Month: March 2013

Panera Bread + Target + Big Boys = Great Ministry Opportunities`

For 17 years I served as a pastor at local churches in MI and IL. I have filled the role of youth pastor, jr. high pastor, sr. high pastor, assistant pastor, family pastor and yes, clean up guy and staff funny guy.

2013-02-28 08.53.56

For 17 years I had the blessing and privilege of having an office at the Churches I worked at. Some of them great…some of them not. But, now, for the first time in my adult life, I no longer have the blessing of an office.

Now my office is at…

Panera Bread. Kiya Coffeehouse. Big Boy’s. Target. Celebration Cinema. Bigby’s. The Library. Anywhere with free wifi. 

Last month someone had offered me a free office, but the free deal fell through and that’s ok.

Why?

For a year now, I have been a church planter. I have been praying about planting and launching a church since this time last year.

Every day we’re getting closer.

Every day God is opening up more doors.

Every day God is giving me great ministry opportunities where I think I missed out in the past.

In the past, I would stay holed up in my great offices completing all the busy work of a pastor. Evaluations, excel spreadsheets, budgets, reports, etc. Not that those are bad, not at all.

But, I would spend great amounts of time working on them, when I could have been experiencing…

GREAT MINISTRY OPPORTUNITIES

1. Panera Bread. I spend a lot of time at Panera. In that time, I have gotten to know many of the staff that work there. Well, a few days ago, one of the managers approached me and asked about our brand new church. She had heard a few customers talking about it and she wanted to know to more. She asked me for information and then said she knew she needed to get her and her kids in church and she would love to come.

WOWZERS! 

2. My Target Cashier. I was in Target not too long ago and typically I try to always to get the same cashier. Doesn’t matter how long or short the lines are, what matters is building a relationship. So, I did my normal joking and then I looked at my phone and laughed. She asked why I laughed and I said, well, I just got the coolest text from someone who visited a brand new church that I’m starting and it made me happy.

Then she asks…is it the church in the movie theater? I said…YES! How did you know that? She begins to tell me that her husband was going to the movies last Sunday with a friend and as they arrived at the theater we were cleaning up from our service. He didn’t think churches could meet in movie theaters and he told his wife that maybe they would have to check it out.

WOWZERS!

She then said they were going to come this Sunday and I was like oh no!!! We only meet once a month right now and I gave her the date of our next gathering (April 28th) she said she can’t wait for them to come!

3. Big Boys. I was working on a message last Saturday in Big Boys and one of the Hosts came to my table. He apologized for interrupting me and then he asked if I had spoke at YFC a few months back. I said yes and he said…I knew it! He went on to tell me some nice things about my talk that night and then begin pouring out his story. He’s very involved at YFC and his local church.

Now that’s a WIN! He told me he would love to be a youth pastor someday and asked if he could meet with me to talk about it. I said…YES!!!

Then he asks what church I attend and I said, well, a group of us are starting a brand new church at Celebration Cinema’s up in Mt Pleasant. He then gets very excited and says, I can’t wait to check it out. I said that would be great, but I encouraged him to stay plugged in at his church if that’s where God was calling him.

WOWZERS!

Here’s the deal. I can’t wait to have an office again. I have a home office in my basement, but my basement is unfinished and unheated. I do have a fire place though. And, it works for now.

But…I’m glad I’m not tied to an office any more.

I’m glad that because I’ve spend great amounts of time at Panera and Big Boys, I’ve developed relationships with managers, waiters, and waitresses.

I’m glad I have because ultimately I’m praying for them to meet Jesus.

I’m glad I have because it reminds me everyday how many are far from God.

I’m glad God blesses me with these ministry opportunities.

I just hope that I don’t miss any.

Our Next Steps as a Brand New Church

BNC---Facebook-Cover-Photo

Wow, what an incredible journey and an incredible ride 2013 has already been!

We’re only a few months into this new year and I find myself smiling all the time. I find myself thanking God daily. I find myself walking with a new pep in my step and I find myself with a renewed sense of purpose and vision.

Why?

Because I am ridiculously excited about what God is doing in our new Church!

I can’t even begin to explain how amazing it is and I’ll try in my next blog post, but for now, I thought I would lay out our next steps as a brand new church. 

Everyday I get more and more questions in the form of voicemails, texts and facebook messages about the dream that God has given us for our brand new church and I thought I would share some of our next steps as a church.

Step # 1

Keep praying. Seek God. Keep praying some more.  Every one on our team is asking God for wisdom, for passion, for even bigger dreams and ideas on how to reach people. We’re praying for unity and community. We’re praying for support and favor with family and friends. We’re praying for support and favor with local businesses, churches and leaders in our community. We’re praying that we would be Jesus to the people in our lives that don’t know him personally. We’re praying that God would provide the resources that we need. We’re praying that God uses us to bless our community. We’re praying that lost people find Jesus.

Step # 2

Keep focused on being a movement of people who are committed to helping people find and follow Jesus. Acts 2:42-47 is our foundation for the kind of church that we long to be. We want to be a community of people that loves God passionately and also loves others selflessly. We’re passionate about living

Step # 3

Keep praying for more people to join our launch team. Our launch team is our leadership. They are the leaders and people who believe that God has called us to start a church. They help live out our culture and our DNA. They believe passionately that our area needs more dynamic churches and they are fired up to reach new people for Jesus.

Step # 4

Keep hosting monthly pre-launch services. We do believe that gathering together to worship, to pray, to open up scripture as a body is of extreme importance. But, we’re not at a place where we can do that weekly…yet. We own absolutely no equipment of our own and up to this point, some great friends have let us borrow everything we need. So, we’re taking it slow, hosting a pre-launch service at our local movie theater once a month, for now.

Step # 5

Keep praying about the details. We don’t have an official name yet, we’re praying about that. We don’t have a website, we’re ok with that. We don’t have lots of shiny stuff, we’re ok with that and we’re working on getting some not so shy stuff.

Step # 6

Keep asking local Churches for their prayers and support. This is HUGE! I pray regularly for the local churches and pastors in my area. I ask God to pour out His favor on them and bless them. I’ve been trying to meet with local pastors and share with them the dream and vision we have for our brand new church and I’m asking for advice and I’m asking for their prayer.

Step # 7

Keep believing God for the small stuff. Today or tomorrow I’m going to send out a letter to over 200 friends and church leaders. I’m basically asking them to open up their closets and see if there is anything that they could bless our new church with. I’ve worked for churches in the past and we’ve had tons of equipment just lying around in closets collecting dust. I’m praying that God would give us favor with closets!

Step # 8

Keep focused on Jesus.

If you ever have any questions, please do not hesitate to email me…jason@jasonraitz.com. If you want to grab coffee, email me. If you want to grab lunch, email me.

Absolutely Fantastic! I love Church Planting

Using a movie theater  to host our pre-launch service was AWESOME!579925_413654245396562_228376402_n

I’m a day late, but we had an ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC  experience at the movie theater this past Sunday! It went extremely well and we can’t wait to be back. We learned a few thing and those will help us use the space that much better.

As we’ve been dreaming and praying this church into existence, we have been working on a mission statement.

Our mission as a brand new church is to…

Help people Find and Follow Jesus. 

That’s it. Simple, right? Our goal and dream is that we could create environments in large group gathering and small group gatherings where people far from God, or people who have given up on church or people who are passionate about their relationship with Jesus can find and follow Jesus.

We took a huge step in the building of our church this past Sunday by hosting a pre-launch service where people could do just that.

It was so fantastic to have people there on Sunday who had no church background, no ‘God’ background, and who are from other churches and are praying about being on our launch team. It was an extremely cool collection of people.

What I loved the most

The thing I loved the most was the spirit of unity and community among our team. Even my kids picked up on that. Bobby, my 10 year old was reflecting later in the day and he said…”dad, it was really cool to see so many people work together for the church!”

Yes it was! 

2013-03-24 09.01.53

From the beginning, our vision for this Church is to develop a culture of leaders who are always looking to reproduce. That way, you don’t have a very tiny core group of people who make everything happen.

And, we have an incredible team and it’s not done being formed! We are praying for 45 more people to come on to our launch team and help us dream and pray this Church into existence.

What we loved about using the movie theater

1. Everybody knows where the theater is! EVERYBODY.

2. It’s pretty exciting being in there. I love the movies and I love going to a theater. Hosting a church service in there makes it that much better.

3. The theater we used worked great for our service. Our plan was to use the smallest theater they had, but when we showed up, the assistant manager told us we were theater 1. That meant we were using a theater of 275 seats! Wowzers! Well, we didn’t come close to filling it, but it was a huge vision moment to see all those seats and the possibilities of reaching that many people for Jesus.

4. The kids were CRAZY excited about going to the movie theater for church and they loved it. My kids have been asking non-stop when our next service at the theater is.

I absolutely cannot wait for our next pre-launch service!

It’s Sunday, April 28th at 930am. 

Would love to see you there!

Why this Church?

It’s midnight and I’m absolutely giddy! I absolutely cannot wait for the morning.

Why?

579925_413654245396562_228376402_n

Because our brand new church is having our 3rd pre-launch service and tomorrow’s is our first on a Sunday morning. We’ve been having them on Sunday nights, but we’ve made the switch to the morning.

We’re just taking it slow and hosting a pre-launch service each month. In time, we’ll move to every week, but we have quite a few steps to take before that.

I’m just crazy excited. I can’t remember the last time I was this excited/passionate/fired up! I know, I KNOW, that God has a great plan for our new church and I’m just trying to stay out of the way.

It’s so crazy amazing to see so many people using their gifts, their talents, their time and their energy to literally pray this Church into existence. I literally have conversations every week, almost every day, from people contacting me about wanting to get involved.

I even have local pastors and pastors from other areas of the country emailing me saying their praying for us! So humbling and honoring!

Someone asked me recently, ‘Why this Church?’

I said…

1. Because God has given us the sacred calling to plant a Church.

2. Because we need more local churches.

3. Because there are so many people who need the hope of Jesus and they need to experience His amazing love. 

Tomorrow, I’m teaching from Romans 12:9-20 and encouraging our church that we can never become an inward focused, country club, only love those on the inside kind of church. We must always be looking for people to extend God’s love too and we must love others in every situation and every time we have a chance.

Here’s a snapshot of the dream for our Church

  • A Church who is love with Jesus.
  • A Church where no perfect people will be allowed.
  • A Church that will value the arts.
  • A Church that is fun and laughter.
  • A Church who will span all generations, but who will invest ruthlessly into the younger generation.
  • A Church where it is ok to have loud music.
  • A Church that values Stories.
  • A Church that cares more for the inside of people than the outside.
  • A Church that is for the Community, not just in the Community.
  • A Church who radically gives to God and to those in need.
  • A Church that’s not stuck on tradition and loves Change.
  • A Church where the dechurched and unchurched will feel accepted and wanted, no matter their beliefs.
  • A Church where those who are centered on Christ will be pushed to grow and not become comfortable.
  • A Church that will bring Hope.
  • A Church that will give people next steps every week.
  • A Church that will Love Others Selflessly and Love God Passionately.

Romans 12:9-10 (the Message)

9-10 Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.

 

Do we really need new churches?

YES! 

The short and simple answer is…Yes, Yes, Yes.

We will always need new churches because the local Church is the Hope of the World. Jesus established the Church to bring hope, to bring life, to bring joy to bring salvation and there is no shortage of people who need those things right now.

And, simply put, we don’t have enough churches to keep up with the incredible need that exists!

Here’s why I believe we need more Churches…

1. They are a GREAT tool for reaching new people for Jesus. Study after study shows that new churches do create more Bevins-How-to-Get-Involved-in-Church-Planting-Quoteopportunities for people to find and follow Jesus.

  • “We know that church planting is tremendously effective. Church plants will grow 23 times faster than the average church that is 10 years old or older. Church plants will also reach five times as many people who are far from God as the average Church”. ~Dave Ferguson, Pastor of Community Christian Church
  • “The average new congregation will bring 6 to 8 times more new people into the life of the Body of Christ than an older congregation the same size.” Tim Keller, Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church

2. Many Churches are closing and need to be replaced. It breaks my heart that so many churches are dying and closing their doors. Here are some of the latest statistics…

  • Between 50 and 75 U.S. churches close their doors every week.
  • More than 80% of the churches in the U.S. have plateaued or are declining.

After reading that, you’re probably thinking what I am…why not spend tons of resources and energy on bringing new life to those churches.

Heres’s what Tim Keller says about the need for church planting…

The vigorous, continual planting of new congregations is the single most crucial strategy for 1) the numerical growth of the Body of Christ in any city, and 2) the continual corporate renewal and revival of the existing churches in a city. Nothing else–not crusades, outreach programs, para-church ministries, growing mega-churches, congregational consulting, nor church renewal processes–will have the consistent impact of dynamic, extensive church planting. This is an eyebrow raising statement. But to those who have done any study at all, it is not even controversial. ~ Tim Keller, Redeemer Presbyterian Church

If you want more information on why we do need more churches, check out this amazing article by Tim Keller. He answers this question a million times better than I do.

I personally believe the need has never been greater and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for our new Church.

 

 

Church in a Movie Theater?

Heck Yes!

I absolutely love that our brand new church is going to be having its next pre-launch service in a movie theater. I told my kids Celebrationearlier in the week that we were having church at the movie theater and they’ve asked every day since if we can have church there every week.

Actually, my  5 year Madison, came up to me yesterday and said…“Dad, are we having church in the movie theater?”. I said, ‘yes, we are’ and then she yells in 5 year old fashion…”that’s soooooo awesome!”

Yes, it is awesome. It’s awesome because…

It’s a Great Location

I’m excited to host our pre-launch service in the movie theater because every body knows where the movie the theater is! Everybody! It’s an absolutely great location and it brings it’s own excitement. Plus, the theater is set up extremely well to host a worship service. The adults will be in a theater and the younger kids will also be in a theater.

We can grow

We’re going to start in the smallest movie theater and as we grow as a Church, we can just hop into a new theater. Pretty awesome. It’s already been an exciting journey! We started in a little bar in the tiny town of Shepherd and we quickly realized that we were going to need a larger space. So, we’ve moved up to Mt Pleasant and into the theater.

Mt Pleasant, MI is our target location and our hope and dream is to love on this community in some crazy ways! I’ll talk about this more in my next post.

It smells of popcorn

Hah! I guess that could be a downside as well, but it is an awesome smell! Movie theaters are just fun and it will be fun to meet in a theater!

Come and Check us out402381_409475962481057_31177155_n

I’ve already sat down with so many people that have felt that God was putting a call on their hearts to help launch a new church.

Maybe you’re the next? If you’re at all interested, please come and check out our pre-launch service this Sunday.

If you’re not, could you pray for us? Please pray that God would give us wisdom and pray that He would help us reach the Mt Pleasant area for Him.

Ok, here’s the details…

  • Celebration Cinemas (4935 E. Pickard, Mt Pleasant, MI 48858)
  • 9:30am
  • Fun stuff for the kids
  • Find out how you can be a part of this super fun, loving, faith filled team
  • Any questions…email jason@jasonraitz.com or call 847 873 9367

I love Plan B’s

Well, it’s time for Plan B! Tracie and I came to TN this past weekend for our Plan A and that didn’t really work out.

Our Plan A was to finish our Church Planting process, but it didn’t happen this time.

But, the good news is…

I love Plan B’s. 

I learned a long time ago that when your Plan A’s don’t work…something will. Something always does!

Something always works out. You just need to be patient. Trust in God. And know something will end up working out.

I’ve also learned that you can always find Beauty in the Pain.

Yes, pain hurts and it’s hard. But, it’s there for some very specific reason and you can always find some good in it.

So, even though our weekend didn’t go the way I thought it would, something good can and will come from it.

I just can’t wait to see what the good is and what God will do with this.

Even though my Plan A didn’t work out, it’s still been a great weekend. 

…Tracie and I never get to spend this much time together…and that has been AWESOME!

…I’m feeling MUCH better and so is Tracie.

…God’s affirmed and reaffirmed our call to plant a Church in Mt Pleasant to both of us.

…I know I have the world’s greatest wife.

…I have a terrific group of people back home who have been praying for us and encouraging us.

See, Plan B’s aren’t all that bad!