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Jason Raitz

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

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Leadership

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.

 

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!

Our kids are heading to Big Stuf Summer Camp Tomorrow and we’re so EXCITED!!!!

The day is almost here! We’ve been waiting for months and months. We’ve been praying for this camp for months and months and now its here! Our kids are packed and one of them has re-packed a few times!

Tomorrow the Raitz kids and a great group of students and leaders are headed to Big Stuf Camp in Panama City Beach, FL.

I AM SO EXCITED!!!!

They can’t wait! We can’t wait! I LOVE SUMMER CAMPS and I can’t wait for our kids and the students from Thrive to experience an amazing week of camp!

Our oldest daughter, Bekah, was only 4 months old when we took her to her first camp and since then, she has traveled with me to dozens and dozens of them. Our other 4 kids have been to many camps as well and I am so excited for them to experience a camp where their dad is not the speaker!

You see, for us…

Summer camp is SACRED! 

As a youth pastor, I took hundreds and hundreds of students to many, many summer camps! As a speaker, I have given hundreds of talks at summer camps over the years.

And, as a teenager, my life was forever changed because of summer camp! 

That’s why Summer camps are sacred to us! I don’t think I would be a Pastor if I hadn’t of had those life changing experiences as a kid and I’m super thankful to my parents for making sure I did!

Yes, camps are A LOT of fun! They should be! But, the potential for INCREDIBLE life change is MASSIVE! There are so many great opportunities for students out there and as a youth pastor I took kids to everything I could! Festivals, camps, concerts, retreats, service trips. They were all awesome. But, for me, what I came to believe is…summer camp has an amazing potential for incredible discipleship and that’s why Thrive is going to invest heavily on summer camps!

That’s why I’m so passionate about getting kids to camp! I dream of the day that Thrive sends students by the bus load to camp and I dream of the day that…

EVERY PARENT and THRIVER is as PASSIONATE ABOUT SENDING KIDS TO CAMP! 

I’m so excited for the students and leaders heading to camp this year!

  • I’m excited for them to experience amazing worship! Many of the worship leaders are from North Point Church…Yeah, that amazing Church!
  • I’m excited for them to hear from amazing speakers! The speakers are world class!
  • I’m excited for them to learn from the amazing breakouts!
  • I’m excited for them to grow in their small groups!! The small groups will be amazing!
  • And yes, I’m excited for them to have an amazing amount of fun!!

This is why we picked Big Stuf! 

So, would you pray? Would you ask God to bless this trip? Would you ask God to just WRECK the HEARTS of the students going.

And, we’re still raising funds, so if you would like to help students attend, just head

HERE

and click on Youth Schlorship and donate!

OH…and, if you want to watch the main sessions from Big Stuff, click HERE.

Yes, You Should Leave Your Church IF…

Ok, that title was tough to type. Why?1923671_998631586850947_1167998122442301564_n

Because I love the Local Church.

I passionately believe that there is no greater organization on planet earth than the local Church! And yes, I love Bill Hybel’s famous quote…’The local Church is the hope of the world’!

But, in the midst of all the beauty and the hope, sometimes,

local churches can get messy and ugly. 

To be honest, I hated the Church when I was 14 years old. I HATED THE CHURCH and I wanted to leave! Now, what I really hated was a person in our church, not the church. But, I put all hate towards the church.

Obviously my love for the Church came back in full force and everyday I thank God for the tremendous privilege He gave me of leading a local Church! So, back to the original question…

So, when should you leave your Church? 

I was meeting with someone recently and they asked me this question. They were really struggling with the thought of leaving and have been praying through it.

This is a tough one for me, because I really hate the phrase…’Church Shopping’. I would never actively point someone to SHOP FOR A CHURCH! I don’t think Jesus, after He died and rose again for the Church, thought…well, just shop around for a bit and if you like it, go with that one. I think there’s so much more to it. But, if you’re at a place where you think it’s time to leave your Church, here are some ideas for you…

Leave your Church if…

Your Church doesn’t regularly and passionately Preach the Gospel. 

Yeah, that one is pretty important. But, if it’s been weeks or months or years since the gospel has been presented, you may want to start looking. Now, some churches never have new people, so they don’t feel the need to present the Gospel, again, not good. 

Your Church doesn’t point people to Jesus. 

Again, another important one. If the name of Jesus is not loudly and proudly proclaimed, yeah, that’s not good.

Your Church doesn’t change and is stuck in the past. 

I have known many people who are sticking it out at their church in case the leadership gets the idea that growing organizations change. Not that tradition is bad, but so many churches worship the traditions and not the Savior and they refuse to change. 

Your Church doesn’t believe they should INVEST in the next generation.

Now, many churches just don’t have any of the next generation to invest into, I get that. But, I have been a part and know of churches that view kids and students as a burden and not an investment. If kids and students are not included and aren’t valued, yeah, you may want to start looking.

Your Church doesn’t care for the unchurched. 

Two pretty big church philosophies out there. One says the Church exists for those who already know Jesus and the churches purpose is to disciple them and then send them out. Nothing wrong with this one, I’ve just found (sometimes) that the passion for those who don’t know Jesus is pretty low in these churches.

 The other says that the Church exists for those who don’t know him or have given up on Church. To be honest, this is tough. Why? Because sometimes there are very well meaning people who forget its not about us and its about helping others find a personal relationship with Jesus. 

Your Church never teaches about money, tithing and generosity. 

Oh wow, I just went there. Yikes! But, if your Church never approaches something that Jesus talked an absolute ton about, that’s probably not good. 

Those are some bigger reasons and things to look out for and pray about. Here are a few more…

You Should Leave IF

You can’t support the Pastor. 

This is a tough one. But, ultimately, if you don’t believe in the vision that God’s given your Pastor for the Church, its probably not the right church for you. And, believe me, your Pastor knows if you don’t support their vision for the Church. Trust me, they know. 

You aren’t giving financially because there’s something you don’t like. 

Again, if you’re at the place where you withhold your giving because of a decision that’s been made, you should probably pray about where God is sending you. 

You aren’t serving regularly because you got upset or offended. 

Conflict, conflict, conflict! People are messy sometimes, right? So, if you stopped serving because of conflict with a Pastor, staff member, team leader or someone else, you have to work through that. 

You aren’t ALL IN.

This one won’t get me brownie points with the ‘consumers’ who attend Churches, but for petes sake, its time to stop attending church and be the Church! I think you should be ALL IN like you are for your favorite TV Show or Sports team! Read every email, pray everyday for your church, serve whenever you can, give till it hurts and love your church! 

Ok, my list is not the all inclusive list, just some thoughts and ideas. But, most important, eave your Church if you believe that God is leading you elsewhere. If you’ve heard from Him, GREAT! He may be taking you somewhere else to help you grow that Church or to Grow you!

Here are a few articles that helped me as I wrote this blog post:

7 Disappointing Reasons people leave the Church by Ron Edmondson

5 Reasons People have stopped attending your Church by Carey Nieuwhof

And, for Pastors, 5 Reasons it is so Painful for a Pastor to lose a Church Member by Thom Rainer

 

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.

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