Month: November 2013

Thrive Church…3 Musts for Sunday

I can’t even believe that Thanksgiving is over! How did that happen? I hope you had an absolutely fantastic Thanksgiving with your families and you feel rested and ready for the month ahead!

It’s amazing to me that on Sunday, we start a new series at Thrive and its the start of the month of December!

That being said, if you’re a part of Thrive Church, here are

3 Musts for you to know

1. Spend time with Jesus. I cannot emphasize it enough. It is…

DIRE! IMPORTANT! URGENT! NECESSARY! LIFE-GIVING!

In Matthew 6:6, Jesus gives us some direction on spending time with him…

“Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace”.

Before Sunday, find some time to be alone with Jesus. Just you and Jesus. Just you and taking to Jesus. Just you and listening to Jesus.

Just spend time with Jesus. 

2. Get ready for a new series!!!!

We start a new series at Thrive called ‘Balanced for the Holidays’. If you’ve ever felt out of balance? Feel one move away from losing it? Ever wonder how you can keep it all together? This Sunday we’ll talk about how Balance comes from having a good foundation and we’ll talk about some disciplines that can keep us balanced.

This is a great series to invite friends and family too!

3. Ugly Christmas Sweater Sunday is coming to Thrive! TCP

Oh yeah! Get ready!

It’s Sunday, December 8th.

We even have our friends at Inasnap photo booths coming and every Thriver will go home with a GREAT photo of their family and friends in the their amazing sweaters!

I can’t wait to see you on Sunday!

A humbling partnership with my mentor

I love the local Church!

I have been a part of Church the since before I can remember. My parents were saved when I was young and they went head over heals with their new relationship with Jesus and the Church.

During my middle school years, my dad was my youth pastor and my mom was the church secretary. I was always at the church. I saw the good, the bad, the ugly and the incredible.

When I had just turned 20, a church hired me to be their youth pastor and I’ve served at local churches since.

Around that same time, I met a leader and speaker who I immediately started to emulate. He came into my Bible College and lead some workshops and classes on speaking. Those ignited something within me big time! I met with him quite often and he would pour into me and I would fill legal pads with notes.

His name is Terry Prisk. About 10 years ago, Terry started a church called The River Community Church and I had the privilege of being part of the team that started the church.

About a year ago, Terry and I were at lunch and he asked me what I thought about planting a Church. I told him I had been wrestling with God about it and he affirmed in me that I should pursue. He put me in touch with a great organization called Stadia and after 6 months, I was recommended to plant a church.

This past October, I had the privilege and honor to plant Thrive Church and I love, LOVE, being Thrive’s pastor.

Well, this weekend, Terry and I are doing something incredible fun and I think it is a HUGE kingdom win!

Terry is preaching at Thrive Church and I am preaching at the River.

How awesome is that? It was totally Terry’s idea and I loved it from the beginning. I just can’t wait for Thrive Church to be encouraged by Terry and I know God will use him in a powerful way at Thrive.

And, I can’t wait to preach at the River again! I have been there as a guest speaker a few times and this time, I get to spend a few minutes thanking the congregation for all of their support and generosity in helping start Thrive Church.

What a great weekend ahead!

Thrive Church…3 Musts for this Sunday at Thrive!

It’s that time of the week again…Sunday is almost here. ILMC_Thumb_MI-2

My goodness, I can’t wait for Sunday and I hope you’re looking forward to gathering together on Sunday as well!

Why am I excited for Sunday?

Because it’s the day we have the privilege of being together. Of coming together as a church.

Now, it’s not the only day that happens. During the week, many Thrivers get together in their growth groups and deepen their relationships with each other and with God. And, during the week, we live out the message of Christ to everyone around them.

But, Sunday is amazing because we all get to be together…and that’s awesome. With that being said, here are…

3 Musts to know for Sunday at Thrive

1. Be Ready. Sometime before Sunday, get alone, get with Jesus and just be with Him. Ready your heart. Spend some time talking with Him and just be.

2. Be Praying for Thrive. Yes, we all need to pray for Sunday’s at Thrive. Pray that God would send people who are far from Him and people who are longing to deepen their walk with Him. Pray that our church would be welcoming. Pray that our Church would grow. Pray that our church would be radical givers.

3. Be there. Yes, another no duh…but if there was a Sunday to change your plans, this is it! I guarantee you will not want to miss! Why? Because every Sunday at Thrive is awesome! And, we have a very special guest speaker this week. His name is Terry Prisk and he is the Pastor of The River Community Church in Hartland, MI.

Terry is an extremely well known speaker and has traveled the world for more than 30 years speaking. And, he’s the pastor of one of Thrive’s network churches. Honestly, without him, Thrive would not have been able to launch the way we have.

So, get to Thrive. Change your plans. Pray for him. Thank him. Introduce yourself. Be ready to be encouraged and challenged.

Can’t wait!

Here’s an idea…Move to Mt Pleasant and help build Thrive Church!

What a great idea!no perfect people

I mean, think about it. Why don’t you at least pray about it? What would that hurt?

I know this is a ridiculous idea for some. I know this idea won’t work for many.

There are way too many questions for some…

…What would I do for work?

…Could I sell my house? 

…How would I help build Thrive Church? 

…Where would my kids go to school?

…What’s in the future for Thrive Church? 

But, for some. For a few.

This idea could be exactly what God has been laying on your heart.

You’ve felt a tug. You’ve felt a pull. You’ve been praying for a change.

This is your opportunity.

This is your moment.

This is your time.Not_Your_Mommas_Church2

To take…

  • A step of faith
  • A step of obedience
  • A step of prayer

So, let’s talk. Let’s email (jason.raitz@thrivechurchmi.cc). Let’s text. Let’s send a message on Facebook.

Let’s send a carrier pigeon. Let’s communicate by smoke signals.

What are we looking for?

  • People who are crazy passionate about following Jesus.
  • People who believe that the local church is the hope of the world.
  • People who really believe that prayer works and God answers prayers.
  • People who long to see God move powerfully in the lives of His children.
  • People who want to live out their faith.
  • People who have a heart to reach those far from Christ.
  • People who have a heart to deepen their own walk.

In the meantime, check out Thrive’s website and Thrive’s Facebook page.

Pray.

Talk to God.

Who knows, stranger things have happened!

 

My first Sunday away from Thrive

It’s 7:47am on Sunday, November 17th, 2013.

I am sitting on a bed in an apartment at SpringHill Camp typing this blog post.

I have been up for quite awhile.

Reading, praying, thinking and getting ready for the day. 

I have 2 primary things on my heart this morning. 

1. My last and final talk to give at SpringHill. I can’t wait!

2. Thrive Church.

Today is something new for me. It’s week #7 of Thrive Church and I won’t be there this morning. It’s just crazy as I think about it, but on the other hand, it’s not that crazy. We have an amazing team and Thrive will be absolutely great this morning.

But honestly, its really hard not being there.

Why?ILMC_Thumb_MI

I love Thrive Church. I have loved Thrive Church ever since it was some ideas in my journal 15 years ago. I have loved Thrive Church since it was 8 of us around  table. I have loved Thrive Church since it was a handful of us in the Shepherd Bar. I just love Thrive Church.

But, I also love the amazing opportunity, blessing and honor I have this morning…speaking to students. I still pinch myself that a guy like me gets these moments to be tapped on the shoulder and asked to share Jesus with hundreds of students. It’s just mind blowing! I am so humbled by it.

Why I think its good I’m not at Thrive…

1. I think it will build a culture that Thrive is not based on the pastor. It can’t ever be about the pastor or just one person. It’s about a crystal clear and crazy focused mission of helping people find and follow God.

2. It gives our leaders a chance to lead. I know this morning will give our leaders a chance to step outside of their normal roles and make decisions without me. That’s a good thing.

3. It should help other people step up. I really believe, if you are creating a culture of replication and discipleship, then people will being to step up…naturally. I think the leaders will still have to ask and push and then ask some people to step up from time to time. But, I also think that when you create a culture where its natural to lead, its natural to step up…then, when there is a hole, people will step up.

4. It gives Thrive a chance to hear from another voice. This morning, one of Thrive’s management team members is the guest speaker. That’s just awesome! It’s awesome because Thrive will hear from an amazing person who will teach from God’s word! I can’t wait for them to experience it!

So, this morning, I have two very prevalent and important things on my heart. 

Teaching and encouraging students to follow Jesus and live for Him.

Praying and asking God to use Thrive Church to wreck the hearts of the people coming this morning.

 

 

A great weekend at SpringHill Camp

This weekend, our brand new church plant1465389_10202610607254921_2075192487_n

Thrive Church

brought students to SpringHill Camp for their 4th-6th grade juniors retreat!

Why?

Because students matter! Because retreats matter! 

At Thrive, we are ridiculously passionate about pouring incredible resources and energy into our kids and students and that will never change.

The really incredible thing is, we don’t have to go far to find an incredible retreat for our students. The state of MI is blessed to have many, many great camps and retreat centers! And the nice thing is, for me, I’ve been a guest speaker at many of them.

One of my absolute favorites is SpringHill Camp! I just love this place. I love their crystal clear vision. I love their facilities. I love their attention to detail. I love their heart for students. I love their heart for families.

So, we are having a great weekend so far! 

1. The worship is GREAT. I love that our students get to have this amazing experience and learn to worship God with their heart, souls and minds.

2. Our adult leaders are AWESOME. Sarah Burkhart headed up this trip and she is just amazing. She is great with kids and is an amazing small group leader!

3.  It’s super fun. Yeah, the fun is off the charts. Swimming, zip lining, paintball, crafts, horse backing riding, sports and so…so much more.

4. The theme is great! It’s Impossible and we’re talking about how with God, all things are possible! I love how creative the SpringHill team is with the sessions and how awesome they are at communicating the gospel to this age group!

5. Small groups are INCREDIBLE!. I just love our small group times! Our students are asking such amazing questions about God, it’s just awesome!

Even though we have a small group for this first retreat. We won’t always. In the years to come, we will fill vans and then busses and then cabins. Why? Because retreats and students are a high priority for Thrive and we want to give our students an incredible opportunity to meet with God and to follow Him.

Lessons I’m Learning about being a Pastor

I’ve worked at served at local churches since 1995.

I love the local church! 

My hobbies over the years have always included studying, reading and learning about the church. I love church history and I love just love the church.

I believe fully that the local church is the Hope of the World! 

I have worked at big churches, I have worked at small churches. I have worked at traditional churches and I have worked at contemporary churches.

I have even tried to leave the church! Yes, it’s true. Twice, actually. The first time I was pretty burned out and I tried to find a job in the marketplace. The second time, I left to pursue my dream of speaking full time.

Both times, God drew me back to my first love…The local church. 

During my entire career at churches, I have always served under a Pastor. I have been a youth pastor, a student ministries director, a jr high pastor and I’ve lead small groups.

At Thrive, I’m in the Pastor. I am now the person who has to make tough decisions to keep the church aligned with its vision. It’s an entirely new day for me.

A few thoughts on that. 

1. I love it. I really do believe that I am in my sweet spot. I love the church. I love church leadership. I love church growth. I love church planting. I really do love what I get to do. I have my dream job.

2. It’s hard. I’m not afraid of hard work. But, this is different than hard work. Eternity hangs in the balance. Pastors don’t lead churches to create country clubs and feel good organizations. People need hope. Jesus offers that hope. It’s our role to point them to Him.

3. I don’t know much. I have served the local church for almost 20 years. What I am realizing everyday is…I don’t know much. I’m trying, I’m working, I’m serving, I’m learning, I’m asking, I’m seeking, I’m relying on God to show me the way.

That being said, I have learned a few things in my short time of being Thrive’s Pastor, here they are.

Lessons I’m Learning

1. Vision Leaks. I know this isn’t anything new and if you’ve ever heard Stanley or Hybels speak, you will hear quite often. But, it’s true. I feel like one of my primary roles is to be the Vision Waterfall. Does that make sense? I want to continually remind people of the vision. Through stories, through life change, through new faces and by telling any and every one that will listen.

2. You have to ask. There are some church planters that think, if I just open the doors to a new church, people will come. Well, maybe, but honestly, no…not at all.

You have to ask! You have to ask a lot! You have to call, email, text, Facebook and ask people to come. You have to remind them that its important to be a part of the local church and you have to ask them to be a part.

3. Dreaming is HUGE, but turning dreams into reality is a whole other thing! I’m a dreamer, I am. Always have been. My mind doesn’t stop racing with new ideas. That’s why I love change so much! But, dreaming is easy. I know it’s not for some, but for me, it’s easy. I can see things. I’ve seen Thrive in my head and heart for years.

But, getting Thrive to the place it is now, wow, reality is so much harder! There are so many different factors. Yes, I ask God to give me new dreams. Yes, I want to live out the dreams He lays on my heart. So, I know that when they’re from God, I have the power of the Holy Spirit to forge dreams into reality. But yikes, its still tough. You doubt. You struggle. Satan attacks.

Even in the midst, you must keeping moving forward. Again, there is too much at stake.

4. I can’t do everything. I know how simple that statement is and I know its kind of a no brainer. But, my goodness, I want to do everything…if I’m honest. But, what is good for the growth of my church and for the growth of my leadership is to continually be thinking:

Replication and Discipleship. Who can I empower to lead? Who can I pour into spiritually?

Why do I have to ask those questions? Because those are the questions that lead to exponential growth.

I can’t do everything. I shouldn’t everything. I’m not good at everything. A one man show is never really all that good (unless your Bill Cosby or Billy Crystal).

These are just a few of the lessons I have learned in my extremely short time of being a Pastor. More to come soon!