A BRIEF HISTORY OF COLLECTIVE CHURCH (YEAR 2)

BY ROB CARMACK

with Jackie Fritzel, Karen Hoag, and Susan Stoll

(Published January 27, 2016)

 

I’m a big believer in the power of story. That’s why I’m going to continue to write these year-end summaries of our church—we need to harness the power of our story. (Click here if you want to see our "YEAR 1" post)

So here’s what happened during our second year as a church—2015.

 

JANUARY – MARCH

There are lots of advantages to having church services in a hotel (clean bathrooms, plenty of chairs, ample parking, and did I mention the clean bathrooms?), but one of the disadvantages is that sometimes you get bumped for bigger events.

In early January 2015, we were given only a week and-a-half’s notice that we would need to find somewhere else to have church because the hotel would be hosting a massive event that was scheduled long before we first arrived.

It’s not easy to find an adequate meeting space to host a church service. It gets even more complicated when you start looking for spaces with adequate room for a kids’ ministry. Our options were limited, to say the least. Thankfully, Michelle Graham suggested we use the HOA Clubhouse in her neighborhood, which ended up being perfect for us (and very affordable as well).

So on January 25, we met at the Heritage HOA Clubhouse in Keller and served brunch in between the services. One of the disadvantages of using the hotel space is that we were never allowed to bring in our own food (with the exception of donuts). This rule prevented us from sharing regular meals together as a community, so when the HOA Clubhouse became available, we decided to let this be a great excuse to eat brunch together (I actually blogged about this last year).

Something that makes Collective Church special—and will continue to be a theme in this essay—is that this is a very flexible, patient group of people. There have consistently been several situations that could have frustrated and discouraged most churches, but the people of Collective continue to roll with the punches and stay positive.

On February 6, we celebrated our first anniversary as a church with a dinner and trivia night at the Marriott. I heard from several people that this was one of their favorite events we had ever done simply because it gave us all the opportunity to get to know each other. It’s somewhat rare for many of us to be allowed an entire night surrounded by other adults with no agenda other than to have a good time.

The biggest news story for our church in 2015 began with a few behind-the-scenes phone conversations. Our friend and realtor Amy Davis found out about a possible space for us to lease in downtown Roanoke. It seemed like a long shot, but we pursued it, albeit with a certain amount of caution. After a lot of prayer and discussion, Nate Fritzel and I met with our new landlords on February 25 to sign a letter of intent with plans to move into the space in the spring. Over the next couple of months, we would have several work nights for painting and cleaning.

Our {SHE} Women’s Ministry continued to thrive this year, starting with a Holy Yoga Retreat led by Tierney Hernandez on March 7. Tierney has been teaching Holy Yoga for several years, and she continued to teach classes intermittently at Collective Church until she had her baby in November.

 

APRIL – JUNE

One of my personal favorite weekends this year was when we were joined by guest speaker Dr. Chris Hawley on April 19. Chris talked about the connection between our physical bodies and our souls, helping us understanding all of the ways in which we are integrated beings (listen to Chris’ sermon here).

 

On May 19, our contractors began work on the new space. Walls needed to be demolished, doorways needed to be created, and lights needed to be installed. The next month was consumed with demolition and construction work.

 

Jackie Fritzel: “I was lucky enough to be a part of the decorating committee for the new building, which was so much fun! I loved being able to shop and pick out things that were child-friendly and cute for all the classrooms. In the midst of decorating, I took a trip with my sister and close friend to Fredricksburg and while we were there we stumbled into a used furniture shop. I spoke with the shop owner, and I told her that I was part of a small church plant in Roanoke and that we didn't have a lot of history to celebrate through decorating. She quickly pointed out two beautiful doors that had been from her home church in a small Colorado town. The church was being torn down and she had driven there to retrieve anything she could from her old church home. The doors had been on the outside entrance to her church and were super heavy. I immediately called Caroline and told her that we had to have these doors for the entrance into our sanctuary. When I brought them home the following day, unfortunately, they had already hung new doors the previous day. After a little brainstorming, we decided to hang them in the foyer as sliding doors. They are my very favorite part of our new building. These doors are very old and have given us a history from a small Colorado town where people attended their church weekly.

"The doors were the inspiration for another wall of our wonderful church, the “wall of churches.” This wall represents our back grounds and each of our own pathways to finding Jesus. The pictures are of churches we grew up in and learned who Jesus was. These churches helped bring us to Collective Church and collectively we continue our paths to being more like Christ and spreading the good news.

"The week before we were opening the new building I remember telling Rob that I didn't think it would be ready. I am typically a pretty optimistic person, but I really didn't think we were going to make it. I planned on being there every night that week to help out. I know Caroline was spending hours daily up at the new building. Nate and I went up on Tuesday or Wednesday night and, to our surprise, there was about 10-15 people already there. It was so moving to see people had just come without being asked and helped out. We were able to knock out so many things that night and the building, to my amazement, was ready for our first Sunday service. Just a testament to the Collective Church members and what we can accomplish together."

 

On June 21—Father’s Day—we held our first service in our permanent facility at 104 Houston Street in Roanoke (we also changed our service times to 9:30 & 11:00). In terms of major milestones in the life of our church, this was one of the biggest. I remember being pretty nervous and not really knowing what to preach about. Where do you start? What do you say? Ultimately, I think I figured it out, but I did lose a lot of sleep in the process.

(Click here to listen to the first sermon in our new building)

 

 

JULY – SEPTEMBER

On Friday, July 3, we had a party in the new parking lot. It was the official 3rd of July Celebration in Roanoke, and our parking lot is in a prime spot to watch the fireworks. So we set up in the afternoon, ate a ridiculous amount of barbecue (courtesy of Morgan Davis and Tommy Miller), played games, and enjoyed the beautiful day.

On Sunday, July 5, we had our first baptism service. Since we don’t have a baptismal—or any other significant body of water—we had the service at the home of John and Michelle Graham and then immediately went to Aaron and Kim Druyvesteyn’s house for a delicious taco dinner. Because what goes better with baptism than tacos, am I right? Those baptized were Kelly Phoumavong, Susan Stoll, Noah Graham, Evelyn Lydick, and Lauren and Regan Merritt.

In early August—for the second year in a row—we welcomed friend of Collective Church, Mike McHargue (you may know him as “Science Mike”). On Saturday, August 8, we hosted the first ever “Ask Science Mike LIVE” podcast. We also enjoyed some delicious fried chicken from local favorite, Babe’s Chicken. The following morning—Sunday, August 9—Mike preached in both of our weekend services. As always, Mike’s visit to Collective Church was one of the highlights of the year. I can’t express how grateful I am for his friendship and his encouragement toward our church.

One of the things that makes me feel grateful to have a building of our own is that we can serve families beyond the Sunday morning services. Our Children’s Pastor, Lauren Mitchell, is incredibly gifted at coming up with new ideas to expand our ministry potential. So once kids had gone back to school, Lauren and her husband Daniel launched our new Wednesday night kids’ ministry events. Beginning August 26, kids (ages 4+) were able to come to church on Wednesday night, enjoy dinner together, and participate in fun games, activities, and music. I’ve heard from several parents who say that this is one of the highlights of their week, and I could not be prouder of our children’s ministry.

Also, our youth ministry—led by Matt and Lindsey Wamsley—started gathering at the church on Wednesday nights in August. So Wednesday nights in the Collective Church building are filled with people of all ages having fun and participating in all kinds of great activities.

 

Susan Stoll: “One big thing was seeing my son Alex come to want to go to church. Donuts and the train were the way to his two year-old heart (and are still a big draw!) but now he talks about seeing his friends Maizy, Nora, and Noah. It warms my heart to watch these kids grow up together.  I love spending Sunday and Wednesday nights with these sweet children.”

 

On Saturday, September 19, our {SHE} Women’s Ministry hosted its 2nd Annual All-Day Conference. This year, the conference was held at the Southlake Hilton Hotel, and the keynote speaker was author Leeana Tankersley. Like the year before, several of the women who attended said this was their favorite thing our church did all year.

 

Susan Stoll: “I heard on the radio this morning that ‘church is not a club you join but a family you become part of.’  That is Collective Church – a family that I am so proud to call my own.  Two things stand out to me for 2015 – the SHE events and children’s ministry.  The women of Collective Church are such a fun and genuine group of people who always make me feel welcomed and laugh with me when I open sparkling cider with gripper pliers so a very pregnant Lindsey Wamsley can toast the year with us ( thank you Karen Hoag for the assist)!   Every time we step through the doors of Collective Church it feels like coming home."

  

The following weekend—September 27—our church’s sanctuary was transformed into an art gallery with The Daily Artifact, a 366-piece exhibit by my friend Corey Fuller. I preached a sermon on art as a spiritual practice, and I wanted to give everyone a visual experience of what it means to create and be surrounded by something that had been created specifically for the purposes of artistic expression. (Click here if you want to hear that sermon)

 

OCTOBER – DECEMBER

In mid-Fall, Jackie Fritzel learned that there was a mobile home community in Roanoke in which the residents were being forced to vacate to make room for a new development. Several of the residents were left in a difficult situation: they were either unable to afford the move or had nowhere to go. So Jackie set out to find a few residents that Collective could possibly help in any way possible. She found two women, both living alone in the community, who were in need of a little assistance. So on Saturday, November 7, several of our church members gathered at the mobile home community to paint a trailer house and make a few minor repairs.

In truth, I debated over whether or not to include any service projects in this story because I didn’t want to seem self-congratulatory, as if we were patting ourselves on the back for doing the right thing. However, I decided to include this one for two reasons: 1) I personally had very little to do with it, and I wanted to celebrate Jackie and her team for empowering our church to bring the presence of Jesus into our community, and 2) This is a vital part of who we are trying to be as a church. I’ve said it several times, but I believe that when Jesus moves into the neighborhood, things should start getting better. People should be glad that a church exists, and not just the people who attend that church. When we occupied space in Roanoke, we became part of this community, which means we have neighbors who deserve our help and support. We want to be the kind of church who loves our neighbors, and sometimes love looks like a new porch and a fresh coat of paint.

 

Jackie Fritzel: "This fall, we found out that some neighbors were being told to leave their homes at a nearby mobile home community. The land had been sold, and they were given six months to leave. After speaking with multiple residents, we decided to paint one of the resident’s mobile homes so that she could move to a new mobile home park. There were so many volunteers that day. We were able to get some help from another Roanoke church (Restoration Church) and have the woman’s home painted in less time than planned. While we were there, some volunteers connected with some of the residents and able to further help. Dawn Lydick helped move another resident and made a connection with a few of the other residents. John Robinson, along with a few helpers, was able to build a porch for another resident after she moved to another mobile home park. Through these connections we have made we hope to make a difference in our community and continue building bonds in Roanoke. Hopefully one day we can be a church that is counted on by our Roanoke community." 

 

Karen Hoag: “Looking back on 2015 at Collective Church, the year can be summed up in one word for me: service.  I witnessed a year of giving hearts poured out into many different vessels--from members of our church reaching out to one another in time of need, to members reaching out to the community, and everywhere in between.

 While a small community of believers, it didn’t stop members from going in full-force to make a difference to those in need.  They rallied to make a difference in our own church by volunteering countless hours to make our new church home a welcoming place for visitors and members alike.  There were outreach projects to our community, including assisting displaced residents, and helping tornado victims.  And there were individual acts of love within the group as they supported others in their time of grief—I was on the receiving end of this act, and I cannot tell you in words what a difference it made to me during such a difficult time.

I am so blessed to be a part of this church family, and be able to “do life” with the members here. The love, care, and support are what makes Collective Church what it is.”

Later in November, some members of our church family endured a sudden and tragic loss. This was a difficult season for our church for several reasons, but this loss sent an emotional shockwave through the lives of several people in our small community. I found myself—for the first time in my life—feeling the need to throw out my Sunday sermon and start over. The thing about Sundays is that they keep happening every seven days. I plan my sermons really far in advance; if you asked me, I could tell you what I’m preaching on for pretty much every weekend for the rest of this year. However, this was one time when my plans had to be thrown out. The sermon I had written six weeks earlier was no longer relevant in light of the grief that was flowing through our church. So—after my kids went to bed on Saturday night—I tossed out my pre-written sermon and started over with a blank piece of paper.

Here’s why I’m including this story in this piece: Part of being a church—a real church, not just an organization with Jesus-themed branding and a big parking lot—is that we often need to stop being organized in order to be human. Our church has always been a group of people who were flexible and quick to pivot when the situation required. As time marches on and Collective Church becomes occupied by the next generation, I hope someone will read this and know that it’s okay to pause and create space to simply be human when the situation requires it. (Click here to hear that sermon)

 

Jackie Fritzel: "In November, our family experienced a horrible tragedy. We lost both of Nate's parents unexpectedly. They were a huge part of our lives, and I can't explain how devastating these losses have been. Through it all, we have been surrounded by prayer, love, words of encouragement, and so much food. Through Caroline's organization skills, and Collective Church members’ food, we were able to feed A LOT of people at Nate's parents’ Celebration of Life. We are forever grateful for the kindness, support, and generosity of our church family. I am so thankful we have had our Collective family to lean on."

 

On December 24, we held our second-ever Christmas Eve service—the first time in our church building. Last year, we were at the hotel, which was able to provide plenty of space for everyone who attended. However, this year our space was more limited, so we had to have two services.  We turned most of the service over to the children’s ministry, which turned out to be the best thing ever. Lauren Mitchell and her team performed a play, made a short film, and sang and danced to a few Christmas songs. One of my favorite things about Lauren’s work in our children’s ministry is that she continues to provide opportunities to remind us all that our kids are not just “kids church”—they are part of Body of Christ alongside the rest of us; they are the church. Allowing the kids to “take over” for a night was the best possible way for us to celebrate the birth of Christ together as a church.

 

Well, that’s pretty much it. Sure, there were other things we could talk about—fantastic guest speakers, other service projects, other meals we shared together, Easter Egg hunts, weddings (Matt & Allyson Bay; Blake & Jessica Dobecka; Brian Cathey & Alyson Laurel; Jacob & Sara Jones) volleyball games, new people who have become like family, etc. It’s all worth talking about, and it’s all part of the beauty of what it means to be a church.

Thanks again to everyone who makes Collective Church what it is. I’ve never been more excited to part of a local church. You guys are like family to me, and I’m so glad you let me do this.

Thanks for the memories, and have a great 2016!

Grace and peace.