Living a Legacy – A Tribute to My Friend Craig Jutila

Pastor Craig Jutila passed away on December 26th, 2018.  as a result of a snowboarding accident. An official statement is available on his church’s Facebook page. This is my tribute to him.


Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9

There are people who live a full life. There are others who live life to the fullest. Still others who are full of life. But rare are those who do all of these and leave the world fuller because they were here.

Jeff Bradley, Karl Bastian, Craig Jutila, Sue Miller, Jim Wideman

I don’t even remember when I first met Craig Jutila. He’s one of those friends I’ve just always known. When you have memories that go back farther than your digital pictures, you know you have known someone a long time. I sat in his workshops as a learner, I served with him at training events, even once on a cruise at a conference our friend Roger Fields organized on a ship. The last time we chatted about ministry, life, and family was during a break earlier this year as we coached leaders at the children’s pastors conference. Like me, he was enjoying being back in local church ministry.

My media closet is full of training resources created by Craig Jutila – even collections of cassette tapes I can’t even play anymore, but have hesitated to get rid of because the content on them is just ministry gold. I have intended to convert them to MP3s someday so I can listen to them again. Now I know I will.

Craig on the Fresh Air Children’s Ministry Conference Cruise 2002

We often hear people talk about leaving a legacy. Craig certainly has. But a legacy isn’t only something you leave behind, it is something you live. Craig lived a legacy.

He was impacting the future while making a difference each and every day. He was always finding new ways to equip and encourage those who minister to children. When those cassette tapes were getting outdated, he started releasing CDs, then DVDs. In fact, he was one of the very first to come up with the concept of video curriculum so that he could offer a uniform experience to all the kids at his church as it experienced explosive growth. Children were meeting in trailers to handle the growth and he wanted their experience to be the same as the larger rooms on the main campus. He was always a pioneer and an innovator.

But he also was a pastor to those who served children. He knew personally the challenges and unrealistic demands of those who lead in children’s ministry and knew the cost to their family and to one’s own soul. He shared the hard lessons he learned so others could lead healthier lives and ministries.

He lived a legacy long before he left one.

We all wish he could have lived it longer. We will miss him dearly. Yet, the impact of his life’s work will continue for all of eternity and will never be able to be fully measured completely until Christ returns, for the final life he touches will not be completely known until then. The impact of Craig’s life will be far reaching for longer than we can even imagine. He impacted far more than just those he met and got to impact personally; he raised the bar of children’s ministries everywhere he went – and that impact is immeasurable. Only God knows the full scope of influence Craig had on this world.

I miss you Craig. I’m glad we got to chat recently. I wish it had been longer. I look forward to next time! That indeed is the Hope we have in Jesus! We don’t say good-bye, we only say, “See ya later, friend!”

As it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no human mind has conceived” the things God has prepared for those who love him. I Corinthians 2:9

Please share a memory of Craig on this thread on my Facebook Page
How did he impact your life or ministry?

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