The Hootselles – Finding a place for the whole family

View More: it’s the dinner menu, a family activity, or the music in the car, it’s a challenge for families to find something every member of the family enjoys. Could it be possible to find this in a church? Jeff and Lisa Hootselle knew that it was possible, having experienced the environments of Woodstock City Church in Georgia, a campus of North Point Community Church. When Jeff accepted a job in Jacksonville, finding a church like Woodstock City Church was a high priority for the family. When they learned about Access, they were excited. “We immediately knew we had a new church home and checked that very important box off of our list of essentials even before we moved to Florida,” Lisa said.

When the Hootselles attended Access, it immediately felt familiar. With all the changes involved in a move, particularly for Hayden, 11, and Maddie, 8, they felt a sense of relief to be in the familiar surroundings of a church they loved. The family found fun and engaging environments, practical teaching, and a warm welcome. “From our initial interaction, the staff at Access Church did a wonderful job of making us feel welcome and like we were already a part of the community,” Lisa said. “There is just such a great friendly vibe that makes you feel like they are happy you are here, and that is a wonderful feeling.”

For Jeff and Lisa, coming to Access meant something new as well. They decided to join a Community Group together. “Jeff and I had always wanted to be in a Community Group as a couple, but we felt that there was just not enough time in our schedules to make it work,” Lisa said. “Back in Georgia, Jeff was in a men’s group, and I was in a women’s group. After moving we decided it was the perfect opportunity to find a way to make it work so that we could take this important step together.”

In the middle of the busyness of life, being a part of a Community Group has opened up space for Jeff and Lisa to experience spiritual growth together. “The ability to extend our conversations about our faith beyond just Sunday morning has helped us grow on our journey as Jesus followers.”

Both Hayden and Maddie are part of communities at Access as well. When everyone in the family is engaged, it makes all the difference. At least one thing in life becomes easy to agree on, and church is no longer a challenge. “It’s not a battle to get the kids out the door on Sunday mornings,” Lisa said. “They’re excited about going to church, and even better than that, when we pick them up after the service, they’re excited to share what they learned that day. They understand the concepts they are being taught and how they can apply them to their lives. Most importantly, they know God loves them.”

This fall Hayden was excited to move from UpStreet to Transit when he entered middle school. He loves that, in Transit, he is treated like an emerging teen and not a young child. “Transit allows Hayden to mature and grow at this new point in his life,” Lisa said. “And Student Impact does a wonderful job of allowing him to begin to understand what it means to serve and how he has the power to make an difference in the lives of others. It gives him an outlet to practice his faith and share his love of Christ with the younger children. We are so thankful for all of this!”

Maddie has a special relationship with her UpStreet small-group leader, Ronda. Maddie loves going to UpStreet because she knows Ronda loves her and cares for her. “The small-group setting allows Maddie to have a voice that is heard and not lost in a large crowd of kids,” Lisa said. “Ms. Ronda even came to watch Maddie perform at her dance recital. This meant so much to Maddie!”

Caring relationships and fun environments in a place where every member of the family can experience a growing relationship with Jesus – This is commitment and our hope for every family who walks in our doors.