I’ve been speaking to students for 20 years and I love it!

I was driving home today from a speaking engagement and the thought hit me…

I have been speaking to students for over 20 years! 

That’s just crazy! speaking

I don’t even have the words to describe how honored I am that I have been able to teach and encourage and challenge students all these years.

I have spoke in churches, youth groups, conferences, schools, private schools and colleges.

I have traveled all over the country. I have spoke to groups of 10 students and all the way to thousands.

I really don’t speak outside of Thrive all that often anymore, but I loved today.

I believe in students and I have always loved teaching them about Jesus.

I have to say no to far more opportunities to speak now than I’d like, but I love the opportunities I can be a part of! This summer I’m speaking at two summer camps and I can’t wait!

I hope that students experienced Jesus today and they were inspired to live like Him!




Yesterday was Thrive’s most Important Day Ever!

I am still buzzing from yesterday!

Yesterday morning at Thrive was pretty awesome, but…

Yesterday afternoon was just amazing! 

Honestly, it may have been one of Thrive’s MOST IMPORTANT MOMENTS



Because a group of Thrivers gathered on the campus of CMU to Pray, Dream and Ask God to use our Church to help people find and follow Jesus.

It was just incredible! 

Let me back up. We’re renting Plachta auditorium and Finch Fieldhouse at CMU to use on Easter Sunday, March 27th. We’re doing that because we’ve outgrown our space at the movie theater we rent and we just couldn’t hold everyone on Easter if we stayed. So, for one Sunday, we’re moving.

We walked through the spaces that we are going to use for Easter at Thrive and then we prayed together for that space. We then sat together for a moment in the auditorium and talked through what this means for our Church.

The obvious question came up…

Could Thrive move to this location full timIMG_1810e? 

Yes we could and I believe that God is directing our steps in order for us to do just that. There are a few hurdles. The cost is substantially more and we would need additional equipment and signage. But, our kids environment would be a million times better and we would have the opportunity to reach college students in a new and unique way!

But, like Ephesians 3:20 says…‘God can do anything’. So, we prayed together! 

The moment that got me was at the end. All of us went on the stage and looked out. It’s a tremendously powerful view from the stage and the reality just hits you…what if God filled these seats with people who desperately need to find and follow Him? What if this little tiny start up ChurIMG_2138ch could be used to unleash unprecendented amounts of compassion on our city and our region? What if we raised up the next generation of students to help lead the way? What if?

Then, if that wasn’t all enough, everyone got on our knees and we prayed together. Wow! That was just awesome! To have adults and kids on our knees and praying. That has officially become one of my favorite Thrive moments!

Lastly, we gave everyone a purple key to put on their key ring. When they see it, we asked them to pray about our future home and if CMU is that home.

I love what God is doing in my Church and I’m so honored to be the Pastor. I am beyond excited for what’s next and I can’t wait to see how God brings it all together!

I so hope you can join us for Easter at Thrive on March 27th at either 930 or 11am on the campus of CMU.

An update on our Adoption Process. Meet Kai!!

Well, to be quite honest, the month of February was a tough month for the Raitz family. It feels like we have been coming out of a daze.

As you may or may not know, we started our adoption process a few months ago and we fell in love with a little girl from China with PKU…who we named Winona Mae. Everything was moving nicely and God provided some amazing miracles. Amazing miracles!

Then we received a call that took our breath away. Winona had passed away. Her orphanage didn’t have central heating and a virus was going through and her little body couldn’t fight it off. We were and still are heart broken. I know we never had the privilege to hold her or to cuddle her, but she was very much a part of our family!

Good thing that God is close to the broken hearted. 

God has been healing our hearts and we’ve been praying and praying and we have decided to continue moving forward with our adoption plans.

For the past few weeks, we have been reading and looking over files on children from a few orphanages in China. We have been praying and seeking God. Honestly, its been heart breaking. There is so much need and so many kids need a forever home.

After praying and seeking God, Tracie and I decided to put in our paperwork for Kai and we have been praying all week. Well, we found our last night that we were approved!!

Meet Kai. kai

His Chinese name is Zou Hong Kai. He’s 2 years old and has PKU. He’s a little behind developmentally, but they tell us he’s making great strides.

We had hit the pause button on our home study and dossier when we found out about Winona’s death, but we are picking it all back up.

Prayerfully we will be heading to China sometime in the next 6 months to bring Kai home.

We have SO MUCH TO DO! There is still a mound of paperwork to get in. Our home study is not complete yet and we have a lot of paperwork to do still for our dossier.

And, by God’s amazing GRACE and PROVISION, we have been able to raise about half of the adoption costs. We will be applying for many grants in the next few months.

We can’t thank you enough for your prayers and encouragement!!


3 Years Ago Today…What a ride it’s been!

It was 3 years ago tonight that Thrive (we weren’t even called Thrive yet…we just called ourselves…Brand New Church) met for our second ever worship preview night at the Shepherd Bar. three years

I was coming home from speaking at a winter retreat and drove right to the Bar. We borrowed pieces of a sound system and our team did a great job of creating a welcoming environment. I even lead worship (sorry if you were there)! Plus, it was a lot of fun telling people we met at a bar! It definitely weeded out some overly ‘churchy’ people right from the beginning.

There were 28 people on our launch team at that point and the Shepherd bar was packed that night. After everyone left, our launch team ate and laughed and dreamed. Half of those original folks are still a part of Thrive and serve every week. We wouldn’t exist without those folks and every time I see them I hug them! 

I think back over these past three years and I’m just blown away by God’s faithfulness. It was pretty hard (that’s a tremendous understatement) to get Thrive launched and off the ground and I’m so grateful for how God has provided. I think the average attender of a Church plant doesn’t realize how hard it is to get a brand new church off the ground.

Our Church only exists because of the amazing Grace of God. Satan has done everything possible to try to destroy and wreck and ruin this little Church, but because of an amazing group of people and God’s incredible hand of protection, we’re still here.

Back in those early days, we didn’t have any staff, any money, any equipment, any teams, or even a name. We just knew God had given us a HUGE dream to create a church for people who had given up on God or Church and help them find and follow Jesus.

That Vision and Mission remain!

It’s just amazing to think how far we’ve come. If an attender of Thrive today could go back and experience Thrive then, I think they would run away quickly! Hah. There are some days I walk around our offices in utter disbelief.

Like yesterday, I opened up the Thrive Kidz craft closet and I started to cry. Ok, before you think I’m a nut. I can remember when we couldn’t afford stickers or crafts for Thrive Kidz. So, to open up this neatly organized closet and see all that God has provided, it was a humbling moment.

And then last week to have North Lake Church give us a 24 foot trailer and 3 portable cases, wow!

God has been so good to us and its such an honor to be a part of Thrive Church! It’s been the hardest journey of my life, but I love it!

I can’t wait to celebrate our official three year anniversary on October 2, 2016. I so hope you will join us and be apart of what God is doing!

Monday Sidebars on Life, Family and Ministry on Tuesday

Here are a few sidebars on life, family and ministry…

On Life

I have heat again in my car! One of my amazing friends helped get it going. I’m blessed.

I re-tweaked my back over the weekend and was in pretty good pain. Sunday morning at Church, we were in our production team meeting and I laid on the floor to get some relief. One of amazing elders, David, rallied the troops to lay hands on me and pray. I felt instant relief.

No JOKE! INSTANT RELIEF! I love that we’re a church that believes in the power of prayer!

On Family

Tracie and I have a 16 year daughter. That is still just crazy to me! Rebekah Sue Raitz turned 16 yesterday. She is the love and joy of my life and I can just see God’s hand all over her!

On Sunday, we had a party at our house for her. Pretty much all of Tracie’s family drove up for Church and then came to our house for the party!

It was AWESOME!!! We had family and friends and celebrated Bekah! What a huge blessing!

On Ministry

Between two churches, Thrive and City Campus Church from Columbus, OH. We raised 60,000 bottles of water for Flint! That’s just awesome. We did have a competition going and C3 kicked our tails, but its all good.

It got me thinking. Wouldn’t it be amazing if more local churches worked together?

Last week, we were able to finally pick up a giant trailer that was given to Thrive from NorthLake Church in Texas. What a giant blessing.

It really helps us start to get ready for our eventual move out of the movie theater we rent.

The next 2 months are giant for Thrive! We now turn our attention to the Shoe Project and Easter. We have partnered with Shepherd & Winn Elementary to provide a brand new pair of shoes for every student. It’s a giant undertaking! We are raising the funds and on April 19th, we will head in with 800 some brand new pair of shoes for those kids! I can’t wait.

And, Easter is coming! We are moving to Central Michigan University for Easter Sunday and we can’t wait! So much planning, preparing and praying is going into this move!

Would you pray at 3:27pm everyday for Easter Sunday? 

Enough Already!?! I don’t want to HELP others!

‘I don’t want to help other people’

‘Why should we care about people in third world countries?’

‘I have enough of my own problems to be concerned with someone else’s problems’

‘I can’t help all that much, so why should I?’

‘I barely have enough for me, why should someone else get help if I don’t?’

‘I’m tired of people getting handouts’

Be honest, have you ever thought any of these? Come on, just be honest! Well, I’ll be honest. I have thought some of these.

There is an epidemic going around ‘Merica! It’s worse than anything we’ve ever seen and it just continues to grow and grow. There are times when it looks like we’ll overcome it, but so often, it rears its nasty head and continues on its path of destruction.

What’s this epidemic called?


Do you have ‘me-itis’? Are you more concerned with yourself than others? Do you have an insatiable desire to care for your self but not others? Have you ever compared what you have to your friends or family? When you see someone who needs help, do you think any of the questions in the beginning of this post?

If so, you may have ME -ITIS. The side effects are real. Here they are…

Pride. Arrogance. Tight knuckles. Lack of friends. Lack of love. Lack of blessings. No one to help when you need it. A smaller room in heaven. A lighter crown. Walking with a slump. Walking with a stick up your rear (very painful). 

action twoThose are just some of the side effects. Some may not be truly right on. Hah! But, here’s the thing, if you follow Jesus, you have the ABSOLUTE PERFECT EXAMPLE of why we should care for others and then ACTUALLY HELP THEM! 

‘In everything I’ve done, I have demonstrated to you how necessary it is to work on behalf of the weak and not exploit them. You’ll not likely go wrong here if you keep remembering that our Master said, ‘You’re far happier giving than getting.’” ~Acts 20:35 (the message)

‘When he looked out over the crowds, his heart broke. So confused and aimless they were, like sheep with no shepherd.’ ~Matthew 9:36 (the message)

So, today is the day to start caring. To start helping. To overcome MEITIS. To start asking God to break your heart for the needs of others.

“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. ~Matthew 7:1-2 (the message)

‘Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.’ ~Romans 12:20-21 (the message)

Maybe you start with baby steps:action

Donate water to #floodflintwithlove

Volunteer to serve at Church

Volunteer to serve at your kids school

Volunteer to serve at the homeless shelter

Participate in the Shoe Project (If you’re a part of Thrive Church)

Look for ways to serve your neighbors

Help a family member in need

Just be and live Jesus wherever you go.

Flood Flint with Love

Thrive Church is collecting water to #floodflintwithlove!

Why? Because people need water and what has happened in Flint is awful! So, this is the time for the Church to rise up and help!

We also have a fun challenge going on with City Campus Church in Columbus, OH. You can read more that here.

If you want to help, please HELP!

You can drop off water today and tomorrow at the Hub (The address is below), or you can bring it to Thrive on Sunday.

Bring MORE WATER!!!! 

Here’s another awesome update! We were gratiously donated a moving truck AND driver that is going to help us take all the water to Flint on Sunday!

Thanks Morse Moving and Allied Van lines!!!

Lets fill that moving truck with water! Drop off water to the HUB today or tomorrow (just leave it outside the front door) or bring it to church Sunday or meet us at the HUB Sunday at 1200!!!