Student Ministry

My 2 word goal for 2016

Follow Jesus

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Yup, that’s it.

I want to passionately and whole-heartedly follow Jesus. 

Jesus said, “Whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish” (Luke 14:27-30).

I don’t want to be a fan. I want to be a follower.

A fan sits in the stands. A fan criticizes without being involved. A fan is great at hype.

I want to be a follower. 

A follower abandons their own ways for the ways of their master.

A follower puts aside their pride.

A follower helps others find the Savior.

A follower serves the needs of others.

A follower surrenders their finances to God.

A follower does life in circles not rows.

A follower changes to be more like who they follow.

So, for 2016, my goal is to follow Jesus. 

I love the wisdom of my 15 year old daughter

It’s no secret that I’m the President and Co-Founder of the Rebekah Raitz fan club. IMG_0593

From the moment she was placed in my arms, she’s had my heart. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for her and there’s nothing I wouldn’t sacrifice for her to live out her dreams.

We have traveled together. We have flown all over the country together. We have walked the streets of a village in Ecuador together. She has sat in the front row of literally hundreds of my speaking gigs. She has hung out in countless green rooms as I spoke from stages. We have had thousands of conversations. We have talked about God, and sports and boys, and friends and pinterest and One Direction and Jesus and Church.

She’s just beautiful inside and out.

Her heart is just solid gold.

She is a leader and I love that! She has big opinions and she’s not afraid to share them. Countless adults have told me they’re amazed at how well she talks and carries on conversations with adults.

She’s a communicator and isn’t afraid to get in front of a group of people and share what’s on her heart.

AND, I love her Wisdom! 

We were hanging out yesterday and we talked about a million different things.

  1. We talked about her future and what she wants to do and what God is calling her to do.
  2. We talked about College and her plans for that. We talked about getting a jump start on applying for scholarships. We talked about her taking as many general ed classes as she can before she graduates high school.
  3. We talked about boys and the right kind to be friends with and to be interested in. I have been begging her since she was little to fall for boys who have fallen in love with Jesus.
  4. We talked about high school and some of the silly drama and how some kids are so wrapped up in things that don’t matter.

And, we talked about Church. She’s actually pretty passionate about Church and her Church.

She serves every Sunday and without a fight. We leave the house together as a family at 630am and Bekah is typically in charge of setting up a room and then running it for Thrive Kidz.

Now, I’ve mentioned to her a few times that I think she would be an amazing Pastor! She’s pretty hesitant about that and that’s great. I will support her in whatever area she invests her life. But, her leadership would be amazing in any Church.

But, it’s funny the wisdom that started flowing when she started to talk about Church. Here are a few Rebekah points of Wisdom…

ONE…She asked me why more Adults don’t serve at Church. I said, well, people are busy and some aren’t in the right season of life. She just couldn’t understand all the excuses people have about not serving at Church.

  • She says…How do people think the Church will operate if nobody steps up and serves? How do people think they will experience God?
  • Yeah, great point!

TWO…She overheard me telling Tracie that someone left Thrive because they thought it was wrong we teach about money and give people a chance to give.

SIDE BAR: As a Pastor, as a Dad and having a ministry family…we work very hard to protect our kids from the junk and pain and gossip that sometimes happens.

  • Back to Bekah. She thought about it for a minute and she said…’Outside of the fact that Jesus talked about money almost more than anything else, how do those people think the Church will operate if nobody gives? And, why wouldn’t you want to give, do they see all the amazing life change happening’?
  • Yeah, great point!

THREE…She asked me why it seems so many adults live life like high school students. Surrounded in the drama they either make up or invite themselves into. I said, I don’t know.

  • She then says…’Well, its time for them to grow up’.
  • Yeah, great point!

Obviously I’m proud of my daughter. I love her.

Our goal from day one as parents was to point her to Jesus, to love her so much that it would be hard to ever wonder if she was lovable and to prepare her to be a self-sufficient human being!

I have seen so many kids over the years that aren’t ready to be self-sufficient.

Well, I can proudly say, we could probably kick out Bekah now and she would do just fine! Hah.

I know God has amazing plans for this young woman and I believe He is going to use her to shake up the Kingdom!

You’re invited to one of the BEST Sunday’s of the year at Thrive!!

Sunday-At-ThriveToday’s the day! I’ve been counting down and waiting for this day for a long time!

WHY??? You ask. 

Because its one of the absolute BEST Sunday’s of the year at Thrive Church!

Now, let me back up, I believe every Sunday is freaking awesome! But, because of Christmas and the fact that more people will accept an invite at Christmas time more than other times, makes this Sunday that much more awesome!

So, in a typical Thrive (like) way, we pull out all the stops! Here’s what you can expect at Thrive this morning:

  • Pictures with Santa!! Yes, for you, your friends and for your family!!
  • It’s Ugly Christmas Sweater Sunday!!! Wear you best sweater and who knows, you have a chance to win a prize!!
  • We have new Thrive Swag in the Thrive store today! And yes, it’s so VERY comfy! And, a tremendous way to support your church and spread the word about Thrive in our community.

AND THEN ONE OF OUR BEST ANNUAL TRADITIONS OF ALL

  • OUR INDOOR SNOWBALL FIGHT WITH THRIVE KIDZ!! IT IS SO MUCH FUN!! 

Again, this morning is a CANT MISS Sunday! So, if you’ve never been to Thrive Head to Celebration Cinema for our 900 or 1015 experience. I would suggest getting there 20 minutes early! You’ll be greeted at the front door and they’ll let you know  what to do!

Oh, if it is your first time. No need to dress up. Just wear what you’re comfortable in. Jeans is great and don’t forget about your Ugly Christmas seater.

See you soon!!

Ecuador has wrecked my heart…

Ecuador has wrecked my heart…

I just don’t words. I keep tearing up thinking about the deepest level poverty I’ve experienced in my life and I keep asking myself how do people live there. I keep asking God why I was born where I was and why they were born where they were.

I can’t get the kids faces out of my head. Their beautiful little faces. We arrived by boat to the island of Limones and, what seemed like, every child from the island line the dock and cheered for us. Why did they do that? We should have been cheering for them.

I just keep thinking about how many kids die a day because of poverty. In case you’re wondering, that’s 19,000.

And, here’s what I’m so ticked about…they don’t have to die. They can be saved from poverty.

Ecuador has wrecked my heart….

Watching Bekah walk hand in hand with these beautiful and precious little girls just wrecked my heart. Watching them play with her hair and just truly marvel at her face just wrecks my heart.IMG_0640

Watching Bekah try to process the fact that children live in places that make your stomach turn and your heart sad is something else.

Watching Bekah hug these precious little kids is almost too much for this dad.

I just keep praying that God would put a holy discontent on Bekah’s heart to do something to help the world’s poor.

Ecuador has wrecked my heart…

I just keep praying for forgiveness for the all the precious resources I ‘ve wasted. I am mad that my family hasn’t sponsored more children. I mean its $38 dollars a month! I’m sad when I think about all the money I’ve wasted on silly things that could have been used to literally save a child’s life and release them from poverty.

I just keeping thanking God that my Zach and Madie weren’t born in some of these places. They may have not made it because of their PKU. I stood in a home yesterday that was no bigger than a large houses closet and the kitchen the size of a washer cardboard box and I kept thinking…how would families care for PKU kids here? I don’t think they could.

Ecuador has wrecked my heart…

Being around passionate and inspired leaders like Greg Nettle and Wes Stafford has opened the eyes of my heart to how much God can use regular people like me.

Being around amazing church leaders and seeing God move in their hearts and releasing that because of this trip, churches can be planted. When a church is planted, a community is changed. The light is brought into the darkness.

When that church comes to a community, 200 children are sponsored and released from poverty. A Child development center pours into those children and their families. And 30 people in that child’s life are affected by their sponsorship.

Ecuador has wrecked my heart…

There is a reason that children and the poor were close to Jesus’ heart. There is a reason that they should be close to my mine as well.

I’m ashamed. I’m saddened. I’m angry. I’m disgusted. All with myself. For years I squandered time. I wasted resources. I didn’t care about the poor or children. I’ve could have done so much more.

Maybe Ecuador hasn’t wrecked my heart. Maybe it’s Jesus. Maybe He’s the one who’s doing the wrecking.

I have seen him so many times on this trip. I have seen him in the eyes of our translators as they hug and kiss the families of sponsored children. I have seen in him in the flesh in the pastors of the amazing churches that have been planted here. I have seen him work through the Compassion staff at the Child Development Centers.

Jesus has wrecked my heart.

I am praying somehow, someway He will use me to help others experience what I have experienced in Ecuador.

May God wreck your heart.

Please check out the work of Compassion and Stadia. Please email me (jason.raitz@thrivechurchmi.cc) if you have any questions. Together we can make a huge difference!

Why I love my Church so much!

I love my Church! That’s probably pretty clear if you follow me on social media or  spend any time around me. I just really love my church. In fact, I really love the LOCAL CHURCH! I believe to my core that because of Jesus, it is the hope of the world!

Why I do love it so much? Because I get see miracles! 

Well, not too long ago, I was having a conversation with someone about my church, the church and God. In kind of an abrupt way they told me that miracles don’t happen anymore and so why be a christian…why be a part of a church!?!

I was dumbfounded and blown away! I told them that I see miracles all the time! They argued with me and again said that miracles don’t happen.

Are you freaking kidding me?

In Thrive’s 95 week existence, I’ve seen miracles of all shapes and sizes. I’ve seen men trust in Jesus who once hated God. I’ve seen marriages healed. I’ve seen relationships fixed. I’ve seen dozens and dozens of people baptized. I’ve seen a tiny little church start to grow so rapidly that we’re outgrowing our space. I’ve seen dads come to church who promised their kids they would NEVER come to Church.

Miracles. Big ones, small ones. 

I actually got this super encouraging text yesterday and I just loved it…

I just wanted to say thank you! No really, THANK YOU! Last Sunday marked my one year since I have been at Thrive. This Sunday marks my husbands one year. 1 of my children made the choice to have a relationship with Christ. 2 have been Baptized. 1 of the teens they bring to church was Baptized too. And we have a bazillion more Sunday’s to go!

I KNOW that GOD is moving at our Church and it’s an honor to be around a church where miracles happen.

AND…this FALL! Holy COW! This fall is going to be an amazing season of ministry for our CHURCH!

  • I believe people will come to know Jesus.
  • I believe people will experience Life Change.
  • I believe people will give up addictions.
  • I believe people will let go of sins that have been holding them back.
  • I believe people will see family members lives changed.
  • I believe people will be baptized!
  • I believe our time of worship will be so powerful!
  • I believe we will outgrow the theater!
  • I believe we’ll have so many people in Small Groups that we won’t know what to do!
  • I believe ONE YOUTH is going to outgrow the HUB.
  • I believe God will use Thrive Church to ROCK Central MICHIGAN!

I just can’t wait! It beings this Sunday with the start of our new series called ‘I love my Church’. I hope you will join us at Celebration Cinema at either 9 or 1015!

See you on Sunday and get ready to some miracles!

I love my Church!

The day you decided to give Church a chance…that could be today

What are you doing this morning? I know it’s early. And, you’re probably shocked this blog made it to your news feed. But, seriously, what if today is the day you decided to give Church a chance?

Maybe you’ve given up on Church. Promised you were done with Church. Or vowed you would never step foot into a church again.

OR

Maybe you’ve been thinking about it. Maybe a friend has been asking you. Maybe you’ve just had a hard time getting rid of the thought that you’re suppose to give Church a try.

Whatever the reason, today could be the day you give Church a chance.

You’re invited to Thrive Church

If you’re looking for a Church that’s Simple, Fun and Real, then check out Thrive.

We are very laid back and casual, we laugh a ton, there are no perfect people allowed and our mission is to help people find and follow Jesus.

We’re not about rules and traditions, simply, we’re about following Jesus.

So, we would love for you to join us this morning!

Head to Celebration Cinema at either 9 or 1015. You will get your kids checked into Thrive Kidz, grab some free coffee and donuts and then head to theater one for the experience.

See you soon!

A Sunday Evening Reflection and Recap of Dad Fest 2015

Wow, it’s late. Well, for my sleep cycle, it is late. And, considering I was up super early, I’m shocked I’m still up.

But, I’m watching the Cav’s and I’m hoping they pull out a win!

In the midst of that, my mind is still racing about this morning at Thrive!

It was just an absolutely spectacular day for our Church!

We are our 88 weeks old, but for some reason, God is using our young church to reach people for His kingdom! And, I’m honored!

Here are a few things I was so excited to hear today at Thrive…

  • ‘This is how Church people are suppose to act’
  • We’re almost out of Bibles! We’ve given out almost 5 cases of Bibles in the last 5 months, that’s just awesome!
  • ‘I never thought church could be like this’
  • ‘I’ve been running from Jesus for a long time and I’m done running’
  • ‘Is it like this every Sunday’? (said by a first time guest)
  • ‘Thank you for making a day that would get my husband here’

It was just awesome to see so many people serve, invite and bring friends and family and pray for God to move!

I really do love my church and I know the best is yet to come!