I just want more of Jesus

I’ve been pretty stressed lately. Lot’s going on for our family. Lot’s going on at Church.

Life is full. Too full. 

Just like any family, we have a lot going on. We have kids in baseball and track and we have kids with special diets and lots of homework. We have a teenager, a pre teen and two who think their teenagers. For the first time in years, my wife is working again. She was a full time stay at home mom, but now she works for our church 25 hours a week (unpaid) and our family has adjusted to that.

Just like any Pastor, my week is insanely full. I take my work home. I’m constantly thinking about my messages, the people who haven’t been to Thrive in awhile, our church finances, are we an accepting church, future hires, spouses who don’t know Jesus, the upgrades we need, fundraising, who we can help, who we can’t help, our staff, our staff families, upcoming outreach events and the list goes on and on.

And, when I get too busy…I take my eyes off Jesus. It’s that simple. I’m not proud of that.

My morning quiet time is replaced with hustle or sleeping in or something else. 

My prayer walks go away or are less frequent. 

My reading of the books I love (typically about spiritual formation) is replaced with Yahoo news. 

My patience goes out the window.

My eating habits go from bad to even worse. 

I hug my wife and kids less. 

Again, I’m not proud of any of this. But, it’s amazing how easy it is to slip into this mode.

But, I can’t let my life stay in this mode! And, the only solution I know of is…

Jesus. 

I just want–Need–long for more of Jesus. 

So, I’m going to keep my eyes focused on Jesus. I’m going to make sure to pay attention to my life when it starts to get too full and I’m going to do everything I possibly can to protect my soul.

I just want more of Jesus in my life.

Thrive Kidz Training + New Series + Baptism = Great weekend ahead for Thrive Church

I am sitting in a hotel room in Overland Park, KS and I just can’t wait to get home!

It’s been a great week at the Church Planters Assessment Center, but I am more than ready to be home with my family and be a part of a great weekend at Thrive!

My hope and plan is that every person who calls Thrive Church home will take advantage of what’s happening this weekend and be a part of it all.

We’ve had a couple of great weeks at Thrive and I really believe this weekend will only continue what God has been doing in our Church!

So, what’s happening?11054287_774008589361124_8040431063105503015_n

1. Thrive Kidz Training. On Saturday morning at the Hub from 9-1130. We will have breakfast for you at 830am. Kids matter at Thrive and we believe Saved people Serve people and that’s why it’s so important to be trained at how to care, teach and love kids the best you possibly can.

If you’ve never served in Thrive Kidz, the time is now. If you’re a parent who drops off kids in Thrive Kidz, the time is now to step up and serve!

2. ‘What on earth am I here for’?. We start a brand new series for five weeks and we’re going to tackle questions like: What is my calling? Do I have a purpose? What am I suppose to do with my life? And, as a church, we are all going to read Rick Warren’s amazing book…‘What on earth am I here for’? Pick it up on Amazon of the Thrive store on Sunday.

Plus, this next week we start a short spring season of growth groups and together we will dive into this book!

3. BAPTISM and Family Swim! One of the most exciting moments for our Church is happening this Sunday from 1230-2pm at the Rose Pool at CMU.

Baptism!!!DSC_0124

So, please come. Bring your families. We will cheer and celebrate the families getting baptized and then families are invited for a FREE Family Swim! It’s awesome!

Here is more information on baptism and if would like to talk to someone or ask questions, just email info@thrivechurchmi.cc.

It’s going to be a GREAT weekend for Thrive Church! So, don’t miss out! BE a part and then let’s go and BE the Church during the week and help people find and follow Jesus.

A letter to my Church about Easter at Thrive

Dear Thrive Church,

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait till tomorrow. I have been waiting, anxiously waiting for Easter Sunday for months and I am so excited it’s almost here. Don’t get me wrong, I love every Sunday, you know that, but there is just something about Easter Sunday!

We have literally been preparing, planning and praying for Easter Sunday for months. Way before Christmas we started to dream and to started to talk about it. And, as the theme and scripture came together and God continued to put on our hearts what we needed to share, the excitement began to grow and grow. Then, our events team started to dream and put together a great plan as well.

And, now we’re here! This time tomorrow, Easter at Thrive will be in our rear view mirror. Before we get to Easter morning,  I wanted to share a few things with you that have been on my heart.

I love our Church. I really do. I have loved our church since it was a dream in my journal. I have loved our church since it was only a discussion around a dining room table. I loved our church when a dozen of us gathered in my living room on Christmas eve a few years ago. I loved our church when we met in the Shepherd Bar. I loved our church when started meeting at Celebration Cinema and now that we have two experiences, and staff and more and more people. I love our church. I love what God is doing. I love what we’re about. I love it.

I love that we will do anything short of sin to reach people for Jesus. We will! Already in our short 78 weeks, we have attempted some crazy stuff. Most recently our shoe project! How crazy was that!?! Let’s keep dreaming! Let’s keep attempting crazy stuff. Let’s let nothing EVER stop us from reaching people for Jesus!

I love that we care about kids and students! We have to care more! We have to continue to raise the bar for our kids and students. We have to be a church that never gives its scraps to our kids and students. So, let’s pray for them. Let’s create great environments for them. Let’s do whatever it takes to pour into them.

I love that we’re all about Jesus. That’s it! We exist to help people find and follow Jesus! Not only to find Him, but then to learn how to be a fully devoted follower of Jesus. To be Jesus. To live Jesus. To love the world like Jesus loves. We have to be all about Jesus.

Tomorrow is Easter.

We have a HUGE day planned. Our band and creative team and events team and kids team have been working over time to make tomorrow morning the best Sunday it could ever be.

SO…

Let’s pray. Let’s seek God. Let’s ask God to move. Let’s beg God to break hearts. Let’s pour into kids and students. Let’s worship. Let’s love. Let’s live for Jesus. Let’s change. Let’s be more like Jesus. Let’s care more for others than we do for ourselves. Let’s give. Let’s give financially. Let’s serve.

I love our Church and can’t wait to see what God is going to do through you!

See you tomorrow!

Jason

A special trip to CA with just my Bobby

I will NEVER forget the day that Robert Jason Raitz was born! It was a total surprise that he was a boy! We already had Bekah and I was absolutely convinced we were going to have all girls. IMG_3383

Then, the day came. I was about to lead worship at church and my wife (Tracie) came back stage and said…um…you won’t be leading worship today. So, I took off my guitar and headed to the hospital. Our whole youth group came to the waiting room and played board games and then I came out and announced that Robert Jason  Raitz was born.

One of the coolest moments of my life happened about an hour after he was born. My dad, Robert Raitz, came into the room and I introduced him to his grandson, Robert Raitz. Wow, what a moment!

Bobby is now 12 years old! It’s just flow by. He’ll be 13 this summer and I just can’t even believe it!

13 years old! A teenager! And the crazy part is, we’ll have two teenagers! Just awesome!

Well, tomorrow morning he and I leave the house at 445am to drive to Detroit to hop on a plane to CA. I was asked to speak at a great event in Southern CA and it worked out great to bring Bobby! Just me and Bob.

I’ve been praying about this trip for a long time. I’ve been praying for this trip for a long time.

Why? Because Bob turns 13 this summer and that’s a major milestone! That’s Huge and as his dad I’ve worked hard raising him and pouring into him and I can’t wait to have fun, and do more of that this weekend.

Here’s the thing. It will be just Bobby and I. I don’t have a ton of money, so we’ll check out the ocean. We’ll talk. We’ll play catch on the beach. And, like he’s done hundreds of times, he will sit and listen to his dad speak from stage.

In a perfect world, I would have the money to rent a convertible, but honestly, the cheapie compact car will be just fine!

So, we are going to have a BLAST! We’re going to talk. We’re going to experience a cool trip together. We’re going to pray. We’re going to hang out. We’re going to be together!

I can’t wait! My Bob turns 13 this summer and I couldn’t be proud of him. He’s a young man who loves Jesus. Who has great empathy for others. He’s compassionate. He’s a deep thinker. He’s profound. He’s funny! He has a great smile! And..he’s just awesome!

Why Kids and Students matter so much at Thrive Church

I’m going to cut right to the chase and I believe this passionately about Thrive Church

 

  • If kids and students don’t love Thrive Church, we don’t have much of a future as a Church.
  • If kids and students aren’t begging their parents to be a part of Thrive Church, we don’t have much of a future as a Church.
  • If kids and students aren’t being poured into, taught and shown Jesus, we don’t have much of a future as a Church.
  • If kids and students aren’t given the opportunity to lead and use their gifts, we don’t have much of a future as a Church.
  • If kids and students aren’t challenged to be Jesus and to be a light to the world, we don’t have much of a future as a Church.

That’s why kids and students matter so much at Thrive Church! cool thrive kids pic

They have to matter! And, every single adult who attends, who is a Thrive Partner, who volunteers, who gives and who prays for our Church has to be passionate about investing into them!

We have to invest amazing resources into our kids and students.

We have to be excited every time they lead.

We have to get them involved as much as possible.

We have to get them to camps and retreats.

We have to inspire them.

We have to encourage them.

We have to help them find and follow Jesus.

That’s why kids and students matter so much to our Church. They are not only our future, they are our now.

Newspring Leadership Intensive w/Perry Noble….day 1

Wow, just wow! Don’t know how else to describe my time at the Newspring Leadership Intensive! IMG_4410

Here are a few other ways I would describe…

  • Over the top
  • Above and beyond
  • Powerful
  • Bucket filling
  • Jesus centered
  • Scripture based
  • Recharging
  • Incredible
  • Crazy quality

I am just so thankful that my church would believe in me enough to give me the opportunity to be here and to do some amazing learning!

I’ve been too a million conferences in my 20 years of serving-working for churches and I’ve just never experienced anything like how Newspring does things.

They are just over the top. And, I don’t mean with nice programs and all that stuff and fluff. Although, they do take really good care of us!

They are over the top with relationships. The Newspring Network team literally bends over backward to care for people and to set up the local church for success. It’s truly amazing! They just keep giving away so many priceless ministry tools.

My church, Thrive, has benefited from them in a ridiculous amount of ways! Our kids ministry uses free curriculum, I’ve learned a ton through the coaching and they helped us again recently with a compassion based project we are doing in our community.

Leadership Waterfall

From a leadership point of view, this trip has been priceless. It’s honestly hard for me to travel now a days. I loved to travel in my 20’s and early 30’s and now…I just want to stay home. I don’t like to miss nights with my kids and my wife. So, it takes a lot to get me to leave.

This leadership Intensive was well worth the trip to Anderson, South Carolina.

Here’s why…

1. To learn from Perry Noble is just priceless. Honestly, there was a season when I wasn’t the biggest Perry Noble fan. Then, about 3-4 years ago, I was at a pretty low place and I heard a Perry sermon and his authenticity and realness were just off the charts and helped me a ton. Since then, I pretty listen to everything he puts out. His messages, leadership podcast and books have been a huge blessing to my heart and leadership.

I even encourage my church to listen to him whenever they get the chance!

2. To visit Newspring is inspiring. I’ve only been here once before, but my goodness, they go way out of their way to make you wanted! I love their campus and I always walk away with a million ideas.

3. To meet new leaders. I’m sitting at a table with a great Newspring staffer and some great pastors. We’ve had great conversations and have already connected and shared common experiences.

4. To feel normal. Being the lead pastor of a church is like nothing, NOTHING, I’ve experience in my 20 years of serving the local church. I’ve been a youth pastor, a middle school pastor, an assistant pastor, a traveling evangelist speaker guy, a small groups pastor and now a church planter and lead pastor. To listen to Perry teach on leadership and how he connects the dots to the leaders own health has just been priceless. There are so many emotions and things I experience that are brand new for me and to hear that I’m not crazy is a good thing!

5. To connect with leaders. Last night I sat in a Chick-Fil-A till it closed with a friend and fellow church pastor. I left the restaurant last night ready to charge the hill. We exchange emails and texts year round, but goodness, to sit and encourage and learn from each other was priceless!

6. To get filled up! We all know ministry is hard. Gosh, that’s the understatement of the year. This trip has been bucket filling for me. I love my church and I love our area and I love the vision God’s given me. This trip has just helped fan the flame…with like a bucket of GAS!

It’s time for the second full day to begin and I can’t wait!