Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Oh yeah

Aw, yes. My least favorite part of my mission trips to Mexico. I was actually blessed a few years to be the person who got to clean the bucket out. What an honor.

This is funny, but good.

My buddy Tom designed this and I thought it was funny. This is for the next Metro Detroit Youth Pastors Lunch on Sept. 8th.

Project311 Lunch Gathering

PS...Can you PS in the beginning? Oh well, thanks to Pat Williams for this idea. I saw this on his blog and I was like...I should put it on mine.


I don't want to take up a lot of your time, but you have a month and a few days notice, so right this down and put it in Outlook or iCal as quick as you can.

September 8th, 2006


Faith Lutheran Church
37635 Dequindre Rd
Troy MI 48083

Reasons Not to Attend:

1. It’s too far. Let me be real honest, I hate that reason, but that’s coming from a guy who loves to connect with other youth workers. You have plenty of time to set up a car pool and save money
for gas. Please don’t let this be your reason.

2. I don’t need another Meeting. Maybe, but trust me, you need this one. Local gatherings and
networks are where it’s at, but what a sign of unity when youth workers come together from all over
Metro Detroit. Let’s Unite, Come Together, Encourage Each Other and Pray for one Another.

3. I’m A Tool and I don’t need other youth workers. I was there, actually, I gave myself the award for
world’s biggest tool. Back in the day, I only wanted to “network” to make myself feel better, to talk
numbers, to get my name out there and hear myself talk. Then I was slapped in the face, not
literally, by my youth ministry professor and she let me know that I was a tool and I needed to cut it
out. When I did, I realized that by building connections with other youth workers was one of the
healthiest decisions I have ever made in ministry.

4. It’s my day off. Ok, real touchy subject here. Yes, days off are EXTREMELY important, but can you
switch it, just for that week? Just asking.

Reasons to Attend:

1. We Love You, Pray for You and we are Concerned for you.

2. Our dream is to see all of the Metro Detroit Youth Workers come together. All be in one room, at
once and encourage each other. Pray for each other. Be concerned with each other’s needs
and let’s see what will happen. Our dream is to not just see Suburban youth workers come together
but Urban as well. Full and part time and volunteer youth workers.

3. Hopefully you will leave encouraged & blessed. I don’t know about you, but this last year has been
the most stressful of my life. Quiet moments with my Father, Laughter filled moments with my family
and moments I have spent with many of you have been extremely uplifting during these stressful times. So, please consider.

4. We are putting a lot of effort and hard work into a lunch for you and we would love for you to
attend, that’s it, plain and simple.

More Information to Come

In the coming weeks, you will get more information about how we are going to fill this exciting two hours of your life, so keep a look out. If you can help or would like to help, please email me at jason@project311.com.


1. If you are going to NYWC and you haven’t bought your ticket yet, this is for you. Youth Specialties has given Project311 a special rate to offer to you. That’s right, YOU! If your not buying a ton of tickets, this should save you some money. Our rate is $275 compared to the regular rate of $350. So, if you would like that rate, please email Jason RAITZ (ha, you get it, Raitz, Rates?) and I can give you the information you will need.

2. Thank you for your support during our transition. Many of you have called and emailed and it has
meant a lot. Thank you.

Please know you are being prayed for!


Jason & Project311

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Tough Night

Don't want to get all woe is me, but man, I am having a tough night. Scratch that, a tough week...month...year.

Thank goodness I can rely on Christ.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Love 7th Grade Boys

Well I am on my way home from camp and my bus smells. It is a crazy smell, nothing I have ever expeienced before. It still amazes me how drastic they change between 7th and 8th grade and how little things like being clean start to matter. Anyways, what a blast.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

My boy was moved

I don't know if you can see his tears, but Zach was truly moved by the episode of Thomas he was watching. He is so deep, there are so many sides to him.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

What I would like to blog about

Due to time issues, here is what I would like to blog about:

  • If I picked the speakers/breakouts for NYWC.
  • Review of my first week at my new church.
  • Elevate's summer camp.
  • Metro Detroit Youth Workers Lunch coming Sept. 8th, 2006.
  • How much I love John Ortberg.
  • I shot a shotgun at camp and now I have a bruise.
  • Why I can't wait for the National Youth Workers Convention! (We are going to Cincy)
  • Moving is hard stuff!
  • I miss my kids!
  • I miss my wife!
  • I miss my wife more!
  • I miss my mom.
  • With out my families help, we would be lost.
  • How amazing the Elevate staff is.
  • I don't like Chicago's talk radio, yet. Or the newspapers. They don't have enough highlights about Detroit teams.
Well, that's some of the list. Wow. Crazy. Neato, Super.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Huge Fun

I am on a bus with 45 seventh grade boys...what a blast! We are on our way to summer camp and right now we are watching the classif movie...Angels in the Outfield.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

This is Incredible.

(Ht or So to Scott)

First Elevate

I guess it's not my first Elevate, I have been here a couple of times the last year as a guest speaker, but this is my first official Elevate as a staffer.

I can still remember driving up to Elevate the first time I spoke here last summer and I couldn't of been more nervous. We were driving up to IL from KY and I spent the entire drive just worrying. I worried about messing up, not being funny, getting my points wrong, and all that. It was so wild. Tracie just kept saying, don't worry, it will be great. Well, not really nervous this time, just glad to be a part of the team. Basically, I made the most common of mistakes for speaker/teachers...I wasn't confident. I put it all on me and not on God working through me. I have really worked hard the last year making sure that I wasn't being a "tool" and putting all the emphasis on me and not God. Well, I am telling one of my stories tonight..."The Wolfboy". I haven't told it too much, but I am going to tell it tonight. I think it brings out Ps. 119:105.

Friday, August 04, 2006

7.5 days

Only 7.5 days left till I can hug my kids and my beautiful wife. I have already talked with Tracie 4 times today, hopefully she isn't getting tired of me. I doubt that could happen, I am her "special Raitz". You know it.

Huh? Bekah has a way with her brothers

I don't know what's going on here, I really don't. Let's just say bekah sue really wants sisters.

I don't know if her wish will ever come true. We'll see.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

One of my new Mission's in Life

I have another Mission in life and I believe it is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT!!! I am passionate about this and I am going to fight and lobby and do everything I can to make sure this mission is implemented. Not just locally, no way, not just by State, no way, but throughout the World. That Mission, is two fold:

1. Get kid size toilets and urinals and sinks in every public restroom. I hate when Bobby says, "Daddy I have to go" and all that is around is a public restroom. They are nasty and messy and gross. They need kid size ones, yes they do. And they need some kind of cleaning device, something simple, like a foamy spray.

The second is as important...

2. To get Diet Pepsi with Lime in every gas station in the world. It was huge a year or two ago, now you can barely find it. But, folks, it is fantastic! We need it everywhere and I will not go to sleep until it happens.

There they are, my two missions! Help me! Let's Unite! In the words of Third Day, "We gotta come together", in the words of Johnny Cash, "Get rhyhm...when you get the blues".

Help me. Join. Fight. Love. In the words of Petra..."This means War"

Lack of Blogging due to Craziness

Wow, I have lots and lots and lots to blog about, but it has been crazy the last few days, scratch that, the last few weeks, scratch that, the last few months. You get the idea. I am looking forward to not traveling as much and I can't till my family can get out here in Chicago.

I was driving away yesterday and to see those faces and hands waving good-bye, it was hard. I would love to get isight, or something like that someday, so I could see them and they could see me. I am definately looking forward to the fall, barely any travel. I may only be checking out a conference, but still working on that. I have no retreats scheduled, no trips, no nothing. And I can't wait till next summer because I will not be traveling all summer! Yeah, Yippee, Super-Duper!

I arrived yesterday and had an incredible greeting from the team here at Elevate. Can I just say what an honor it is to be a part of this team, they are awesome. I really look forward to getting to know them and being apart. Next week we leave for summer camp at Springhill (IND.) and so that will be a great time to get to know them and students. We get back on Friday the 11th and the leadership summit will be taking place, so I may stay that night so I don't have drive another 5 hours and then I will leave Saturday morning and race to Detroit to hug my kids and my beautiful wife.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

First official day on the job

I am leaving in just a few seconds to drive to Chicago for the 5th time in 2 months, it's almost like I am moving there. I should make it in time, scratch that, I will make it in time for the weekly staff meeting.

On a bummer note, I won't see my family for 10 days. Just with packing, and only having one car as a family, we couldn't figure it out. So, I will call home 5-7 times a day. It will be the longest I
have been away since going to Jamaica in 2001 for 10 days. But, Tracie has lots of support and my brother will be working on the house and my parents are just around the corner.

On a cool note, I guess I get an office. I haven't had an office for awhile and it's really cool I get a place to call my own. I have worked out of Panera Bread's, friends offices, my car and so many more places this year, it's cool.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Bye, Bye Children's Hospital of Detroit

I can't believe this is our last visit to the hospital for Zach. We have been here a lot the last two years to see Zach's dieticion, his genetic counselor, his genetic doctor and the nurses who stopby to see him because they say he is "soooo cute". Next month we already have an apointment at Chicago's childrens hospital, good thing my wife is on top of it all.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Who Said this?

Whoever is wounded deeply, God will use greatly.


Whoever is used greatly, will be deeply wounded.

Is that even right?

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Is there something wrong with me?

This weekend Ashlee Simpson and Ashley Parker Angel were in town for a concert and if I would had the cash...I would of went. Is there something wrong me? I mean, I would of gone only to study youth culture, or something like that. Seriously though, what the heck is wrong with me. It's not that I even like them, I don't know what it is.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Camp Velocity...Day 5

I can't believe it's almost over. 1 talk to go, tear down the sound/lights, haul the gear out to the trailer, say good byes to some veyr good friends and head home tomorrow morning.

My parents just left and they surprised us by taking our older two, including the birthday boy himself, Bobby Jay. So, it's quiet with just Zachary. That could be because he's sleeping...as soon as he gets up, it will be loud again.

Highlights this week:

  • Spending the week with some great Jr. highers.
  • Getting to hang out with Dave Kurt, Jason Shinn, Mark Butler, Phil Woodman, Dana Kidder, and Clint Beiri. These are great guys and I wish I would of spent more time with them. There are other great youth pastors here as well and it was great talking with them.
  • Hanging out with my kids. What a blast!
  • Watching the guys lead worship. I am so proud of them and they did a great job.

God is Amazing!

As some of you know, we have been struggling to find a truck/driver to pull back our trailer full of equipment. Well, I spoke with this awesome guy last night from Calvary Baptist in Canton and he is going to come back down and haul the trailer back to MI for us. Wow, what an answer to Prayer!

By borrowing equipment and a trailer and finding folks who drove for us, we were able to save the camps we partnered with something like three thousand dollars. Yippe, Super-Duper.

Bobby is 4 today! He is on the Left.

Current Thoughts on Pastors and Bible College/Training

I don't know why I have been thinking about this lately, but I am amazed how many pastors have absolutely no biblical training whatsoever. I am probably thinking about it because I can't wait to start my Masters and hopefully I will in the winter of 2007, hopefully. I am either going to do a Masters of Theology or maybe a Master's in something like CE, or something other than an MDiv. I have always wanted to do one in Communication but I go back and forth.

But, it just amazes me how many pastors/youth pastors I know without any ministry training or biblical training. I went to bible college and majored in Youth Ministry and it has been incredibly valuable to my last 11 years in ministry. But sometimes, I struggle with folks who don't think any kind of ministry training or biblical study is important. They say things like..."Well, I don't want mess up my thinking and bible college will do that". I don't know, I guess if I went to my doctor and he said that he had a business degree, I guess I would leave pretty quick. I know that is a very simplistic answer, but I don't understand why they wouldn't want at least some kind of training. I hated taking Greek, but now I am glad I did. I didn't want to take all those youth ministry classes but they have been extremely valuable to me. So, I don't know why I struggle with it. I had somebody tell me once that there isn't anything in higher learning that they couldn't teach themselves from some book. I highly disagree.

So, do I think it's absolutely nescessary for a pastor to have some kind of bible college/seminary. No, I guess I don't. But, for some reason I have a whole more respect and admiration for folks who have worked their tales off getting the education.

I know these thoughts are incomplete, but I have been thinking about this a lot. One of life goals is to complete a masters and I have been doing a lot of wrestling as of late if it is the best choice for me and family. We have decided it is, now I just have to figure what school and what degree and oh yeah, how to pay for it and how to do homework with three small kids. Little things.

What a Night

I can safely say that tonight's session did not go that well. The worship was awesome and Shinn and the guys did an awesome job in the auditorium. But when the middle school students left and came over to my room, something just didn't connect. I can definately say that my talk tonight didn't go all that well. Couple of problems:

  • There are quite a few kids who have heard me speak more than a dozen times. The crazy thing is they remember my stories, why do they? I am trying to tell new stories or reworked stories, but they catch on. They say stuff like..."I love this one, you already told that 2 years ago, you told it differently last time".
  • We had some sleepers tonight.
  • I don't know if I can say this, or it will sound toolish, but I just don't do as well speaking to crowds of 100 or less. I know that sounds bad, but it's been a long time since I have spoke to smaller groups of kids. My comfort zone is definately bigger groups, and I need to retool to connect with the smaller groups. It's a whole different ball game speaking to smaller groups than the larger groups.
Then we had some Jr. high guys, just being jr. high guys and during a prayer, the serious moment of the night, they just started laughing and couldn't stop. It was funny, but probably came at the wrong time.

Well, I don't know what the purpose of this post was, other than being disappointed with myself. 2 talks to go, got to finish strong.

On a different note, my folks came down for Bobby's birthday, he is 4 years old July 28th. Yeah.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Coming Soon

I am going to post very soon, my (to become yearly)..."If I picked the Speakers for the National Youth Workers Convention" List. I know most people won't care who I think would do a great job, but I am an event lover and there is no event I love more than this one. So, I am going to post my list very soon.

PS...I can't believe Group & Doug Fields is starting another Convention for Youth Pastors. Don't know how I feel about this. I love Group and Doug Fields and I love NYWC and I know there probably isn't any competition going on between the companies, wink? So, we will see. I hoping to make it to both, but don't know if I can swing it.

More Summer of Love Tour

I can't believe we only have 2 days left! The tour has gone really well and I will be sad when we are all done. One of the original dreams for Project311 was to put on tours like this one, so it's a little sad that we won't get a chance to do any more tours for awhile. They are just too time consuming and expensive. We tried to save youth pastors as much money as we could by borrowing equipment and a trailer. With that being said, I am glad God opened up some doors for us to partner with some great churches and youth pastors this summer.

I have one more summer camp Aug. 16-18 that I speak at and then I have Elevate's summer camp Aug. 7-11 at SpringHill, IND. It will be my first time there and I am excited to see it. I also can't wait to get to know the staff and leaders of Elevate. I spoke at SpringHill Camp, MI last winter for one of their teen retreats, but I didn't get inited back this year. Very sad I am.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Big Zach and Little Zach

These are two Zach's in my life. The one of the left is my Zach, the tornado himself (who almost, somehow just pulled over the dresser in our hotel room), and the one on the left is one of my very best friends.

As a youth pastor, I have had a hand full of kids through out the years that my wife reminds me of when I have wanted to quit and didn't think I was making any kind of difference. Well, Zach is one of them. I met him in 1998 and we instantly made a connection. He was always the first to serve and we had so much fun his senior year of high school when we interned at the church.
Anyway, we named our Zach after him. I love this guy and I am so proud of him. He is the Project311 worship leader and he just graduated from Taylor University. He is heading out east in the fall to do some further study on the music industry. I am so blessed to have him in my life.

What a Great Camp!

Summer Celebration was a great camp. Project311 did all the production/worship and speaking for this middle school camp on the campus of University of Miami, OH.

What made it a great camp? Well here are some thoughts:

  • Veteran Leadership. There is just something about partnering with youth pastors that have a ton of experience. No knock against young youth pastors, but the difference is unbelivable.
  • Tom Robinson has been a youth pastor for over 30 years and this man just oozes wisdom and patience and love. He's amazing. He treated our team like Kings and shepherded us all the entire week. I look up to Tom and he is definately going to make my..."If I picked the speakers for NYWC".
  • History. This camp has been going on for at least 15 years. All of the younger youth pastors and volunteers had all attended this camp when they were in Jr. high, so it makes for a cool time.
  • The students were really cool. Responded great to the worship team and for some reason, talks. Although, I am not entirely happy with the talks, so it was cool students still responded.
  • Freedom. I think the # 1 mistake camp planners make is when they schedule too much and make students do something at all time. I think it's wrong. They need some freedom, not crazy freedom, but some choices and some opportunities for them to decide. Summer Celebration has some great freedom for kids.
  • Happy Schedule. I think the # 2 mistake camp planners make is the schedule. They just have to plan every second and most of the time the schedule doesn't work with middle school bodies. Why do we have breakfast at 7:30am at camp? Because that's the only time the camp will do it...wrong, we are paying, they will move the time. I am speaking at a camp in August that has the breakfast at 10:00am and they let kids sleep in, how cool is that.
  • Godly Leadership.

I Like Cheese

Call me a "Tool" but Project311 made some T-Shirts with some of the stories/phrases I use in the comedy stories I tell. One of them, which I don't think is that funny, is the "I Like Cheese" story. I just don't get it. But kids who have heard the story ask me to tell it the next time they see me, it's crazy. Anyways, it's one of our best selling shirts. The top selling shirt you ask? Well, that's "El Pepe" of course.

**Disclaimer. I know Tony Morgan said not to sell anything on your blog, but here goes. If you would like to support Project311, we have a wonderful line of T-Shirts for sell. Just a hint, wink!

Camp Velocity...Post # 2, Day...3

HighLights from Day 2 & 3...

  • 3 of the youth pastors who organize this camp, pulled me aside last night to pray for me and lay hands on me. You would be surprised how many camps I go to where no one prays. So, that was awesome. Plus, I really love these guys and it was great.
  • Middle School kids are so cool. I love the fact that they ask me to sign stuff. It's so funny to me. I told a story about how I loved the. 79 cents fountain drinks from Speedway, so a bunch of them had their youth pastor take them to Speedway and then they brought me the cup to sign, how funny.
  • Tonight went really well. Students Laughed, actually we all laughed hard. And that opened up ears to Listen and I believe we had some Learning moments.
  • Here are some pictures.

The High Pants

From time to time I enjoy a good "High Pants" moment from the stage. I know what your thinking..."How could you scare those the Middle School Students Like that"? Well, at least I have fun with it.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

My Bekah

Some days I would love to know what Rebekah will be like in 10 years, or 15. As we pray for her, I am so excited to think about what God will do through her.

Mess up...Oops

Little slip of the words tonight. I was telling a story about my Aunt and Uncle from PA and how they go deer hunting at night with bright lights, but what I said to a group middle school students was...

My Aunt and Uncle from PA go Beer hunting with bright lights, oops. It wasn't as bad as the whole "My boyfriend pulled my pants down", but students laughed at my mess up.

Geeks & God

Here you go, this is my "Must Read Blog" for any ministry leader. These two guys do an awesome walking you through tech issues and how they can make or break your ministry. They have a lot of basics, which is awesome for a guy like me, and then have so much stuff that is way over my head. They are two of the smartest guys I know and they have helped me in so many situations.

They will definately make my "If I picked the Breakouts & Speakers at NYWC" post coming in a few days. Please check it out and subscribe to their podcast.

Geeks & God

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Theme for Camp

The theme for Camp Velocity this year is "Too Much". Basically, we have Too Much of everything and not enough of Christ. I love it. Simple, yet challenging.

Holy Cow

Just found out the other speaker,
  • Noel Heikkinen
  • got in a car accident on the way here and totaled his car. He's alright, thank goodness. He's hoping to be in here in time.

    I am looking forward to hanging out with Noel. I have heard a lot about him from my friends Jason and Dave and had a lunch and a couple of conversations with him. He's a pastor in Lansing, MI and he's unbelivable. He teaches at conferences around the world and he a great teacher, so I can't wait to get to know him a little better.

    For this camp, middle and high school do worship together and then they split apart for the talks. I teach middle school, Noel teaches High school. But, we decided to do something different this year, we are going to team teach the first night and the last night. Should be a blast.

    Camp Velocity...Day # 1

    We are here at Camp Velocity on the beautiful campus of Kenyon College in Gambier, Oh. There is a group of about 10 churches that have done their own summer camp for a longt ime. They basically rent out a portion of a college campus and have camp. This is our third straight year and it's a blast. We drove pretty much all day yesterday because we had to head down to Dayton, Oh to pick up the trailer with all the sound/light gear and then we headed over to Gambier from there. So, 8 hours in the car, not too shabby. Quick highlights so far:

    • All the adult youth pastors for this camp get here a night early and hang out, that's always fun. Plus, they helped us unload the trailer and it only took 15 minutes. Awesome!
    • We found somebody last minute to haul the trailer from Dayton to Gambier. A guy from Calvary Baptist drove all day for us, what a blessing!
    • We ate dinner at Ryan's Family Steakhouse, need I say more?
    • The camp put my family up in an Super 8 motel in town, need I say more? They got us a suite, much more space than a normal hotel room. The guys are staying somewhere on campus. It even has a whirl pool tub, yeah, I know.
    • We have had virtually no problems with set up or tear down. The last couple of years it took us forever to set up, but this year it has gone awesome. It's been great to have Chad because he's a work horse. Jimmy has also taken care of all the lighting w/Zack's help, so that's sweet.
    Funny moment so far?
    • About 10 minutes ago, my youngest son (Zachary the tornado) pulled a fire alarm in the auditorium we are in, funny? Maybe not funny, but quicker than I thought he would.
    • My middle son than proceeded to blame it on his Uncle Jimmy, that was the funny part.
    Many pictures to come.

    Sunday, July 23, 2006

    Been Thinking About My Calling...

    Lot's of thoughts swirling around my head, but wanted to lay out an intitial piece about my calling. I was reading my buddy's blog (AdamMclane.com) the other day and he has some interesting thoughts on youth pastor discouragement/calling and then back a little while ago, Andy Jack emailed a bunch of folks about "calling". So, I have been thinking about it a lot lately. Don't have any mind shattering thoughts but here is what I think so far, and it's the very beginning stages...

    Early on in Ministry (1-6yr) I felt/knew I was "called" to be a youth pastor. A church hired me at 19 and our youth groups did very well. I was extremely passionate and never wanted anything else. I also didn't let anything get in the way of ministry, ie...family, college, health, nothing short of being the world's greatest youth pastor.

    Middle years in Ministry (7-9) Things slowly started to change, what was once important, was not. I started to get my prioities right and set healthy boundaries. See, the first 6 years I was all about numbers. We did outreach events that attracted thousands of kids and I found my identity in that. I stopped taking myself so seriously and started to realize I put my "calling" above my family.

    Last few years in Ministry (10-11) I don't know if I can say I am "called" to be a youth pastor. I have been a youth pastor for the last 11 years and it is for sure the main way I use the gifts that God has given me. But I know for sure I am called to be a child of God, a husband and a father. My calling, I belive is my family. For years, I messed up and was so consumed with my "calling" to youth ministry that I neglected my family. So now, being is a youth pastor is definately a huge part of my life, but I feel like the bigger part is my calling to my family.

    Maybe I am not as committed as I used to be, maybe? I don't know. I love youth ministry, the local church and students, I just love my family a whole lot more. I know all youth pastors do as well, and I know these thoughts are pretty elementary, I just needed to write it out. Again, simple thoughts, but just a few that are swirling.

    Night before a trip

    Well, here we are again, the night before a trip and we are still up getting things ready. Someday, we will go to bed at 9pm the night before a trip. It's amazing to me though how good Tracie is at packing up what we need for a week away. Wherever we have stayed in the past 7 years of doing this, she always makes it feel like home. Doesn't matter where we are, within minutes she has everything set up and ready to go.

    This week we are in Gambier, OH at Kenyon College for Camp Velocity. This is our third straight year and I am so blessed to be apart of this camp. I picked up the guys from the airport yesterday and I heard all about their week in Mexico. Sounds interesting to say the least. This week in Mexico was going to be my last Adventures in Mission (www.adventures.org) trip for awhile, so I guess they did a great job. I have done maybe 10 Adventure in Mission trips over the 4 or 5 years and each one has been unique, so I bummed I missed it. But, I am excited to head down to Oh. The guys are meeting us at our house in the morning and we will head over to Chad's, then to Calvary Baptist and then to Jason Shinn's mother-n-laws (that's a long story) and then to Kenyon College.

    I am still in need of a truck to haul our trailer back from Gambier, late Friday night or early Saturday morning, please be praying, or at least I will be praying.

    Camp Velocity gets over Friday night and then once we head home, things ramp up for us pretty quick. Including...Family in from PA, then heading out the Willow the first week of August, I teach JHI that first weekend, then we have Elevate's Summer Camp at SpringHill (Ind.) and then we get home, pack up and I do one last summer camp, then we head out to Chicago to live temporarly in a basement, and then the move. Wow, it's going quick.

    Thursday, July 20, 2006

    Great trip with my Dad

    Well, that was a quick trip to the NorthWest side of ChiTown. It would of been a blast to see the cub's play, but I don't think we would of got it in. I have been so busy and there has been so much going on, that it really hasn't sunk in that we are moving and starting a new position. Well, it's sinking in. The toughest part of the move is being 5 hours away from family. My parents are my best friends and I love living close to them. So, it's tough thinking about not golfing with my dad every Sunday and having dinner over there whenever we want. But, it's great to know they love us and support us.

    My dad loved the neighborhood we are moving into and my prayer is I can get them move out there. My mom is almost is done with her Masters degree and my dad's work has some offices in IL, so we'll see.

    Seldom known fact about my dad is that he builds furniture. Great furniture. He built Bekah's cradle, her bed, a blanket chest for Tracie, a hutch and the list goes on and on. He's one of the guys who has incredible hands and can do anything with them (fix, build, craft, etc). My dream and prayer is that my dad could quit his job and build furniture full time.


    This is Chad & Janice, who I went to the movies with the other night. I have known Chad for about 7 years and I have known Janice for just about 1 year. I first met Chad because I brought his band, Son of Adam, in for one of our youth group events. Son of Adam was great and they even got a song played on the hit WB show, Smallville. Anyways, I love these people. Janice grew up in East Africa and I love hearing her heart and stories about Africa. Well, we are at lunch the other day and she says to me "I can't listen to my pastor speak after hearing you" (ok, kind of toolish of me to repeat that) but it was a great compliment. Then, Chad says, "If you start a church someday, I will lead worhip for you". HUH? Start a church. Interesting thought. Wouldn't I have to be old in order to start a church? Just Kidding.

    Anyways, this guy has been a great friend over the years. He's the kind of friend who believes in the "brotherhood". I will explain. In Feb., our pipes froze at our house and for 5 days we were without water. We couldn't afford a plumber and I didn't know what to do, I tried to fix it, but it didn't really work so well. So, Chad calls me and he says, man you sound down, what's going on? Well, I told him and then that night at 9:00pm, he shows up at my house, crawls under my house, and spends 2 hours fixing my pipes so my family can have water. Never complains, never asks for anything, nothing. It was unbelievable. This is the same guy who helped me refinish my floors, and he helped me tear out my shower and tile it because we found black mold. He is a great example of a friend and of Christ's servant heart. Man, I am going to miss him.

    You, Me and Dupree

    A couple of nights ago I saw...You, Me and Dupree. Well, I laughed and laughed and laughed some more. Maybe it was because I was having a You, Me and Dupree moment. I went with my friends Chad & Janice and it was the first time, maybe ever I went to the movies with a married couple. Tracie is camping with the kids and my buddy Jason was going to come, but it was too late for him to make the drive, so I went Chad & Janice.

    It was stinkin blast! The movie was funny, not very vulgar, really not very vulgar at all and it was funny. Some of it was stretching "funny", I don't actually know what that means, but it sort of sounded smrt. Well, I really enjoyed it.

    I'm so excited

    First, I haven't spent this much time with my dad in a while and its been a blast. No cubs game though. We ended up scouting out Bekahs new school and checked out our neighborhood.
    Second, I got my official 'welcome to willow' gift today and it's cool. A book, mug, gift cards and so much more.
    Third, my Tigers beat the chisox again. What a time to move...the boys are finally winning.

    Wednesday, July 19, 2006

    In Chicago

    My dad and I headed off to Chicago today and we almost caught a cubbies game. But we did catch the tail of New Community at Willow, so that was fun. I needed to get a few things done and asked him if he would like to come and he did. How fun, just me and my dad. Maybe we will catch the cubs tomorrow.

    Monday, July 17, 2006

    Wow, what knockouts!

    My sister-n-law, Stephanie, got married last night and my two ladies were in the wedding. Let me tell you this...they were the most beautiful women in the place! My wife was the maid of honor and she looked great and Bekah was the flower girl and she was beautiful! They both did a great job and Bekah was as cute as can be walking down the aisle. She is now 3-5 in ailse appearances and she seems to be doing really at family weddings, not so good at non family weddings. I am so blessed.

    ***A disclaimer. I am not saying I am a knock-out, that would be toolish. I am saying my beautiful wife and daughter are knockouts.

    Sunday, July 16, 2006

    A turn of events and some changes

    Well, I am suppose to be in Matamoros, MX right now. Actually, I was supposed to fly out at 6:30am this morning to teach 6 youth groups at the Adventures of Mission basecamp in Matamoros. But, I am not there and I am sitting in my living room.

    I just got off the phone with my brother who is in MX with Zach and Drew and I am feeling bad for not being there. Let me just say this, I hate backing out of a trip, nothing worse. I think I have only done it once before and I was deathly ill. Thank goodness Zach and the boys have all the bases covered and I was able to back out.

    Why did I back out last minute? Well, that's a long story. But the simple answer is some health issues. Turns out the infection on my knee a few weeks ago wasn't caused by a bug bite, but a cyst of some sort...still working on the details of it all. But, a few days ago I found one on my neck and I needed to make sure it didn't get infected like the one on my knee. So, off to the doctors again. They numbed it, drained it and cut it off. How much fun. I asked the doctor about my trip to Mexico and he said it should be fine if I stayed out of the sun, kept it dry, didn't sweat and relaxed. So, after praying and talking with Tracie, we figured it would be best not to risk another infection. And because the guys were already going, they would be able to fill in for me.

    The cause of these little friends...stress, poor diet and I don't know what else, yet. So, I know this a great sign to make sure I change my lifestyle.

    I did talk with the guys tonight and the Matamoros trip is night and day to the one we just got off of. So, I will be praying for them. They get back Friday and we leave on Sunday for Camp Velocity. I can't wait for Velocity. This will be our third year and I am honored that they asked us back. I get to hang out with Mark Butler, Phil Woodman, Jason Shinn, Dave Kurt, Dana Kidder, the boys in the band and how awesome is this...MY FAMILY! Yes, they get to come on this one and I can't wait. We leave Sunday for Kenyon College in Gambier, OH.

    Reason # 123

    We were just about to leave for church and Bekah (my beautiful daughter) and I were talking about the wedding we went to yesterday. She was the flower girl and did a fantastic job! Anyways, she told me I should of wore a tie to the wedding and I said I didn't want to and she said...

    Well, you did tuck in your shirt, even though it made your belly look HUGE!

    Reason # 123 to get going on the weight loss.

    Friday, July 14, 2006

    Packing up and heading out

    Well, that week went by quick! Seems like yesterday we were unloading and now we are getting to leave. I would of blogged more but for some reason the University's wireless kept kicking me off the wireless and I had to keep going back on and that happened every two minutes. I think it's because my compuer is a Dell. Never had that problem with my ibook, never.

    But, what a great week. Really no hitches...band was great, worship went really well, the talks went great, great response from students was great, great feedback from youth pastors and the Summer Celebration staff told us they were really happy.

    Now it's time to head out. Our good buddy Jason Shinn drove down to pick us up.

    Thursday, July 13, 2006

    Been crazy busy, but here are a few pictures...

    Great Picture of the guys. These guys really gelled together and did a great job. Chad, Jim. Zack, and Drew.

    Tuesday, July 11, 2006

    Day One Pictures

    Some of back of the room shots and a little Zack Barker rock star photo. Gotta love it, gotta love it.

    Day # 1 is over and it went well

    After the evening program last night, the organizers of this fine camp brought in comedian Joby Saad to do some comedy. I saw Joby for the first time at the NYWC in Nashville back in November and I didn't know what to think then...I just couldn't figure out what was going on. But, he did well last night and it was a blast getting to pick his brain afterward.

    Sunday, July 09, 2006

    My brother is Famous

    Here he is with one of my idols, Ron Burgandy.

    Here he is with the cast of Smallville. Man, he is cool!

    Set Up Pictures

    Our "Summer of Love" tour has begun and we are almost set up. We just have to wait for an electrician to show up and tie us in, so we can power up the lights. Also, Stefanie is on her way home from Amsterdam and should be rolling up tomorrow evening to run tech. What a great team! Here are some pictures of the set up.

    Couldn't of done it without Todd & Dave

    Can I even begin to express how thankful I am for these two men in my life...well, I am going to try. They drove down with us today and helped us unload. It was huge.

    Dave is the Chairman of the Board for Project311 and Todd is also a board member. I met Dave a few years at a camp I was speaking at and a mutual friend re-introduced us. I met Todd while I was the Jr. high pastor at NorthRidge church and his daughter was in my jr. high group and I worked with his wife at the church.

    Anyways, I love these guys. They have been an incredible blessing to me and my family. They both have continually gone out of their way to see how we were doing, ask tough questions, speak grace into my life and flat out take care of us.

    If I were to type out a list of all the ways they have blessed/helped/provided for my family and Project311 , it would take many much more multiple posts. Let me just say, they are both amazing and I pray for them and their families daily.

    We are Here! But...

    Lot's of pictures to come, but we have arrived at University of Miami of Ohio! We unloaded, and we are about 45% done with set up, not to shabby.

    We could not of done it without Todd and Dave, two Project311's board members. Todd drove us down and pulled the trailer and helped unload, and Dave, well, what can I say. His phone guided us here with some mad GPS and his muscles unloaded many boxes.

    But...I still don't have a truck to take the trailer across Ohio for our next camp, uggh. Will work on that tomorrow.

    This is really exciting! The only thing that could make this camp better, is if my family was here. Man, I am bummed. But, they have to get ready for my sister-n-laws wedding. So, I will call every 10 minutes.

    My head is spinning

    I hate last minute stuff, and yet that's my pattern this last year. It's super late, I don't have everything done that I needed to get done and we have a whole lot going on and my head is just spinning. My stomach is crazy upset because of some very tough stuff that we have to take care of in order to move and tonight, I wish it was July 9, 2007. I know that probably sounds like a leadership cop out, but man, what a year it has been.

    My mother-n-law said something to me yesterday that has really stuck with me. Actually, she said it 5-6 times an hour. We stopped at their house on the way home from Chicago and she said, "I hope you guys have thought this thing through". The thing, being the move, a new position and moving our family 5 hours away. At first I thought, you really think I would move my family and put ourselves in some pretty tough positions without thinking it through. I feel like we have bathed this decision in prayer from the beginning and we both (Tracie and I) have an incredible peace about it all, but even though we have a peace about moving, there are some huge realities that we have to get through in order to move. So, this next month is going to be tough. Some financial obligations have to be taken care of (not getting a paycheck for almost a year creates some interesting financial obligations), we have to pack, we have to get our house in Livonia all settled (that's a story in itself), we have to get a move in date from our new residence, I have 31 talks to give at two summer camps and a mission trip, my sister n law gets married, and I leave tomorrow. Man, like I said, tonight my head is spinning.

    Even with all this, I know God is in control and it will all work out. I know it will. It's just tough and I know he will provide and carry us.

    Saturday, July 08, 2006

    We Found One...God Provided

    I will post more about this later, leaving in a few minutes for a wedding, but God is incredible. Just as we were about to put down a security deposit on a house, we got a phone call, and that call led us to our new home (well, at least for a year...that's how long the lease will be). Let's just say, this had to be and we feel is a definate God moment and it took a huge burden off our shoulders. What a blessing. Will post more later.

    The "Summer of Love" tour is almost here

    Project311 has it's first tour heading out this Sunday and we are extremely excited! I got home from Chicago tonight (I guess that will be reverse soon) and I headed over for the band practice and I was so excited. I was so excited for a couple of reasons:

    1. The band sounded great!
    2. They really gell together.
    3. A former student, who just graduated from Taylor is leading the band and that's very exciting for me.
    4. My brother is the bass player.
    5. My good friend Chad is drumming for us. Chad is just flat out sweet. This guy has has been a great friend and he has a great heart.
    6. I finally heard Drew play and he was awewome. It was fun hanging out with the boys.
    7. We got everything into the trailer! Yippee! I didn't think it could happen, but it did.

    So, we leave Sunday for Oxford, OH and a camp called Summer Celebration. I can't wait.

    Thursday, July 06, 2006

    Fingers are crossed

    Well, we might have something...A place to live that is. It's more than we want to spend, but we figure to be 10 minutes away from church would be worth it. I think it's NorthWest of the church and it's a nice little neighborhood.

    Right now we are a one car family and the other houses we have looked at are 25-40 minutes away from the church, and almost cost what this one does. So we figure we could live farther and spend more on gas, or save on gas and live closer with car.

    On a sad note, gas prices are much higher here. I paid 2.83 in Detroit before I left and I just spent 3.33 for a whopping total of 76.77 to fill up the Tahoe, ouch!

    So, we are close. We love the house and it would be perfect, so we are praying.

    First post from a Dell

    This is my first offical post from a PC. I just picked up a laptop from my new church and I thought I would stop and try it out. Honestly, I am a little lost. There is no apple key and it's messing me up. It's much stiffer as well, not as cool. But, it's brand new and it's a laptop and I get to use for free, so I will not complain. What a blessing.

    Also, the hunt continues for a house. We were all set to look at one this morning, one that we were really praying about and the guy cancelled because he had to leave out of town last minute. We could look at it on Saturday, but we won't be here. So, prayerfully it will work out.

    Wednesday, July 05, 2006

    Please pray for the Raitz Family

    Today we are heading back out to Chicago to hopefully & Prayerfully (is that the spiritual word for hopefully?) find a place to live. We are just hoping (praying) we can find an affordable rental house in relatively close proximity to Willow. But, we'll see.

    Actually, yesterday on a family walk I figured out what would be the easiest for us with this transition. If I could invent a time portal, then we wouldn't have to move from our area or our current home and then I could walk through a closest like contraption, that I could place in my garage, and I could anywhere I wanted. Sort of Quantum Leapish, but I would have full control. So, it would really save on gas and we wouldn't have to box everything up. Ha, I am so funny. That's weird, I never go all science fiction, but I did there. Huh.

    Anyways, we are praying that God will open up a major door and provide a miracle for us. Thanks for praying.


    It's been fun checking in with my brother about how DC/LA is going. He's given me the scoop on the event, the set ups, the speakers, bands and all that. For some reason, I am just a plain sucker for all that stuff. Mainly he drove around bands and speakers. So, it's been fun to hear from him about the bands, who has a high "tool alert" and who are genuine. I would love to post a list, but I feel that would unfair. They asked him to do LA as well, but I don't know if he is doing that one.

    Monday, July 03, 2006

    I got bumped for David Carr

    I was suppose to speak for the student ministy of LakeWood Church over the weekend of July 22-23. If you don't know LakeWood, maybe you have heard of their pastor, Joel Osteen? Or seen there church auditorium?

    Anyways, it's not because I am special, although my nickname in high school was..."Special Raitz", you get it?

    Anywho, one my buddies (Tom Elmore), a guy who I have known for more than 10 years is LakeWood's Student Ministry Pastor. Tom and I first met years ago at a John Maxwell conference. Anyways, he was going to have me down to teach his students there. Well, I get a call from Tom the other day and he says, Man I am sorry, but can we reschedule you? Geez, I thought. I already planned my travel schedule and I really wantrd to check out LakeWood and hang out with Tom.

    So, Tom tells me why. I guess, He has been trying to get David Carr, the first pick in the 2002 NFL draft and the starting QB for the Houston Texans, to come out and David's agent called and told him David could only do the weekend that I was already booked to come.

    So, of course, I stepped aside so David Carr of the Houston Texans could speak that weekend. I guess it's not too shabby to be bumbed for an NFL QB. I mean, he's kind of a big deal, people know him, he has many leather bound books (ht to Ron Burgandy).

    But, I will get a chance to go out again, soon.

    My Idol Just Retired

    Man, why I am crying? I am listening to Stevie on the radio right now, and I can't help but cry. I grew up watching and idolizing Steve and I loved watching Wing games with my dad and brother. He is by far one of the most respected player in sports history. He is a stand up guy, led by example, is a man of honesty and always played his heart out. If 2 or 3 other wings played like Steve this year in the playoffs, we would of won the cup.

    What a great example and a great hockey player. We will miss Steve.

    Sunday, July 02, 2006

    My brother is in DC

    A couple of months ago I get a phone call from a mentor/friend who helps with DC/LA (a youth event). He asks me if my brother would be interested in helping one of his teams for the event and I tell him, I think he will be. So, my brother flies down to DC to be a driver for the artists and volunteer for the event. Secretly, I wish it was me because I am sucker, I am talking MAJOR SUCKER for big events. Probaly my dream job, other than coaching baseball at the collegiate level, would be running a big event like...DC/LA, NYWC or something like that. I just have always loved big events. I have always been the dork that gets there early to check out the set up and count's the chairs and dumb stuff like that.

    Anyways, so my brother, Jimmy has always loved events as well. So, he's having fun catering to the every need of folks like...TobyMac, Kendall Payne, SuperChix, Hawk Nelson, Sanctus Real and so on. He was secretly hoping he would get to drive around the David Crowder Band, but he found out they already had drivers. My brother tells me that the DCB is getting worked hard this week in DC. Not only are they leading worship at DC/LA but also at an event called Jama. So, after they play at DC, their gear gets torn down and taken to the other event, they lead at Jama, and then their gear gets torn down and taken back to DC. Crazy.

    I told him if he sees Marko to give him a nice slap on the rear, but I don't think he would do it and he hasn't seen Marko. I guess Marko is like a ninja at these big events, he's just everywhere and at the same time. Sort of like the ominpresence of Thom Schultz. JK

    Anyways, I thought it was cool.


    So, I must be an egyptian, cuz I feel like I am getting the plagues! My doctor tells me that she thought my skin rash was poison ivy, but then she said it must be a VIOLENT reaction to the medicine I was on for my knee. Well, whatever it is, it is a pain in the arce! I have never itched like this before, it's amazing.

    She gives me a steroid cream, ie...I think it's called the "Barry Bonds Cream" and I was like, you know I have so much to do today, I will get it tomorrow. Then the next day comes I was busy and then we had a party for the boys and so this morning I take it to get it filled from my local rite aid and they tell me it's going to be a day's wait!!! AHAHAHAHAH#$^%$&#$%&! It's all my fault, my wonderful and wise wife told me to get it filled right away and I was like woman, I am the man, I will get it filled when I want. Well, now I will itch.

    I went to Bally's this morning to sit in the hot tub to hopefully make the rash, boils, blisters, whatever they are (they are nasty, I will tell you that) feel better (don't you love public hot tubs!) and it did feel great. Then the shower room was empty, so I turned one shower on cold and one on hot and went back and forth. Again, felt great. So, hopefully I can get the cream tomorrow.

    Back to the plagues, I found 2 frogs in my garage, what's next, we'll wait and see.

    Thursday, June 29, 2006

    To make matters Worse...

    Coming home from camp yesterday I got a speeding ticket, and in a construction zone. I was on the freeway for all of 5 minutes and the cop got me at 74 in a 60. He said and I quote..."Even though you have a great record, I still have to write you up". Well, thanks. 3 points and 125 dollars...I will see you in court, oh yes, you will.

    It's a sad, sad day

    Today I have to return my ibook to 2|42. So, it's a sad day. It's kind of a funny story. When I started at 242, I already had my ibook and I said I would just use that, because I would use it for 311 stuff as well, and to consider it a donation. Don't know why I donated my personal (and 311's) ibook, but I think I was incredibly grateful for the position and for the stability. So, three weeks later a shelf at the 242 office falls on my monitor and kills it. Apple says it's going to take 800 to fix, so the church just bought a new one. Well, long story short, they want the new one back and they will give me the busted one.

    I understand, but it puts me in a huge bind. I have a doctor's appt. in 20 minutes because the medicine they gave me for my new gave me a rash ALL OVER MY BODY! So, I quickly trying to dump all my data. My buddy Shinn tells me I should buy an external hard drive, but I didn't listen and I am putting stuff on cd's. Man, I am stupid.

    Tuesday, June 27, 2006

    Quick Post

    From Davision, MI. The camp I am speaking at is actually in Otisville, MI, but apparently they don't like technology there. Seriously, how do those people live with cell phone service and wireless internet. So, I drove 25 miles to another town and I am in there public library.

    The best part of this camp is my lodging. Now, I have stayed in all sorts of places while on the road. Let me clarify, I am not a "big time, mr. speaker person" that gets a hotel room or at least a room in an actual building on this trip. My room this week is a 4 wheel camper. No JOKE! If you know me, you know I hate camping with a passion and now I am sleeping in a camper. I can't even use the bathroom in there because I don't fit, SERIOUSLY! I want to see somebody who could actually fit, well, not actually see them go to the bathroom, cuz that would be gross, but I want to see someone...AH nevermind, you know what I am talking about.

    So, back to camp for some more camper action. Please don't get me wrong, I am not complaining, or am I? Nah, I wouldn't do that. I did get to play softball for 2 hours this morning, how awesome is that.

    Monday, June 26, 2006

    Little Stop at BD's

    On my way to the camp, I realized that I will be driving right by one of my favorite places to eat...Mongolian BBQ, or BD's as we love to say. Well, I walk in, and there's Stefanie Koenig. Stef was in my youth group at Shepherd Fellowship and now she is almost done with college. Crazy how time flies. Sitting with her at her dad's funeral was probably one of the toughest moments I have had in youth ministry.

    Wow, what a great lunch!

    Just sent out this email to the local Metro Detroit Community of Youth Pastors


    I know summer is upon you and you are crazy busy with camps, mission trips, and hanging out with your families, but I wanted to give you a quick update on some Project311 news.

    Round ONE

    First of all, thank you for making our first round of community wide connecting a huge success. This last year we were able to host a Metro Detroit Youth Workers Lunch that over 110 of you attended and thank you to all of you who made it out to one of our Coffee Breaks. Also, thanks to those of you who attended our 1st ever Training Event on April 12th. Thank YOU!

    Round TWO

    So, we are quickly planning a fall gathering and a possible training event for volunteers and I wanted to give you the run down and get your thoughts. Project311 exists to Love & Encourage Students and the People who Love Students. The way we do that is by providing Teaching (Students) /Training (Adults), and also by Connecting with youth workers and connecting them to each other and by providing Events to unite Metro Detroit together. So, that’s why we do what we do. In a nutshell, we love you and are praying for you and want to do everything we can to be a practical help for you.

    Lunch. Our early thoughts are to host the next Metro Detroit Youth Workers Lunch in early September on a Thursday (14th) and go a little longer, maybe 1100am to 100pm. Faith Lutheran Church in Troy has graciously opened their doors for us and I hope you will consider attending, even if it’s more than a 45 minute drive for some of you. Our purpose for this gathering is to provide you with an opportunity to connect with youth workers from all over Metro Detroit, provide some resources, encourage you and hopefully bless you. For this next gathering we are thinking of bringing in someone (National youth ministry leader) to do a short training/encouragement. We have also thought about spending some time praying, and uniting together to pray for the students in our area. Please be praying as we try to find sponsorships for this lunch. If you think your church would be interested in helping financially, please contact Joe Jeffrey at joe@project311.com.

    Volunteer Training Event. Just about two-thirds of the surveys from our first lunch said that Project311 could help by sponsoring a training event for their volunteer leaders. I thought this was odd considering that the Core (Youth Specialties) comes to town every year and Group Magazine Live was just here, but the more I thought about it, I think it would be a great unity building event for the Metro area.

    How does early October sound on a Saturday morning? We are also thinking about gathering together an All Star team of veteran youth workers from the Metro Detroit area to do the training. I don’t know if they would go for it, but I think they would add so much wisdom to this event. We will let you know ASAP but we are tentatively thinking about October 14th. If you would like to be a part of the planning team for this event, please email me and let me know.

    Round THREE

    The Raitz family is moving to Chicago! It still sounds weird to say, but Willow Creek Community Church in S. Barrington, IL has offered me a position to be a part of their Jr. high team and we accepted. I will be one of their Community Life Pastors and will be training/encouraging leaders, teaching students and will be working on some of their neighborhood ministry development. So, I know some of you will have questions and I know many, many of you will not care at all, so skip this part of the email.


    In a nutshell, I never thought we would leave Metro Detroit. I love this area, my wife loves this area, our family is all here and Project311 exists to partner with and love Metro Detroit youth pastors. But, Willow (Scott Rubin, Jr. High Director) approached us back in late April and asked us if we would be interested in talking and our first thought was...”Well, Willow is not in the Detroit area”. Also, as some of you know, we joined the staff at 2|42 Community Church in Brighton, MI and Project311 was starting to build some steam. With all that being said, we, we told Willow that we would at least pray about it.

    We prayed about it as a family and I was amazed when my wife told me that she had a complete and unexplainable peace about the possibility. I never thought that would happen, but it became clear to us that this was God preparing our hearts for a move. It was extremely tough resigning from 2|42 after only a few months, but I knew they deserved someone called to serve there and I knew I was not the right person. Please be praying for them as they search for a new youth director. 2|42 is a great church and they have a great team. Project311 also weighed heavily on my heart because we love this area and our dream is to see youth workers cared for, encouraged and loved. But again, God worked that out because Willow is allowing me to be still be a part of Project311 and we are praying about some possible exciting partnership opportunities.

    So, we met with our trusted advisors and finished up the interviews and they officially offered us the job. It’s tough to convey what a hard decision this has been and they’ve been and we haven’t taken any of them lightly. I love being a part of the Metro Detroit community and I have enjoyed getting to know many of you.

    Would you pray for us? I have a hard time asking for prayer, but this has been the toughest year of our lives for a variety of reasons. It really started a year ago when we found out that our first event, Blitzfest, fell $50,000 of covering our expenses. And then not having a steady paycheck for 10 months, while trying to raise support, we have had the biggest financial pressure we have ever had. Through it all, God has been so faithful and He has sent so many wonderful people in our lives to help us. So, moving is more than just packing for us. It is asking God to provide some miracles so we can move. This is also extremely interesting because with my travel schedule, I am home only 7 days and then I travel most of the next month. We have so much to do, it makes my head spin, but again, the peace that God has given us is incredible. So, thank you for praying for us. If you would like specifics to pray about it, please email and I will get you them. Also, if anybody wants to hook a brother up by helping a family move, let me know.


    Even though we are moving to Chicago, Project311 will not end and will not stop at reaching our goals of encouraging youth pastors and seeing our area united together to reach students. But, because of this transition, it is imperative for Project311 to find some like minded people to help with this transisition.

    Round FOUR

    A new day for Project311, yes. It will be new because I will not be in the area and that is exciting to me. I have known for awhile that Project311 was becoming a one man show and I believe this will help us to NOT be a one man show. So, we are going to start looking for some folks who are passionate about seeing youth workers encouraged and connected and see if they would like to be a part of the Project311 team. If you have any interest at all, please don’t hesitate to contact me at Jason@project311.com. We don’t have the resources to pay you, but if you’re still interested and have a spare hour or two a week, I would love to talk with you.

    Sorry this email is forever long, but I wanted to let you know what’s going on with Project311. Thank you to many of you who have already read this information on my blog and have already emailed, your encouragement has been much appreciated.

    Please know you are being prayed for,


    PS...Very soon our newest blog, www.project311news.blogspot.com, will be up and running with news from our Project311 “Summer of Love” tour.

    Here we go

    Off again, but this time I will only be a few hours from home. I was going to take Bobby with me, but he decided he will miss brownie too much (our choc. lab). So, it's just me. Which may work out well, because I have a ton of writing to do, emails, talks, and some I have to finish a few books. I am also going to re-read Willard's, The Spirit of the Disciplines, so that should be fun.

    Pretty Bad Slip Up

    Recently at a camp I was at, I was telling a story about how in the 8th grade, my best friend pants me at a pool party. That would of been great if I would of said that, here's what I did say:

    When I was in the 8th grade, my boyfriend pulled my pants down.

    Now, I have no idea why I said that and I couldn't get them back after that comment. I am still shocked that those words came out of my mouth. Well, what are you going to do.

    Psalms 139:13

    "Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mothers womb" (The Message)

    I have probably taught on this verse a thousand times and I use in alot in a couple of my self-image/God is crazy about you talks. Well, in those talks I always talk about how we are not factory assembled creations and it not like God was just spitting us out a conveyer belt. But, he spent time creating us, he knows how many hairs on our head, we are his work of art, etc, etc, etc.

    Well, I am beginning to rethink the whole factory assembled part. Well, at least, the "there is no one like you anywhere else, you are unique creation". I have been speaking at camps and retreats for the last 7 years and the last couple of years I have been getting out of Michigan more and more.

    Here's what I have found. Either God is tricky or kids just look alike. I swear, the last couple of years it's been like playing a giant matching game with kids from all over the country. I met a Jr. high boy this week who could be the twin of a guy from my youth group at NorthRidge. I met a girl in Albany, New York that I swear could be the twin of a girl I met last summer in Kentucky.

    So, I am wondering what's going on. Did God just get tired? I, of course am not trying to question God on his creation making ability, but it's fun playing the country wide matching game.

    EL Pepe

    So, I tell this story about El Pepe. I break every comedic rule with this story. Jr. highers never get the punch line, but the build up for the story is what they love. So, I told it this week and they loved it. I even have El Pepe shirts, I know, I am a TOOL. You can buy one at project311.com, wow, what a tool. Anyway, some kids went a little a far with their love or hate for El Pepe.

    Great Family Pictures from the trip

    Cool Camp Timber-Lee Pictures

    Sunday, June 25, 2006


    No other way to describe how I feel tonight. I was supposed to cut the grass today, but after I ran some errands today...sat in traffic and hung out with my parents and brother and Dave Kurt, I got home and said...I will cut the grass in 5 minutes. Then that turned into an hour, then two and now it's 10 O clock. I used to have some high students who use cut our grass when we were on trips, but they are all grown up and past that phase of life. So, hopefully my neighbors don't report me.

    To top it off I can't remember what time I am suppose to be at the camp I am speaking at tomorrow. I looked over all my emails from the youth pastor in charge, and I can't find a time. I see on the schedule that there is a morning chapel, but I could never make it in time. The camp actually started tonight, but he wanted me to come out tomorrow. So, I think I will head out mid-morning or after lunch. This camp is talk lite, only 4...yippee. Last week's camp was 11.5, holy cow, that was a lot. Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining, it's just a lot of time to talk. I used stories that I didn't even remember. Whatever that means. This camp is also Sr. highers, so that's cool. Last week was about 400 jr. highers and I think this camp will be about 70 high schoolers, so that will be cool.

    So, I have a bunch of emails to send tonight, including a big one. It's the email I am going to send to the Metro Detroit youth pastor community about us moving to Chicago. I don't think the majority of them will care, but with all the emails I have sent to them, I feel like I should send them one about the future of Project311. So, we'll see. I think I will post it on the blog as well. I think, maybe.

    New starting date

    Well, looks like instead of starting at Willow August 1st, I will now be starting July 1st. I will just be working from location during July. It's huge for us and I have to start studying for my first talk on August 5/6 and then a talk I am giving for Elevate's summer camp August 7-11 and some other stuff.

    When we go back July 5-7, I will get my Wilow email address, and my Willow issued laptop. So, that's cool but the laptop is a PC. Don't get me wrong, the first two churches I worked at I didn't even get a computer, I will just be going through Mac withdrawl. I have to give my ibook back to my former church this Thursday and I am already in mourning. But, hopefully we can save for a MacBook Pro, well, I won't get my hopes up. So, I will have to remember how to use a PC.

    So, life is changing and I am so thankful for the unexplainable peace that God has given Tracie and I about all the changes.

    Just got home

    Wow, what a day! We have been gone for 7 days and it's good to be home. We decided that Tracie and the kids will stay home for this next camp, just to give the kids a rest. We had a blast at Camp Timber-Lee, but it really took a lot out of the kids. So, my sister-n-law Tammy is going to stay with Tracie while I head out to a camp. I guess I should figure out where I am going on Monday.

    We woke up today and loaded up the van and then ate breakfast, and did our last chapel. It was a blast. All the parents were there and the place was electric. The really cool part was that almost all of the students are from the area that we are moving too, so it was cool to talk to lots of kids about the area we will be living in.

    Wow, I am tired. We left Camp Timber Lee and drove to my new boss's house and had lunch with his family. It was a blast. We then left and drove to Jackson, MI, picked up Tammy and headed home. The kids are now asleep and now it's time for us to go sleepy.

    I have to been Chicago more in the last month, than I have been in the 4 years. We are heading back out there July 5-7 to hopefully find a place to live and I have to fill out a bunch of Human Resource forms for my new position. So, a selfish request: Would you please pray that God will open up a door for the Raitz family to find an affordable rental home? Thanks.

    Saturday, June 24, 2006

    Driving Home

    I miss the internet, I do. I am driving home from WI and I have about 3 hours to go. The camps wireless was down all week and I have been without it. I am home tomorrow and then its off to a 3 day camp and then I am for 6 days, YES.

    Wednesday, June 21, 2006

    Blogging Withdrawl

    I am going through internet withdrawl, ah! There is only one building with wireless at this camp and its down, ah! We resorted to sitting in a hotel parking lot earlier today to grab a few minutes of wireless. This post comes complimants of my Treo 650.

    Sunday, June 18, 2006

    A little Raitz family news

    Not only are we traveling to WI, OH, MX, TX and parts of MI this summer, we are also getting ready for a move to Chicago in August. Yup, that's right, we are re-locating to the NorthWest suburbs, at least I think that's were our new employer will be.

    Willow Creek Community Church in S. Barrington, IL, per Scott Rubin (Jr. high pastor) has offered us the position of Community Life Pastor for their Jr. high team and we accepted a few days ago. It's been a relatively short process, maybe a couple of months, and I really never thought they would hire me, but as of August 1st, I will be on theie team.

    They approached me a little while back and after praying about it as a family we thought we should at least have some intitial conversations with them. Then that moved to a trip down there, and that moved to another a trip and then after the finger print test came back clean, they called and offered.

    It's been tough because we never thought we would move away from family. We love Metro Detroit, we love our family and friends and we love the church we started at in March, 242 Community, and I love the youth workers in Metro Detroit. All these were hard to think about and work through, but after praying as a family and seeking the wise counsel of family, mentors and friends, we said yes. I can't explain the unexplainable peace that we have about this decision. I never thought we would consider moving away, but we believe we have clearly heard God's voice in our lives.

    So, I know that's the quick version, and I will blog more about it this week. My head spins thinking about everything that has to happen in order for us to move, but I again, we have a great peace about this. Thanks in advance for praying for our family in this time of transition.

    And We're Off

    Leaving an hour after I wanted to, but we are leaving for East Troy, WI. Thanks to Dave and Cathie Kurt for letting us borrow their van and thanks to Stefanie Hamilton for house sitting. They saved us. It's going to be interesting finding a house sitter when we move to Chicago, but I am sure we will make friends out there as well. At least I hope. More on that.

    The Night Before A Trip

    Well, it's 12:40am and it's the night before a long week away from home. We are traveling together as a family to East Troy, Wisconsin to Camp Timber-Lee for there Jr. high summer camp. I get the honor of being the guest speaker and I get to bring my family.

    Earlier in the week, I think when we were in Chicago, I was thinking to myself..."Jason, I want you to go to bed early and have everything packed and ready to go". That sounded nice, but it just didn't happen. Tracie went to bed early with a terrible headache and I am trying to get all the laundry done. So, in between loads, I am doing a little blogging.

    I am looking forward to getting to know the staff at Timber-Lee, spending a week with my family at camp, and driving through Chicago on the way back home. Can't wait. Now to fold whites, ah, I hate folding socks!

    I Hate Target, No wait I love It

    I have a Huge Love/Hate with Target. I love it because it's great and they have all those incredible deals.

    But I hate it because they trip you with all those deals. I mean, our kids outgrow their clothes and shoes faster than Rod Burgandy deals the news and Target is the place to go. We are there yesterday and they have boys shirts for 2.78. How do you turn that down when your kids need clothes and they have them for 2.78. Seriously.

    I am Alergic to Ultra Conservatives

    Seriously, we stopped by a school last week that we are possibly looking at putting Bekah in and we loved it. It had the nicest facilities we have ever seen, the classrooms were incredible, everything was great.

    Then we started reading the packet. If Tracie were to volunteer at the school, she would have to wear a dress. If Bekah were a middle school student, we would have to sign a contract saying we wouldn't let her listen to rock music, play cards, use any electronic devices, dance and pretty much not have any fun.

    Anyways, I think it's too far.

    Here comes 1st Grade

    I can't believe Bekah is done with Kindergarten. She did great this year and can stinkin count to 50 in Spanish.

    Here's the crazy thing, one of her teachers, was also my 26 year old's Kindergarten teacher. That's wild. Neat-O, Super-Duper.