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Jason Raitz

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

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Formation

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!!!

We’re praying for 25 people to Help us Bring home Kai. Would you pray with us?

If you haven’t heard yet, the Raitz family is adopting a little boy from China named Kai. You can read more about it here. 邹宏凯+(1)

We’re beyond EXCITED and HUMBLED! We pray everyday for the moment we’ll be able to bring him home!

That’s why we’re praying for 25 people to each give $100 towards Kai’s adoption fund!

To date, we’ve been able to raise about $17,000 towards his adoption!! Its just been unreal and we’re so humbled and honored God would move in peoples lives to help us bring Kai home!

But, we have about $13,000 to go! And, in the next 25 days…

We have to raise $2500.

Here’s why. What’s been raised so far has been applied to our Home Study process, adoption fees and the numerous extra things that have to be done for the adoption process.

We have to raise $2500 immediately for our next payment to the adoption agency that oversees Kai. That will help us make sure that Kai stays with the Raitz family.

If you can’t help financially, we would so appreciate your prayers!!

We’re getting closer and closer!! We’re waiting on our home study report and then we will submit our final paperwork to the US and China. Then we will also apply for a few adoption grants. And then we will wait for the final approvals and then wait for our travel window from China.

Then, we will fly to China, spend 14 days there and then…

BRING HOME KAI!!!!

We pray about the day we get to hold home everyday! We pray about the day we get to walk around the streets of China with him everyday! We pray about the moment we will load up on the plane ride home everyday. We pray about the moment we will land in Detroit and then head home and introduce him to our friends and family!

I pray everyday for the day we will get to bring him to our Church! I pray everyday for the family walks we will take! I pray everyday for the times I’ll play catch with him and watch him playing with his siblings.

We can’t wait! Thanks for being a a part of our journey!

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! 

 

‘I just don’t feel connected at Thrive’

So, here’s the story, I do not feel this way!

I love my Church!

Like a lot! For 20 years I have served at and been employed by local churches and I can say that Thrive Church is my favorite (I did spend some time on staff at a Church called Willow Creek and that was pretty spectacular)!

Ok, I know what you’re thinking, ‘of course you love your Church, you started it’! Yes, that’s true! I helped plant Thrive Church and I lead it, so I am just a little bias! But, the reality is, I feel very connected at Thrive. There’s a good reason for that! More on that later.

But, from time to time, I meet with folks who tell me that they don’t feel connected and I totally get that! Our team spends a lot of time thinking through how people get connected at Thrive. We have charts and diagrams and lots of white board drawings.

In the end though, after many years of conversations like that, I think it comes down to a very simple diagram and 3 short phrases.

Show Up Jump In Do Good scratch4-01Here’s the deal, Thrive exists to help people Find and Follow Jesus! That’s it! We are a Church for people who have given up on God or on Church, so we actually try to not be ‘churchy’. We try to create an environment on Sunday’s where people are welcomed, accepted and loved!

So, we ask 3 things of every Thriver…

Show UP, Jump IN and Do GOOD.

And, we ask them to do these three things over and over and in time, we believe they will become a passionate follower of Jesus.

Show UP…Every Sunday. The reality is, people just don’t attend Church every Sunday any longer. And, we don’t want them to attend, we want them to be a part. We hope that every Thriver would serve at one experience and attend one. But, if you’re not there to hear the heart beat of the Church and to be a part, how can you feel connected?

Jump IN…To a Team, to a Small Group or to Shift. We believe people have to get connected to each other. So, there are 10 different Thrive teams to serve on. And, for three seasons of the year, there are Small Groups. Lastly, for those looking for some Seminary level teaching, we have Shift.

Do GOOD…Every day, every chance you can. We want people to live a lifestyle of generosity. With their time, their gifts and their finances. We want them to expeirence the joy of giving and sponsoring children and buying shoes and serving schools and the homeless shelter.

So, I think, if someone puts in just a little bit of effort, they will feel connected. Now, sometimes people try these things and still don’t feel connected, I don’t know what to do with that.

But, its amazing what happens when you put yourself out there.

I feel very connected because I love my Church! I fight for it! I serve it! I pray for it! I pray for the people of Thrive! I ask God to bless it. I give to it. I tell others about it! I read every email and every Facebook post from it.

If you’re looking to get more connected at Thrive, just email our amazing Connections Coordinator and she’ll get you all set up. Lindsey.msibi@thrivechurchmi.cc.

My prayer and hope is that I won’t have to have many conversations with folks with people who don’t feel connected, but I know we will do everything we can to help get folks connected and growing closer to Jesus!

 

 

Social Media Fast Day 2, Dad Fest at Thrive, and a Tremendously Powerful Story from Sunday @Thrive

I did it! I stayed off of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for an entire day! To be honest, it’s really not that big of a deal! But, hey, I did it! And Day 2 is half over!! Woo Hoo!

Social Media FAST is on like Donkey Kong! 

Again, I’m doing this because I think my soul needs some recharging and I’m just trying to push out some clutter. I don’t think social media is bad, in fact, I love it! I actually think it’s one of the greatest tools EVER for advancing the Kingdom!

I don’t spend all that much time on it, but I did want to see if I could spend the same amount of time in scripture or reading that I spend with social media. So far, so good. I’m into 3 Bible reading plans and I read a half a book!

Also, it was really nice and unexpected to get a few texts from some folks who told me they look forward to my posts and will miss them! I was really surprised by that! Most of the time, I feel like I don’t have anything really profound to say, so I just post pictures and stuff. So, that was nice! But, day 2 is on!

DAD FEST ROCKED!!!!

This past Sunday, Thrive hosted its annual Dad Fest and it was an awesome Sunday! We changed things up and moved it to the campus of CMU. We met outside and had one combined experience and it rocked! Our past Dad Fest’s have had lots of stuff going on and this one was just pretty chill. We worshipped outdoors and we just enjoyed gathering together as a Church family! IMG_1081

The all dad band kicked us off with ‘Free Bird’ and it was amazing! Then, our hosts lead some Dads through some games and then the worship team lead us in worship. We finished week two of our ‘Grow a Pair’ series and I took a look at the story of David and Goliath and challenged folks to BECOME FIXATED ON TRUSTING GOD! Oh, and, our events did set up the Dad Tent and we had many bacon covered items, it was AWESOME!

Powerful Story

On Sunday, two different brothers talked to me how they have been praying for their dad for a long time! Well, recently, their dad has been checking out Thrive. At one point, one brother told me how awesome it’s been to have his dad at Thrive and then later in the morning, the other brother told me how moved he was that his dad was coming.

And then, he looked over and one of our elders was praying for his dad and he just welled up in tears! It was a powerful moment!

God is MOVING! He is working in peoples lives and I’m so honored to be a part of it!

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