Sunday, March 30, 2008


Access Church launches a new series on April 6, and it's pretty awesome. In fact, some have said it includes (no giving it away, folks!) the greatest "Aha!" moment in North Point history. Wow!

Here's the premise:

We live in a world created by God and designed to reflect His glory. Everything, including our lives, are tapestries created by him. He is working on the canvas of our lives so we can bring glory to Him. That is our sole purpose here on earth.

But instead of following his agenda, we have followed our own. We have rebelled, walked away, and selfishly tried to claim his glory for ourselves. It's not working out so well for us.

In spite of our choice, he leveraged our sin for his glory by sending his Son to die for our sins. Every time we call him Father, it is a reminder of his immeasurable greatness and our immeasurable gain. Everything that happens to us in life, whether good or bad, is for his glory.

I've included a little teaser video below. You don't want to miss Andy Stanley and Louie Giglio as they remind us that one day every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the Glory of the Father! See you April 6 at 9:30 or 11:15am!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Easter Pics

Just a little more Easter goodness.

The photo gallery is here.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Easter in Review

***I apologize for the tardiness of this post. I've been wrestling with getting Blogger to support my Flash player (which preserves the video quality much better than YouTube). Well, enjoy!

My head is still spinning a bit from Sunday. For those of you who couldn't be there...Dude, I'm really sorry. I'm going to try and capture it for you here but it's not even gonna be close.

To those of you who were there, serving: Thank you so much for creating irresistible environments and understanding what that means!

To those of you who were there with friends & family & co-workers: Thank you for investing and inviting and "just asking." You rock. We hit a new high-water mark on Sunday, and there were a ton of fresh faces and folks we hadn't seen in a while.

To those of you who were praying: A huge thank you! One man publicly gave his life to Christ on Sunday, and I know many of you were praying specifically for that!

To those of you who have given to create these environments: Wow. We literally could not do this without you. Your investment is already paying eternal dividends!

The whole day was pretty incredible, but I especially want to give you a feel for what the first five minutes of worship were like:

9:28—Doors open, audience is handed bulletins that ask them to enter with a quiet, contemplative spirit
9:30—The room is dark, and slides on the screen remind everyone that the first Easter morning wasn't "Easter," it was just another hopeless morning after the death of Jesus. We tried to create a mood of Tenebrae, if you're familiar with that tradition.
9:32—Amanda opened with "True Love," by Phil Wickham (arrangement by Darin Peckham). We love this song for so many reasons, and the way it talks about "the story" was a perfect complement to Andy Stanley's message about the resurrection being the event that made Jesus' life a story. Phil, thank you for writing this song for the Church. It was an amazing start to our service. You must watch it all the way through to fully appreciate the experience. Then buy the song on iTunes.

Kevin put together a really, really cool video to go with the song. Very simple, but unbelievable in complementing the mood. Then, about three minutes into "True Love," the song transitions to a bridge, "Jesus is Alive, Jesus is Alive, Jesus is Alive, Jesus is Alive!" Evan brought the lights up large, Shane, Mike, and Darin were pumping, and Abner and Amanda were ripping the vocals. But the coolest part?

THE AUDIENCE STARTED SPONTANEOUSLY CHEERING! Whooping, hollering, whistling! It was the most awesome, authentic, spontaneous sounded like a football game! (You can't hear it on the video, unfortunately, because we had no audience mics in play.)

I was completely unprepared for that. We had worked for months to create that moment, but in all our planning we hadn't thought about how the audience might so audibly and visibly react. The triumph of victory over death—of salvation—was tangibly present in the room.

Like any grown man would, I just started bawling. Bawling as I sang with Abner and Amanda at the top of my lungs, "Jesus is Alive! He Rose!"

It was worth celebrating 2,000 years ago, worth celebrating on Sunday, and worth celebrating today.

So, go!

Go and tell others!

The tomb is empty!

The prophecies have been fulfilled!


Friday, March 21, 2008

True Love

This evening our staff will gather at our house to view "The Passion of the Christ" and have communion together. Today is an incredible day for the Church to remember. Today is the day those who loved and followed Jesus saw heaven weep. It seemed all hope was lost.

But Sunday was coming!

Below is a little taste of what we have to look forward to this Sunday at Access Church. Don't be late—you won't want to miss a single minute!

Andy Stanley - "Director's Cut"
Abner & Amanda - "JohnnySwim"

Jesus is Alive!

Still offering a free copy of True Love to the first five people posting the initials of who they are inviting Easter Sunday!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Who Will You Invite?

We've all been waiting a long time for this week. The first Easter celebration for Access Church!

What's it going to be like?

Let's just say we're pretty pumped that Jesus is Alive and we bet that after Sunday's services, you will be, too!

Some have asked me, "Do you have big plans for Easter?"

And my answer is, "It depends...on you."

We have been working hard to create irresistible environments for children and adults for the last year. We just launched into Year Two. We want to impact the community in 2008. We'd love for this to be the year that people we care about cross the line of faith at Access Church.

This Sunday, Andy is going to lay it out there. He's going to talk about the resurrection. And he's going to give everyone in the audience the chance to respond. It might be your day. It might be "that day" for someone you care about—someone you have invited.

Here's a suggestion. Invite one person that you really care about and have invested in.

Invite them clearly. Don't just say, "You should come." Instead, say, "I'll pick you up at 8:45am," or, "I'll meet you at the front door."

Finally, invite them to try it three times. They need to give this church thing a chance. They need to get used to our music, Andy's humor, and the kids environments. So, ask them to give it three shots. And our next series, Canvas, will rock their face off. Guaranteed!

Give it a shot. And just to get you in the mood, here's the playlist for Sunday:

True Love
Happy Day
Marvelous Light
Closer: Our God Reigns

See you Sunday!

[UPDATE] The first five people to leave a comment here with the initials of the person they are inviting will get a free copy of "True Love!"

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Parking Needed

Being portable has a lot of advantages. It's cost-efficient, for one. UNF is a great landlord, and I love the fact that I can be on the other side of town and say, "We meet at UNF" and everyone knows exactly where that is.

But there are some logistical headaches, too. Like where to store the 30,000 pounds of gear??

Right now our truck & trailers live in a secret location just across the Georgia line. Safe. That's good. But, very far away on Sunday morning! We really need to park our truck & trailers closer to UNF so that we aren't dependent on one person to drive the rig each time we meet. Can you help?

Do you know somewhere that is:
  1. Safe
  2. Free
  3. Close to UNF
  4. Truck & trailer friendly
Give me a shout. That's high on our agenda right now. Thanks!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Do Numbers Matter?

The last Sunday at Access Church was amazing! Attendance was 18% over normal and we all felt the increased energy in the halls! But it raises conflicted emotions in us, and we wrestle with the question, "Do numbers matter?"

Here is why numbers don't matter:
  1. They don't signify life change. We didn't start this church so Christians could "church-hop" to a more hip worship environment.
  2. It's just the foyer. We measure success in the kitchen.
Here is why numbers do matter:
  1. It shows that attenders are investing and inviting. Their friends are inviting. Even those who disagree with us are inviting. There is an excitement spreading about Access Church!
  2. Let's be honest. We didn't sacrifice all this time, money, relational capital and spiritual energy just to start another church. We want to see God revolutionize the city of Jacksonville! It's cool to see the beginnings of that.
We're going to keep both perspectives in balance as we celebrate what God is doing. Accessibles, keep inviting!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Comfort Zone

Stephanie uses these big Sterilite® tubs to organize the kids clothes—hand-me-downs & deals she finds at a garage sale that the kids aren't quite big enough for yet. Last night while Kevin was over she was sorting through some of their clothes, so when the kids woke up this morning they found a few empty tubs in the living room.

I came out of the shower to see they had put them to good use, giving the term "comfort zone" a whole new meaning. They'd created the ultimate in luxury cocoons while they blasted each other on XBOX.

It had immediate implications for me, because I have been very spiritually restless this week. I can't shake this feeling that God is about to ROCK Access Church and knock us clear out of our comfort zone!

I don't know what it's all about. I'm certainly not a prophet, so don't take this as a prediction. But I'm feeling a very real sense of the spiritual battle we are in, and it is waking me up in the middle of the night over and over to pray for Access Church—to pray for you and your friends that you are inviting!

The idea of blogging has been difficult because I've been unsure how to put it into words. It's a very intense, personal conversation that God and I have been having.

In fact, our staff is going to take Monday afternoon and set several hours aside for extended prayer. We're going to a retreat center with no other agenda than to pray that God would do amazing things in Access Church over the next few weeks. Even if that means hauling us wayyyy out of our comfort zones!

Would you consider praying with us? Specifically, we will be praying for these two things, as they are key to our health as an organization, and key to our ability to seize future opportunities:
  1. We're asking God for committed volunteers to add to our environment, production, and host teams.
  2. We're asking God to provoke families to commit to priority percentage giving, as we have the huge financial goal of reaching break-even in 2008. (Our church is growing more generous all the time, but offerings still fall $15-20,000 short of expenses each month.)
We're also going to do a lot of listening. We want our passions and plans to be aligned with his. We're going to surrender our comforts.

Because you can't fight a major battle from under your Spidey blanket. (Except on XBox, of course.)

I wish I could better explain what I'm feeling. Perhaps some of you are feeling it, too. But I'm convinced that in the next few weeks God's going to show himself in a big way at Access. I have no idea what that looks like, but we're praying that we'll submit our time, talent, and treasures and respond!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Tomorrow is a really special day for Access Church, because it was one year ago this weekend that we held our first public worship service. We had no idea what God was going to do through this church, and have been so thrilled with the energy and excitement that has surrounded this group of people.

It's been an amazing year. I can't believe it's flown by so quickly! What started as a small group of seven couples sitting in circle and praying has become the most amazing journey of our lives. Now we're launching environments for middle- and high-school and college students. There is so much yet to come!

We'll celebrate with some special fun tomorrow, and a real highlight will be having Eddie Kirkland back to lead worship. Eddie led worship for our first-ever service and he holds a special place in our heart. Plus, he just released his first CD (on iTunes here) and you can pick up a copy tomorrow at the resources center.

Actually, it's better to say that this weekend is our one-year anniversary of public Sunday services, because Access really began several years ago as God began to move in the hearts of a few people to begin a new church in Jacksonville for people that don't go to church.

There was a vision of a church in Jacksonville where people who don't even agree with us could be welcomed, and engaged, and challenged. If you've been away from church for a long time, or you've never been to church before someone invited you here, this church was started for you.

It began with a group of people praying big for what God might do if they surrendered their resources and relationships to him. These same couples began to set aside money for this dream, even before it had a name. They stepped up and volunteered to create incredible environments for kids and adults. And, when the time is right, they invited their friends. Many of you are now a part of Access because of their invitation.

We are so grateful for our heritage... for a team of people who began by submitting this project to God, and who would focus on such a simple mission. A lot has changed in the past year, there are a whole lot more of us around the circle, and we no longer fit in anyone's living room! However, our mission has not changed. We still desire to be a church for the unchurched. We still need to pray for our future as an organization and all that's ahead. We still need to give to see this church become self-sustaining. We still need to serve so that we can go to an every-Sunday schedule. And we still need to invite those around us to come alongside us and meet the God who has rescued us.

To those seven original couples, we say thanks—and to all of you who will help make the coming years just as amazing as the first, we say thank you in advance for leveraging your prayers, resources, time, and relationships.

Here's to great stuff ahead!