Jason Raitz

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



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.



Keep Calm its Sunday Morning! Wait, don’t keep calm! It’s SUNDAY!!!!

Hey Thrive Church!Screen Shot 2016-08-28 at 6.16.28 AM
It’s Sunday morning! The absolute best part of the week! Why? Because we have the amazing privilege of being a part of something that Jesus gave His life for…

The local Church!

Plus, I couldn’t sleep last night and spend a great deal of time praying for you and I’m PUMPED!! Geeked! EXCITED! Ready to go!!
So, don’t miss your chance to
  • GATHER TOGETHER with your Church this morning!
  • Don’t miss your chance to WORSHIP YOUR GOD with your Church.
  • Don’t miss your chance to SERVE other people in your Church.
  • Don’t miss your chance to receive COMMUNION and celebrate and remember what Jesus did on the cross.
  • Don’t miss your chance to MEET new people and LOVE people!
It’s super easy to MISS, isn’t it? All Satan does is put excuses in our heads. So, don’t. Plus, I bet God has something HUGE for you this morning!!
…If you’re SERVING, please be at Volunteer Central by 8:30am.
…Come early and sit by someone new. Sit close!!
…Say hi to people. Shake hands or wave at folks.
…Worship LOUD. Raise your hands, Close your eyes. Pour out your heart to Jesus.
…Laugh and Learn during the message on how God is for the Worrier.
…GIVE. Yup, give financially. Give sacrificially. Give cheerfully.
> > 2 Reasons to be at Thrive > >
ONE…It’s the last week of ‘No Perfect People Allowed’. The conclusion is going to be awesome. God is for the Worrier.
TWO…We’ll continue the celebration from last week by watching the Baptism and BBQ highlight video!! One of Thrive’s best days ever!!
Alright, we’ll see you soon! I’m praying for you! Can’t wait to see you!
PS…Don’t forget about next Sunday. It’s called ‘You Asked for It’ Sunday. Dr. Tom and I are going to answer your questions on God, Life, Theology and Faith. Just email them to or text them to 989 572 0439.

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!



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…


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!

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

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. 




What I love about my Dad

I’m blessed. I have an incredible Dad. In fact, I have an incredible Mom as well.

Yes, I’m blessed. IMG_0445

Here’s the deal, I try very hard to not take this giant blessing for granted. I have quite a few friends who are not close to their parents as all.

But, my dad has always been there for me.

I love that. Through good times and bad, he’s been there.

When I was in high school and struck out, he was there. When I got a job in high school and it was miles away from our house, he was there and drove me to work. Some nights, he would have to leave the house late at night to come pick me up and he did.

I also love that my dad has always been there for my mom. They are a great team. He’s been there for my brother as well. He’s been there for my kids as well.

Yeah, I think the world of my dad.

He’s a man of God. He has a quiet strength. He has a ton of wisdom. He is incredibly patient. Again, he’s just incredible.

Yup, I love my dad.


‘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.

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!



What!?! I haven’t Preached at Thrive since April 3rd? I am Sunday and I can’t wait!

This is just crazy…I haven’t preached at Thrive since April 3rd!

What the heck is going on!?!

I never thought I would ever take a 3 week break from preaching at Thrive! I mean, I LOVE preaching at Thrive! LOVE IT! Honestly, there’s no other place I would rather preach! On a very warm beach is a very close second! Hah!

But, I am scheduled to preach this Sunday at Thrive and I can’t wait! 13048257_992241570871157_7843895192695765249_oIt’s a HUGE honor, a privilege and a blessing to be able to start week one of our new series…‘I do. We did. Now What?’. 

Here’s why I haven’t preached since April 3rd:

ONE…I can’t preach every weekend. Well, I guess I could but I just don’t want too. I don’t think it’s the best for Thrive or me. And, here’s the cool thing, it’s taken a little while, but we’ve been able to develop a teaching team at Thrive and I am so pumped God’s brought together some other folks to share the load.

TWO…I needed a break. Yup, its true. I just can’t preach every Sunday and lead Thrive Church and still have a thriving life with my family. It’s just too much. Now, maybe I could if I didn’t pour my life and every ounce of energy into my messages. Maybe. But, I just can’t do that! I can’t NOT give 110% of everything I am when I preach.

Why I’m EXCITED to preach this Sunday at Thrive:

ONE…I’ve missed it like crazy! I love my Church and I love to share from God’s word with them!

TWO…We start a series I am very passionate about! We are talking about why KIDS MATTER in this series! Why they should matter to the single person, the parent, the step parent, the grand parent and the Church!

We’re going to CHALLENGE and ENCOURAGE Thrive Church to care for kids, to be intentional, to understand that they are God’s Plan A for raising their kids and that we as a Church have to come around them and pour into them!

I can’t wait for Sunday! It’s going to be a GREAT day and I hope you will join us!



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