 4, "Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity."

Have a great week! See you Sunday...