Ren & Barbara Weise

Ren and Barbara Weise had been looking for a church to call home for several years, ever since they got married and settled near downtown Jacksonville in 2001. They wanted to find a church in their neighborhood and become part of a local body of Christian friends and neighbors. “We went to about 10 churches, and we were faithful to some for several months at a time,” Ren said. “But nothing fit.”

In 2006, Ren and Barbara read Waking the Dead by John Eldridge, and it changed their lives. “The book talked about how much God cares about hearts—that He sent Jesus to mend broken hearts and that Satan constantly works to steal the things that give us passion,” Ren said. “We realized that, even though we had a great house in a great neighborhood, everything we loved and were passionate about was at the beach, so we decided to move.”

Ren and Barbara moved to the beach and started looking for a church in their new neighborhood, but still were unable to find a church that “fit.” “We were starving here,” Barbara said. “We could not find a place where we could hear biblically-based sermons and put what we heard into everyday life.”

Ren’s sister, Debra, lived in Atlanta and happily attended Buckhead Church, a satellite campus of North Point Community Church. Ren often shared with her the frustration he and Barbara were experiencing in looking for a church. “Debra was passionate about Buckhead Church and was always raving about it,” Ren said. “She would call on Mondays and talk about what a great service she had been to, and she would send us CDs of Andy Stanley’s sermons.”

Ren and Barbara listened to the CDs, and Andy’s sermons fed them spiritually as they took a break from church hopping. About two months after they moved, Ren’s sister called to tell them that a couple from Buckhead Church, Michael and Zoie Morales, were moving to Jacksonville and considering starting a North Point strategic partnership church. She gave Michael Ren’s contact information.

Ren and Michael met for lunch. “We talked about church and life,” Ren said. “Both of us were so dissatisfied with the churches available to us, and we talked about starting a church. But the idea quickly got so big and seemed so impossible, that we just decided to pray.”

As they prayed, people started hearing about the idea of a North Point church in Jacksonville, and there were soon about six families who had formed the group that would later become Access Church. “Access Church is a God thing,” Ren said. “It came together so easily and with lightning speed. No one is tired or burnt out. God brought the right people at the right time.”

Ren and Barbara are excited about the mission of Access Church: to reach the unchurched people in Jacksonville. “Everyone in our core group really has a heart for the unchurched,” Barbara said. “Yes, we are excited about Andy’s teaching and the great North Point children’s programs for our daughter, but the driving force behind Access is to reach the unchurched.”

Access Church has already impacted Ren and Barbara’s lives. “It’s amazing what God has done in us through our small group,” Barbara said. “We’ve been on such a spiritual journey, and He’s been so faithful with our lives. Access will be a daily reminder of His faithfulness.”