Pastor Casey Fritz, who is one of our founding pastors and had been serving as our teaching pastor, recently relocated with his family to Phoenix, AZ.
We will continue to post updates here, relevant to the transition and search for a new teaching pastor.
The most recent updates are at the top.
Sept 4, 2019
Most of you know that we’ve been without a primary teaching pastor since early June and that we’ve been looking for one for a lot longer than that.
As I announced last Sunday, the search has come to a dead stop…because we have found our new teaching pastor!
There were well over 200 applicants and we’re not going to pretend that it was an easy process, but in the end we had a strong sense that this was the right person and we’re excited to have him and his family join our church community very soon.
But here’s the thing…
I can’t tell you who it is until it has been announced at his current church. I know that’s a bit of a tease but we know what it’s like when a pastor moves on, don’t we? It just wouldn’t be appropriate for us to go public with that info at this time, but we still wanted you to know the good news.
This is an answer to prayer…to YOUR prayers, and we definitely want to thank you for praying, and encourage you to keep on praying as we step into this new chapter as a church community. You have been so patient, and so supportive during this time of transition and we can’t thank you enough for that.
Not only is it common for churches to experience a seasonal summer lull, but it’s also common for there to be a lot of upheaval when a teaching pastor leaves. By God’s grace, we’ve not really experienced any of that, and we are well-positioned as a church community for what lies ahead.
Stay tuned as we’ll be making more of a formal announcement and giving you more information about our new teaching pastor a little later in the month.
In the meantime, Pastor Isaac and I will be preaching a few more times, and there will be a couple more guest preachers too before the new guy moves here in October, just in time for us to turn 4 as a church community.
The best is yet to come!
July 23, 2019
Hey church, things are moving along and we are conducting interviews this week with a short list of candidates.
It’s still too early to commit to specific timelines about when a final decision might be made but things are definitely getting real. Basically, we want it to go as quickly as possible, but as slow as it needs to be.
In this season of our church community, I’m reminded that we have to trust how the Lord guides this process and submit to Him completely in it.
As with anything involving unknowns, our tendency is to try to answer every possible variable, but that would be to eliminate faith from the equation. That ain’t cool.
We’re committed to do our part with prayerful diligence, but it boils down to letting go, releasing control, and trusting God with His church. Do we trust that He knows what He’s doing? Do we?
Please continue praying for wisdom and discernment as we go through the process, and also be praying specifically for the person that will become our new teaching pastor.
June 15, 2019
Just wanted to provide a quick update here. I had a conversation with a rep from the search firm this week and he reported that the interest in the teaching pastor role is extremely high. This is great news.
With so much interest, we will likely have the luxury of choosing to not move forward with some highly qualified and gifted people as we seek the person that is the best fit for our church community.
This is not about who looks the best on paper. It’s about God calling someone to become a part of our church community, our family, and to join with us on mission.
Even at our prayer night tonight, we prayed that God would provide in this way and give us discernment about who the person is. We need to be disciplined and patient, ensuring we don’t rush the process, or delay it unnecessarily, valuing God’s leading over what may look appealing.
We’re still in the initial phases of the search for a new teaching pastor so there’s a lot going on behind the scenes, most notably vetting and interviewing candidates. That said, progress is being made and we need to allow the process to play out.
I should be able to provide another update for you in 3-4 weeks.
Keep praying, church!
June 5, 20198
Hey church family,
On Sunday, we said goodbye and honored our outgoing teaching pastor, Casey Fritz. He and his family have now made their way to their new home in Phoenix where we know God has called them. Their step of faith serves as a godly example to us all.
If you were unable to be with us last Sunday, I’d encourage you to check out the podcast.
Casey and I are very different, and we are gifted in different ways, but when it came to the things that mattered most, I’ve never experienced as much alignment with anyone else I have ever served with in my 21 years of ministry. That’s not a knock on past colleagues, just an observation and testament to how unique our ministry bond and partnership was.
I am going to miss serving with Casey. We will all miss him. But God is always in control and everything He does is good.
WHERE WE GO FROM HERE
The vision for Collective Church was birthed from a passion to see the church be the church, reaching people and making disciples. That's what we’ve always been about, and that's what we’ll always be about.
While this is a big change for Collective Church, everything else will remain largely the same. The DNA of Collective Church is set and it runs deep in my bones and in many others that make up our church community.
While I’m excited about the things we have in development, they won’t alter our course as much as they will strengthen and support what we’re already doing, equip us to serve others better, and enable us to live out our calling as a community following Jesus.
We will continue to move forward as a collective church. A community of believers who are responsible to Jesus as His followers, to one another as family members, to all we’ve been entrusted with as stewards, and to the mission of God and the world around us as disciple-makers.
Of course Pastor Isaac and I will continue to serve you, our church community, to the best of our ability, as God give us grace. Please pray for us, as we also commit to pray for you.
We will be preaching on a more regular basis over the summer, and we’ll also take advantage of the opportunity to bring in guests that love our church community, to share the preaching load.
NEW TEACHING PASTOR?
As we’ve previously communicated, we are currently looking for someone to serve as our primary teaching pastor. The initial phase of the search is being handled by the premier pastoral search firm in the country and significant progress is being made.
We trust that God will provide someone that is the right fit for our church community. While we do not yet know who that is, God does, and we’re excited to see how His plan unfolds.
Thank you for your faithfulness and your continued prayers. The best is yet to come!
FROM OUR LEAD PASTOR: LORENZO SMITH
March 31, 2019
Hey church family,
If you're reading this, you've likely already read the letter from Pastor Casey announcing that he will be stepping down as the Teaching Pastor at Collective Church.
Casey and I have been friends and partners in the gospel for several years now. Our story started in 2011 when he was living in Arizona, and oddly enough, reached out to me on Facebook.
When he moved to LA, a friendship quickly formed between us and we had no idea at the time what God had planned for us. The Lord began shaping our hearts and aligning our ministry callings in a way that would eventually result in Collective Church being planted on the Westside of LA in 2015.
Planting and leading this church community with him has been the greatest highlight in my 21 years of ministry.
I am obviously sad that he will no longer be part of Collective Church and I will miss him, but I’m also excited that he has this opportunity to continue to be loved and pursued by Jesus without the pressure, weight, and distraction that often comes with ministry.
While a call TO pastoral ministry is something that gets talked about a lot, a call OUT of pastoral ministry is a concept we’re less familiar with and I am proud of Casey that he would heed this call.
Preaching can often feed one’s flesh with the attention and affirmation it brings, and ministry itself can be fulfilling and make you feel like you’re doing something important. Sadly, because of this, many pastors fall into the trap of finding their identity in ministry and it becomes a snare they can’t break free from.
So it takes guts to step away from rewarding ministry as Casey is doing, but the decision itself becomes crystal clear when you know your greatest reward is Jesus. It requires simple faith and obedience, believing that God will take care of all the unknowns as you follow him. Even in this decision, Casey is modeling for us what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
So where do we go from here?
We simply stay the course.
While our ministry efforts will continue to develop as we seek to be faithful to God’s commission and mission, we will not change direction or shift our focus away from seeking to reach people and make disciples on the Westside.
The Apostle Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 3:6-7, remind us of our place in God’s work. “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.”
So it’s our responsibility to faithfully “plant” and “water”, nothing more and nothing less, and then trust God with all the rest.
That involves things like the “Profile of a Disciple” that we recently introduced that will guide our discipleship direction for many years to come, and help to create a culture of maturing believers who are responsible followers of Jesus, responsible family members, responsible stewards, and responsible discipleship-makers. It also involves the comprehensive strategy we’re rolling out this month to help connect people to meaningful community, care, and discipleship, that was in development for over a year.
When it comes to the stuff that really matters, we’ve never been better positioned to see people come to know Jesus and grow in their relationship with Him. That’s what we’re all about.
So who will be the new teaching pastor?
After exhausting the options in our own networks, the pastors and I, along with the board, have decided to retain the services of the premier pastoral search firm in the country. We’re not messing around, and seeking out professional help is one of our values, especially when we’re in over our heads. Their reach and expertise in this field is unparalleled and far surpasses our ability to conduct an effective search ourselves.
Pastor Isaac and I are working closely with them so they can gain a deep understanding of the mission, vision, and values of Collective Church and help us find the right candidates to prayerfully consider. While of course we want to find someone that is a great preacher, our deeper desire is to find the right preaching pastor for the unique community that is Collective Church. You deserve that.
I have been familiar with this firm for several years and I personally know other pastors and churches that have worked with them. While they have a stellar reputation and are total pros at what they do, I want to make something abundantly clear…our hope is in Jesus, not a search firm.
Scripture reveals King David led an army and fought many battles, but it was not chariots and horses that he trusted in. He placed his trust in God where it belonged. (Psalm 20:7)
Casey will continue serving as a pastor until early June, as mentioned in his letter, and we are anticipating that it will be 3 or 4 months before a new teaching pastor is appointed.
As for me and my family, this whole situation has caused Isabelle and I to have some deep conversations about our future here. Not only are we not going anywhere, but we’re doubling down. Our sincere desire is that God would allow us to continue to raise our kids here on the Westside, participate in His mission by continuing to build relationships with our neighbors, and lead the amazing Collective Church community as Jesus leads us.
As much as we all feel personal sadness and loss as the Fritz family moves on to what God has for them next, we are looking forward to the future and can’t wait to see how God provides and glorifies Himself through all of this.
The unshakable reality is that the church belongs to Jesus. That means we can trust Him, come what may.
I would ask you to be fervent in prayer as we enter into this next chapter and that you continue to exemplify what it means to be responsible followers of Jesus, family members, stewards, and disciple-makers for the glory and mission of God.
The best is yet to come.
Love you, church family!
FROM OUR (FORMER) TEACHING PASTOR
March 31, 2019
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