Jason Raitz

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



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!


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!!




Thrive Church is officially 3 years old today!


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 I UnFollow or UnFriend People on Facebook.

Ok, I just re-read the title and I cringed. Why? Because to my core, I’m a people person!

I love people! I love their stories! I love getting to know people! I love seeing God work in their lives! I love seeing Jesus’ love envelope them! I love people. 

I don’t ever want to Unfollow or Unfriend anyone on Facebook.

But, it happens. 

Here’s what I’ve learned when it comes to Facebook in my life. Too much Facebook is not good. Too much negativity is not good. Too much drama is not good. You put them all together and it’s a…


It’s just not good for my soul to constantly be filled with all that trash.

So, I unfollow people. 

  • If they use their own personal page to create drama
  • If they use it to fill the inter webs with even more negativity than it needs
  • If they speak poorly of others
  • If they Bash churches or Pastors
  • If they Bash anyone or are just downright awful
  • If they swear or post nasty images

Now, it’s their right to do that! I’m not saying they shouldn’t. It’s their page and they can do what they want. I choose a different way. I wrote this blog post at the beginning of the year about how I approach using Facebook. I know its a bit radical for some, but I personally think the Kingdom of God would benefit from more followers of Jesus using their page to represent Him!

And, I unfriend people. 

This really hasn’t happened much. Even when people have spoken poorly of me and bashed me, I waited for them to unfriend me.

Really, the only reason I would unfriend someone is if they really bashed someone I cared for. Or, if they really bashed the ‘Church’.

Ok, that’s not true. A few years ago I realized I had thousands of friends on Facebook and I didn’t know hardly any of them. So, I went through and unfriended about a 1000 and got tired and I stopped!

I’ve been unfollowed and unfriended…

The reality is, I know that people have unfollowed me. At times, I have posted way too much or I have been way over the top about how excited I am about my church and what God is doing there. People have unfollowed me. It’s ok.

And, people have unfriended me and that’s ok.

The reality is, I have found that this is important for my own soul. This may not be important for yours. But, my hope is that people will stop filling Facebook with trash.

We’ll see. I’m hopeful.

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.



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!


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!

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