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Jason Raitz

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

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Church Planting

I absolutely LOVE when Katie teaches at Thrive! Like she does today!!

Today, one of my favorite people on planet earth is teaching at Thrive

eisenbergersKatie Eisenberger!

She is just amazing! Her energy, her spirit, her life story and her passion for Jesus is just contagious.

Katie has been around Thrive before Thrive even was Thrive! One day, out of the blue, I got a phone call from Katie asking if we could meet. I sat down and she immediately began to pour out her out about how God was calling her to be a part of this new Church. The more she talked, the more excited I was for the future of this Church! She caught the vision even before the vision was completely birthed! That was in early 2013 and ever since then, Katie and her incredible leadership has helped Thrive grow and flourish!

She’s just a rock star leader and teacher. 

Today she continues our ‘Thrive at the Movies’ series with a look at Borne Identity! Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. Because I’m kind of Matt Damon’s look alike, I could not do the message today! Right!?! It would have just been too confusing! Hah!

But, really, she is diving into a passage of scripture in Ephesians and talking about our Identity! It’s going to be good!

We struggle with our Identity all the time, don’t we? I mean, sometimes we think just students struggle with their Identity, but adults probably have bigger struggles with identity than they ever let on!

We try to find our identity in our cars, in our jobs, in our homes, in our stuff, in our facebook accolades and the list goes on and on.

If you’re a follower of Jesus, our identity is found in Him! Which is amazing! Because He is our rock, our salvation, our freedom and our joy!

So, head to Thrive this morning! 9 or 1015 at Celebration Cinema and let’s continue this journey together!

Meet my friend Jess and the famous Slurpee Sunday tradition

I have an amazing friend named Jessica or Jess or as I try to pronounce it with an ‘h’…

Hessica. I don’t know why I do. It’s silly and I try to be funny with it. Its not, but she lets me do it.IMG_0231

Jess has been at Thrive since our very first Sunday, I believe. Or the second. But, either way, she has been at Thrive ever since. She hasn’t missed many Sunday’s in that time. She plays in the band. She has served in Thrive Kidz. She has helped set up at 7am on Sunday’s. And, she serves in One Youth! Actually, she’s one of the reasons One Youth got going and stayed going. She was the first adult leader and has loved and served students ever since.

If I had to describe Jess using one word, I couldn’t. It would just be too hard. Because I would want to use too many words, words like…

Faithful. Servant. Friend. Hero. Leader. Example. Loving. Caring. Believer. Amazing. Humble. Freaking Awesome. Lover of Jesus. Jesus Follower.

My wife and I have 4 kids and they all adore and love Jess.

Our 12 year old Zach is addicted to slurpees. There is a story behind that, but because of a special diet he’s on, we gave him his first slurpee pretty early on (like barely crawling, hahha) and he’s been hooked ever since.

Well, Jess and Zach have this cool tradition.

It’s called Slurpee Sunday.

After Church, before we’ll head to lunch, she takes Zach to his favorite slurpee place and they get a slurpee. As a dad who believes in having other adults be a part of our kids lives, this means the world. Some Sunday’s it’s probably a pain for her because Zach always remembers and is pretty persistent.

But, Jess is just faithful. Jess just loves. Jess just keeps investing into his life.

She cheered him on at his football games. She’s also taken our 16 year old to her favorite coffee place as well. And she has sat in the stands at many games from students from Thrive.

I was thinking about this today because last Sunday was slurpee Sunday and I was asking God to make me more like Jess.

I hope your kids have a Jess in their lives.

Today’s message at Thrive is the kind I wish I wasn’t giving on July 4th weekend!

Today is July 3rd!

Happy ‘Merica! (almost)

That means though that a ton of regular Thrivers will be not at Thrive this morning!

Now, don’t get me wrong, so many are camping and traveling and relaxing and enjoying their families!

I think that’s Friggin Awesome!

I even told our worship pastor, Matt Moore, to stay home this morning because he deserves a rest and a break!

We all need a break from time to time. Especially folks on our Thrive teams who serve every week!!

But, not to be debbie downer, but today’s attendance at Thrive will be a lower than normal because of those reasons. Again, so happy for people to rest.

For some reason though, when I did the sermon planning, I decided to teach on one of the most important scriptures in all of the Bible about Church Unity and Togetherness today of all days!

1 Cor. 12:12

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.

I love 1 Cor. 12:12-27! It kicks my butt every time I read it!

It basically encourages followers of Jesus to put aside their pride and realized you’ve been gifts to serve the body of Christ. It reminds us how important we all are and how no one is not important.

So, when people give me the excuse that they have nothing to offer or they don’t feel connected or they want to give up on the Church, I’m reminded of these passages!

The local Church, because of Jesus, is the Hope of the World and we all have the honor of bringing that hope to the world! So, don’t miss on your part!

If you can’t be at Thrive this morning, I hope you’ll catch the message online.

And, have a GREAT weekend!!!

What an INCREDIBLE morning AHEAD!! Can’t wait to send my kids to camp and lead worship at Thrive!!

OH MY STINKING GOODNESS!!!!

I am beyond EXCITED for what’s ahead today!!

First of all…It’s Sunday!!! I can’t wait to gather with my Thrive Church family!!!

Second of all…My kids and a great group of students are headed to Big Stuf Camp in Panama City Beach, FL!! 

Third of all…I have the privilege of leading worship at Thrive this morning with an amazing group of musicians! 

I am on freaking overload! I can’t wait! Here we go!

If you don’t have a Church home, you’re invited to Thrive this morning at either 9 or 1015 at Celebration Cinema.

If Thrive is your Church home, COME ONE!!!!! HERE WE GO!!!!

Our kids are heading to Big Stuf Summer Camp Tomorrow and we’re so EXCITED!!!!

The day is almost here! We’ve been waiting for months and months. We’ve been praying for this camp for months and months and now its here! Our kids are packed and one of them has re-packed a few times!

Tomorrow the Raitz kids and a great group of students and leaders are headed to Big Stuf Camp in Panama City Beach, FL.

I AM SO EXCITED!!!!

They can’t wait! We can’t wait! I LOVE SUMMER CAMPS and I can’t wait for our kids and the students from Thrive to experience an amazing week of camp!

Our oldest daughter, Bekah, was only 4 months old when we took her to her first camp and since then, she has traveled with me to dozens and dozens of them. Our other 4 kids have been to many camps as well and I am so excited for them to experience a camp where their dad is not the speaker!

You see, for us…

Summer camp is SACRED! 

As a youth pastor, I took hundreds and hundreds of students to many, many summer camps! As a speaker, I have given hundreds of talks at summer camps over the years.

And, as a teenager, my life was forever changed because of summer camp! 

That’s why Summer camps are sacred to us! I don’t think I would be a Pastor if I hadn’t of had those life changing experiences as a kid and I’m super thankful to my parents for making sure I did!

Yes, camps are A LOT of fun! They should be! But, the potential for INCREDIBLE life change is MASSIVE! There are so many great opportunities for students out there and as a youth pastor I took kids to everything I could! Festivals, camps, concerts, retreats, service trips. They were all awesome. But, for me, what I came to believe is…summer camp has an amazing potential for incredible discipleship and that’s why Thrive is going to invest heavily on summer camps!

That’s why I’m so passionate about getting kids to camp! I dream of the day that Thrive sends students by the bus load to camp and I dream of the day that…

EVERY PARENT and THRIVER is as PASSIONATE ABOUT SENDING KIDS TO CAMP! 

I’m so excited for the students and leaders heading to camp this year!

  • I’m excited for them to experience amazing worship! Many of the worship leaders are from North Point Church…Yeah, that amazing Church!
  • I’m excited for them to hear from amazing speakers! The speakers are world class!
  • I’m excited for them to learn from the amazing breakouts!
  • I’m excited for them to grow in their small groups!! The small groups will be amazing!
  • And yes, I’m excited for them to have an amazing amount of fun!!

This is why we picked Big Stuf! 

So, would you pray? Would you ask God to bless this trip? Would you ask God to just WRECK the HEARTS of the students going.

And, we’re still raising funds, so if you would like to help students attend, just head

HERE

and click on Youth Schlorship and donate!

OH…and, if you want to watch the main sessions from Big Stuff, click HERE.

Yes, You Should Leave Your Church IF…

Ok, that title was tough to type. Why?1923671_998631586850947_1167998122442301564_n

Because I love the Local Church.

I passionately believe that there is no greater organization on planet earth than the local Church! And yes, I love Bill Hybel’s famous quote…’The local Church is the hope of the world’!

But, in the midst of all the beauty and the hope, sometimes,

local churches can get messy and ugly. 

To be honest, I hated the Church when I was 14 years old. I HATED THE CHURCH and I wanted to leave! Now, what I really hated was a person in our church, not the church. But, I put all hate towards the church.

Obviously my love for the Church came back in full force and everyday I thank God for the tremendous privilege He gave me of leading a local Church! So, back to the original question…

So, when should you leave your Church? 

I was meeting with someone recently and they asked me this question. They were really struggling with the thought of leaving and have been praying through it.

This is a tough one for me, because I really hate the phrase…’Church Shopping’. I would never actively point someone to SHOP FOR A CHURCH! I don’t think Jesus, after He died and rose again for the Church, thought…well, just shop around for a bit and if you like it, go with that one. I think there’s so much more to it. But, if you’re at a place where you think it’s time to leave your Church, here are some ideas for you…

Leave your Church if…

Your Church doesn’t regularly and passionately Preach the Gospel. 

Yeah, that one is pretty important. But, if it’s been weeks or months or years since the gospel has been presented, you may want to start looking. Now, some churches never have new people, so they don’t feel the need to present the Gospel, again, not good. 

Your Church doesn’t point people to Jesus. 

Again, another important one. If the name of Jesus is not loudly and proudly proclaimed, yeah, that’s not good.

Your Church doesn’t change and is stuck in the past. 

I have known many people who are sticking it out at their church in case the leadership gets the idea that growing organizations change. Not that tradition is bad, but so many churches worship the traditions and not the Savior and they refuse to change. 

Your Church doesn’t believe they should INVEST in the next generation.

Now, many churches just don’t have any of the next generation to invest into, I get that. But, I have been a part and know of churches that view kids and students as a burden and not an investment. If kids and students are not included and aren’t valued, yeah, you may want to start looking.

Your Church doesn’t care for the unchurched. 

Two pretty big church philosophies out there. One says the Church exists for those who already know Jesus and the churches purpose is to disciple them and then send them out. Nothing wrong with this one, I’ve just found (sometimes) that the passion for those who don’t know Jesus is pretty low in these churches.

 The other says that the Church exists for those who don’t know him or have given up on Church. To be honest, this is tough. Why? Because sometimes there are very well meaning people who forget its not about us and its about helping others find a personal relationship with Jesus. 

Your Church never teaches about money, tithing and generosity. 

Oh wow, I just went there. Yikes! But, if your Church never approaches something that Jesus talked an absolute ton about, that’s probably not good. 

Those are some bigger reasons and things to look out for and pray about. Here are a few more…

You Should Leave IF

You can’t support the Pastor. 

This is a tough one. But, ultimately, if you don’t believe in the vision that God’s given your Pastor for the Church, its probably not the right church for you. And, believe me, your Pastor knows if you don’t support their vision for the Church. Trust me, they know. 

You aren’t giving financially because there’s something you don’t like. 

Again, if you’re at the place where you withhold your giving because of a decision that’s been made, you should probably pray about where God is sending you. 

You aren’t serving regularly because you got upset or offended. 

Conflict, conflict, conflict! People are messy sometimes, right? So, if you stopped serving because of conflict with a Pastor, staff member, team leader or someone else, you have to work through that. 

You aren’t ALL IN.

This one won’t get me brownie points with the ‘consumers’ who attend Churches, but for petes sake, its time to stop attending church and be the Church! I think you should be ALL IN like you are for your favorite TV Show or Sports team! Read every email, pray everyday for your church, serve whenever you can, give till it hurts and love your church! 

Ok, my list is not the all inclusive list, just some thoughts and ideas. But, most important, eave your Church if you believe that God is leading you elsewhere. If you’ve heard from Him, GREAT! He may be taking you somewhere else to help you grow that Church or to Grow you!

Here are a few articles that helped me as I wrote this blog post:

7 Disappointing Reasons people leave the Church by Ron Edmondson

5 Reasons People have stopped attending your Church by Carey Nieuwhof

And, for Pastors, 5 Reasons it is so Painful for a Pastor to lose a Church Member by Thom Rainer

 

Incredible Insight on Empowering Women Leaders from John Ortberg

I believe whole heartedly that both Men and Women have been given gifts to lead and teach in the Church. 

Recently I was talking to a Thriver and they told me they really loved it when we’ve had women guest speakers at Thrive. I kind of chuckled. They asked me why I chuckled. I told them about the time someone left Thrive Church because we have women Elders and we affirm the gift of teaching in women.

They chuckled. I didn’t chuckle at the time. It was crazy painful. Now I do chuckle.

One of the reasons I was passionate about planting Thrive Church was to create another Church and Community that empowered women to lead and teach in the Church.

Yes, Empower and Lead! 

I have worked hard to make that happen and I’m proud of it. Even in the midst of the negative voices, we’ve moved forward. I’m so excited that we have an amazingly gifted woman on our Sunday speaking team! Yes, it’s awesome!

That being said, there are probably going to be some folks who read this and disagree, that’s ok. But, if you’ve been thinking and praying about this, here are three great resources that have heavily influenced my thinking on this.

Great Blog Post by Perry Noble. ‘Should a Woman be Allowed to Preach’

Incredible Book by Dr. Gilbert Bilezikian. ‘Beyond Sex Roles’

Incredible Interview with John Ortberg.

Oh facebook, I think I’m done loving you

Well, here’s the deal…

I think (think being the key word)…

I’m done loving you facebook. 

Now, you know me. We go way back. I was so excited to sign up way back when. You know this is a big deal for me to say because I absolutely LOVE you! It’s true, I think you’re awesome. I think you’re one of the greatest things ever and I think you’re one of the best tools ever created to help GROW the Kingdom of God!!

But, there is quite a bit I don’t love about you. Let’s start with that. And, some of this is not your fault.

So, here’s what I DON’T love about you...

  • I don’t love the endless mounds of garbage that people post on you. Again, not your fault, but you collect a lot of garbage! A lot of trash!
  • I don’t love the ridiculous drama that people create on you. Again, not your fault, but for some reason you seem to attract drama.
  • I don’t love that your presence in some peoples lives, seemingly increases there lack of emotional intelligence.  Again, not your fault, but self awareness and relational awareness is at an all time low.
  • I don’t love how awful Jesus followers treat each other sometimes on your site. Again, not your fault, but my heart has broken hundreds of times reading peoples thoughts that they post in the name of being a Christ follower.
  • I don’t love how sometimes, you give people a false sense of identity. Ok, maybe this is your fault. That little like button causes havoc in peoples lives. They worry about getting more likes and more comments. I’ve been there.
  • I don’t love how people can sometimes feel excluded when they see all their friends partying and hanging out. Again, not your fault, but I’ve learned to be careful from posting because sometimes my posts attract some passive aggressive comments.

Again, I’m sorry! Most of this isn’t your fault! After working with middle school students for 15 years, most of the conversations I’ve had with adults about their struggles with you, remind me of middle school problems. That’s not your fault.

You just seem to amplify problems sometimes. 

I’ve only been off of you for a week, but here’s what I’ve already noticed:

  • I’m not as anxious. I’m not a conflict guy. I can deal with it, but I don’t go searching for it. For some people, they love the conflict that they can create on Facebook. I don’t need that in my life.
  • I’m hopefully more present with my family. Countless times over the last few years I have been buried in my phone as we’ve hung out as a family. Shameful!
  • I’ve spent more time reading and reading things that matter. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE reading peoples thoughts and posts! I love it! But, 75% of those posts are not helpful at all and I don’t miss those. I’m reading through the Old Testament and I’m working through my read pile!
  • I’ve noticed how much people are buried in their phones. Outside of my Youversion app, email, text and calls, I don’t really have much reason to pick up my phone. I’m not a big video game guy, so I don’t even have that. And, I’ve noticed how much people scroll through you as their hanging out with others. I think that’s why I’m going to keep you off my phone for good.
  • I’m praying a lot more. Instead of scrolling through your news feeds, I try to talk to Jesus more. That’s been really good for my heart, by the way.

I’ll be back. Don’t worry. I know you miss me. I know your algorythms are wondering why there are no posts on http://www.facebook.com/jraitz.

Side note: I am still blogging on this social media fast and when I post those, they automatically update to Facebook).

So, you’re still getting a few rhythms, but not many.

We’ll see how I am in 21 day more days. I think I’ll be back. I think.

But, for sure Facebook…

I’m done loving you. 

 

 

 

Sunday Night Thoughts on Life, Family and Thrive Church

Thoughts on Life

Part One…

It’s been a long couple of days.

For the most part, I’ve had a pretty good run lately with my back (had surgery 2 years ago and its been feeling so much better). I’m even putting on my own socks! I know, I’m such a big boy! Now, I have the normal tightness and stiffness in the mornings, especially when we go from 70 degrees to 90 degrees.

I woke up Saturday morning and went out for a walk and I thought something climbed inside my lower back and left leg and turned everything off. I headed home defeated.

I fell asleep early last night and then couldn’t sleep much all night and then the worst thing ever happened…

I missed Church at Thrive this morning! 

Now, it’s not the worst for our Church. Thrive is not about Jason. Thrive doesn’t need me to run.

But, I love being there! I love gathering with people that are in the trenches of church planting together. I love gathering the staff team from Thrive. I love seeing the families and the students. I love meeting new people! I love it!

But, I missed. And, I haven’t really been out of my bed much all day.

Part Two…

Tomorrow morning I will be 7 days into my ’30 Day Social Media Fast’! Wow, 7 whole days! To be honest, outside of being a little ‘ancy’ on day one, it’s been really good. Part of the reason I’m doing this is to declutter my soul and I feel like that’s happening. IMG_1335

For me, just trying to keep up with comments and Facebook messages has become a pretty decent daily task. Now, I’m nobody special. But, I do receive quite a few messages everyday and I’m constantly behind on them.

Also, I’m trying to fill the same time I would have put into facebook/instagram into reading scripture and my book pile! That’s going great!

Thoughts on Family

School is out. Summer is here. We’re blessed to live by a lake. The kids have already had a few super fun afternoons on the water on a dear friends boat.

We’re moving forward with our adoption and we’re hoping our completed home study will be delivered to us the first or second week of July! That will mean we can finally send our final paperwork to China and the US for final approval and then we can start applying for grants.

That will take a lot of stress off our shoulders. The stress is pretty high lately.

But, my family continues to be a tremendous source of love and rest!

Thoughts on Thrive Church

God is working at Thrive! Just this past week, I had two men tell me they have never read their Bible more than they have since being at Thrive! Um, that’s a HUGE win!

But, in the midst of coming through an amazing season of ministry (Incredible Easter and the Shoe Project), we’ve hit some extremely hard times with our finances. I know its nothing new to Churches or Church Plants, but its tough.

To be honest, it’s extremely stressful. I know God will provide, but tough decisions have to be made and I’ve been seeking wisdom from other Pastors and our Elders and I have been on my knees more than any season I can ever remember.

Even in the midst of all that, I am so excited about the future at Thrive!

August 21st is coming and its an incredibly important day for our church! Its our annual Baptism and BBQ and its my favorite day of the year!! Last year, we had 63 people take the step to go public with their faith and it was incredible! I can’t wait for this year!

I know that I know that the…

BEST IS YET TO COME! 

 

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