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Jason Raitz

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

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Student Ministry

Meet my friend Jess and the famous Slurpee Sunday tradition

I have an amazing friend named Jessica or Jess or as I try to pronounce it with an ‘h’…

Hessica. I don’t know why I do. It’s silly and I try to be funny with it. Its not, but she lets me do it.IMG_0231

Jess has been at Thrive since our very first Sunday, I believe. Or the second. But, either way, she has been at Thrive ever since. She hasn’t missed many Sunday’s in that time. She plays in the band. She has served in Thrive Kidz. She has helped set up at 7am on Sunday’s. And, she serves in One Youth! Actually, she’s one of the reasons One Youth got going and stayed going. She was the first adult leader and has loved and served students ever since.

If I had to describe Jess using one word, I couldn’t. It would just be too hard. Because I would want to use too many words, words like…

Faithful. Servant. Friend. Hero. Leader. Example. Loving. Caring. Believer. Amazing. Humble. Freaking Awesome. Lover of Jesus. Jesus Follower.

My wife and I have 4 kids and they all adore and love Jess.

Our 12 year old Zach is addicted to slurpees. There is a story behind that, but because of a special diet he’s on, we gave him his first slurpee pretty early on (like barely crawling, hahha) and he’s been hooked ever since.

Well, Jess and Zach have this cool tradition.

It’s called Slurpee Sunday.

After Church, before we’ll head to lunch, she takes Zach to his favorite slurpee place and they get a slurpee. As a dad who believes in having other adults be a part of our kids lives, this means the world. Some Sunday’s it’s probably a pain for her because Zach always remembers and is pretty persistent.

But, Jess is just faithful. Jess just loves. Jess just keeps investing into his life.

She cheered him on at his football games. She’s also taken our 16 year old to her favorite coffee place as well. And she has sat in the stands at many games from students from Thrive.

I was thinking about this today because last Sunday was slurpee Sunday and I was asking God to make me more like Jess.

I hope your kids have a Jess in their lives.

What an INCREDIBLE morning AHEAD!! Can’t wait to send my kids to camp and lead worship at Thrive!!

OH MY STINKING GOODNESS!!!!

I am beyond EXCITED for what’s ahead today!!

First of all…It’s Sunday!!! I can’t wait to gather with my Thrive Church family!!!

Second of all…My kids and a great group of students are headed to Big Stuf Camp in Panama City Beach, FL!! 

Third of all…I have the privilege of leading worship at Thrive this morning with an amazing group of musicians! 

I am on freaking overload! I can’t wait! Here we go!

If you don’t have a Church home, you’re invited to Thrive this morning at either 9 or 1015 at Celebration Cinema.

If Thrive is your Church home, COME ONE!!!!! HERE WE GO!!!!

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.

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’ve been speaking to students for 20 years and I love it!

I was driving home today from a speaking engagement and the thought hit me…

I have been speaking to students for over 20 years! 

That’s just crazy! speaking

I don’t even have the words to describe how honored I am that I have been able to teach and encourage and challenge students all these years.

I have spoke in churches, youth groups, conferences, schools, private schools and colleges.

I have traveled all over the country. I have spoke to groups of 10 students and all the way to thousands.

I really don’t speak outside of Thrive all that often anymore, but I loved today.

I believe in students and I have always loved teaching them about Jesus.

I have to say no to far more opportunities to speak now than I’d like, but I love the opportunities I can be a part of! This summer I’m speaking at two summer camps and I can’t wait!

I hope that students experienced Jesus today and they were inspired to live like Him!

 

 

My 2 word goal for 2016

Follow Jesus

IMG_1395

Yup, that’s it.

I want to passionately and whole-heartedly follow Jesus. 

Jesus said, “Whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish” (Luke 14:27-30).

I don’t want to be a fan. I want to be a follower.

A fan sits in the stands. A fan criticizes without being involved. A fan is great at hype.

I want to be a follower. 

A follower abandons their own ways for the ways of their master.

A follower puts aside their pride.

A follower helps others find the Savior.

A follower serves the needs of others.

A follower surrenders their finances to God.

A follower does life in circles not rows.

A follower changes to be more like who they follow.

So, for 2016, my goal is to follow Jesus. 

I love the wisdom of my 15 year old daughter

It’s no secret that I’m the President and Co-Founder of the Rebekah Raitz fan club. IMG_0593

From the moment she was placed in my arms, she’s had my heart. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for her and there’s nothing I wouldn’t sacrifice for her to live out her dreams.

We have traveled together. We have flown all over the country together. We have walked the streets of a village in Ecuador together. She has sat in the front row of literally hundreds of my speaking gigs. She has hung out in countless green rooms as I spoke from stages. We have had thousands of conversations. We have talked about God, and sports and boys, and friends and pinterest and One Direction and Jesus and Church.

She’s just beautiful inside and out.

Her heart is just solid gold.

She is a leader and I love that! She has big opinions and she’s not afraid to share them. Countless adults have told me they’re amazed at how well she talks and carries on conversations with adults.

She’s a communicator and isn’t afraid to get in front of a group of people and share what’s on her heart.

AND, I love her Wisdom! 

We were hanging out yesterday and we talked about a million different things.

  1. We talked about her future and what she wants to do and what God is calling her to do.
  2. We talked about College and her plans for that. We talked about getting a jump start on applying for scholarships. We talked about her taking as many general ed classes as she can before she graduates high school.
  3. We talked about boys and the right kind to be friends with and to be interested in. I have been begging her since she was little to fall for boys who have fallen in love with Jesus.
  4. We talked about high school and some of the silly drama and how some kids are so wrapped up in things that don’t matter.

And, we talked about Church. She’s actually pretty passionate about Church and her Church.

She serves every Sunday and without a fight. We leave the house together as a family at 630am and Bekah is typically in charge of setting up a room and then running it for Thrive Kidz.

Now, I’ve mentioned to her a few times that I think she would be an amazing Pastor! She’s pretty hesitant about that and that’s great. I will support her in whatever area she invests her life. But, her leadership would be amazing in any Church.

But, it’s funny the wisdom that started flowing when she started to talk about Church. Here are a few Rebekah points of Wisdom…

ONE…She asked me why more Adults don’t serve at Church. I said, well, people are busy and some aren’t in the right season of life. She just couldn’t understand all the excuses people have about not serving at Church.

  • She says…How do people think the Church will operate if nobody steps up and serves? How do people think they will experience God?
  • Yeah, great point!

TWO…She overheard me telling Tracie that someone left Thrive because they thought it was wrong we teach about money and give people a chance to give.

SIDE BAR: As a Pastor, as a Dad and having a ministry family…we work very hard to protect our kids from the junk and pain and gossip that sometimes happens.

  • Back to Bekah. She thought about it for a minute and she said…’Outside of the fact that Jesus talked about money almost more than anything else, how do those people think the Church will operate if nobody gives? And, why wouldn’t you want to give, do they see all the amazing life change happening’?
  • Yeah, great point!

THREE…She asked me why it seems so many adults live life like high school students. Surrounded in the drama they either make up or invite themselves into. I said, I don’t know.

  • She then says…’Well, its time for them to grow up’.
  • Yeah, great point!

Obviously I’m proud of my daughter. I love her.

Our goal from day one as parents was to point her to Jesus, to love her so much that it would be hard to ever wonder if she was lovable and to prepare her to be a self-sufficient human being!

I have seen so many kids over the years that aren’t ready to be self-sufficient.

Well, I can proudly say, we could probably kick out Bekah now and she would do just fine! Hah.

I know God has amazing plans for this young woman and I believe He is going to use her to shake up the Kingdom!

You’re invited to one of the BEST Sunday’s of the year at Thrive!!

Sunday-At-ThriveToday’s the day! I’ve been counting down and waiting for this day for a long time!

WHY??? You ask. 

Because its one of the absolute BEST Sunday’s of the year at Thrive Church!

Now, let me back up, I believe every Sunday is freaking awesome! But, because of Christmas and the fact that more people will accept an invite at Christmas time more than other times, makes this Sunday that much more awesome!

So, in a typical Thrive (like) way, we pull out all the stops! Here’s what you can expect at Thrive this morning:

  • Pictures with Santa!! Yes, for you, your friends and for your family!!
  • It’s Ugly Christmas Sweater Sunday!!! Wear you best sweater and who knows, you have a chance to win a prize!!
  • We have new Thrive Swag in the Thrive store today! And yes, it’s so VERY comfy! And, a tremendous way to support your church and spread the word about Thrive in our community.

AND THEN ONE OF OUR BEST ANNUAL TRADITIONS OF ALL

  • OUR INDOOR SNOWBALL FIGHT WITH THRIVE KIDZ!! IT IS SO MUCH FUN!! 

Again, this morning is a CANT MISS Sunday! So, if you’ve never been to Thrive Head to Celebration Cinema for our 900 or 1015 experience. I would suggest getting there 20 minutes early! You’ll be greeted at the front door and they’ll let you know  what to do!

Oh, if it is your first time. No need to dress up. Just wear what you’re comfortable in. Jeans is great and don’t forget about your Ugly Christmas seater.

See you soon!!

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