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The Hamilton Family – Changing Expectations

Angie and Shane Hamilton thought they knew church. They both grew up attending church and had tried various churches off and on as adults. “It was boring, and I felt I had to change my life to be a part of it,” Shane said. “It just seemed easier not to go.”

Angie’s disenchantment began as a teenager. “I didn’t want to stick to the strict rules of the church and, for the most part, I stopped going,” she said. “I never lost my faith in Jesus, but I lost my faith in church.”

To Angie and Shane, church seemed to ask for a lot without giving much in return, and church like this didn’t seem worth the requirements involved.

After they had their boys, Isaac (now 11) and Mitchell (now 9), Angie and Shane felt the need to go to church again for their kids’ sake. They tried several churches, but couldn’t seem to commit to going much. Then Angie went for a run on Losco Road near their home and saw that Access Church had moved into the neighborhood. Angie and Shane decided to try it out that Sunday.

From their first visit, Angie and Shane enjoyed the music, the message, and the atmosphere at Access. “There were other churches the boys liked, but the difference was, this time we liked it, too,” Angie said.

Access had an element that was key for Angie and Shane: they could check things out at their own pace with no pressure to commit to anything they weren’t ready for. This was not what they’d expected. Access was not church as they knew it. Going to church became much easier because it was enjoyable.

After hearing that the best part of church was Community Groups, Angie and Shane decided to check out a group. It was a challenge to make the time investment, but they stuck with it and found a group of people there to help each other on their faith journeys. “These are the people I come to when I need help,” Angie said. “They are okay with me not being perfect. I know they will pray for me, cry with me, and laugh with me.”

Angie and Shane soon discovered that many of their new friends were involved in Strategic Service at Access. “It seemed like everyone in our group was volunteering, and they loved it,” Angie said. “I knew I needed to get in.”

Angie started serving in Waumba Land and is currently an UpStreet Leader. “It makes me feel like I am a part of something way bigger than me,” she said. “I want to support other parents who want their children to learn about Jesus, which is one of the big reasons we started coming. Maybe while teaching the children, I can also help the parents on their journey with Jesus.”

Shane was not so sure about making this kind of commitment, at first. “I remember telling Angie that I would support her decision to serve as long as she did not ask me to do it,” he said.

But Shane later joined Production Team, where he helps make Access Church a comfortable and fun environment so others can easily learn about God.

Church, as the Hamiltons know it now, is about discovering a God who surpasses expectations and a community that accepts each other as they are. Shane said, “I keep coming back because I now want to change, to be a better person, and to love everyone like I’m loved.”

Recently Access celebrated our tenth anniversary with the tagline, “Changing the way you feel about church since 2007.” Thank you to Shane and Angie and all of our Access community who continue redefining the expectations of church so people can connect with God.