from our teaching pastor - casey fritz
The dream of Collective Church hijacked my life in 1998. The deep seated hopes to be a part of a church which wholeheartedly devoted herself to Christ and His mission.
It wasn’t until years later that I would see it all come to fruition. And for the last four years I’ve had the opportunity to stand amazed as God has taken humble dreams and turned them into a reality.
After 21 years of ministry, I couldn’t be prouder to hold the title of pastor of such an amazing group of men and women, and I didn’t expect to write a letter like this, announcing that I will be stepping down as a pastor at Collective Church.
I know that what’s written below could possibly stir emotions of sadness, confusion, etc. I know it has for me. But the more and more I consider the many facets of this decision, the more I come to realize its intense beauty. This is an act of God.
People may not fully understand what I’m doing and thats okay…I barely understand it.
The Father's heart has an immensity and bottomless depth to it so it only makes sense that God's plans are as complex and unfathomable as He is. But that won’t stop me from doing my best to explain the beating heart of it. I want you all to know as much as I do.
I guess the main question you might have is, why?
There is no drama.
There is no moral failure.
There is no weirdness with the church elders.
I’m not “burnt out”.
I’m not emotionally unhealthy.
I’m not exhausted.
We didn’t ask to leave.
We don’t want to leave
We didn’t plan to leave.
This is about obedience.
As many of you know, a few years ago, I went through some intense emotional health challenges involving drama with my extended family, and neglected past trauma. I was gifted by you, the church, the opportunity to pursue emotional health, tools, and tactics. My life forever changed for the better, but like Jacob, who wrestled with the Lord and spent the rest of his days walking with a limp, I too now walk with a limp. Since then, sadly, ministry, and even at times Los Angeles itself, has forced a limping man to run. There is only so much running a limping man can do before it gets too dangerous.
So with that, the Spirit of God has sweetly invited me (and my amazing family) to a time and space where I will continue to be parented by the Father in new and simple ways.
This means, that after 21 years, I won’t be in pastoral ministry for the foreseeable future. And that’s okay. That’s even good. So this is a necessary time.
Emily and I have always said “yes” to whatever God asked of us…no matter how unusual, wild, or frightening it was.
As I explained in the talk this morning (please listen to it, as it covers what I’m missing here in this letter), God has been reminding me of Philip from Acts chapter eight.
Philip's ministry in Samaria is thriving, and just as it’s beginning to explode…an angel visits him with a message that reads…“Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza. This is a desert place. And he rose and went.”
I don’t know what doubt-filled questions he asked, how he battled against God, what his “exit letter” to his people looked like…and yet, his obedience is described with such purity. And that’s what I want, as my family and I make our own way to the desert place, Phoenix, Arizona.
In full vulnerability, it hurts even to write that.
Many of you know that our extended families, on both sides, live in Phoenix, and have many needs and struggles. Our desert family is riddled with everything from cancer, to prison sentences, to pain.
Like Philip was called to leave the many, and go minister to the one (the Ethiopian), we sense the same assignment. To practice what we preach and go minister to only a small handful of individuals.
This is what we can determine, to the best our discernment and abilities, God has for us. A literal desert.
As much as I personally can’t stand Arizona (where I grew up), I want to follow my Shepherd wherever He may lead. And the more I’ve sat still enough to understand the desert calling, the more I long for it. The more I see my immediate family needs it.
Alan Jones explains the spiritual significance of desert wanderings…“The desert of which I speak is a desert of the spirit: a place of revelation, conversion, and transformation. A true revelation is a very disturbing event because it demands a response; and to respond means some kind of inner revolution. It involves being ‘made over,’ being made new, being ‘born again.’ The desert, then, is a place of revolution. In the desert we wait, we weep, we learn to live.” Collective Church, will you pray this for my family?
God is there. God is calling. Like Philip, we must rise and go.
June 9th will be my last sermon with Collective Church. I’ll be around... teaching, preaching, and carrying out my pastoral “duties” til then.
What about Collective Church?
The Fritz's love this church. This is THE best and healthiest church I’ve had the honor of serving. It will forever be our true family. But, it’s not “my” church. It’s Christ’s (Matthew 16:18).
I have the utmost confidence in the leadership here. I invite you to your trust your local elders. I can’t encourage you enough to meet with them, ask questions, offer prayer, etc. Trusting them is paramount, and your trust will not be misplaced.
And beyond that, everything good God has in store for the Fritz’s is also simultaneously true for Collective. Do you believe that?
For some of you reading this, this is your invitation to lock arms and pour into this body in new and special ways. For others, this is your charge to endure and run that race.
Casey Fritz is NOT Collective Church. If you’re here for me or my preaching and are tempted to bounce when God moves us out, please don’t. That would only show that you were a fan of my preaching, not a doer of the words I preached. May this church rise above the heart-breaking statistics of what often happens when there is a pulpit change. Maybe this is your call to obedience?
Thank you for reading this.
Thank you for being part of truth-telling, and stomping out the fire lies that may spark up.
Thank you for loving me.
Thank you for laughing at my horrible jokes.
Thank you for the endless support and encouragement.
Thank you for the times you poured into me as I matured as a man, pastor and preacher. Your grace has grown me.
Thank you for treating my wife with respect and care.
Thank you for helping to shape our children and their passion for life, love, and of course, the Lord.
Thank you for allowing us to be obedient.
You are so loved,
Casey, Emily, Moses & Violet