Tim & Terea Stokes
In the summer of 2005, Tim Stokes helped take his church’s youth group to Big Stuff youth camp in Panama City. Big Stuff was produced by North Point Community Church and, during the camp, the youth leaders were taught some of the North Point’s ministry philosophies. The ideas were different than anything Tim had heard before, and they made perfect sense to him. “North Point had such a simplicity, such a focus on outsiders, and so much relevancy,” he said. “It was eye-opening.”
When Tim got back home to Jacksonville, he told his wife, Terea, about his experiences at camp and showed her the North Point resources he had brought home. “Tim came back from camp a different man, and he was so excited,” Terea said. “I got really excited about the new ideas for ministry, too.”
Tim and Terea sought out more opportunities to get resources from North Point to use at their church. They started traveling to Atlanta to attend North Point conferences and to attend church there whenever they could. They felt a strong connection with the ministry of North Point and began struggling with feeling content at their home church.
In August 2006, they took a group of college students from their home church to a singles’ conference in Atlanta. During the conference, they felt as if God was telling them they needed to accept their home church and make the best of their ministry there. That Sunday morning, they attended North Point and, during the service, it was announced that a North Point strategic partnership would be starting in Jacksonville.
Tim and Terea were shocked. “Not in our wildest dreams could we have imagined that a North Point church would be starting in Jacksonville,” Terea said. “It was totally unexpected. I didn’t hear a thing in the service after the announcement. Tears kept streaming down my face, and I kept thinking ‘where?’ and ‘how?’”
Although they were thrilled about the prospect of getting involved with the new church in Jacksonville, Tim and Terea still struggled with the decision to leave their church. But within two weeks of Tim and Terea hearing about the Jacksonville strategic partnership, God provided people to step in and fill the places where Tim and Terea served at their home church. That was all the encouragement they needed. They told their pastor that they wanted to go and help start the strategic partnership. Their pastor prayed with them, blessed them, and released them. “We stepped out in faith, and God handled it,” Tim said.
The families who were working to start Access Church welcomed Tim and Terea. “Everyone showed such passion and excitement,” Tim said. “It was great to be around others who understood what we were feeling about wanting to have a church that was an outsider-friendly place.”
“We have friends who just don’t get it, who don’t have a clue about what it means to have a personal relationship with God,” Terea said. “We can’t wait to invite them to Access to let them get a glimpse of the passion we have for them and God has for them.”
Even though Tim and Terea live an hour from Access, they are dedicated to the church. “The drive and the effort we put forth every time Access meets don’t feel like work at all,” Terea said. “Access is a mission for our whole family. We want to see it grow and reach the community. We want our children and their friends to be excited about it. We are so excited about helping to start this church.”