Monday, June 30, 2008

Summer Giving Opportunity

This summer brings a great opportunity for you to really make a difference at Access Church.

We're so excited that 22 of you who have not been giving regularly have decided to jump IN with your finances!

Here's the opportunity:

The Access family gave in very strong ways through the spring. But, May was pretty rough.

Our year-to-date giving total is now about $14,000 below what we have budgeted. As a result, our cash reserve is dangerously low.

Heading into the summer with a low cash reserve is pretty risky. We understand that it's easy to forget about giving during the summer months, but if that were to happen with the Access family, the results could be severe—even meaning that our staff would be left unpaid.

Here's why we're not panicked:

First, this church is God's—it's been his idea from the beginning, and we're confident of our future in Him.

Second, we're excited about all that fall will bring! An every-Sunday schedule will increase our momentum and double the opportunities we have to invite more of our friends, family, and classmates to Access Church.

Third, more and more of you are joining the mission all the time, and those of you who've jumped "IN" represent about a 40% increase in the number of priority-percentage givers at Access Church. That is so encouraging!

Here's what you can do today to help with this situation:

1. Go to this page on our web site to set up a recurring, automatic gift to Access Church. Giving on a weekly or monthly basis really helps add consistency to our budget. Or, if you prefer, you can use your own bank's online bill payment system.

2. Consider a retroactive gift to help cover the shortfall in May. You can send it in this week or drop it in the bucket on Sunday.

I can't possibly tell you in words how encouraging your generosity is to this ministry! There is no way we could do this without you! Thank you.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Ride of Your Life

We asked the question, "Are you IN?"

And 17 of you, who have not previously served, said, "YES!"

That's ridiculously encouraging!

You've increased our volunteer force by 20%!

You are equipping us to begin the fall healthy and strong!

You have become a part of something bigger than yourself—something that God wants to do in this city. You will create environments that are irresistible. You will make it possible for your friends, family members, and co-workers to experience God in a new way. And when God starts using you like that,'s a rush!

This summer we're going to buckle our seatbelts. We're going to position you, train you, and prepare you. You might be a little nervous. But we're going to make sure you're ready.

This summer, you're going to begin the ride of your life! Hang on tight!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Baptism, What's the Big Deal?

Last time Access met, Andy Stanley gave one of the best explanations of baptism I've ever heard. Some of you missed it and have asked to see it, so here you go!

If, after watching the video, you would like to be baptized, give us a shout. We're planning a baptism service at the beach on August 24. We'd love to help you celebrate God's work in your life in front of family and friends.


Thursday, June 19, 2008


I thought you might enjoy this post from Stephanie, who spends most Sundays answering questions at the information table:

During the service this past Sunday I was sitting at the information table watching Andy on the hall monitor, and I confess, I got distracted.

In my view, past the monitor and outside, there was a game going on. Kickball. Hot, sweaty grown-ups and teenagers playing guys-against-the-girls. The ball was flying and there was a lot of running. I mean all-out, no-one-makes-it-to-another-base kind of running going on—by the teenagers, too. There was arm-waving, jostling at the bases, and laughing. Lots of laughing across the grass.

I could barely hear it, though, for all the noise from upstairs. More kids—elementary-aged—on a scavenger hunt. There was excited, raucous, we-love-this-stuff kind of laughing echoing down the hallway. There was running, jostling,boisterousness—by the grown-ups, too.

Then there was host team, opening up the doors, getting ready for the flow of people to come. talking, laughing. There was a muted conversation down the hallway, punctuated with laughter.

News came that Waumba was brimming with a record number of babies. There was no-one-cries-on-my-watch kind of rocking going on. There was gurgling and bouncing and laughing—by babies, too.

I thought of what Peyton (10) had asked the night before. “What are we going to do at Access on Sunday?”

“Have a party for God!” Cutler (4) answered.

I sat there and listened to the joy of the party—all of it—rising, mingling and ringing all around me

I mean, we-are-here-to-give-our-hearts kind of joy.


How-could -I-help-but-want-to-be-here kind of inviting.

I know He enjoyed every minute of it.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Recently we spent some time on a Sunday morning asking the question, "Are you IN?"

The premise is simple. Access church began with a group of people praying that God would do something amazing in Jacksonville. Then, that group of people began to give from their income—to a church that didn't even have a name or a staff, yet! Then, they volunteered to create environments that would introduce people to God. Finally, they invited friends and loved ones to experience Access Church.

Those four elements aren't just our history—they are our future as well! They are the foundation of our church, and if we took any one of them away, we would cease to be the same.

So, we're inviting those of you who've joined the mission of Access Church in the last year or so to jump IN, as well. Here is the commitment we're asking for:
  • Pray regularly (you decide how often) for the leadership, ministries, and impact of Access Church.
  • Give a priority percentage (you decide what that is) of your 2008 income to Access Church.
  • Jump in at the point of greatest need on a strategic service team at Access Church.
  • Invite people in your life who might benefit from developing intimacy with God and community with others to Access Church sometime this summer.
Are you in? If so, you can download a pledge card here and turn in on a Sunday or drop it in the mail. We'd love to know we can count on you!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Consumerism in the Church

Lately I've been in some discussions about our particular model of church with a few really bright critics. It's good to allow others to ask challenging questions, and to ask them of ourselves.

Some people just don't like big churches. Others really resist the idea of one church having multiple campuses. And the idea of having a communicator appear via video is pretty "outside the box" for many.

The cool thing is that there is room in the body of Christ for all of these thoughts. I'm not going to knock your model of reaching people. There are very few things worth arguing about, and if you are encouraging people to love God and love people in stronger and more authentic ways, them I'm going to cheer you on!

But there is something I need to rant about today, for just a little bit.

"Consumerism" in the church.

Some are clearly against it. Me? I'm all for it! But the key question is, which consumers?

The consumers inside the church? The ones that walk past a pastor and say, "Great message?" Or, the one who says, "I just can't imagine church without small groups." The sentiments might be the same as yours, but they are still consumer-mindset sentiments.

So, the real question becomes, "Which consumers are you going to listen to?" Will you listen to the consumers inside the church, or the consumers outside the church?

When you listen to consumers inside the church, you end up with multiple services, each with a different style of music. Or you have 87 ministries to meet every potential need. Except that next month you'll have to add more to meet new needs.

When you listen to consumers outside the church, you start to look like Jesus. I'm definitely for that.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Spanish Andy

Thought you might be encouraged to see how North Point is continuing to look for innovative ways to reach the community of Atlanta.

A bunch of people are loving the fact that they can invite unbelieving friends to an environment like North Point. But, what happens when those people have friends who don't speak English?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Letter from Shane

If you wonder what we mean when we talk about creating "irresistible environments" on Sundays, the following letter from one of our attenders should help answer that question. As you read this, keep in mind that Shane, like you and I, is on a spiritual journey, and we're all at different points on our journey.
All of my life, church seemed to be one of those curious places that people attended, either out of tradition or, when they needed guidance in their lives. For various reasons, I never thought that I needed church or for that matter to believe in God or a higher power.

Because of my background, the idea of attending church regularly seemed strange and foreign.

Then, one day Kelly, my wife, straight-up asked me to go to Access Church with her.

Needless to say, I had some very real apprehensions about the idea of attending church. As we approached the doors to Access, I felt like a wolf among the sheep, a non-believer infiltrating a club where I wasn't sure I would be welcomed. But, as we entered those thoughts immediately went away. A few guys at the door greeted us with smiles and a cheerful, "Good morning.” I made it in unscathed. We made our way to the auditorium and I heard the sounds of a rock band. I asked Kelly, “Are we in the right place?” She smiled and we continued inside.

I prepared myself for a lot of kneeling, standing, sitting and benches. Nope, comfy theater seats welcomed us as the music got louder. After a few minutes Rich greeted everyone, wearing jeans. Wow, I thought, no formal procession, no robes, no altar boys. I kinda liked it.

After Rich made some informal announcements the stage was set for “Verdict.” Actors portrayed a scene of putting the gospels on trial and at first I thought, “This is cute.” Then, as I watched, I had a thought, for the very first time, that I might be wrong about God being a work of fiction. From then on I was hooked. I continued attending in the following weeks, if nothing more than to satisfy my curiosity.

It's hard to put into words, but Access has really changed the way I think about attending church. Listening to “Verdict,” then “iMarriage” and the other subjects that Andy Stanley has touched on really make it easy for a guy like me to relate.

To my surprise, the experience wasn't uncomfortable, and I found that I actually had the wrong idea about church all along. At Access, it wasn't all about surrendering yourself, asking forgiveness for your sins, or being judged, but it was just about being closer to everyone around you and to God...all while listening to some great music and down-to-Earth communicators.

Now, a regular attender at Access, I can safely say that I'm "comfortable" with church. I not only attend church but my wife and I are also part of a weekly small group where we really connect on a personal level with other couples. While I'm still getting used to the idea that there might be a higher power, Access has allowed me to become better educated about Christianity while making some great friends along the way. What more could you ask for?
Wow. He's right. What more could you ask for?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Always Learning

One of the things I love about the culture of our staff is that they are always seeking to learn from the best.

Vernon Rainwater is an old friend of mine, and last week he and his staff graciously hosted our team at Northland Community Church. When I say, "graciously"... Wow! You can't imagine how kind and hospitable this mega-church was to a scrappy church-planting crew like ours.

It was a great chance to reconnect with Vernon, talk about the future of multi-site worship, and see their new auditorium. Holy Smokes! If you are a gear freak you have got to see this place. The center screen is 75-feet wide and is amazing how they pair that with DL2s to create an immersive environment.

And the lighting! I don't know if I've ever seen a better job of lighting in the church.

We learned a ton, ate some great food (thanks, Vernon!), and were reminded how cool it is to be a part of the body of Christ, all trying different things to reach our culture for Christ.

If you're in Orlando, you should stop in at one of their five weekend services and check 'em out!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Beach Fun

I'm not sure if there's a group of people I'd rather hang out with than the Access volunteers. What a cool group of folks!

Intense "ladder ball" competition, surfing lessons, hunting for shark teeth, catching sand sharks, and just hanging out, enjoying the fine company—these consumed our day.

Kevin & Darin made a little gift for everyone—an Access Church Live worship CD. Just for our volunteers.

Several new volunteers joined the fun, and you could tell right away they fit right in—ready to serve in any position necessary. They've joined the mission!

Pictures from the day can be found here. Email me if you'd like a full-res photo.

Thanks again, Access volunteers! You are the greatest!

Friday, June 06, 2008

Access Goes to the Beach

Access Volunteers! (Yes, that includes those who've just signed up to serve at the point of greatest need.)

Summer's here, and there are only eight remaining off-Sundays. Spend this one with us at Sawgrass Beach Club!

It's a simple, casual beach day. Bring your own footballs, frisbees, sand toys, and beach chairs. We're just going to hang out from 3pm—Sunset. Come as early as you like, stay as late as you like.

Pack a cooler for your family with your own food & beverages. Eat what you like, when you like.

We'll have a special gift for our volunteers. We'll introduce you to each other. We'll look for shark's teeth. Very simple.

Got a friend who's not a volunteer? Bring them, too! (Zoie Morales can be very persuasive!)

It's not every day you get to go to the beach with this crowd!

This Sunday, June 8
Sawgrass Beach Club
Bring Your Own Cooler

Click here for directions to Sawgrass Beach Club.
(At the gate, mention that you are with Access Church to gain entry.)

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


Baptism is an incredible step in the life of a believer. It's a symbolic time to identify with Jesus Christ and publicly acknowledge that we place all of our hope in him alone.

Some are intimidated by the idea. Maybe it's the thought of being in front of a group of people dripping wet. Maybe it's the public confession of faith. Some hesitate because they aren't sure what they will say.

Andy Stanley will be giving a special message on baptism on June 15 at Access Church. He'll answer your questions and hopefully encourage you to consider this step as a follower of Christ.

Later this summer we'll enjoy a baptism service together at the beach.

Click here to shoot me an email if you are interested in being baptized.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

A History of Access Church

We had a great morning at Access today! We talked about our DNA, and where we are headed. But first we had to remember how we got here. If you've ever wanted a fairly succinct version of the Access story, look no further...

In the spring of 2005, a few Jacksonville natives began to discuss the possibility of starting a new kind of church—not for church people, but for those far from God.

By the fall of 2005, a group of six couples and one single woman had formed. They were not church planters. They were not pastors. With no idea where to start, they began to pray. They began to ask God what He might do if they leveraged their time, their resources, and their relationships for His glory.

Ready for the next step, they contacted North Point Community Church and began to ask questions. As the enormity of the task before them became clear, they realized achieving their goal would take tremendous financial resources.

With a desire to see their loved ones enter into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ, they began to give money to a church with no name and no staff—a church that would not even be designed for them.

For a year, this group continued to meet, pray, and give to the project. Meanwhile, a staff was being developed at North Point, and a launch date was set. On March 4, 2007, Access Church would launch its first service.

Excited about the prospect of a church designed for people that don’t really like church, more than 50 volunteers signed on to teach children in UpStreet, love pre-schoolers in Waumba Land, and create excellent, engaging environments for adults.

Confidence grew that the environments would be ready for the people of Jacksonville to experience. But, how would they learn about this new church? And what would motivate them to come?

Each volunteer began to think about people in their lives who had never clearly understood how real God could be in their lives.

Each volunteer extended a personal invitation to a co-worker, friend, or family member. Some invited a handful of people. Others invited dozens.

When launch day came, what began as a prayer came to life as those who had prayed, given, served, and invited were able to host hundreds of guests and introduce them to new kinds of environments for developing intimacy with God, community with insiders, and influence with outsiders.

The prologue had been written. It was time for the story to begin.