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Jason Raitz

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

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Church Planting

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!

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!

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.

Doubt + God’s Word + Trust = Answers. Today at Thrive!!

Today at Thrive Church we’re diving into the world of Doubt. 13958083_1062099020552078_6564991401675748424_o

Ever been there? 

Doubt that God exists? Doubt that God can love someone like you? Doubt that God can love the messy people around you? Doubt that God can be loving when such horrible things happen in this world? Doubt that you can trust God with your life when there are so many people you know who are sick?

Well, today is for you! The reality is, we all have doubts! And if you don’t, are you really being all that honest? How could you not?

We’re going to dive into Matthew 11 and see how one of the greatest prophets in the scriptures had doubts and we’ll see how Jesus handled those doubts.

I’ll give you a little teaser…

Doubts + God’s Word + Trust = Answers

Plus, we’re going to Worship Loud, enjoy coffee and hanging out and our kids are going to have an amazing time in Thrive Kidz!

Join us at either 9 or 1015 at Celebration Cinema!

Monday Morning Thoughts about Life, Family and Ministry @Thrive

Yesterday was a great day! broken

It was my first Sunday teaching at Thrive since July 3rd and I loved every second of it. I only missed a Sunday and a half in July, but it was great to be back teaching.

I took a bit of a break in July. I took off 2 weeks to speak at camps and churches and then I was able to take off a few days for a vacation.

I planned it out months ago and my hope is that each July I’ll take a break like this.

It’s funny, a few years ago you couldn’t have convinced me that I would need a break. Well, wow, I needed the break. I understand now that every Pastor needs to take REST and Sabbath very seriously!

I’m learning an absolute ton about the role of a pastor. I’ve served churches for 20 years, but the pressure on the lead pastor is so much different than anything I’ve experienced in all those years of serving and working for Churches.

Thoughts on Life

It’s amazing how fast life flies by! And then, there are moments that seem to move at a snail’s pace. Like our adoption. Things are progressing, but its a slow go. Our home study was approved, but we’re just waiting for the official signed copy. At that point, we can start applying for grants.

Which will help, because our next round of payments are due and we’ll need to come up with another $3000. But, I know in the end, it will all be worth it! I just can’t wait to have Kai home with us!

Thoughts on Family

At the moment, our 14 year old is in Africa, our 16 year old is in South Carolina and our 8 year old stayed the night at a friends house. That left just Zach home with us! Wow, one kid is a breathe!

But, I miss Bobby and I can’t wait for him to be home! But, I LOVE that he has this amazing opportunity to experience another country!

And, I LOVE that Bekah has an amazing opportunity to travel to South Carolina with two amazing young leaders of Thrive Church and together they are getting a behind the scenes look at one of our favorite Churches…Newspring Church!

Thoughts on Minstry @ Thrive

Yesterday was a spectacular day for our Church! And, in just under 2 weeks, we will baptize between 25-30 people! Wow! Wow! Wow! IMG_4491

Tracie and I went down to the park where our outdoor worship experience is and prayed for that day and the people getting baptized! I can’t wait!

Thrive turns 3 on October 2 and I can’t even believe it! In three short years, I believe, we have made an incredible impact for the Kingdom.

I love my Church and I know the best is yet to come!

 

 

7 Reasons I am beyond EXCITED for Thrive this morning!

It’s 6am and I am beyond EXCITED for Thrive’s weekly gathering this morning! Square-No-Perfect-People-Allowed.jpg

This is week 147 for our Church and I hope and pray I’m this excited for week 200 and week 400 and so on!

7 Reasons I’m Excited

1. The People!

One of the things I love most about my Church is the people. I love our Church family!

2. The People who make Thrive happen!

I wish it wasn’t so, but there is a much smaller amount of people who make Thrive happen on Sunday’s than just attend. We’re working hard on that, but I LOVE those people! It’s pretty humbling to walk around some Sunday’s and see folks serving that served in week one!

3. I just love Sunday’s!

I just can’t get around it, I love Sunday’s. I love the Kingdom potential. I love the Kingdom impact. I love what happens. I love Sunday’s!

4. I love Thrive Worship! 

I love the heart and passion of Thrive’s Worship Pastor, Matt Moore. I love the heart and passion of the worshippers in our worship bands and I can’t wait to worship with my church family.

5. I love August’s series at Thrive! 

No perfect people allowed! This has been our tag line from the beginning and I love it. And, this month, I can’t wait to teach about what this actually means.

6. I can’t wait to preach this morning! 

Maybe a bit selfish, but I haven’t taught at Thrive since July 3rd!! I can’t wait! My heart is probably going to burst!

7. The special moments! 

There are a few really special moments for me on Sunday’s. Someone asked me once how they can really get involved at Thrive, my reply…join the set up team. It’s not what they wanted to hear. But, there is a real bond that forms in people when you get somewhere early and unload and set up before anyone gets there!

I can’t wait to see and talk to those folks!

I so hope you can join us this morning! 9 or 1015 at Celebration Cinema.

 

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