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Jason Raitz

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

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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!

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.

 

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!

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