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Jason Raitz

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

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Church

So many people miss out on the real POWER of being CONNECTED to a Local Church. Don’t miss out today!

Some people ‘go’ to Church because they have an internal voice telling them that its the right thing to do.

Some people ‘go’ to Church because they want to be seen by other people.

Some people ‘go’ to Church because they have heard good things and don’t want to miss out.

Some people ‘go’ to Church because they’re starving for community and connection.

Some people ‘go’ to Church because its one more thing on their moral check list.

First of all…

Stop GOING to Church. 

Second of all…

Be the Church! 

That’s where the real power is!

Here’s what I believe passionately, you will miss out on the real POWER of Church if you’re not connected and if you’re not connected for the right reasons!

All those reasons TO GO to Church miss out on the power that is available to you. If Church is just a country club to you, a moral compass, another box on your to do list or another thing for you to feel good about yourself, you’re missing out.

But, when you get CONNECTED at a local Church that is working right and use your spiritual gifts to serve that body and to serve the community they live in…

LOOK OUT!! 

Some Ways to Get Fully Connected:

ONE…Actually make it a priority to be there! Again, so simple but so hard in this day and age of crazy business. If you really want to experience the power of connection, be there. Make it a commitment to be with your Church every week!

TWO…Actually make it a priority to serve! Again, sounds simple. But, what if we approached serving our Church as a number one priority in our life? Be there. Show up early. Serve with your whole heart.

THREE…Actually make it a priority to get to know people. Again, so simple to say, but so many people shy away from this. They know if they actually do this, they will start making connections and then it gets harder to be nominally involved.

FOUR…Actually make it a priority to be known. Again, sounds so simple, but so many people give up on church right before they really get connected. What are you so afraid of? God created us to live in community with each other. Jump in and feel the power of being connected.

Today is your day! Make the decision to let nothing stop you from being connected. I really believe when you do, you will start to feel the power of being connected and then your life will change for the better!

 

3 Simple Ways to Really Appreciate your Pastor

So, October is Pastor Appreciation month. Today is the last day, but you don’t need it to be Pastor Appreciation Month to appreciate your Pastor. So, I thought I would chime in on a few really simple ways to appreciate your Pastor.

But first…

Yesterday I was the guest speaker at Connect Church in Washington, IL. It was planted and is lead by Dave Jane. He’s a brilliant Pastor! They’re a great Church! Doing amazing things for the Kingdom.

At one moment, a key leader in the Church got on stage and brought up the paid staff. They gave each staff member and their spouses a small gift and an envelope. They showed some pictures of them on the screen, they thanked them and they prayed for them. It was an awesome moment! Simple, yet profound.

I hope and pray more Churches do that than not. 

3 Simple Ways

Pray. And, here’s the deal. Really pray for them. Don’t just say you do, actually do it.

Pray for them, their spouse, their kids, their leadership, their ministry, their finances and their health. Ask God for His favor on them. Ask God to give them wisdom. Ask God to raise up a network of people who will encourage them.

And, let them know you’re praying for them!

Support. And, here’s the deal. Really support them. This is HUGE! I believe this fully, you are actually holding back the forward momentum of your Church if your not on board with your Pastor. His vision for the Church and how they lead.

Now, maybe you think you can wait them out and then everything will be fine after they leave. But, the reality is, God has called them to be there and if He’s called you to be there as well, figure out how you can really support them.

The reality is, if you can’t, it may be time to move on. Sounds harsh, but its true.

Ok, here are a couple of random ways you can show support to your Pastor.

  • Encourage them over social media. Like their comments. Share their posts.
  • Say thanks.
  • Send a card.
  • Love on their kids and spouse.
  • Squash any gossip or negative talk about them.

Show UP. Yes, this is a biggie. Show up at Church. Show up in Church. Show up and be the Church. There are so many luke warm followers of Jesus. Sorry, no judgement here, but there are a lot of people who view ‘Church’ as a ‘To Do’ on their check list. It’s not. Being a part of the church is sacred. So, really Show up.

  • Serve.
  • Give. Pray.
  • Use your gifts.
  • Don’t give up during tough seasons.
  • Invite people to be a part.
  • Be passionate about your walk with Jesus.

Yeah, these are pretty simple. But, they would bring a huge lift to your Pastor.

Yes, being a Pastor is hard.

But, these 3 simple ways would go a long way to show your appreciation.

 

I can’t even process how ROUGH the month started but how AMAZING it finishing!

What a month! 

I’m telling you, this week started out ROUGH! I wonder how many people can relate? I actually wrote this BLOG POST talking about just being tired of pain! I know I’m not alone. I know people have rough weeks all the time, but this one, for whatever reason, just started out rough.

I take that back, the last 2-3 weeks have been on the rougher side. It kind of started on October 2nd. That was Thrive’s THREE anniversary and to be extremely honest, I had a very ROUGH morning that day.

Typically, our anniversary’s and big Sunday’s are my favorite, but something was going on inside my head and my heart and my soul. As soon as 8:30am hit, wave and wave of amazingly hard discouragement and disappointment just kept hitting me.

It was unlike anything I have ever experienced. 

Listen, I’ve been a Pastor long enough to know that its not an easy job. I get that. Satan is attacking, People attack, Life attacks and thats all before you wake up some days!

For whatever reason, October 2nd was really hard. Those lying voices in my head kept reminding me of all the people who have left Thrive, the people who have said negative stuff about me and the Church, all the initiatives we haven’t been able to do yet because of finances and then the 1 or 2 super colossally bad decisions I’ve made while being Thrive’s Pastor. Yes, I’ve made more. A LOT MORE. But, there are 1-2 that really stick out.

 

Here’s what happened though in my life:

God showed up big. People showed up big.

Here’s what I mean. God provided! He brought healing! He brought Peace! He brought love! He brought hope! The list below is just the short list of the amazing BLESSINGS God has brought my way. As you struggle with the rough moments, hold on, God has something for you! He has beauty that you can’t even imagine. He has healing that you can’t even imagine.

The Blessings that have found their way to our family…

ONE…A Found Hand Written Note in my Bible. It was left by an amazing Thriver and I have read her worlds over and over again! Such a blessing! 

TWO…Glasses for Bekah. A friend from TX messaged us last month and said she would love to bless Bekah with new glasses! Such a blessing! 

THREE…A Car. Yeah, no joke. A miracle. Both are cars are old and held together with duck tape. A dear friend gave us a car and said it was the best way they know possible for helping with our adoption. Just UNREAL! Such a blessing! 

FOUR…Gift for Pastor Appreciation. There is an amazing couple at Thrive who just bless so many people. Well, they gave me a gift for Pastor Appreciation month and with it, I was able to get some of the things my kids needed for school. Such a blessing! 

FIVE…Gift card for Shoes. A wonderful couple at church stopped me a few backs and gave me a gift card for a new pair of shoes. With 4 kids and two of them having PKU, shoes and clothes are on the low priority list for Tracie and I! Such a blessing! 

SIX…My parents. Yeah, I could fill blog post after blog post about all the amazing ways my parents help us all the time. They are just always there! Such a blessing! 

SEVEN…A mattress for Bekah. We’ve needed a mattress for 3-4 months for Bekah. There was unfortunate accident on her mattress with our cat. Last night, a dear friend texted Tracie out of the blue saying that she has a mattress for Bekah! Such a blessing! 

EIGHT…Approve, Certified and Sealed Dossier. This was HUGE. Many of our forms were set to expire this week before they were more than 6 months old for adoption process. Tracie, because of the amazing gift of a dear friend, was able to go to downtown Chicago and take the forms to the Chinese Consulate and get them sealed! Such a blessing! 

NINE…A trip to Chicago for Tracie. One of our best friends in the world, made it possible for her to take Tracie to Chicago to get our paperwork to the Consulates. It never would have happened without her help! Such a blessing! 

TEN…77 Puzzle Pieces for Kai.

This is the easiest and simplest fundraiser ever. We have two identical puzzles. They are pictures of Kai and our family. We’re asking that people sponsor a piece or two or three. Really, whatever amount they would like and that coincides with the puzzle piece. When someone sponsors a piece, we send it to them in the mail with a picture of the puzzle.

Then, we write their name on the other puzzle piece. When its completed, we will frame it and put it in Kai’s room for him to see all the people that helped bring him home!

We have been blown away and people are continuing to sponsor pieces.

Friends from all the country! Churches! Kids! Students! Its just been unreal!

Even though the month started rough. Even though this week started rough. God has provided. God has brought healing. God has reminded me of his love. God has showed up time and time again!

If you’re going through a rough time, hang in there! Stay close to Jesus! He will get you through.

‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest’ ~Jesus

 

 

Want to help us Bring Kai home? Sponsor a Puzzle Piece. Super easy! HUGE IMPACT!

Hey there!

Maybe you’ve heard or maybe you haven’t, but the Raitz family is adopting an almost 3 year old boy from China! We are naming him Kai David Raitz and we couldn’t be more excited!
This process started 10 years ago when God started to lay adoption on our hearts. Last fall, Tracie and I decided to start walking down this path. As we prayed about adopting, God just really laid on our hearts that we should adopt a child with PKU. PKU is a rare genetic disorder that our two youngest kids have. If our kids stay on a very strict diet and drink their medical formula, they will live a very healthy life.
When we started this process, God lead us to a little girl who we named Winona Mae. We were steam rolling through the process and it came to a screeching halt in Feb of this year when we found out that she had passed away. She was very under weight and her body couldn’t fight off an infection. We were crushed and heart broken. We took a few months to grieve and just kept asking God if we should continue and He said Yes.
He lead us to Kai David! He’ll be three in Jan and he has PKU. We have been praying for this boy for months! His room is painted. His crib is bought. And, we are excited!
We are working hard to raise the last leg of funds needed to complete this adoption.
If you would like to be a part, we have a very simple way you can help. img_2567
Would you sponsor a Puzzle Piece or two or three? We have made two identical puzzles that have Kai and our families picture on them. There are 252 pieces. If you sponsor piece number 78, we’re hoping and asking that you would donate $78 dollars to Kai’s adoption fund. We would then send you a picture of the puzzle and whatever puzzle pieces you sponsored. We started last night and we already have 20 pieces sponsored!
You can either give HERE or you could send a check to our address listed below.
Tracie heads to Chicago tomorrow after Church to take our paperwork to the Chinese Consulate in downtown Chicago on Monday morning. Once they approve and seal our paperwork, we are working towards raising $8210 so we can officially pay our adoption agency and send our dossier to China. After that, we will need to raise $3500 for our gift to the Chinese orphanage and then airfare and travel for 14 days in China. Yes, we still have a long way to go, but if even 100 pieces are sponsored, we’ll be well on our way!
If you can’t help sponsor a piece, no worries at all! Please pray for us! Pray for the funds to be raised. Pray for the adoption grants we’ve applied for. Pray for a quickness. Pray that we would be able to get him before Christmas!
Lastly, as many of you know, I have spent the last 15 years speaking and teaching all over the country. I feel called to share the Gospel with students and adults and I have loved it. God has given me the opportunity to speak to over 250,000 people in that time! Yeah, crazy!
I’m telling you that because it is also an opportunity for me to earn extra income that can go towards our adoption. Since starting Thrive, I haven’t traveled as much, but now that Thrive is three years old and we have built a teaching team, I am freed up to travel and speak a little more.
So, if you are in a position to bring in speakers, would you consider me? If you could talk to your Pastor or Leadership or pass on my blog (www.jasonraitz.com), I would be honored.
If not, no worries at all!
Thank You! Thank you for considering! Thank you for praying! Thank you for your support!
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Is Thrive the Church that Baptizes all those People? Yes! Come and be a part!

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! img_6247

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!!

It’s going to ROCK! Here’s all the info on Baptism at Thrive.

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!

 

How to make your Small Group GREAT!

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!small-groups-two

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.

5. Talk. 

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.

6. Serve.

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!

Just try!

 

 

Why am I so EXCITED today? I have the JOY of serving in Thrive Kidz!

Yes, I’ll be honest, I am super EXCITED this morning!

SUPER EXCITED!

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!!

#smallmatters

#everychildhasachurch

#thrivekidz

Thrive Church is officially 3 years old today!

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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!!

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.

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