It’s pretty awesome when someone in the community asks you about your Church because of your sweatshirt! Here’s what happened yesterday…
Coolest Story EVER!
I was paying at iHop and my waitress looked at my Thrive sweatshirt and asked if that was the Church that baptizes all those people! I honestly was shocked and said YES! She said she read about us in the Morning Sun and she’s always wanted to visit. EASIEST INVITE EVER!!!! HOW freaking awesome is that?!?
It’s only a God thing what’s happening at Thrive!
So, head to Thrive this morning and experience what God is doing! We meet at Celebration Cinema at either 9 or 1015! Come a little early!
Speaking of Baptisms
Our next BAPTISM is on November 13th during both experiences!!! YEAH, you read that right. The theater gave us permission and we are borrowing a portable baptismal!!
Just imagine being a part of that EXPERIENCE?!? People taking the STEP to Publicly Declare to Follow Jesus and the Band Leading us in Worship at the Same Time???
Don’t MISS Sunday, November 13th!!! We’ve never been able to do baptisms in our theater and we can’t wait!
It never ceases to amaze me how God moves and uses really simple things to reach people for his kingdom!
One of my great passions in ministry is Small Groups! As much as I love communicating and building strategic plans around gathering groups of people for an event…Small Groups just get me fired up!
Ever since I read Sticky Church, I’ve been hooked! If you can create environments that are so welcoming and so accepting and so rewarding, people will STICK! Kids will Stick. Students will Stick. Students will Stick! And, that’s what we want at Thrive!
We want EVERY Thriver in a Small Group!
We want EVERY Thriver to have a group of people who will be their ‘people’! Where they can ask spiritual questions without worrying about being judged. Where they can be prayed for. Where they can be loved. Where they can be taken care of. Where they can grow spiritually.Where they can live out the ‘One Another’s’ of the New Testament.
At Thrive, that’s why Small Groups are our Secret Sauce! We believe fully in Andy Stanley’s great quote…
Circles are better than rows
But, it takes some commitment and energy to make GREAT Small Groups. It’s just not automatic. And, I would rather my Small Group be great and something people look forward to, than just ok.
So, if you want your Small Group to be GREAT, here are a few things you can do to make it GREAT!
1. ONE…Make it a priority!
Simple, right? Wrong! We’re so busy! There are so many things clamoring for our attention and we feel like we have to say yes to everything.
And, don’t throw tomatoes at me, but honestly, it seems like everything is more important than our spiritual growth now a days.
Our kids activities are def. more important. Just look at your calendar. Again, not saying at all that kids stuff isn’t important, I love watching my kids at school and in sports.
But, what if we lived like the early Church in Acts 2:42?
‘They Devoted themselves’. Just think about that word for a second. Have you DEVOTED yourself to…
‘Teaching, Fellowship, Breaking of Bread and to Prayer’?
What if our GROUPS became SACRED. We blocked out that time. My family has done some crazy things in the past to protect our Group time. Take some time to think and to pray about what you could do to make being a group a Priority for you and your family.
2. Really Care about your group.
Yes, another one that sounds simple. But, what if we put the same energy into our groups that we did our passions in life (working out, camping, hunting, shopping)? Yeah, our groups would be pretty darn special wouldn’t they?
- Imagine if we prayed for our group every day.
- Imagine if we learned everything we could about the people in our group?
- Imagine if we cared for all the kids in our group?
What can you do to really care about your group?
3. Actually pray for each group member and their families.
Again, I’m not breaking any records for deep thoughts. But, it’s crazy to me, if we’re really being honest, how little we pray!?!
Get a journal or make an online note or a note on your phone, and keep a record of all the prayer requests in your group and actually…
Pray for them.
4. Support your Church and Pastor.
I know you’ve probably never met someone who just stirs up the drama pot whatever chance they get! But, sometimes, small groups can become havens for the complainers, the gossipers and the drama lovers. Especially about Church stuff.
Don’t allow that in your group! If you can’t fully support your church and pastor, maybe you’re at the wrong church.
Spend time praying for your church, your pastor and the staff. Pray for the leadership. Pray for the kids and students.
A great small group is when the talk is equally spread around. If you lead or host the group, remember this great principle…talk 20% of the time and listen 80%.
Now, it might take some time for you to feel comfortable enough to talk. That’s ok. But, its pretty awesome when every one in the group adds to the group.
Ask spiritual questions. Tell the group what you’re learning from scripture. Share what’s on your heart.
This is huge! Find some time to serve somebody! Serve the people in your group. When someone gets sick or life has taken a twist, feed them! Care for them. Or, as a group, find some time to serve your church or community.
There is something powerful that happens when your group unites outside of the group and serves.
7. Create special memories.
When someone has a birthday in our group, make a BIG deal about! Have your whole group sing to them, lay hands on them and pray for them and then celebrate with cake and ice cream.
If you have kids and students, make a big deal when they hit certain ages.
Go on vacations together. Do spring break together. Go to each other’s kids games.
Help each other. Our group helped us paint a room for our upcoming adoption.
8. Stick Together.
Yeah, this goes against some of the popular thoughts into group dynamics and ministry of always splitting up. But, the more time you have together, the deeper your community will be.
And, if someone in your group feels the nudge from the Holy Spirit to start their own group, send them out!! Celebrate them!!
If you don’t want your group to be GREAT, then don’t do any of these things.
Here’s the thing, the less you do, the more you can do better. So, you may have to say no to some things in your life to make your group great, but I promise you…it will be worth it!
Put some energy into these things and do them over time and your small group will be GREAT!
It will become a weekly highlight. It will become something that your entire family looks forward to!
Yes, I’ll be honest, I am super EXCITED this morning!
Why? Because I have the joy of serving in Thrive Kidz!
I use to believe what some leaders taught about serving in Kids Ministry. I use to buy into the idea that if you’re not specifically gifted to work with kids, you shouldn’t.
I don’t buy into that idea any longer.
Why? Because Kids are close to the heart of God and so shouldn’t they be close to ours? Even if you don’t have specific gifts to serve kids, I think we all should care and love and pour into kids.
I mean, didn’t Jesus welcome them?
So, I can’t wait!
If you’re not serving in kids now, I really hope you’ll consider giving some time to Thrive Kidz. It’s a huge investment in the Kingdom of God!!
ONLY GOD had got us this far!
It’s been an amazing THREE years! 160 people have been baptized kind of amazing!
This is a big one for me personally, because this past year was hard. I think satan threw everything he could at us and it wasn’t enough! We just kept moving forward! We just kept helping people find and follow Jesus. We just kept seeing amazing life change!
Today is a special day!
I’m so thankful!
I can’t wait to celebrate God with my Thrive family!
I do believe the BEST is YET to COME!!
Ok, I just re-read the title and I cringed. Why? Because to my core, I’m a people person!
I love people! I love their stories! I love getting to know people! I love seeing God work in their lives! I love seeing Jesus’ love envelope them! I love people.
I don’t ever want to Unfollow or Unfriend anyone on Facebook.
But, it happens.
Here’s what I’ve learned when it comes to Facebook in my life. Too much Facebook is not good. Too much negativity is not good. Too much drama is not good. You put them all together and it’s a…
PERFECT STORM OF NOT GOOD!
It’s just not good for my soul to constantly be filled with all that trash.
So, I unfollow people.
- If they use their own personal page to create drama
- If they use it to fill the inter webs with even more negativity than it needs
- If they speak poorly of others
- If they Bash churches or Pastors
- If they Bash anyone or are just downright awful
- If they swear or post nasty images
Now, it’s their right to do that! I’m not saying they shouldn’t. It’s their page and they can do what they want. I choose a different way. I wrote this blog post at the beginning of the year about how I approach using Facebook. I know its a bit radical for some, but I personally think the Kingdom of God would benefit from more followers of Jesus using their page to represent Him!
And, I unfriend people.
This really hasn’t happened much. Even when people have spoken poorly of me and bashed me, I waited for them to unfriend me.
Really, the only reason I would unfriend someone is if they really bashed someone I cared for. Or, if they really bashed the ‘Church’.
Ok, that’s not true. A few years ago I realized I had thousands of friends on Facebook and I didn’t know hardly any of them. So, I went through and unfriended about a 1000 and got tired and I stopped!
I’ve been unfollowed and unfriended…
The reality is, I know that people have unfollowed me. At times, I have posted way too much or I have been way over the top about how excited I am about my church and what God is doing there. People have unfollowed me. It’s ok.
And, people have unfriended me and that’s ok.
The reality is, I have found that this is important for my own soul. This may not be important for yours. But, my hope is that people will stop filling Facebook with trash.
We’ll see. I’m hopeful.
I have heard similar stories a hundred or more times, probably more.
‘Yeah, life has been hard, so I just don’t have time for Church’
‘My life is falling a part and I blame God’
‘Church just doesn’t fit with my crazy life right now’
‘I’m upset at a decision the Pastor made and so I’m going to find another church’
‘People look at me with judgmental eyes at Church’
Totally get this from folks who are far from Jesus.
Totally would expect it.
But, I’m just shocked at the amount of people who say they follow Jesus and they fall into one of these categories.
Now, before you think I’m going all Judgmental. I’ve been there! I was once SUPER CRAZY STUPID burned out on Church. I was. I said some of those reasons. So, I get this all too well!
But, by the grace of God, I woke up and jumped back in.
I don’t know what’s happening in your life right now. I don’t know how hard it is. I don’t know if you’re ticked off at your Pastor. I don’t know if somebody in your church has excluded you. I don’t know if you lost your job and you blame God.
Whatever the reason. Don’t give up. That’s the easy thing to do.
Jump back in to your relationship with God. He’s ready and waiting! He can’t wait to immerse you in His love.
Jump back in to Christ’s bride. The Church is waiting for you and needs you.
So, today is my birthday.
I am 41.
To be honest, last year’s birthday was pretty hard. Actually, it was awful! Not that I turned 40, but because this year has been a tough year.
Regardless, another year, another birthday and it has me thinking. I’ll be 50 in 9 years. I have 9 years to accomplish many of the things that have been on my bucket list. So, here goes. A little warning, some are crazy selfish!
41 Things I hope to Accomplish
- Take my dad and boys to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
- Actually take Tracie somewhere for our anniversary. We’ll celebrate 20 years this May and we’ve never done a trip to celebrate.
- Take my mom and my family to Washington DC.
- Finally get healthy.
- Lose 100 pounds.
- Give up drinking pop.
- Memorize the book of James.
- Read 12-15 books a year.
- Write the book that’s been on my heart for 10 years called…’A Field, a Pedestal and a Shattered Heart’. It’s about how to get back up after you’ve been knocked down and your heart has been shattered.
- Take my family to Ecuador to meet our Compassion kids and bless them.
- Plant 5 Thrive locations around MI. Big Rapids, Midland, Saginaw, Grand Rapids, Lansing.
- Help plant and invest in 3 more brand new church plants in the US.
- Raise $170,000 to plant 2 Churches in Ecuador with Compassion and Stadia.
- Take my dad and family on a Baseball Stadium tour.
- Start a youtube channel for people who want to become a better communicator.
- Sponsor 2 more Compassion Kids. We have 3 now, we want 5. One for each Raitz kid.
- Take Tracie to Hawaii.
- Spend a week in Dana Point, CA. My favorite spot on the planet.
- Build or Renovate a building for Thrive.
- Open up a full time homeless shelter in Central MI.
- Open up a ministry for people to get their cars fixed.
- Be a part of buying 10,000 pair of shoes for local elementary kids in Central MI.
- Write a series of ebooks for Church Planters.
- Remodel our house.
- Put in a basketball court for our kids on our side lot.
- Finally own a hot tub.
- Fast one day a week.
- Take my family to Israel and see the Holy land.
- Preach at Newspring Church.
- Have a conversation with Andy Stanley.
- Sing with Darius Rucker.
- Buy my dad a brand new truck.
- Thrive Church families sponsor 1000 Compassion kids.
- Take dance lessons with Tracie.
- Write a book on 1 Corinthians 13 and call it something cool like…Choose Love…there’s no better way.
- Bring a Passion (Yes, with Crowder and the gang) event to Central Michigan University.
- Take each Raitz kid to wherever they want to go on the planet.
- Walk Bekah down the aisle.
- Start an online Bible College with Dr. Tom Rundel.
- Buy each Raitz kid their own computer.
- Help other families adopt kids.
I’m excited. I’m a bit nervous. But, really, I’m more excited.
Today is going to be a GREAT day at Thrive.
We start a new series called ‘Show Up, Jump In, Do Good’. It’s a series about our Spiritual Formation process and how every single person who comes to Thrive can be the mission of Thrive Church!
Today is SHOW UP Sunday and I’m praying that’s exactly what happens!
So often people think that its the Pastors job to live out the mission (it is) or the staff (it is) or the leadership (it is), but they lose sight of the fact that it is everyone’s job to do that.
Plus, I’m sharing something at Thrive that I’ve never shared before. Its something I wrote about Thrive before our Church even started and I can’t wait to share it.
Please join us! If you’re looking for a church home or you’ve felt for awhile that its time to head back to Church, come to Thrive!
We meet at both 9 and 1015 at Celebration Cinema! See you this morning!