Jason Raitz

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


Thrive Church

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!


How to make your Small Group GREAT!

One of my great passions in ministry is Small Groups! As much as I love communicating and building strategic plans around gathering groups of people for an event…Small Groups just get me fired up!small-groups-two

Ever since I read Sticky Church, I’ve been hooked! If you can create environments that are so welcoming and so accepting and so rewarding, people will STICK! Kids will Stick. Students will Stick. Students will Stick! And, that’s what we want at Thrive!

We want EVERY Thriver in a Small Group! 

We want EVERY Thriver to have a group of people who will be their ‘people’! Where they can ask spiritual questions without worrying about being judged. Where they can be prayed for. Where they can be loved. Where they can be taken care of. Where they can grow spiritually.Where they can live out the ‘One Another’s’ of the New Testament.

At Thrive, that’s why Small Groups are our Secret Sauce! We believe fully in Andy Stanley’s great quote…

Circles are better than rows

But, it takes some commitment and energy to make GREAT Small Groups. It’s just not automatic. And, I would rather my Small Group be great and something people look forward to, than just ok.

So, if you want your Small Group to be GREAT, here are a few things you can do to make it GREAT!

1. ONE…Make it a priority! 

Simple, right? Wrong! We’re so busy! There are so many things clamoring for our attention and we feel like we have to say yes to everything.

And, don’t throw tomatoes at me, but honestly, it seems like everything is more important than our spiritual growth now a days.

Our kids activities are def. more important. Just look at your calendar. Again, not saying at all that kids stuff isn’t important, I love watching my kids at school and in sports.

But, what if we lived like the early Church in Acts 2:42?

‘They Devoted themselves’. Just think about that word for a second. Have you DEVOTED yourself to…

‘Teaching, Fellowship, Breaking of Bread and to Prayer’?

What if our GROUPS became SACRED. We blocked out that time. My family has done some crazy things in the past to protect our Group time. Take some time to think and to pray about what you could do to make being a group a Priority for you and your family.

2. Really Care about your group. 

Yes, another one that sounds simple. But, what if we put the same energy into our groups that we did our passions in life (working out, camping, hunting, shopping)? Yeah, our groups would be pretty darn special wouldn’t they?

  • Imagine if we prayed for our group every day.
  • Imagine if we learned everything we could about the people in our group?
  • Imagine if we cared for all the kids in our group?

What can you do to really care about your group?

3. Actually pray for each group member and their families.

Again, I’m not breaking any records for deep thoughts. But, it’s crazy to me, if we’re really being honest, how little we pray!?!

Get a journal or make an online note or a note on your phone, and keep a record of all the prayer requests in your group and actually…

Pray for them. 

4. Support your Church and Pastor. 

I know you’ve probably never met someone who just stirs up the drama pot whatever chance they get! But, sometimes, small groups can become havens for the complainers, the gossipers and the drama lovers. Especially about Church stuff.

Don’t allow that in your group! If you can’t fully support your church and pastor, maybe you’re at the wrong church.

Spend time praying for your church, your pastor and the staff. Pray for the leadership. Pray for the kids and students.

5. Talk. 

A great small group is when the talk is equally spread around. If you lead or host the group, remember this great principle…talk 20% of the time and listen 80%.

Now, it might take some time for you to feel comfortable enough to talk. That’s ok. But, its pretty awesome when every one in the group adds to the group.

Ask spiritual questions. Tell the group what you’re learning from scripture. Share what’s on your heart.

6. Serve.

This is huge! Find some time to serve somebody! Serve the people in your group. When someone gets sick or life has taken a twist, feed them! Care for them. Or, as a group, find some time to serve your church or community.

There is something powerful that happens when your group unites outside of the group and serves.

7. Create special memories. 

When someone has a birthday in our group, make a BIG deal about! Have your whole group sing to them, lay hands on them and pray for them and then celebrate with cake and ice cream.

If you have kids and students, make a big deal when they hit certain ages.

Go on vacations together. Do spring break together. Go to each other’s kids games.

Help each other. Our group helped us paint a room for our upcoming adoption.

8. Stick Together. 

Yeah, this goes against some of the popular thoughts into group dynamics and ministry of always splitting up. But, the more time you have together, the deeper your community will be.

And, if someone in your group feels the nudge from the Holy Spirit to start their own group, send them out!! Celebrate them!!

If you don’t want your group to be GREAT, then don’t do any of these things. 

Here’s the thing, the less you do, the more you can do better. So, you may have to say no to some things in your life to make your group great, but I promise you…it will be worth it!

Put some energy into these things and do them over time and your small group will be GREAT!

It will become a weekly highlight. It will become something that your entire family looks forward to!

Just try!



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!!




I’m Sharing something today at Thrive that I’ve never shared before…

I’m excited. I’m a bit nervous. But, really, I’m more excited. so-excited

Today is going to be a GREAT day at Thrive. 

We start a new series called ‘Show Up, Jump In, Do Good’. It’s a series about our Spiritual Formation process and how every single person who comes to Thrive can be the mission of Thrive Church!

Today is SHOW UP Sunday and I’m praying that’s exactly what happens!

So often people think that its the Pastors job to live out the mission (it is) or the staff (it is) or the leadership (it is), but they lose sight of the fact that it is everyone’s job to do that.

Plus, I’m sharing something at Thrive that I’ve never shared before. Its something I wrote about Thrive before our Church even started and I can’t wait to share it.

Please join us! If you’re looking for a church home or you’ve felt for awhile that its time to head back to Church, come to Thrive!

We meet at both 9 and 1015 at Celebration Cinema! See you this morning!

10 Ways to Really SHOW UP at Thrive Church


It’s up to you, you can SHOW UP or you can not. If you do plan on SHOWing UP, here are 10 ways to really SHOW UP at Thrive Church.

10 Ways to really SHOW UP. 

1. Show Up consistently. We show up so we can get filled up to go out and help people find and follow Jesus.

2. Show Up with a smile. Life is hard. We are the Church for the broken and neglected. But, as much as you can, show up with a smile. If you can’t, don’t worry about it!

3. Show Up with someone. Yes, bring whoever you know.

4. Show Up with your kids. Oh my sweet goodness, bring your kids! They will love Thrive Kidz and One Youth!

5. Show Up early. Yup, come on! Our teams work really hard for you to experience God. Don’t miss any of it.

6. Show Up and serve. One of the best ways to get involved. If you really want to SHOW UP. come at 7am and help set up!

7. Show Up and give. Yes, we’re a church that asks you to give a portion of your finances to God through the Church. You’re blessed when you give and others are too!

8. Show Up online. We live in an online world. Like, comment, encourage, share as much as you can!

9. Show Up with encouragement. People are hurting. Bring the encouragement!

10. Show Up with support. Yeah, support your Church. Support your Pastors.

10 Ways that would have gigantic and profound impact on your life and Thrive Church!

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!


Today is my 3 year anniversary with Thrive Church! 3 Lessons I’ve learned about planting and leading a Church…

Woo Hoo!!

Today, (or maybe it was yesterday?), is my 3 year work anniversary with Thrive Church!

Super Duper! Neato!IMG_1774

Gosh, those THREE years went by quick and I can’t wait for the next three! 

A church planter I’m coaching asked me the other day how long it was from when we first started meeting as a small group to launch Sunday. It was a quick ramp up! This guy was on month 16 and still had 4 months to go before their official launch.

Sometimes I wish I would have gone that route. We officially started meeting weekly as a small group in Jan ’13 and we started gathering monthly for worship services then as well. That was the Shepherd Bar era, that was fun!

During that time, I traveled and spoke for a living. Many church planters are much smarter than I am and don’t have a day job as they plan to launch their churthrive # 4ch, that didn’t work out for me. Every waking second I wasn’t traveling and speaking, I
was planning, preparing and praying for our launch in October of 2013.

The craziest part (and the stoopedest) was that summer, I had 46 flights in 3 months and spoke all over the place! Don’t get me wrong, I loved it! It was a huge honor to teach God’s word all over the country and it provided for my family…double win! But wow, it was a crazy season of life.

I WISH, if I could go back in time. I would have spent at least 6 solid months working full time for Thrive before we officially launched. But, 10 months after we first started meeting as a small group, on October 6, 2013 we officially launch as Thrive Church with 155 people!

I was officially hired to be Thrive’s Pastor by our Management Team and my official start date was either September 1st or 2nd!

3 Years!!!!

They have gone by quick! Especially years 1 and 2. Year 2-3 might just be the toughest year of ministry I’ve had in 20+ years of serving and working for Churches. But, even through the pain, there have been so many amazingly rewarding moments!

3 Lessons I’ve Learned about Planting and Leading a Church

ONE…Pray more.

I know, I was hoping my first lesson would sound super intelligent and ridiculously theological, but it’s me. I would simply pray more! I would devote large portions of my time to prayer. I would get up earlier. I would pray harder. I would pray for people more. I would have more prayer meetings. I would lay hands on people and pray more. I would teach people to pray BIG. I would take more prayer walks.

I would pray more.


Oh my goodness, every leader that I’ve ever heard speak about vision is correct when they say…VISION LEAKS! It does! Every one’s vision buckets (like Bill Hybel’s says) has holes in the bottom!

I would read and re-read every book on vision that I could. I read every article and listen to every message. I would learn how to tell better stories and capture stories. I would cast bigger vision.

I would cast BIGGER VISION.

THREE…Right size my expectations. 

I had a very incorrect assumption when we started and my expectations for everyone were pretty off. Honestly, it was pretty unfair of me. I assumed that every one would love Thrive Church as much as I do and want to sacrifice and give and see it grow as much as I did.

I have since learned a very valuable lesson…Thrive Church is not for everyone! We just can’t be. And everyone is not going to be as invested as I think they should be. And this is all ok! Doesn’t mean we won’t push people to grow in their faith or challenge them or encourage them to be in a small group. It just means that I needed to right size my expectations.

I caused myself hurt because sometimes I spent a ton of time pouring and investing into people who eventually left Thrive Church and it absolutely crushed me. It still crushes me anytime somebody leaves. Whether they talk to me or not, it still stings. I talk to Pastors about this all the time and I hear the same thing over and over, it always hurts.

But, the hurt is different now. Why? I have done a better job of right sizing my expectations.

I would right size my expectations.

It’s been 3 amazing years. Honestly, we’ve seen God do some things that have just blown my wildest imaginations away! There is a ton I would do differently! There are so many more lessons, but these three are the big ones.

I can’t wait for the next 3 years! I think God has done some amazing work in my heart and leadership and in my team’s as well this past year and I think and pray and believe that this next year will be our best yet!

We have a giant vision to reach the more than 70,000 people who don’t have a Church home in Central MI! We want to see marriages healed. We want to see kids and students passionate about Jesus and the Church. We want to raise up followers of Jesus who give their lives to Him.

It’s been a GREAT 3 years but they’re over.

I really believe…

The Best is Yet to Come!

Do Pastors try to hard to get people to attend or be a part Church?

Ok, its late. I’m normally not up this late. So, I know I really messed up my ‘to’s’ in the subject line. To be honest with you, I always mess them up! People in my church must think I’m illiterate sometimes!

But, this question has been swirling around in my head lately. And, these thoughts are kind of all over the place, so forgive me.

Do Pastors try to hard to get people to attend or be a part Church? 

I think its a fair question. I’ve read just about every article and blog post on either side of this question.

Us Pastors, we LOVE the Church! And, why would we not want EVERYONE to be involved. To be ALL IN. To be passionate about their local church.

I can scroll for 20 seconds and see my Pastor friends posting videos and pictures about how this Sunday is going to be the most awesome Sunday ever and how people shouldn’t miss.

I am that Pastor! I believe it!

But, should we try to hard? 

I’ve read some very passionate people who think the Church expects way too much out of people and needs to settle down the ‘asks’.

I’ve read some very passionate people who think the Church is the most important organization on the planet and that’s why they’re unashamed when it comes to asking for more and more commitments.

I have experienced both ends of this question and everything in between!

I have and continue to asked a lot

I am on the side of the equation that believes that the Church is the Hope of the World, so I have asked a lot of people! I have asked people to give, to sacrifice, to invest to invite, to bring, to share and to be excited.

I’ve had seasons, especially when we started the church, that I tried to be all things to everyone. I personally messaged hundreds of people every week and invited them to Thrive. I sent emails. I sent handwritten cards. I sent a lot of texts. Now, I really do enjoy doing that! Why? Because I love people’s stories!!

I began to notice that I could see a spike in attendance when I hit all cylinders of social media and reaching out.

But, the down side was…I was trying to be all things to everyone. And, as our Church grew, especially after 400 people, I couldn’t keep it up. I couldn’t respond to all the texts and all the messages. It was hard. I let people down. Almost every text started with…’I am so sorry it has taken so long to respond’.

So, I slowed down.

I asked a lot less

I’ve had seasons where I’ve received a decent amount of criticism, especially when it comes to asking people to make a commitment to honor God with their finances. Whew boy! I have taken some hits. But, I’ve experienced so many blessings, why would I not teach what the Bible has to say about giving? But, I slowed down.

And, the seasons I really slowed down with all the personal invites, I could see attendance go down a bit.

NOW…these are just my observations. Maybe I’m crazy!

I’m trying to not be the Celebrity Pastor

This is a hilarious thought to me. I am so far from even being considered in the celebrity range. I am not cool. I am short stubby guy. I don’t dress cool. I make up words. Honestly, I can’t. It would be too uncomfortable.

But, it’s easy for the Pastor to become the man. For everyone to go the Pastor. For the Pastor to teach every week. Talk to every person. Lead every project. Teach everything.

I just don’t want to be that way.

I just want Jesus to be the Celebrity in our Church

That’s my goal. For people to be so overwhelmed with His presence, His life and His love that they are…

INSPIRED to be the Church! To not just to attend or be a part. But to BE THE CHURCH!

That’s what I want! That’s why I’ve worked hard to try to do a few things…

  1. Empower the Thrive staff to lead.
  2. Raise up a local leadership team (Both Elders and a Financial team).
  3. Develop a teaching team. We have 4 people on our team and 2 in training.
  4. Teach people how to pray for one another.

I don’t know if it’s making a difference. But, I love my Church, I love THE Church and I’m passionate about people falling in love with Jesus.

What do you think about all this? I would love your thoughts.

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!

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