Jason Raitz

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



I’m tired of being in pain

Yes, this title and post is much more personal and whiny than I try to be on my blog. I try to work very hard to keep my blog very positive. But, yesterday was a classic bad back day for me and all day long I found myself saying…

I’m tired of being in pain.

Unless its super hot and my back is very lose, outside of that, then I’m typically dealing with some sort of back pain. Either a little pain or a lot of pain. It’s been that way most of my life.


Well, because I’m not very smart. It started when I was young and was hit by a car. Then, through my 20’s I really didn’t take care of my back. It worsened in my 30’s and for some reason, when we planted Thrive Church, it went from bad to horrible. I had surgery in Jan of 2014 to remove a disc and that took care of the sciatica, but depending on the day, it can be either manageable or it can be down right ridiculous. Bending is out of the question. And, every time I lift something with even a little weight to it, my back could start screaming at me.

I try not to complain.

I try not to dwell on it.

I try not to let it drag me down.

I try to keep going.

I try to fight through it.

But, wow, some days. And, I know so many people have pain so much worse than mine.

And, I know some of the possible solution is on me, that’s the kicker! The solution?

Lose weight. 

We all know being overweight does not help your back and I am dreadfully overweight!

Now, before you start saying…‘just eat salad and start running’. Trust me, I have heard those a lot over the years! And, yes, I am trying to eat more salad. I have actually taken huge steps this last month. I cut out pop. I cut out some things that are very bad and I am feeling much better!

And, I can’t run. I would run. I love to run! My last run was in June of 2012 and I ran 10 miles! See, I love to run. But, I can’t. I love to do cross fit. I can’t. Anything that involves jarring…yeah, I could be laying on my back for a week.

So, I have been in this continuous hard and painful cycle for 4 years. I start to lose weight, everything feels better, than the stress of life comes (having a big family, financial pressure, leading a church) and sometimes when my back feels better I push it to hard and bam, I’m back to def con 5 back pain.

When I hit def con 5 back pain, I’m done. Getting through the day is a win for me. Bending, standing, walking, sitting, putting on socks, it’s all hard. That’s actually an understatement! It’s painfully hard.

Sunday’s at Church, when I hit def con 5 back pain is unreal. The walking, standing, preaching, moving, it’s just hard.

Why I’m typing all this, I don’t know.

I just got to the place yesterday where I started to whine and cry to God and then I found this amazing video on youtube about Job. Put a lot in perspective.

I know Paul prayed for his pain to be taken away. I know David cried out to God.

So, I’m crying out to God. I am going to do my best to take care of the body that God has blessed me with. I am going to keep making better eating decisions. I am going to work hard to loosen and strengthen the muscles around my back that don’t want to bend.

And, I’ll just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

If you’re in pain. My heart goes out to you. I’m praying for you. Let me know, so I can pray!


Want to help us Bring Kai home? Sponsor a Puzzle Piece. Super easy! HUGE IMPACT!

Hey there!

Maybe you’ve heard or maybe you haven’t, but the Raitz family is adopting an almost 3 year old boy from China! We are naming him Kai David Raitz and we couldn’t be more excited!
This process started 10 years ago when God started to lay adoption on our hearts. Last fall, Tracie and I decided to start walking down this path. As we prayed about adopting, God just really laid on our hearts that we should adopt a child with PKU. PKU is a rare genetic disorder that our two youngest kids have. If our kids stay on a very strict diet and drink their medical formula, they will live a very healthy life.
When we started this process, God lead us to a little girl who we named Winona Mae. We were steam rolling through the process and it came to a screeching halt in Feb of this year when we found out that she had passed away. She was very under weight and her body couldn’t fight off an infection. We were crushed and heart broken. We took a few months to grieve and just kept asking God if we should continue and He said Yes.
He lead us to Kai David! He’ll be three in Jan and he has PKU. We have been praying for this boy for months! His room is painted. His crib is bought. And, we are excited!
We are working hard to raise the last leg of funds needed to complete this adoption.
If you would like to be a part, we have a very simple way you can help. img_2567
Would you sponsor a Puzzle Piece or two or three? We have made two identical puzzles that have Kai and our families picture on them. There are 252 pieces. If you sponsor piece number 78, we’re hoping and asking that you would donate $78 dollars to Kai’s adoption fund. We would then send you a picture of the puzzle and whatever puzzle pieces you sponsored. We started last night and we already have 20 pieces sponsored!
You can either give HERE or you could send a check to our address listed below.
Tracie heads to Chicago tomorrow after Church to take our paperwork to the Chinese Consulate in downtown Chicago on Monday morning. Once they approve and seal our paperwork, we are working towards raising $8210 so we can officially pay our adoption agency and send our dossier to China. After that, we will need to raise $3500 for our gift to the Chinese orphanage and then airfare and travel for 14 days in China. Yes, we still have a long way to go, but if even 100 pieces are sponsored, we’ll be well on our way!
If you can’t help sponsor a piece, no worries at all! Please pray for us! Pray for the funds to be raised. Pray for the adoption grants we’ve applied for. Pray for a quickness. Pray that we would be able to get him before Christmas!
Lastly, as many of you know, I have spent the last 15 years speaking and teaching all over the country. I feel called to share the Gospel with students and adults and I have loved it. God has given me the opportunity to speak to over 250,000 people in that time! Yeah, crazy!
I’m telling you that because it is also an opportunity for me to earn extra income that can go towards our adoption. Since starting Thrive, I haven’t traveled as much, but now that Thrive is three years old and we have built a teaching team, I am freed up to travel and speak a little more.
So, if you are in a position to bring in speakers, would you consider me? If you could talk to your Pastor or Leadership or pass on my blog (, I would be honored.
If not, no worries at all!
Thank You! Thank you for considering! Thank you for praying! Thank you for your support!

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!


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 is Church and God the first to go when life gets tough?

I have heard similar stories a hundred or more times, probably more.

‘Yeah, life has been hard, so I just don’t have time for Church’

‘My life is falling a part and I blame God’

‘Church just doesn’t fit with my crazy life right now’

‘I’m upset at a decision the Pastor made and so I’m going to find another church’

‘People look at me with judgmental eyes at Church’

Totally get this from folks who are far from Jesus.

Totally would expect it. 

But, I’m just shocked at the amount of people who say they follow Jesus and they fall into one of these categories.

Now, before you think I’m going all Judgmental. I’ve been there! I was once SUPER CRAZY STUPID burned out on Church. I was. I said some of those reasons. So, I get this all too well!

But, by the grace of God, I woke up and jumped back in. 

I don’t know what’s happening in your life right now. I don’t know how hard it is. I don’t know if you’re ticked off at your Pastor. I don’t know if somebody in your church has excluded you. I don’t know if you lost your job and you blame God.

Whatever the reason. Don’t give up. That’s the easy thing to do.

Jump back in to your relationship with God. He’s ready and waiting! He can’t wait to immerse you in His love.

Jump back in to Christ’s bride. The Church is waiting for you and needs you.

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!


Parents…4 Ways to have an incredible school year with your family

Another school year is starting! It’s just crazy how fast the summer flies by! But, here we are and instead of just letting the school year start, I thought about putting together a plan for my family.

You see, I want this to be our best school year yet for our 11th, 9th, 7th and 3rd grader.

Before I go into the list, I guess I should lay the foundation to how our family approaches school and education. Because it’s a bit different than most.

  • It is NOT the school’s responsibility to teach our kids character. It is ours as parents.
  • School is not life. We’re a bit different here than most. We’re more concerned about our kids being actively engaged and involved with their Church than school activities. That doesn’t mean we pull our kids from sports or band or yearbook or all that stuff. School activities are just not our priority.

Here’s why: The Local Church is the most important organization on planet earth. Jesus loved the church enough to die for it. That means its pretty darn important. So, we try to model that importance to our kids and as a family. 

  • We understand that school becomes a mission field for our kids. I grew up in private Christian schools from K-12. I loved my experience. I loved the bible teaching and the chapels. If there were a great evangelical christian school in our area, we would pray about sending our kids to it. But, there isn’t. And, we think as our kids have gotten older and their faith has become more of their own, it’s been awesome to see them represent Jesus and their Church at their school.
  • Straight A’s and perfect attendance is not our goal for our kids. Our goal is for them to love Jesus, love their family, love their Church and live out the fruit of the spirit. Now, we push our kids to do great in school. So, I’m not saying we settle for less than A’s and B’s. But, if our kids got straight A’s and had no character and bullied kids at their school, we failed!

5 Ways to make this the best year yet!

ONE….Pray with your family EVERY Day! Yup, I know–I know, it kind of sounds impossible. Maybe its not for some of you, but my family falls way short on this and I wish it wasn’t so!

But, we’re going to make very attempt to pray together as a family…EVERYDAY! We did ok with this last year, this year we will do much better!

TWO…Eat dinner together at least 3 times a week. Again, for our family with 4 kids and lots of stuff going on, this has become harder and harder. But, like Andy Stanley says…we have to choose to cheat. We will cheat on other stuff and choose our family time this year. Something so cool happens when you all sit down and eat and talk and laugh and enjoy each other.

THREE…Sit down and write out a DREAM wall. Super easy, super important. Set goals for the year. Write down families and kids you’re going to pray for. Write down goals of who you want to invite to church. Write down goals you want to experience as a family.

FOUR…Figure out ways you can bless your kids teachers. I love teachers. After speaking at assemblies in schools, I gained a new perspective and love for teachers. So often, it’s a thankless job. Pray for your kids teachers.

We have spent a ton of time over the years reminding our kids that they can ask their teachers if they can help them. To thank them. To encourage them.

What am I missing? I bet, with this short list, we can have a great school!

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