Author: Jason Raitz

Dad. Husband. Pastor. Church Planter. Story Teller. Speaker.

Thrive Church has a Big and Awesome Problem

We’ve been talking about a major problem we have at Thrive Church for months and months. We talk about it at our staff level, at our elder level, with our financial team and on Sunday’s at Thrive. The problem has just been growing and growing. If you were at Thrive this past Sunday, you know what the problem is. IMG_5745

Honestly, it’s a problem that keeps me up at night. 

Now, we are not the perfect church. FAR FROM IT! But I love the kind of Church we are! We’re Simple, Fun and Real. We’re a church for people who have given up on God or Church. We’re only 2.5 years old and we’re still learning a ton. But, for the last 6-8 months, this problem has just been getting bigger.

Lives are changing because of the ministry of Thrive Church! People are turning to Jesus. They’re turning away from sin! They are Following Jesus! They are finding community.

I was talking on Sunday with one of our Core team members (we sat around his table when we 8 of us dreamed up Thrive Church), and he’s someone that’s invested and served so much. I can say with all of my heart that Thrive would not exist without him.

I asked him while we were standing in the theater we use for our experience, ‘do you remember when we had 40 people in this room’? He did and he’s just blown away at what God is doing at our Church. It’s just amazing and humbling.

So, this problem has to be addressed! And, here’s the kicker, it’s an awesome problem!

It’s the kind of problem you want to have!

We have totally and completely outgrown our meeting space on Sunday’s.

There are open seats at our 900am experience, we just can’t get many people to switch over! Hah. But, we have a great meeting space right now. We meet in an amazing movie theater with amazing seats and an amazing screen! It’s kind of sad in one way. I’ll miss it. But, I’ve been telling Thrive for months, this isn’t our home.

Now, we haven’t had all of a sudden crazy explosive growth. But its been very gradual over the past 2.5 years and now we’re at a tipping point. If we don’t do something soon, we could stop growing and that’s unacceptable. We could lose people because it’s too crowded and that’s unacceptable and honestly, we already have.

So, our first step to our problem…Find a bigger space to meet in on Sunday’s. We’ve thought about adding another Thrive site, but we’re not ready for that. And, we’ve approached our local school district about renting the high school and they’ve turned us down a few times. Kind of a head scratcher, but it is what it is.

So, our next step is…

We’re hosting Easter at Thrive on the Campus of CMU

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We couldn’t be more excited!! Last Easter at Thrive, people were busting out of the doors. This Easter, we will have plenty of room. The new space is GIGANTIC! But, it’s awesome!

We figured out a few months ago that we couldn’t host Easter at our normal location because we just wouldn’t have the room for everyone. That’s a CRAZY BIG PROBLEM!

I believe God put this new space on our hearts! It’s just a truly tremendous location and it has a million opportunities for Thrive to keep growing and keep reaching people who have given up on God or church.

Our team is hard at work figuring out how to use the spaces to their maximum potential. And, honestly, both spaces we are going to use are so much bigger, we just don’t have all the needed equipment yet, but we’re praying!

This will be our auditorium for our Alive Experience…

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We will close the balcony and kindly ask people to sit close to the front. The other really nice benefit of this space is that we don’t have to rush. In our current location, because it’s a live movie theater, we have to rush to get out of there. We won’t have to worry about that.

And then, we are using this amazing space for Thrive Kidz…

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IT’S GIGANTIC! We won’t use all the space and we’ll have to get creative with pipe and drape, but our kids environment will be 100 times better, safer and we can be much more creative.

Now, this is just the first step to our problem. We are praying about this being our permanent home and we’re praying Easter goes really well and then we’ll make that decision.

So, would you pray for us? Would you pray for God to move to powerfully that people who have given up on God or Church would turn to Him? That they would hand over their hearts to Jesus?

And…JOIN US!!! You can choose between 930am and 1100am.

Lastly, if you’re ALL IN at Thrive! Like, Thrive is your Church! I want to invite you to a special time that we are going to gather and pray and talk about what Easter at CMU and possibly the future will look like.

Join us on March 6th at 1215pm.

I really do believe the BEST IS YET TO COME! 

 

The Thrivie’s! Our Staff Awards!

Last month at our all staff meeting, I gave out our first ever THRIVIES!!

Yes, it was a complete rip off of the Dundies from THE OFFICE, but I hope it was a staff morale booster and encouraged them. It wasn’t to as much fanfare as the great Michael Scott gave out the Dundies, but I hope that it was an encouraging experience.

I tried to give everyone a Thrivie from the unique perspective they bring to the team.

I thanked them, encouraged them, did my best to speak truth to them and raved about how God is using them to lead our Church. Believe it or not, working in ministry can be a thankless role sometimes, so I’m hoping to add as much encouragement as I possibly can!

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again.

We have an amazing team at Thrive!

I’m just so blessed that I have the awesome privilege of leading this team! It’s a responsibility that I don’t take lightly and it’s been amazing to see our team come together!

Here’s why I love our team and yes, this is a little shameless bragging:

  • Their hearts are just outstanding! They love God passionately and love others selfishly.
  • They work hard!
  • We have a ton of fun together!
  • Our full time Pastors all raise different levels of support for their positions at Thrive. That means they have built up a network of friends and family who donate funds to Thrive that help pay their salaries. It’s not fun raising support, but it has helped our church so much.
  • Our team prays together.
  • People send encouraging text messages to each other.
  • We support each other’s families.
  • Our team loves our church. That’s just evident as you drive into the hub and everyone is sporting a Thrive Church car decal! Hah.
  • We laugh and we cry together! We especially cry when we hear stories of life change!!
  • Our team loves our vision and mission and really goes after it.
  • We have a few volunteer staff who just faithfully give of their time! It’s just absolutely amazing.
  • I know we’re not even 2.5 years old as a Church, but none of our paid staff has ever received a raise and no one has ever complained. They all work more hours than their actually paid for and have all said they would take a pay decrease to help the church.
  • They just desperately want to see people fall madly in love with Jesus and surrender their hearts to Him!

I’m just so honored to lead this amazing staff team!

Here’s one of the ‘Thrive’s I gave out! Can’t wait till the next time!

 

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You never know what to expect at Thrive

At Thrive, every Sunday is just a bit different from the last Sunday and that’s very purposeful.

This past Sunday was Thrive’s Tailgate Party and it was just AWESOME! 

And you know what? It was ridiculously different from the Sunday prior to that!

When we started Thrive Church over 121 weeks ago, we said we would always EMBRACE CHANGE. 

We love Change at Thrive!

Why? Because we don’t ever want to get stuck doing the same thing over and over, even though its not effective any longer. I know for some Churches, they embrace some traditions and that’s great for them. We have decided to take a different route with our vision and mission. We value tradition as well.

But, we don’t want the traditions of the past to dictate our future if they’re not effective any longer.

So, we embrace change. Two Sunday’s ago, we had a very different feel for the experience than our Tailgate party. We had experiential prayer stations, longer worship with communion, 3 speakers, an artist who was painting and a video that helped us concentrate on Jesus.

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Then came the TailGate Party!

Two days ago at Thrive…well, it was just the total opposite! We had the Central Michigan University Pep Band playing the lobby! People wore jersey’s to represent their favorite teams on Super Bowl Sunday. We grilled hot dogs, and had popcorn and pop. Matt and the band kicked off with ‘eye of the tiger’ and we had a lot of fun. We even had a T-Shirt cannon!

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Don’t get me wrong. It’s not just about the FUN!

Fun in Church gets too much of a bad rap sometimes!

We believe the fun helps build trust with people who have given up on God or Church. And that fun helps break down barriers and then people will start to trust you. And my goodness, when they will laugh with you, they will trust you and they will be so much more open to learning!

So, in the same Sunday, we still worshipped, we prayed, I taught from God’s word and we challenged people to turn away from the sin that’s holding them back.

It was just different. And, it was awesome!

So, we embrace change. We love change. We want to keep changing so we can reach the people that nobody else is reaching!

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The sweetest text from my dad about Winona

Last week I received literally hundreds of texts, emails, cards, messages and calls from all the over the world about the news that Winona (the baby we were working towards adopting) had passed away in China.

They all meant the world! Every single one. 

Here’s one that I’ll cherish forever and its from my dad

What I’m really sorry for is Winona won’t get the chance to experience the love that you and Tracie would have given her here on this earth. Right now she is the presence of perfect love. Right now Winona Raitz is playing with Winona Riker (Tracie’s grandma). Love you.

My dad is my hero. He’s my spiritual hero. He’s a man of great faith. He’s a man in love with Jesus. He’s a man in love with family. And, he seemingly always knows what to say.

Sunday Night Thoughts on Life, Family and Thrive Church

Honestly, this week has been a tough one. Can’t really sugar coat it at all.

So, it’s hard to process some thoughts about it, but, I’ll give it my best shot.

Here’s what I know…

Psalm 34:17-18 (msg)

Is anyone crying for help? God is listening,
ready to rescue you.

If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there;
if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.

In the midst of some pretty good sadness, some pretty good ‘why’ questions, I know that I know that God is right here with me and my family!

He is faithful. He is loving. He will never leave us or forsake us.

Thoughts on Life…

This week, Tracie and I asked God a lot of questions. If you don’t know, we found out that the little girl we were going to adopt passed away over the weekend. She had been fighting a virus and her orphanage didn’t have central heat and her little body couldn’t fight it off. It was heart breaking to get that call.

Even though we had not held her in our arms yet, she was very much a part of our family! So, it’s tough to understand why this had to happen. But, we trust God and know He has a plan.

Thoughts on Family…

I’m just overwhelmed! This week, our family experienced such an outpouring of support, encouragement and love from friends and family all over the country. It was just so humbling!

We have decided to continue our home study for the adoption and we told our adoption agency that we would like to see more information on other kids with PKU. So, we’ll see what God has in store.

On a side note, its just amazing how awful people can be! I’ve received a few pretty hateful and hurtful messages about our future adoption. It’s just awful how mean people can be. But, we’ll just keep loving.

Thoughts on Thrive Church…

Wow! I am just absolutely and completely blown away by how amazing God is! He just amazing!

I have no idea why I get the GREAT privilege and JOY and blessing of leading Thrive Church! I am completely overwhelmed and I am so thankful!

Today was just an awesome day for Thrive. The energy and enthusiasm was awesome. Our  volunteers were just incredible!

Here are a few highlights:

  • The Central Michigan University 6th Man (Pep Band) played in the lobby before and after our experiences. They were amazing!
  • Our creative team made this commercial and people loved it!
  • The Thrive band was awesome today! They opened with ‘eye of the tiger’ and then lead us in worship with some amazing songs!
  • We kicked off our new series…XOXO…friends, flings and relationship things. It was a GREAT start!

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Faith…Football…Fun = Today at Thrive Church

What are you doing this morning? tailgate

Maybe you’ve thought about checking out Thrive Church for awhile now. You have a few friends who go to Thrive and you’ve read a few posts on Facebook about Thrive.

Every Sunday you come up with an excuse and that’s ok.

But, what about taking the leap of faith and checking out Thrive?

Why today?

Thrive is hosting our annual Tailgate Party and it’s the perfect Sunday to check out the Church. Free food, the CMU pep band and cheer leaders are at Thrive. It’s Jersey Sunday, so wear your favorite teams swag! And, we’re starting a new series about relationships.

Who doesn’t have relationship questions?

So, check out Thrive today. 

  1. Head to Celebration Cinema by either 830am or 945am. The experiences start at 9 and 1015 and the adults head to theater one and the kids are in a bunch of different theaters.
  2. Wear your favorite teams swag.
  3. Come hungry.
  4. Come and be a part!

We’re ready for you! See you soon!

6 Things Every Thriver Needs to Know for tomorrow

Happy Saturday Thrive Church!!!!! OH MY GOODNESS!! I am so EXCITED for tomorrow at THRIVE!!

It’s our second annual TailGate Party!!

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Here are 6 Things every Thriver needs to know about tomorrow at Thrive:

1. PRAY! Seriously, pray like 1 Thes 5:17 says…’without ceasing’. Pray for the lost to be found. Pray for a spirit of unity and of fun. Pray for people to experience God’s love! Pray for kids to fall in love with Jesus. Pray that God would be glorified.

2. INVITE. There is still time. Share the Facebook post about it. Use the Facebook header. Text someone. Call them. Message them. Pick them up.
 
3. BE EARLY. Seriously, like 30 minutes! Come and hang out. Listen to the CMU PEP BAND, watch the CMU cheerleaders fly through the air and get ready to have fun!
 
4. BE EARLY to the experience. Please sit in the middle of rows and if you can, attend the 9am if you can. The 1015 has been stuffed lately and this will free up seats. If you can’t switch, don’t worry.
 
5. CREATE the ENVIRONMENT. Clap, cheer, sing loud, worship Jesus, raise your hands, pour out to God, listen, learn and soak it in.
 
6. WEAR something fun. Your favorite team jersey or sweatshirt or t-shirt or hat.
 
Alright, we’re ready! We have some really fun things planned during the experience, you don’t want to be late!!!!
 
Plus we start our new series…XOXO!! Woo Hoo!!
 
See you tomorrow!!
PS…Bring cases of water for FLINT!! Just leave them by your car!