So Incredibly EXCITED for December at Thrive Church!


I couldn’t be more excited and I hope you will be as well! We have a tremendous opportunity as a Church to help people find and follow Jesus and December is a GREAT month to do that. So, we are really ramping things up and I wanted to make sure you knew what was going on.

December is a Can’t Miss Month @ Thrive

December 6, 13 and 20. We start a new series called ‘A Force Awakens’! Yes, a total copy of the new Star Wars movie. But, its amazing to think about what happened on this planet when Jesus was born. Hope, Peace and Love were awakened! And, of course, we will have a lot of fun with Star Wars over this series.

force awakens



December 11th.  Thrive’s Annual Volunteer Christmas Party @ the Hub! We can’t wait to party together and celebrate our Thrive teams! Please bring a dish to pass or dessert and get ready for some fun! And yes, this night does include our Mid-Year Volunteer Award Ceremony!! vol. party

December 13-18. Thrive is serving at the Homeless Shelter this week and we need you. Serve as a small group, or serve with some friends and get ready to be used by God.

December 13th. Thrive’s annual Hot Chocolate and Cookie Bar on Sunday morning at Thrive. A can’t miss Sunday at Thrive!

December 20th. Thrive’s  annual Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest and Pictures with Santa on December 20th!!

December 23rd & 24th. STARRY NIGHT!! A tremendous outreach event for you and your family. Both nights are the same program. Both are at the Broadway Theater at 6pm. Please start inviting friends and family and come Celebrate Christmas together!


December 27th. No Thrive on Sunday morning. Yup, no Thrive. I may tear up just thinking about it. But, it’s a Sunday that we take off as a way to thank you to our faithful volunteers for all the early mornings they serve at Thrive! Hang out with your family. Check out another Church. Or watch Church online.

December is a tremendous month and I can’t wait to see what God does in our church!

Sunday Night Reflections…About…Life, Family and Thrive Church

Wow! It’s honestly been an incredible Sunday!

I N C R E D I B L E ! 

I’m sitting in my bedroom and its the calm before the storm in the Raitz house. Our Small Group will be here soon and it will get real in the Raitz house! My kids have been asking for hours if it’s time for small group and I’m excited that the answer is YES!!

Before small group and then before I crash for the night, I thought I would write down a few reflections at the end of the previous week and the beginning of a new one.

Reflections about Life, Family and Thrive Church

1. I’ve been so humbled by everyone who has helped share our journey to adopt! Gosh, every share on Facebook just means the world! And, it’s been so humbling that people have already started giving to our adoption fund! A Pastor friend actually shared a link to an adoption grant on my Facebook page and I already filled it out!!

2. I love who my kids are becoming. Being a parent is one of the greatest joys and privileges of my life and I love my kids. I love the young men and women they are becoming. I love that their teachers all gushed about having them in class and how respectful they were. I love that! Are they perfect, no? But, wow, I am blessed.

3. My parents are my hero’s. They have been for a long time and the older I get, their hero status is more and more cemented.

4. I’m excited to see what God continues to do in Bekah’s heart after Ecuador. She was rocked. Her heart was broken and I’m praying that God put a Holy Discontent on her heart for ministry.

5. Speaking of Bekah, I’ve been praying since the day she was born that her and I would partner together and today we did that. We spoke together in church and it was so much fun. It was awesome! And, I couldn’t be more proud of her! She’s on her way to becoming a gifted communicator. IMG_0827

6. Today was the one year anniversary of an amazing Thriver. Get this, she didn’t miss one Sunday, all year! How amazing is that? In our world where people skip church because of an inch of snow, it was awesome and inspiring to hear her story! I wish we had 100 more like her! Her heart and dedication are off the charts!

7. ‘This Church saved my life’. I heard those amazing words this morning at Thrive! I could cry thinking about the story I was told and how this family had been searching for a church for a long time and they felt at home their first Sunday! So humbling!

8. One of my best friends in the world taught at Thrive this morning and he just killed it! Dr. Tom Rundel is just amazing. His heart for Jesus and his gift to make complex truths come alive, is incredible. I love that God brought his gifts and talents to Thrive. Now, I’m just dreaming about the day when Thrive can hire Tom and he can help develop our church spiritually. IMG_0811

9. We have about $30,000 to raise to bring home Winona Mae from China. There are moments when that seems so astronomical and then there are moments when it seems like nothing because of how big God is! Regardless, I’m dreaming of the day we get to bring her home from China.

10. God’s presented Thrive with an amazing fall and I can’t wait to see what He has in store for the Winter!

Ok, I’m late to my own Small Group! I can’t wait. Plus, we eat well at our small group!

Today’s your day to stop running away from God and Church

You’ve been running.

You’ve been avoiding.

You’ve been dodging.

You’ve been quiet.

You’ve been wandering.

You can’t help it. Life has been really hard this season of life. Every time Sunday rolls around there is a little voice that urges you to go check out a Church, but each week it gets quieter and quieter.

You’ve been running from God. You’ve been running away from Church.

There might even be people who have been inviting you week after week, but you always have an excuse. And actually, they’ve stopped inviting you because you always say no, you always have an excuse.

Maybe you were once a part of a Church and you were there every single week.  But, slowly and surely you drifted away.  People reached out for awhile, but they stopped. They didn’t want to bug you.

Today is your day to stop running away and start running towards. 

God has something amazing for you and you’re closer than you think. So, here is your invite to Thrive. Thrive is a church for people who have been running away from God and Church. Thrive is a Church where no perfect people are allowed. A Church where it doesn’t matter how you dress, what you wear, where you work or if you have doubts.

Just come as you are. Just be you. Just be ready to be welcomed and accepted and loved.

Just stop running.

Thrive Church meets at Celebration Cinema at either 9 or 1015.

The Raitz Family Needs Your Help to Adopt and Bring home Winona Mae!!

The Raitz Family has some some HUGE news! IMG_3316

We’re trying…praying…hoping… believing that we are going to Adopt Winona Mae from China! That’s our name for her. It’s after Tracie’s two grandmothers. She actually wanted to name both girls that, but Bekah and Madison won out then. Now it’s time for Winona Mae. Her name as of right now is An Fu Le and she is a beautiful 17 month old baby with PKU from China! She’s very tiny for her age.

The Story 

Ok, let me back up! We have four kids. Our life is pretty full. We planted and now lead a growing and exciting church. Our kids are in sports. Have homework and activities. Both Tracie and I work many hours every week for our Church. In the midst of all of that, we believe that God has called us to adopt a child with PKU.

The Calling

God put a calling on my heart almost ten years ago! I was flying home from a mission trip to Mexico. It was a year after Zach was born and his PKU still rocked me to my core. Actually, I could hardly deal with it. I was journaling and I was thinking about the children I saw on that mission trip and the thought that kept sticking with me was…what if Zach was born there? He just wouldn’t make it. That night, God put the call to adopt on my heart. Tracie has always wanted too add to our family and together through a ton of prayer, we have decided to take this step.IMG_3305

It’s taken ten years, but we have found a baby girl in China with PKU and we have been pre-approved by China to pursue her adoption. She’s been on a PKU diet but she is behind a bit developmentally. She is in an orphanage with 800 other children and just doesn’t get a lot of stimulation or individual attention. That’s why we need your help to bring her home!

There is a lot to be done before we can bring Winona Mae home! Paperwork, interviews and and honestly, the biggest part is raising $30,000. And then, we no longer have anything for babies! No cribs, strollers, toys, pack n plays, clothes, etc.

Yes, $30,000!

I know, I know, I know. That’s a lot of money! But, there are a ton of fees. There is airfare. Tracie and I will need to spend 2 weeks in China. There is paperwork costs. There are more fees. There is her paperwork fees. And so much more.

But, it will be worth it! We will add to our family, which the Raitz kids are totally EXCITED about it! And, we will give a loving home with a  great family to a child who desperately needs it. Plus, we already have two kids with PKU! So, she will have a ton of support with her own PKU!

And the cool part so far is… everyone we’ve told so far is totally excited! Our parents, our siblings, our kids, our friends, and circle! We’ve even had people already tell us they will help us raise the money! We’ve had friends who said they will contribute. We’ve had friends ready to help get her room ready! It’s pretty exciting!

We’ve already decided that we are going to try to sell everything we possibly can to help raise as much money as we can. We’re going to be hosting some fundraising events and we will even have a T-Shirt that people can buy.

So, will you consider helping us Bring Winona Mae home? 

Any amount and gift is a HUGE BLESSING!

Here’s what you can to do help us bring Winona Mae home:

  1. You can head HERE to give. This is a Go Fund Me account and will help keep our donations organized!
  2. Share this blog post on your Facebook page.
  3. Share our Go fund Me page on your Facebook page.
  4. Pray. Yes, that should have been number one, but please pray. Pray for the smoothness. Pray for favor with the Chinese government. Pray for God’s favor on raising these funds. Pray for our family.

Ok, I can’t thank you in advance! Thank you for praying! Thank you for giving! Thank you for sharing our Go Fund Me page on your own social media pages!

Let’s bring Winona Mae home!!!!!

Week three of ‘Everybody’s is Amazing and Nobody’s Happy’

We have been in a great teaching series at Thrive called…

‘Everything is Amazing and Nobody’s Happy’

To watch past talks, head hereeverbody





A funny thing happened this last Sunday. I was posting about this series and I accidentally typed...Everybody is Amazing and nobody’s happy. One of Thrivers pointed that out and how at Thrive, that’s really true! No matter your story, no matter your past, no matter where you come from, we believe you’re amazing and we want you to be a part of our Church family!

And, since I wasn’t scheduled to teach, Dave Shephard…Thrive’s Creative Director filled in and did a great job! Check out his message down below and his great blog here.

Sunday Night Reflections…I may never complain again

It’s Sunday night! It’s been quite a week! Awesome to Exhausting and everything in between.

The longer I’m a Pastor, it’s amazing to me how quickly I can experience the complete range of crazy emotions in a super short amount of time.

Here are some of my Sunday Night Reflections. 

1. I SHOULD never complain again. I spent most of the week in Ecuador on a Compassion Vision Trip and after experiencing a level of poverty I have never seen or experienced before in my life, I should NEVER COMPLAIN EVER AGAIN! IMG_0565

I am blessed and I am rich and I have nothing  to complain about. After standing in homes that were the size of a bathroom and had no running water, I have nothing to complain about!

2. I LOVED traveling with Bekah. Because of some extreme generosity, Bekah was given the chance to travel with me to Ecuador. It was a life changing trip and I can’t even begin to tell you how special it was to be with her all week. We had incredible conversations and we both had an incredible experience.

3. I am FIRED up! GOD ignited my heart this week. He renewed my passion to reach Central MI for Jesus. He broke my heart for the plight of the poor. He kicked me in the pants to do more for the Kingdom. He reminded me that He loved me! I am fired up!

4. I LOVE MY CHURCH! Today was so good! Because I wasn’t teaching today, I could engage in more conversations and hang out with volunteers. I hung out in Thrive Kidz and it was awesome! I just love my church. I, for the life of me can’t figure why some folks choose to only be a part of Church once a month!?! It’s just crazy to me!

5. I love when Parents serve with their Teens! I counted three sets of parents who IMG_0736serve with their teens this morning at Thrive! That blows my mind and is completely awesome! Oh, wait, as I think about it, it’s actually 5!

6. My heart broke when I heard someone left Thrive Church. I don’t think people realize that Pastors actually hurt when people leave their churches. Thrive has had it’s fair share of people who have left and every time I find out, my heart breaks.

Especially when they just stop showing up and never respond to any messages. It honestly hurts. But, you do everything you can do and keep praying for them.

7. I love my Thrive staff team! I work with some absolutely amazing people. I was gone all week and my team did an incredible job preparing for Sunday and our upcoming projects!

8. I can’t figure out why more people don’t sponsor kids through Compassion.  After seeing the work of Compassion first hand and meeting sponsor kids and adults who were sponsor kids, it’s such an easy way to literally save children from a life of poverty or even premature death.

9. My wife’s a rock star! She busts her butt all week long. She kills it with Zach and Madie’s diet. She works hard on Sunday’s. She takes care of a family of 6.

And, right now, she’s hobbling around the house because she hurt her back setting up Thrive Kidz and its hard to see her in pain! We’ve really got to build up our Thrive Kidz set up team.

When the kids were little, it was the same thing. I love talking to families sometimes who use their kids being young as a reason they skip out on Church or volunteering. Gosh, when our kids were little we went to a church where it took Tracie 20 minutes to drop off all 4 kids in the kids ministry and since I worked there, I could never help.

She’s a rock star. I’m so proud of her. And, today, we actually sat together in church! Huge for us!

10. I dream of having every one who calls Thrive their home church together on a Sunday. Maybe it’s the wrong dream. But the synergy and the energy and the momentum that comes when everyone shows up is just awesome! You can feel it in the air. I’ve learned over the course of 2 years, it’s a tough dream to have. I’ve read in a few places that the average church attender is not 1.5 times a month.

So, it’s a tough dream. But, I’ll keep working and dreaming and praying!

Planting and Leading a Church has been the toughest endeavor of my life. But, I feel so blessed to be Thrive’s Pastor and I’m so excited for what’s ahead!

I really believe the best is yet to come!


Church for the rest of us…An invite to check out Thrive this morning

What are you doing today at 9 or 1015am this morning? Why don’t you head to Thrive Church?IMG_4409

Seriously, we’re a church for people who don’t like church and we would love for you to experience Thrive. There are no perfect people allowed, so don’t worry about that. You don’t have to dress up. Just be you.

Ok, if you already have a Church home, then stop reading! No really! If you have a church family…a church home, then this post is not really for you.

BUT and it’s a big BUT

If you’ve been searching for a Church home, I really do think you would love Thrive. We started Thrive to be a church for the rest of us. There really isn’t any pomp and circumstance or holding onto traditions that were important 30 years ago. I’m the pastor and I wear jeans and a sweatshirt. We talk about real stuff and how we can take the truth of the Bible and apply it to our daily lives. The band rocks. Your kids will love our kids program. And it’s just really fun, it’s really simple and we’re real.

So, if you’re skeptical. If you’ve given up on Church and you are willing to give it one more chance. Then, you’re invited to check out Thrive today at either 9 or 1015 at Celebration Cinema.

See you soon!