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Jason Raitz

Jesus Follower. Husband. Dad. Son. Brother. Pastor.

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Church Leadership

Why is Church and God the first to go when life gets tough?

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.

I turn 41 Today. 41 Things I hope to accomplish by the time I’m 50!

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

  1. Take my dad and boys to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
  2. Actually take Tracie somewhere for our anniversary. We’ll celebrate 20 years this May and we’ve never done a trip to celebrate.
  3. Take my mom and my family to Washington DC.
  4. Finally get healthy.
  5. Lose 100 pounds.
  6. Give up drinking pop.
  7. Memorize the book of James.
  8. Read 12-15 books a year.
  9. 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.
  10. Take my family to Ecuador to meet our Compassion kids and bless them.
  11. Plant 5 Thrive locations around MI. Big Rapids, Midland, Saginaw, Grand Rapids, Lansing.
  12. Help plant and invest in 3 more brand new church plants in the US.
  13. Raise $170,000 to plant 2 Churches in Ecuador with Compassion and Stadia.
  14. Take my dad and family on a Baseball Stadium tour.
  15. Start a youtube channel for people who want to become a better communicator.
  16. Sponsor 2 more Compassion Kids. We have 3 now, we want 5. One for each Raitz kid.
  17. Take Tracie to Hawaii.
  18. Spend a week in Dana Point, CA. My favorite spot on the planet.
  19. Build or Renovate a building for Thrive.
  20. Open up a full time homeless shelter in Central MI.
  21. Open up a ministry for people to get their cars fixed.
  22. Be a part of buying 10,000 pair of shoes for local elementary kids in Central MI.
  23. Write a series of ebooks for Church Planters.
  24. Remodel our house.
  25. Put in a  basketball court for our kids on our side lot.
  26. Finally own a hot tub.
  27. Fast one day a week.
  28. Take my family to Israel and see the Holy land.
  29. Preach at Newspring Church.
  30. Have a conversation with Andy Stanley.
  31. Sing with Darius Rucker.
  32. Buy my dad a brand new truck.
  33. Thrive Church families sponsor 1000 Compassion kids.
  34. Take dance lessons with Tracie.
  35. Write a book on 1 Corinthians 13 and call it something cool like…Choose Love…there’s no better way.
  36. Bring a Passion (Yes, with Crowder and the gang) event to Central Michigan University.
  37. Take each Raitz kid to wherever they want to go on the planet.
  38. Walk Bekah down the aisle.
  39. Start an online Bible College with Dr. Tom Rundel.
  40. Buy each Raitz kid their own computer.
  41. Help other families adopt kids.

 

 

I’m Sharing something today at Thrive that I’ve never shared before…

I’m excited. I’m a bit nervous. But, really, I’m more excited. so-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!

10 Ways to Really SHOW UP at Thrive Church

 

It’s up to you, you can SHOW UP or you can not. If you do plan on SHOWing UP, here are 10 ways to really SHOW UP at Thrive Church.

10 Ways to really SHOW UP. 

1. Show Up consistently. We show up so we can get filled up to go out and help people find and follow Jesus.

2. Show Up with a smile. Life is hard. We are the Church for the broken and neglected. But, as much as you can, show up with a smile. If you can’t, don’t worry about it!

3. Show Up with someone. Yes, bring whoever you know.

4. Show Up with your kids. Oh my sweet goodness, bring your kids! They will love Thrive Kidz and One Youth!

5. Show Up early. Yup, come on! Our teams work really hard for you to experience God. Don’t miss any of it.

6. Show Up and serve. One of the best ways to get involved. If you really want to SHOW UP. come at 7am and help set up!

7. Show Up and give. Yes, we’re a church that asks you to give a portion of your finances to God through the Church. You’re blessed when you give and others are too!

8. Show Up online. We live in an online world. Like, comment, encourage, share as much as you can!

9. Show Up with encouragement. People are hurting. Bring the encouragement!

10. Show Up with support. Yeah, support your Church. Support your Pastors.

10 Ways that would have gigantic and profound impact on your life and Thrive Church!

Why I love Sunday’s at Thrive! Today is no different!

Today is Thrive’s 151st Sunday! 

WOO HOO!!!!!

I celebrate every Sunday because I know how hard it has been to get to this point! I think many folks take it for granted, but I’m just not going to do that!

I appreciate every Sunday! Today is no different!

Here’s why:

1. Because I believe in Thrive’s Vision and Mission with every once of my HEART!

2. Because I love the Staff and Elders at Thrive!

3. Because I love the people of Thrive Church!

4. Because I love how we do Church.

5. Because I love the volunteers at Thrive!

6. Because I love the students at Thrive!

7. Because I love the risks we take as a Church!

8. Because I love the families at Thrive Church!

Today is no different! I love my Church and I can’t wait to see what God does this morning at Thrive!

I hope you will join us at either 9 or 1015 at Celebration Cinema!

 

Today is my 3 year anniversary with Thrive Church! 3 Lessons I’ve learned about planting and leading a Church…

Woo Hoo!!

Today, (or maybe it was yesterday?), is my 3 year work anniversary with Thrive Church!

Super Duper! Neato!IMG_1774

Gosh, those THREE years went by quick and I can’t wait for the next three! 

A church planter I’m coaching asked me the other day how long it was from when we first started meeting as a small group to launch Sunday. It was a quick ramp up! This guy was on month 16 and still had 4 months to go before their official launch.

Sometimes I wish I would have gone that route. We officially started meeting weekly as a small group in Jan ’13 and we started gathering monthly for worship services then as well. That was the Shepherd Bar era, that was fun!

During that time, I traveled and spoke for a living. Many church planters are much smarter than I am and don’t have a day job as they plan to launch their churthrive # 4ch, that didn’t work out for me. Every waking second I wasn’t traveling and speaking, I
was planning, preparing and praying for our launch in October of 2013.

The craziest part (and the stoopedest) was that summer, I had 46 flights in 3 months and spoke all over the place! Don’t get me wrong, I loved it! It was a huge honor to teach God’s word all over the country and it provided for my family…double win! But wow, it was a crazy season of life.

I WISH, if I could go back in time. I would have spent at least 6 solid months working full time for Thrive before we officially launched. But, 10 months after we first started meeting as a small group, on October 6, 2013 we officially launch as Thrive Church with 155 people!

I was officially hired to be Thrive’s Pastor by our Management Team and my official start date was either September 1st or 2nd!

3 Years!!!!

They have gone by quick! Especially years 1 and 2. Year 2-3 might just be the toughest year of ministry I’ve had in 20+ years of serving and working for Churches. But, even through the pain, there have been so many amazingly rewarding moments!

3 Lessons I’ve Learned about Planting and Leading a Church

ONE…Pray more.

I know, I was hoping my first lesson would sound super intelligent and ridiculously theological, but it’s me. I would simply pray more! I would devote large portions of my time to prayer. I would get up earlier. I would pray harder. I would pray for people more. I would have more prayer meetings. I would lay hands on people and pray more. I would teach people to pray BIG. I would take more prayer walks.

I would pray more.

TWO…Cast BIGGER VISION.

Oh my goodness, every leader that I’ve ever heard speak about vision is correct when they say…VISION LEAKS! It does! Every one’s vision buckets (like Bill Hybel’s says) has holes in the bottom!

I would read and re-read every book on vision that I could. I read every article and listen to every message. I would learn how to tell better stories and capture stories. I would cast bigger vision.

I would cast BIGGER VISION.

THREE…Right size my expectations. 

I had a very incorrect assumption when we started and my expectations for everyone were pretty off. Honestly, it was pretty unfair of me. I assumed that every one would love Thrive Church as much as I do and want to sacrifice and give and see it grow as much as I did.

I have since learned a very valuable lesson…Thrive Church is not for everyone! We just can’t be. And everyone is not going to be as invested as I think they should be. And this is all ok! Doesn’t mean we won’t push people to grow in their faith or challenge them or encourage them to be in a small group. It just means that I needed to right size my expectations.

I caused myself hurt because sometimes I spent a ton of time pouring and investing into people who eventually left Thrive Church and it absolutely crushed me. It still crushes me anytime somebody leaves. Whether they talk to me or not, it still stings. I talk to Pastors about this all the time and I hear the same thing over and over, it always hurts.

But, the hurt is different now. Why? I have done a better job of right sizing my expectations.

I would right size my expectations.

It’s been 3 amazing years. Honestly, we’ve seen God do some things that have just blown my wildest imaginations away! There is a ton I would do differently! There are so many more lessons, but these three are the big ones.

I can’t wait for the next 3 years! I think God has done some amazing work in my heart and leadership and in my team’s as well this past year and I think and pray and believe that this next year will be our best yet!

We have a giant vision to reach the more than 70,000 people who don’t have a Church home in Central MI! We want to see marriages healed. We want to see kids and students passionate about Jesus and the Church. We want to raise up followers of Jesus who give their lives to Him.

It’s been a GREAT 3 years but they’re over.

I really believe…

The Best is Yet to Come!

Parents…4 Ways to have an incredible school year with your family

Another school year is starting! It’s just crazy how fast the summer flies by! But, here we are and instead of just letting the school year start, I thought about putting together a plan for my family.

You see, I want this to be our best school year yet for our 11th, 9th, 7th and 3rd grader.

Before I go into the list, I guess I should lay the foundation to how our family approaches school and education. Because it’s a bit different than most.

  • It is NOT the school’s responsibility to teach our kids character. It is ours as parents.
  • School is not life. We’re a bit different here than most. We’re more concerned about our kids being actively engaged and involved with their Church than school activities. That doesn’t mean we pull our kids from sports or band or yearbook or all that stuff. School activities are just not our priority.

Here’s why: The Local Church is the most important organization on planet earth. Jesus loved the church enough to die for it. That means its pretty darn important. So, we try to model that importance to our kids and as a family. 

  • We understand that school becomes a mission field for our kids. I grew up in private Christian schools from K-12. I loved my experience. I loved the bible teaching and the chapels. If there were a great evangelical christian school in our area, we would pray about sending our kids to it. But, there isn’t. And, we think as our kids have gotten older and their faith has become more of their own, it’s been awesome to see them represent Jesus and their Church at their school.
  • Straight A’s and perfect attendance is not our goal for our kids. Our goal is for them to love Jesus, love their family, love their Church and live out the fruit of the spirit. Now, we push our kids to do great in school. So, I’m not saying we settle for less than A’s and B’s. But, if our kids got straight A’s and had no character and bullied kids at their school, we failed!

5 Ways to make this the best year yet!

ONE….Pray with your family EVERY Day! Yup, I know–I know, it kind of sounds impossible. Maybe its not for some of you, but my family falls way short on this and I wish it wasn’t so!

But, we’re going to make very attempt to pray together as a family…EVERYDAY! We did ok with this last year, this year we will do much better!

TWO…Eat dinner together at least 3 times a week. Again, for our family with 4 kids and lots of stuff going on, this has become harder and harder. But, like Andy Stanley says…we have to choose to cheat. We will cheat on other stuff and choose our family time this year. Something so cool happens when you all sit down and eat and talk and laugh and enjoy each other.

THREE…Sit down and write out a DREAM wall. Super easy, super important. Set goals for the year. Write down families and kids you’re going to pray for. Write down goals of who you want to invite to church. Write down goals you want to experience as a family.

FOUR…Figure out ways you can bless your kids teachers. I love teachers. After speaking at assemblies in schools, I gained a new perspective and love for teachers. So often, it’s a thankless job. Pray for your kids teachers.

We have spent a ton of time over the years reminding our kids that they can ask their teachers if they can help them. To thank them. To encourage them.

What am I missing? I bet, with this short list, we can have a great school!

Keep Calm its Sunday Morning! Wait, don’t keep calm! It’s SUNDAY!!!!

Hey Thrive Church!Screen Shot 2016-08-28 at 6.16.28 AM
 
It’s Sunday morning! The absolute best part of the week! Why? Because we have the amazing privilege of being a part of something that Jesus gave His life for…

The local Church!

Plus, I couldn’t sleep last night and spend a great deal of time praying for you and I’m PUMPED!! Geeked! EXCITED! Ready to go!!
 
So, don’t miss your chance to
  • GATHER TOGETHER with your Church this morning!
  • Don’t miss your chance to WORSHIP YOUR GOD with your Church.
  • Don’t miss your chance to SERVE other people in your Church.
  • Don’t miss your chance to receive COMMUNION and celebrate and remember what Jesus did on the cross.
  • Don’t miss your chance to MEET new people and LOVE people!
 
It’s super easy to MISS, isn’t it? All Satan does is put excuses in our heads. So, don’t. Plus, I bet God has something HUGE for you this morning!!
 
…If you’re SERVING, please be at Volunteer Central by 8:30am.
…Come early and sit by someone new. Sit close!!
…Say hi to people. Shake hands or wave at folks.
…Worship LOUD. Raise your hands, Close your eyes. Pour out your heart to Jesus.
…Laugh and Learn during the message on how God is for the Worrier.
…GIVE. Yup, give financially. Give sacrificially. Give cheerfully.
 
> > 2 Reasons to be at Thrive > >
 
ONE…It’s the last week of ‘No Perfect People Allowed’. The conclusion is going to be awesome. God is for the Worrier.
 
TWO…We’ll continue the celebration from last week by watching the Baptism and BBQ highlight video!! One of Thrive’s best days ever!!
 
Alright, we’ll see you soon! I’m praying for you! Can’t wait to see you!
 
Jason
 
PS…Don’t forget about next Sunday. It’s called ‘You Asked for It’ Sunday. Dr. Tom and I are going to answer your questions on God, Life, Theology and Faith. Just email them to youaskedforit@thrivechurchmi.cc or text them to 989 572 0439.

Do Pastors try to hard to get people to attend or be a part Church?

Ok, its late. I’m normally not up this late. So, I know I really messed up my ‘to’s’ in the subject line. To be honest with you, I always mess them up! People in my church must think I’m illiterate sometimes!

But, this question has been swirling around in my head lately. And, these thoughts are kind of all over the place, so forgive me.

Do Pastors try to hard to get people to attend or be a part Church? 

I think its a fair question. I’ve read just about every article and blog post on either side of this question.

Us Pastors, we LOVE the Church! And, why would we not want EVERYONE to be involved. To be ALL IN. To be passionate about their local church.

I can scroll for 20 seconds and see my Pastor friends posting videos and pictures about how this Sunday is going to be the most awesome Sunday ever and how people shouldn’t miss.

I am that Pastor! I believe it!

But, should we try to hard? 

I’ve read some very passionate people who think the Church expects way too much out of people and needs to settle down the ‘asks’.

I’ve read some very passionate people who think the Church is the most important organization on the planet and that’s why they’re unashamed when it comes to asking for more and more commitments.

I have experienced both ends of this question and everything in between!

I have and continue to asked a lot

I am on the side of the equation that believes that the Church is the Hope of the World, so I have asked a lot of people! I have asked people to give, to sacrifice, to invest to invite, to bring, to share and to be excited.

I’ve had seasons, especially when we started the church, that I tried to be all things to everyone. I personally messaged hundreds of people every week and invited them to Thrive. I sent emails. I sent handwritten cards. I sent a lot of texts. Now, I really do enjoy doing that! Why? Because I love people’s stories!!

I began to notice that I could see a spike in attendance when I hit all cylinders of social media and reaching out.

But, the down side was…I was trying to be all things to everyone. And, as our Church grew, especially after 400 people, I couldn’t keep it up. I couldn’t respond to all the texts and all the messages. It was hard. I let people down. Almost every text started with…’I am so sorry it has taken so long to respond’.

So, I slowed down.

I asked a lot less

I’ve had seasons where I’ve received a decent amount of criticism, especially when it comes to asking people to make a commitment to honor God with their finances. Whew boy! I have taken some hits. But, I’ve experienced so many blessings, why would I not teach what the Bible has to say about giving? But, I slowed down.

And, the seasons I really slowed down with all the personal invites, I could see attendance go down a bit.

NOW…these are just my observations. Maybe I’m crazy!

I’m trying to not be the Celebrity Pastor

This is a hilarious thought to me. I am so far from even being considered in the celebrity range. I am not cool. I am short stubby guy. I don’t dress cool. I make up words. Honestly, I can’t. It would be too uncomfortable.

But, it’s easy for the Pastor to become the man. For everyone to go the Pastor. For the Pastor to teach every week. Talk to every person. Lead every project. Teach everything.

I just don’t want to be that way.

I just want Jesus to be the Celebrity in our Church

That’s my goal. For people to be so overwhelmed with His presence, His life and His love that they are…

INSPIRED to be the Church! To not just to attend or be a part. But to BE THE CHURCH!

That’s what I want! That’s why I’ve worked hard to try to do a few things…

  1. Empower the Thrive staff to lead.
  2. Raise up a local leadership team (Both Elders and a Financial team).
  3. Develop a teaching team. We have 4 people on our team and 2 in training.
  4. Teach people how to pray for one another.

I don’t know if it’s making a difference. But, I love my Church, I love THE Church and I’m passionate about people falling in love with Jesus.

What do you think about all this? I would love your thoughts.

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