About a year and a half ago, the elders and I gathered a group of real-estate professionals and began a conversation about purchasing the Losco building we have been leasing. However, we encountered two obstacles: First, we couldn’t afford what the sellers wanted for the building. We were about one million dollars apart. Second, at the time, about 70% of our attenders were coming from St. Johns, and it was clear that St. Johns was about to once again experience explosive growth.
So that team, which by the way, was made up entirely of Duval residents, decided to pursue the possibility of a new location for Access Church in St. Johns. It just seemed like the best way for us to connect the most people to Jesus.
The trick is finding something that is more convenient for our St. Johns attenders without discouraging our Duval attenders from also inviting their neighbors. And, of course, there is also the cost factor.
I’m happy to report that we have at least one good option that has come to our attention, and we’re actively taking the next steps. However, God has decided to accelerate our timetable! The Church of Eleven22 has purchased the Losco building, and our last Sunday here will be September 25.
So we are going to have to get scrappy! Our backs are against the wall. However, this group of people has proven that this is when we’re at our best. And when you’ve seen God guide, you know he’ll provide. Already we’ve seen God show up. Because this is another church and not a charter school or some other type of buyer, we are united in our mission. While we employ different strategies than The Church of Eleven22, our heartbeat is the same, and we have more in common than we have differences.
Joby Martin and his team have been incredibly gracious, and our two teams have developed a deep appreciation for one another. You should know that the conversations behind the scenes are exactly how you would hope two pastors would work something like this out. In fact, we have a team of real-estate professionals from both Access and The Church of Eleven22 working together to solve the issues in front of us.
As quickly as possible, we hope to acquire land in St. Johns and custom build a facility to which we’re proud to invite our neighbors. In the next few weeks, I’ll have more specifics and details related to the cost of this project and the timeline.
In the meantime, we have decided to relocate to 8133 Point Meadows Dr. (The Church of Eleven22). Our services there will begin Sunday, October 9. We’ll have two weekly services: 4:00 & 6:15pm. All volunteers and their families are invited to enjoy dinner each week between services, and we’ll have a short time of prayer.
In addition, we’ve rented a storefront in St. Johns to begin to establish a presence there. We hope to open that facility in December with an exciting KidStuf event for families.
What’s Not Happening?
The church that you love is not going away. Our “church” has not been sold. Our church is His church, and it is alive and well.
Our church is not merging with The Church of Eleven22 or any other church. There are many wonderful churches in this city, but we are unique, and we have a unique role in our community.
Stephanie and I are not going anywhere, at least not voluntarily! We absolutely love serving you and your children. This church is the healthiest church we’ve ever been a part of. Our staff members love each other, and they are passionate about our mission, our vision, and our strategy. Our elders love our staff. And you…you are amazing. You lead others. You empty your thimble into the cups of others. You sacrifice financially to make it easy for us to invite our neighbors. And you say to your friends, “Come and see!”
Now, I’m not going to sugarcoat it.
This is disruptive. It’s going to be hard. This will test all of us, especially those of us in leadership. We are going to need to extend an awful lot of grace toward one another.
It’s going to be expensive. It’s time for us to examine what we are willing to do for others, in light of what has been done for us.
But it’s going to be fun! God’s going to show up and doing something huge! This is like Jeff Gordon getting in the driver’s seat. It’s going to be a wild ride, but you can trust his expertise.
Now I know what you’re asking. You’re thinking, what can we do, like right now? Here’s how you can help:
You can jump in and offer your time. You can invest in the lives of our children and our students. You can greet guests in the parking lot. You can help during the week with administration. You can serve every week or once a month.
You can join the 30% of us who make Access Church a financial priority in our home. You can literally make all the difference about what kinds of options open up to us in the weeks to come. What is your strategy to support the church that you love? Check out our giving page to learn more.
You can continue to invite your friends. Because whether we meet here, or some fancy new building in St. Johns, or in a bar somewhere (now I’ve got your attention), this group of people will continue to be your single best shot at introducing your friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers to the life-changing power of God.
Check out this video to see Rich Barrett speak about the exciting future of Access Church.
You’re also going to want to be in church every Sunday, as we will communicate developments as they unfold.
Thanks for being a part of what makes Access amazing. See you Sunday!