The Gift of Sheila = Unbelievable Generosity that rocks your life!

The Raitz family has been so blessed over the years.

And, when I say blessed, I don’t mean…’oh, we’re so happy’, kind of blessed.’

I mean the kind of blessed where your life, where your family, where your everyday life is so rocked and so moved and so blown away, you just don’t know how to function! And then, all you want to do, is do just that for other people. 

Well, a few months ago, an amazing couple from our Church came over and gave us a gift that knocked the air out of our lungs. We sat there in silence and we had no idea how to respond.

The size and scope of the generosity was absolutely amazing.

Actually, after it happened, Tracie and I went into our bedroom and shut the door and just hugged and cried. That lasted about 2.5 second because we have 5 kids! Hah!

They gave us the Gift of Sheila! Which, if you’re wondering what that is, Shiela is the IMG_8052nick name we gave their mini van.

They gave us a mini van!

I am not even kidding! Just unreal! 

I can’t even begin to express what an answer to prayer this gift was for our family. I can’t even begin to express how incredibly blown away we have been for the past couple of months as we think about what this family did for us!

This is the kind of generosity that literally CHANGES LIVES! 

And, the amazing generosity started back in 2014. We were headed as a family to Florida to speak at a summer camp. Our van was barely kicking. As a last minute hail mary, I put out on Facebook that we were asking for prayer for our van to get to Florida. That’s when I got a message that we could use this couples mini van. It was a huge answer to prayer.

Over the next 3 years, again and again, they let us borrow their van for us to travel to speaking engagements and vacations. We went to WI and to IL and to SC and to FL. Over the course of this time…

Sheila became a part of the family. 

The couple that gave us Sheila has been a part of our lives since 2012. That’s when I first met them. They lived down state and attended a Church that I was speaking at. They were a part of the prayer and I still remember the day I first me them and they prayed over me before I spoke.

Fast forward and they moved back to Central Michigan and they have been a part of Thrive since the very beginning. Actually, Thrive would not exist without this couple. Their heart to serve, to pray and to give just continually blows me away.

Every Pastor needs encouragers. I don’t know where I would be without them. They have taught me so much about following Jesus and so much about generosity!

Every time I drive Sheila I pray for them. I ask God to bless them.

Our hope is that God will use us in a similar way to bless the people around us!

 

Thrive Church: 10 Ways You Can Support One Youth’s Big Stuf Trip…

In 22 days, Thrive Church is sending an amazing group of students and adults to Big Stuf!

WOO HOO!!bigstuf-(3)

Ok, what’s Big Stuf? Big Stuf is a summer camp/conference for middle and high schools in Panama City Beach, FL. Incredible times of worship, inspired bible teaching, breakouts, group activities, bonding with small groups and the ocean!!

For 22 years I have been taking students to summer camps and for 17 years, I have been speaking at summer camps. In my opinion, not many come close to Big Stuf!

So, as a Church, this trip is incredibly important! We need the entire church to come together to support, pray and encourage!!

10 Ways you can Support One Youth’s Big Stuf trip:

1. Pray. Yes, and pray hard! Seek God on behalf of these students and leaders. Camps/Conferences/Retreats have a way of helping students bust through spiritual mediocrity or to help them own their own faith. Pray for their hearts to be wrecked for Jesus.

If you want to be a student or leaders prayer partner, just email Lindsey.msibi@thrivechurchmi.cc.

2. Write an encouraging card to an adult leader attending.  Email Lindsey.msibi@thrivechurchmi.cc for a list of the names attending. It would be amazing for them to get encouraging cards while in FL!

3. Watch the sessions on Live Stream. This would be awesome! Head HERE and check out the worship and teaching! Especially parents!

4. Bring your Loose Change to Church the next 3 Sundays. Yes, every bit of loose 19024976_1355671291194848_6650784396360443343_ochange helps! Thanks for helping raise the funds for camp!

5. Donate food. We need 6 cases of Little bottles of water. Little pop bottles. (Why little? Because we have a long van ride!) Granola Bars. Cheese Sticks. Fruit (apple slices). Fruit Snacks. Twizlers. Small bags of chips.

6. Donate Sun Screen. We are going to use a lot!

7. Hire a student to work at your house. Email Jessica.herron@thrivechurchmi.cc to get this set up!

8. Get your car washed. On June 24th, from 9-2pm, we will be at Krapohl’s Ford for a car wash. Please bring your car over!

9. Shop with Scrip. Shop at Krogers. Shop at Amazon. As you shop, you can help earn money for One Youth. This is so simple, it’s silly! Please email Sarah.gauthier@thrivechurchmi.cc and she will get you all set up!

10. Donate funds to help. This is also a very simple, yet incredibly powerful way to help. Our students have been working hard all year to each earn and raise $600 to attend this camp. Any gifts given will go towards students who haven’t quit earned everything they need yet.

You can give HERE. Just click on One Youth!

Thank you so much helping and supporting One Youth! 

We can’t wait to share with the Church about our trip!

 

 

 

Are we Crazy!?! Thrive’s 5 year Vision and our Prayer Wall!

Last month, the Pastors of Thrive Church were at the Exponential Church Planting conference in Orlando, FL. It was a GREAT trip. Lots of laughs, dreaming, praying and learning!

The theme of the conference was ‘Dream Big’ and we were challenged to do just that.

One morning, I found myself dreaming big in my prayer journal. I presented this to the other Thrive Pastors (Matt Moore, Dave Shephard and Dr. Tom Rundel) and we all tweaked it a bit. Then, this past Tuesday, I presented it to our staff and we tweaked it a little bit. Next month, I am going to present it to a combined meeting with our Thrive Elders and Financial Team.

Let me just say this…

It’s a wild and crazy Vision!

I read through it and some of the items on there scare me. In a good way, but they’re so big and so audacious, that really ONLY GOD could provide the needs to make some of this stuff happen.

So, this is our 5 year Vision at Thrive! This is what we’re praying and asking God to provide. We desperately want to make a HUGE impact in Central Michigan and the world and we’re stepping out in faith and believing that God can do the impossible.

Thrive turns 4 in October and I feel like in many ways, we’re just getting started!

Thrive’s 5 Year Vision

  • Every Life is changed by Jesus
  • Thrivers to be passionate about: Jesus, the Bible, Prayer, Giving and their Small Group
  • Elder and & Staff Unity
  • Financial Wisdom, Margin and Radical Generosity. We’re praying for a $600,000 a year budget and 4-6 months of operating budget in savings.
    • Staff to not have to raise support.
  • Partner with Local Churches who are struggling and provide help and new life.
  • 20 Acres of Land to be Donated.
  • Semi-Trailer and Box Truck to be donated.
  • A New Hub. 15,000 square feet of Offices, Prayer Center, One Youth Space, Tutoring, Thrive Counseling Center, Studios (Music, Video, Art), Do Good Space
  • Equipment. (2) MacBooks, Drum Set, Keyboard, Video Camera’s, Gaga Ball Pit, Obstacle Course Inflatable, Color Copier.
  • New Staff & Team Leaders. Small Group Director, Youth, Video, Stewardship.
  • Midland & Big Rapids Campus Pastor.
  • Add a Thrive campus in a local prison.
  • (2) Church Planting Residents.
  • Reach 1500 people weekly by 2022.
  • 24/7 Building that can be used 7 days a week by the Community. Including a small apartment complex that can be used to house Single moms, families, refugees, interns.

SHOW UP

  • Raise an additional $20,000 a year to reach students at CMU. This will give us a major presence on campus.
  • See 150 people a year Trust in Jesus at Thrive on Sunday’s.
  • 100 people to be baptized in 2017. 200 by 2022.
  • Record a live worship album.

JUMP IN

  • 500 people in Small Groups by 2019.
  • Increased Volunteers
    • 50 Road Crew
    • 200 Thrive Kidz
    • 75 First Impressions
    • 30 Prayer Team
    • 20 Care Team
    • (3) Worship Leaders
    • 40 Musicians
    • 30 One Youth Leaders
    • 30 Chi Alpha Leaders
    • 30 Outreach team
    • 25 Cars Ministry
  • Start an online Bible School. Offer practical courses to help develop life long followers of Jesus.

DO GOOD

  • Plant (2) Churches in Ecuador through Stadia and Compassion. ($190,000)
  • Join and help plant (2) Churches in Michigan.
  • Raise $50,000 a year to give away 1500 shoes to elementary students at local schools.
  • Give away 20 Cars a year and repair 40.
  • Support 15 Back to School Parties for Local Schools.
  • Sponsor a ‘Night to Shine’ Event
  • Host a community wide Halloween Party at Finch Fieldhouse
  • Sponsor a Teacher Appreciation Night for hundreds of local teachers.

NEXT GEN

  • Thrive Kidz
    • Raise up a Thrive Kidz Worship Team
    • Create a special needs room at Thrive Kidz
  • One Youth
    • Send 100 Students to Big Stuf Summer Camp
    • 40 Small Groups
    • Student Lead
    • Raise up a One Youth Worship Team
  • Chi Apha
    • (2) Houses on Campus for College Students

FullSizeRender

How to REALLY support your Church

The ‘Church’ is extremely important to me. I operate under the premise that because of Jesus and when it is working right…

The Local Church is the Hope of the World! 

The church isn’t a social club. The church isn’t an inward focused organization. The church isn’t a religion check mark.

Jesus died for the Church. If it was that important to Him, it is that important to me.

So, how do we go about supporting our local Church? Here are a few ideas.

A few ways to really support your Church

Actually devote time to pray for your Church. Yup, do you spend time every day praying for your Church. For your Pastor? For the staff and leaders? For God’s hand and favor upon it?

Move forward with your Church. Churches are notorious for refusing to change. So many are stuck in the past. And, the only forward movement they have is to try to relive the glory days. One of the best things you can do for your Church is to move forward with it. Don’t try to hold it back.

Have a financial plan to support your Church. So many Christians argue about tithing. Regardless if you believe the tithe is a New Covenant command or an actual 10%, we are still encouraged by Paul to give. Pray over a percentage to give that’s already planned between you and God. And then give faithfully and obediently and then see what happens in your life.

Get your kids involved. For my family, its just not an option for my kids to NOT be involved. So, we attend on Sunday’s. We all serve on Sunday’s. My teenagers are involved with youth group and our younger kids are a part of Thrive Kidz.

Represent Jesus and your Church online. The thing many people forget is that they are actually carriers of the mission of the Church. So, represent Jesus and your church wherever you go. Especially online. LIKE your Churches Facebook posts. LIKE your Pastor’s posts. Write encouraging comments.

Leave the best seats for guests. When you do gather on Sunday, leave the best seats for guests. Sit in the middle of a row. Leave the outside seats for guests.

Fight the urge to disappear. You will cause so much hurt if you just disappear, especially if you’ve built relationships with people. You think that if you just disappear quietly, it will cause less pain. Here’s the reality, when you disappear, you will cause pain. So, don’t. Fight the urge to disappear.

Honor your Pastor and Each Other. This is HUGE! Raise the culture of honor in your Church by actually honoring each other. Be kind and compassionate. Be loyal. Be ready to help.

These are a few absolute GREAT ways to Support your Church! 

 

 

 

Can 7 Sunday’s really be all that important? The next 7 at Thrive are just that…

 

Sunday is coming! I am extremely EXCITED about this Sunday! Why?

It’s Thrive’s last Sunday at the theater!

I have been praying for this day for over 2 years and I can’t wait! Don’t get me wrong, I will miss the theater! I am sad!

But, I am more EXCITED and EXPECTANT and EAGER than I am sad!!

 

Save a Seat Campaign

Have you had a chance to save a seat? If not, there are still seats to sponsor!! Right now **986**seats have been sponsored! That still leaves a few hundred that need to be sponsored!!

If you want to help, THANK YOU! Just head to http://www.thrivechurchmi.cc/give and select CMU fund. Or text, 84321, the amount and CMU!!

****THE NEXT 7 SUNDAYS****

I can’t even begin to explain how important the next 7 weeks are for Thrive Church! I know we’re all busy. But, I’m asking you to consider making these weeks a huge priority, here’s why.

March 26th…Our Last Sunday at Celebration Cinema! Let’s CELEBRATE together! Popcorn, Memories, the most IMPORTANT message ever, Communion, a time of prayer and the band has been putting in extra work on some very special songs.

April 2nd…First Sunday at CMU. 930 and 11am.

April 9th…Palm Sunday. A GIANT Sunday!

April 16th…EASTER SUNDAY [Look Again]. The super bowl of all Sundays.

April 23rd…BAPTISM Sunday at CMU!! Our first ever baptism on the stage at CMU. If you have never been baptized through immersion, please check out this link. http://thrivechurchmi.cc/baptism/

April 30th…The Church has Left the Building! We are not meeting for our experiences, but we will meet at CMU and then spread out all over the area and serve!

As you can tell, wow, this is our MOST IMPORTANT SEASON ever as a Church!!

Thank you for Stepping UP! For Showing UP, for Jumping In and for Doing Good!

 

Sermon Notes…’STEP OUT’

**I’m trying a new thing. But, I write so many sermons and then they’re done. So, I’m going to start posting a portion of my notes. This is an edited down version.

“When God speaks, oftentimes His voice will call for an act of courage on our part.”

– Charles Stanley

  • That’s so true!
  • Jesus is our example of sacrifice. He lived his life to give it. We live our lives as followers of Jesus to help others find Jesus.
  • But, the reality is…

Big Idea: If you’re going to Step Out. The Key is to Keep Your Eyes on Jesus.

Matthew 14:22-24

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.

 

  • Mountains were places of prayer for Moses and Elijah. Jesus went up on a mountain to find solitude.
  • All throughout the gospels we see Jesus finding time to be alone. To be quiet. Maybe there’s something to that!

 

Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

 

  • This is still normal in the Sea of Galilee that harsh storms rise up quick.

 

  • If you’re going to step out, learn this from Jesus.

Jesus is always getting alone to PRAY

  • What if we really put our life into prayer? What if instead of worrying, we prayed? What if instead of gossiping, we prayed? What if instead of facebook, we prayed? What if instead of talking, we prayed?
  • I love this quote by John Ortberg…

“At it’s heart, solitude is primarily about not doing something” ~ John Ortberg

  • If we’re going to step out and keep our eyes on Jesus, we have to pray. We have to seek God. We have to talk to Him. We have to listen for His voice.

Matthew 14:25-26

Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.

When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,”they said, and cried out in fear.

 

  • When Jesus walked on the water, it was to get to his disciples and to bring a reality of His presence to them. He wasn’t showing off, or just going for a stroll. They needed to know He was legit.
  • No matter what the difficulties in our lives, Jesus comes to us in the stress. His presence is our assurance.
  • So, stop pushing Him away.

 

Big Idea: If you’re going to Step Out. The Key is to Keep Your Eyes on Jesus.

  • The disciples missed what was going on here and they didn’t comprehend the reality of Jesus presence in their distress. They didn’t recognize him and thought he was a ghost.

 

Jesus takes our fears seriously. Because fear creates a form of spiritual amnesia. It dulls our miracle memory. It makes us forget what Jesus has done and how good God is. ~Max Lucado (Fearless)

So, what do you fear?

  • Not having enough money. Paying your bills. Going Broke. The car breaking down. Finishing last, being wrong, losing control. Sickness. This election. A fear of public failure, unemployment, heights. The wrong person being elected?
  • According to psychiatric reference books, there are approximately two thousand classified fears.
  • Those documented fears run the gamut—everything from:
    • Photophobia:  the fear of never looking good in pictures
    • Arachibutyrophobia: the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth
    • Cacophobia- Fear of ugliness
    • Omphalophobia- Fear of belly buttons
    • Decidophobia- Fear of making decisions
    • Phobiaphobia:  the fear of phobias
  • According to Mark Batterson, Author of one of my favorite books…In a Pit with a lion on snowy day and Cirlce Maker.

 

  • He says, what’s interesting is that psychiatrists say that we’re born with only two innate fears:  the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises.
  • That means that every other fear is learned.
  • Fear, it seems, has set up shop in our lives.
  • It’s oversized and rude and it is unwilling to share our heart with Peace and happiness.
  • Fear is the big bully in the high school hallway: brash, loud and unproductive.
  • For all the noise fear makes and room it takes, fear does little good.
  • Fear never wrote a symphony or poem, negotiated a peace treaty, or cured a disease. Fear never pulled a family out of poverty or a country out of bigotry.
  • Fear never saved a marriage or a business. Courage did that. Faith did that.
  • Fear herds us into a prison and slams the doors.

How do we get a point where we Master our fears and our fears don’t Master us?

  • And fear feels dreadful. It sucks the life out of the soul, curls us into an embryonic state and drains us dry of contentment.
  • When fear shapes our lives, safety becomes our god.  When safety becomes our god, we worship the risk-free life.
  • Can the safety lover do anything great?
  • NO. The fear-filled cannot love deeply. Love is risky. They cannot give to the poor. The fear filled cannot dream wildly. What if their dreams sputter and fall from the sky? The worship of safety emasculates greatness.
  • His most common command was FEAR NOT.
  • If quantity is any indicator, Jesus takes our fears seriously.

 

  • The one statement he made more than any was this: “don’t be afraid”.

 

Picture of Plactha

  • To be really, really honest, our move to CMU scares me a little. Not a lot. I’ve known since this time last year, that CMU was our new home.
  • It’s huge, God reminds me that there are 80000
  • But, change is hard for some. Its going to take a lot of sacrifice to get there. We still have $23,000 dollars to raise. We have 681 Seats Sponsored! HOW GREAT is THAT!?!
  • Here’s why this is so exciting? Because each of those seats represents someone’s life who desperately needs Jesus and who desperately needs a Church home!

Matthew 14:27

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

 

  • The Greek for ‘It is I’, reminds us of God’s word to Moses, “I am”. This is a bold reminder that He is the Son of God.
  • Just a reminder, Jesus is the Only WAY, the ONLY TRUTH and the LIFE.

 

Matthew 14:28-29

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

 

  • Seeing Jesus walking, Peter the realist cries out…”Lord, if it’s you”, see he wanted to make sure, for he knew the sea; he was a veteran fisherman and no storm had ever made him lose this senses
  • Something to remember, Peter is not putting Jesus to the test, instead he was reacting in faith.
  • Peter had his answer and now it was all about taking the BRAVE step of faith.
  • It was Peter’s move. All Peter had in order to act was one simple word…come.
  • This is the ultimate test of faith, to move on Jesus’ word alone.

 

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

 

  • And HE DID IT! He stepped over the side of the boat to go to Jesus.
  • Faith gives its entire attention solely to the Master.

 

“Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.”

– Billy Graham

Take the Step

Slide # 15…The more you’re willing to risk, the more God can use you. And if you’re willing to risk everything, then there is nothing God can’t do in you and through you. ~Mark Batterson

Matthew 14:30-32

But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,”he said, “why did you doubt?”

 

  • He took his eyes off Jesus
  • But, don’t lose sight of this, even though he didn’t follow through, he had done something that not ever the greatest prophets of the OT had done.
  • Back to the OT for a second, there is a great Psalm in 18:16 that says…
  • “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters, He rescued me”
  • This story probably reminded people of Israel passing through the Red Sea.

 

Ask for Help

  • We often wish we could escape the storms or troubles or pain or sorrow or even the small daily frustrations that wear us down.
  • But, God promises to be close to the broken hearted, to be our source of power, courage and wisdom and help us through them.
  • Ask Him for help. Cry out to Him.

Psalm 34:17-19 (the message)

17 Is anyone crying for help? God is listening,

ready to rescue you.

18 If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there;

if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.

19 Disciples so often get into trouble;

still, God is there every time.

Matthew 14:33

And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Remember your Source

Colossians 3:1-2 (the message)

1-2 So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.

What’s your Boat?

Want to know what your boat is? Your fear will tell you. Just ask yourself this: What is it that most produces fear in me – especially when I think of leaving it behind and stepping out in faith? ~ John Ortberg

One more quote by Mark Batterson

 

Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death.

Mark Batterson

 

 

A New Chapter for Thrive Church + #SaveaSeat Campaign = The Best is Yet to Come

 

Thrive Church is 175 weeks old! It’s been an amazing 3.5 years! Lives have been changed! Marriages have been encouraged and healed! People have found community! And…people have found Jesus and follow Him!! Through it all…God has been so faithful! 

As I look back on 2016, I just scratch my head when I think about all the ONLY GOD moments! You can check out our annual report HERE.

In fact, He has sent the most amazing people to be a part of this church! I am in awe most days when I think about the staff He’s assembled, the leadership team and the body of people who call Thrive home! Just amazing!

A New Chapter for Thrive Church! 

Very soon, we will start a new chapter. For the Church that started in a bar and then moved to a movie theater, we will move soon to the campus of Central Michigan University. WE ARE SO EXCITED!!

This is a total God thing! It’s an ONLY GOD moment and I’m so excited for this new chapter!

Why are we moving?

Simple. We have outgrown our space. Our current Sunday morning location is great and its been awesome! But, our kids ministry has suffered from a lack of space. Plus, our new location will position us in an amazing facility for both kids and adults and its in a great part of town! And we’re praying that God opens up doors for us to reach College students like never before!

So, how can we get there?

#SaveaSeat Campaign

We’re asking people to sponsor seats to change lives!! If we can get enough seats sponsored, we will be able to purchase the equipment we need to turn CMU into Thrive Church on Sundays!!

There are 1200 seats and we’re praying that we can each one sponsored at $40!!

We primarily need to create an amazing environment for our Kids Ministry! Here is a portion of what we need:

 

  • (4) Carts of Portable Kids Ministry Walls (Brand new, these are $8000). We’re praying we can get them donated or fine used ones.
  • (150 feet) of Pipe and Drape
  • (4) Portable TV Cases for Thrive Kidz and the TV’s to go in them.
  • (2) Giant rolls of carpet
  • Bean Bag chairs, toys, slides, little kids tables and chairs
  • (2) Powered speakers
  • (3) Laptops and Label Printers
  • New Signage for Campus for Thrive Kidz and Thrive Church
  • Dream items: Octoball ring, 9 Square in the air, bouncy inflatable

 

It’s super easy to sponsor a seat. Just text 84321, the amount and CMU. Or you can give online, just check the CMU Fund or give at Thrive.

 

Don’t Miss our Ramp up to Move to CMU:

March 1…40 Day Prayer Campaign Begin (Praying for God to move in this new season at Thrive Church)
March 11…Worship & Prayer Night at the Hub. 6-730pm. We will corporately pray for our move, for Easter and for God to move.
March 12…NEW SERIES BEGINS: How to Wreck Your Life
March 25…24 PRAYER DAY. People will reserve half hour slots to pray on their own or at the Hub or CMU.
March 19-31…Hanging Door Hangers all over Central MI and CMU
March 31…Tentative Set Up and Tear Down Training Night for Road Crew/Thrive Kidz/Production (630-9pm)

April 2…Soft Launch at CMU [New Experience Times: 930am & 11]
April 16…EASTER!!!! (LOOK AGAIN)
April 23…New Series: #ForCentralMichigan (Loving where you live, serving where you live) & Baptism Sunday!!
April 30…THE CHURCH HAS LEFT THE BUILDING!! Serving local Schools!

These are awesome times Thrive Church! God is doing some incredible things!

Would you join with me and PRAY LIKE CRAZY FOR SEATS TO BE SPONSORED?