Friday, November 30, 2007

See Ya' Sunday

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

An Incredible Opportunity!

A small group of visionaries in Atlanta are so excited about what's going on at Access Church that they have offered to help us reach our destination. And they've offered this help in the form of a financial gift, where they will match, dollar-for-dollar, any visionary giving (marked "RoadMap") that we receive between now and December 31, 2007.

All they ask in return is that once we are financially independent, we help start other partnerships.

Such a deal!

That means that if you choose to support the strategies of this church, if you choose to help us create these environments, if you help us follow this RoadMap—then a group of people that live 400 miles away will join you in that mission!

Isn't that amazing? These are families just like you and I with lots of other things they could do with their money, but they are so excited about what's ahead for Access Church that they want to invest their money here. They are surrendering their finances to see what God will do!

Here's where it gets even more exciting:

On October 21, we announced that our goal is to raise $300,000 from attenders and friends of Access Church by December 31, 2007. Some of you gasped! But we have a great vision for what God can do in Jacksonville and we want to be right there on the front lines! We know what it will take to hire the right staff, rent the right facilities, and create the right environments.

And we don't want you to miss out on the opportunity to be a part of this! We want you, like us, to look back on this in five years, or twenty, and say, "God used me in that circumstance. I wasn't sure I could afford it. I wasn't sure we'd make it. But, we opened our hands to God and he did something amazing!"

Stephanie and I and the rest of our staff were the first to make financial commitments to this campaign. Why?
  • Because our middle and high school students need a youth pastor who is committed to working with their parents to help them navigate the waters of adolescence
  • Because we want to create a shared learning experience for elementary students and their parents, and we need to do that right
  • Because we really believe that life change happens when we sit around the kitchen table and look each other in the eyes and love, encourage, and challenge one another
  • Because moms & dads need to be empowered to teach their children about God
  • Because singles need to be in healthy relationships with other singles.
  • Because your neighbors, your friends at work, your mom, your son, your brother-in-law, your son's coach, your best friend, your spouse... needs to know that Jesus is real and can make a difference in their lives—now and for eternity
  • Because we believe heaven and hell are real places. We really believe that Jesus rose from the dead, and the God who made us wants to have a relationship with us that lasts forever. And we believe everyone ought to know that. We believe the church is God's only plan. And we believe a church that is loving God and loving people, with a clear, obvious strategy, will be irresistible
  • Because Jesus Christ left us with a mission, a destination. And we are the stewards of a proven RoadMap
So, how 'bout it? Are you in?

We've already received commitments of $160,635 toward our goal. Please fill out a card this week and let us know your 2007 commitment. Or, you can email, call, or give online!

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Gas Money

For the last month at Access Church, we've been talking about all the cool environments that we plan to launch in the next year or so here in Jacksonville. We've used the metaphor of a road trip—we know where we're going, we have a clear strategy for getting there, and we have some great people on board. We'd love to have you join us!

But we need you to kick in for gas money! :-)

Access Church depends on two types of giving for our ministry:
  1. Regular Giving
  2. Visionary Giving
Regular Giving
Regular giving is from that part of us that says, “Everything I have is from God, so I’m going to regularly give back to him by prioritizing a percentage of my income for my local church.” We believe this is a Biblical practice for believers to give their first-fruits to God. Regular giving is generally received by mail or Sunday offering.

Visionary Giving
When the dream for Access Church was born, we knew it would cost more to operate than we would initially receive in offerings. We knew from creating these environments in 17 other cities that it would cost about $40,000 each month to operate, and that regular offerings we receive by mail or in the worship services would not cover those expenses for the first 18-24 months.

That's when a committed group of about eight families right here in Jacksonville said, "We'll help make up the difference." Isn't that amazing? Up to now those individuals have given about $235,000 to see Access Church develop into what we are today. We call that giving visionary giving, and we are so grateful for those who are excited about our destination, and our RoadMap, who have made this investment.

Visionary giving is when you see something exciting happening and you say, "I want to be a part of that. I want to help make that happen." In a very real sense, it is venture capitalthat pays amazing dividends! Visionary giving allows us to go further, faster.

Jump In
If you're a regular attender and you've been coming to Access for a while, the time may have come for you to begin giving a regular percentage of your income to Access Church. And if you'd like to be a part of the "over-and-above" visionary giving, we're not ashamed to say that this is a great place to invest your hard-earned dollars.

The road ahead is exciting. We'd love to have you along for the ride!

If you have any questions whatsoever about the finances at Access Church, please feel free to shoot me an email! I'd love to have the conversation! Online gifts can now be made at

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Thursday, November 22, 2007


I love this day. I'm a sucker for big meals, parades, and tradition.

I'm also so aware today of how gracious God has been to us over the last year. It was just a year ago that we moved to Jacksonville, and in the last year he has brought us into so many great friendships with new people in this city, as well as preserving our dear friendships from Ohio. He led us to a home where there have been awesome opportunities to connect with neighbors and for our kids to have cool playmates. I've even had many more opportunities to waterski this year than I thought I would!

But, above all, He has given us a great staff and incredible volunteers at Access Church. So many at Access have instinctively understood our mission and jumped in to help in these encouraging ways:
  • Prayer. I love it when someone stops me and asks how they can pray for Access or lets me know that Access is a regular part of their conversations with God. We have to remember, every day, that what we are doing is dependent on Him, not on us. Pray for those working hard, and pray for those we're working hard to reach.
  • Giving. What we're doing is expensive, and many of us have made financial sacrifices. The ways in which many of you have risen to this challenge have brought Stephanie and I to tears on many occasions. Thank you for really believing that your finances belong to God!
  • Serving. We pray very specifically when we have volunteer openings, and repeatedly God has answered our prayers with exactly who we needed for that position. We simply could not do this alone, and to be surrounded by so many who are so sharp is humbling and exciting.
  • Inviting. We began this church not for ourselves, but for our friends that need predictable, excellent environments in which they can ask questions about God and his love for them. Thanks for risking your relational credibility and inviting friends and family to Access Church. Many of our current volunteers are a result of your invitations.
Join us today in giving thanks for everything God has done in your life, including Access Church!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Lead Pastor Retreat

Have you ever felt like an amateur in the midst of professionals?

A friend of mine once won a local poker tournament, and through a wild series of events found himself competing in a nationally-televised, professional poker tournament in Las Vegas.

That's a lot how I felt this week when I found myself hanging out with the sharpest team of leaders I've ever known at WinShape Retreat in North Georgia. Besides challenging sessions led by David McDaniel, Bill Willits, and Andy Stanley, it was massively encouraging just to hang with 14 other guys who know first-hand what it's like to lead a North Point strategic partnership.

I flew back feeling so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of Access Church, and excited to lead our team to use their strengths in the months ahead. See you Sunday!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Measuring Success

What's the best way for a church to measure success?

Hint: It's not attendance, or offering, or buildings. It's not even community service.

It's life change.

And at Access, we really do believe that a small group is the best, most effective place for sustained life change to occur. We gauge our success by how effectively we help people move from our large environments into small groups. The most important number we track is not attendance, or giving, but the percentage of our adults in community groups.

Access Church hosted our very first GroupLink last Sunday. What an encouraging day this was for us! We saw 45% of our church plug in to community groups. Wow! We are so excited to see our church moving along the RoadMap with such a clear picture of where we're going and how we're going to get there. We are blown away by the stories we hear every week of life change and how God is allowing us to be a small part of something so big.

For those of you who came to GroupLink and took the risk: Thank You! You won't regret it.

Our next GroupLink will be in February.


Monday, November 12, 2007

More Than We Know

I was so excited to have a chance to bring some of our volunteers up to North Point this weekend. Evan Wright and I got up extra early on Sunday so we could make it to North Point in time for their production meeting and run-through for the morning.

On the way in, we stopped at Starbucks to get some caffeine to help jump-start the day and get going. I've been to this Starbucks quite a few times now and have usually had to explain why I'm up so early on a Sunday and everything that goes along with early morning church conversations. This morning was no different. The lady at the register asked, and I was happy to reply. I explained the whole North Point thing and started into the fact that we're from the Jacksonville partnership when she stopped me.

She said, "Oh yeah, Access Church. I've heard of that." She went on to explain that she has a friend here in Atlanta who attends North Point, but her family lives in Jacksonville. Her parents have never gone to church but were willing to give Access a try since their daughter had suggested it. That was a couple months ago, and now they still love coming back!

I've never met this family, but it's a great reminder that we never truly know all of the stories that are happening at Access. I get so excited when I hear them, and love that there are even more than we know about.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Ten is a cool number, isn't it? God made us with ten fingers, so it'd be really easy to count. Ten toes. And, as much as I hate trying to convert ounces to grams, the metric system really does make sense.

So, when my oldest son turned TEN at 8:55pm this evening, it was a really big deal in our family. Ten years of being parents. How in the world did that happen so fast? Wanna see a video of his first year? Stephanie and I look... well, a lot younger.

Yesterday we made cards for Peyton, and we all listed ten things we love about him. Perhaps that's why I'm thinking in terms of TEN, and why I wanted to share these ten things that happened at Access Church this weekend:
  1. A man told his wife that the Verdict series has him actually considering placing his faith in Christ!
  2. The band commented (again) on the professionalism of our production team.
  3. A family said Access is now "their" church because of how their daughter feels about UpStreet.
  4. Thirty-percent of Waumba Land children are brand-new, because our people are investing and inviting. Our guests entrust their kids to Waumba Land because it's safe and fun.
  5. Pledges for "RoadMap" have passed the 50% mark.
  6. After GroupLink, 76 adults are now in small groups. That is fantastic! Access Church will never be the same again.
  7. A woman drove from Orlando to visit Access for the first time, and said she enjoyed it so much she might come back!
  8. A couple many of us have been praying for for years agreed to join a community group!
  9. A key couple was on vacation, and yet their area was "as good as ever," because they understand intentional apprenticing and they replaced themselves before they left town.
  10. Two people marked their Verdict ballot, "I believe, for the first time, in the validity of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as reliable accounts of the life of Jesus Christ."
There you go. My top ten on this amazing day of TEN. Happy birthday, Peyton!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Blogs of Note

Since you're kind enough to check in here and read what we have to say, we thought you might appreciate some of these other voices in the blogosphere as well:—Maintained by our very own Adam Flynt, this is the place to go to stay up to speed on family ministry at Access Church. Great applications here for teaching your kids about God!

Buckhead Church—Jeff Henderson and his team share stories and events in the life of Buckhead Church.

The Relevant Monk—Stephanie Barrett shares some of her thoughts on the journey to becoming a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ.

First, Do No Harm—Scott Tanksley is a veteran of the campus expansion team at North Point, and has provided invaluable advice to our team in Jacksonville over the past couple of years. Here, he posts some thoughts on the church & society today.

Connexus Community Church—A new partnership in Canada that emerged from an existing church. A great unfolding story of 80 families starting a new way of doing church in the great white north!

What did I miss? Post a note with a link to your favorite blog!

Thursday, November 01, 2007


We've been saying it for several weeks, now. Groups are the heartbeat of Access Church. You see, we believe that no matter how big a church gets, it can still stay "small" in the most important ways if we gather around the kitchen table, look each other in the eye, and do life together.

Look, we all know this is going to be a little awkward at first. I can't promise that you're not going to have a moment on Sunday afternoon when you feel a little bit like a middle-schooler. But, it's worth it! I promise!

Being in a group is essential. If you're single, it keeps you grounded, keeps you connected to others who "get it," and who understand the joys and frustrations of your stage of life. If you're married, it's a healthy chance for you and your spouse to talk through life with other couples and learn from each other.

If you're a skeptic, it could be a great chance for you to ask more questions and to hear the questions believers ask behind closed doors. If you're a believer, it's a chance to study God's word and really go deep—in application as well as increased knowledge.

Look, at this point, we're all new to Access Church. Let's hold hands and jump together!

November 4, 4:30pm, UNF.