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Jason Raitz

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

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Health

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!

 

 

I absolutely LOVE when Katie teaches at Thrive! Like she does today!!

Today, one of my favorite people on planet earth is teaching at Thrive

eisenbergersKatie Eisenberger!

She is just amazing! Her energy, her spirit, her life story and her passion for Jesus is just contagious.

Katie has been around Thrive before Thrive even was Thrive! One day, out of the blue, I got a phone call from Katie asking if we could meet. I sat down and she immediately began to pour out her out about how God was calling her to be a part of this new Church. The more she talked, the more excited I was for the future of this Church! She caught the vision even before the vision was completely birthed! That was in early 2013 and ever since then, Katie and her incredible leadership has helped Thrive grow and flourish!

She’s just a rock star leader and teacher. 

Today she continues our ‘Thrive at the Movies’ series with a look at Borne Identity! Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. Because I’m kind of Matt Damon’s look alike, I could not do the message today! Right!?! It would have just been too confusing! Hah!

But, really, she is diving into a passage of scripture in Ephesians and talking about our Identity! It’s going to be good!

We struggle with our Identity all the time, don’t we? I mean, sometimes we think just students struggle with their Identity, but adults probably have bigger struggles with identity than they ever let on!

We try to find our identity in our cars, in our jobs, in our homes, in our stuff, in our facebook accolades and the list goes on and on.

If you’re a follower of Jesus, our identity is found in Him! Which is amazing! Because He is our rock, our salvation, our freedom and our joy!

So, head to Thrive this morning! 9 or 1015 at Celebration Cinema and let’s continue this journey together!

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!

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. 

 

 

 

‘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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