5 Lessons I Learned from Craig Jutila… and Yes, it’s an Acronym!

Sometimes you never really know how much one person has impacted your life until you actually take the time to reflect on it.  Craig Jutila’s sudden recent passing caused just that kind of reflection for me.  You see, Craig Jutila was not only a leader, and influencer in the children and family ministry space, but he was also a man that profoundly impacted the trajectory of my life and ministry career.  Craig hired me to work at Saddleback Church when I was fresh out of college- BIOLA as he was sure to point out.  I had a calling on my life to work in ministry and video production but was really unsure what that path would look like.  

It was through those three short years of working under his leadership- filming and editing curriculum, going on PEACE mission trips around the world, and even those annual visits to Mac World that I was able to formulate an understanding of media ministry within the church and how it could be used to further God’s kingdom.  Not to mention, that he would hire my eventual wife to lead the children’s discipleship at Saddleback (and she continues to this day).

So, as i reflect on Craig and the impact that he had on my life, I thought I would share five lessons that he taught me, and what better way than to use one of his favorite teaching tools- the acronym.  

So, here it is, five lessons I learned from Craig Jutila, using CRAIG.


By nature, people in ministry serve because they have a burden to care for others in one form or another.  Craig, being the “go big or go home” kind of guy was no different.  He drove himself hard in ministry- and produced amazing results.  Unfortunately for him, his family, and those of us serving with him, he eventually hit total burnout.  In his book from Hectic to Healthy, he eventually opened up more about this struggle and how he found healing in the midst of all of this.  Craig’s lesson of self-care and family care has hit home with me on just about every day of my life since.  Yes- I CAN do more.  But at what cost?  My wife and my family are my number one priority and investment.  If I don’t take care of myself and them first, how can be of any good to any one else in ministry?


Craig had one word that summed up his ministry- Empowering.  He started Empowering Kids and eventually spread that brand into other areas of life and ministry.  Empowering is the apt word for his ministry.  He reached out and empowered through podcasts, videos, books, speaking engagements, and the like.  I don’t think anyone was ever too big to learn from him or too small for him to care to help.  As a young upstart in ministry, he and I had our share of conversations about growing and learning in ministry.  His advice has stuck with me to this day.

As I have founded and run One Ten Pictures, I truly don’t treat anything that we do or learn as proprietary.  It is all a gift that we can use to help others in their journey through media ministry.  


Craig was a consummate learner.  I remember he told us as a staff that he had a subscription to Audible and a notepad and pen that he kept in his car so he could write notes down whenever he was going anywhere.  He had a healthy appetite for learning.  Craig would take everyday happenings and turn them into teaching lessons both for him and for those that learned from him.  This lesson has stuck with me ever since.  Not only do I have my own Audible subscription, but I have learned to keep that curiosity and the drive to learn more and put it into action in both my personal life and ministry.


When I came on staff to work with Craig in 2004, multi site campuses were not a thing, yet the curriculum alone that we were producing with him had all the markings of what would become common in multi-site campuses.  Craig harnessed the power of video and it’s emerging, more affordable technology to create teaching videos that could be played in almost any venue and could be easily hosted by a volunteer.  It lowered the bar for running a Sunday School class- moving the emphasis of the volunteer’s role from teacher to relationship builder.  Fourteen years later, many in “Big Church” have found this model and are using it for Sunday worship and small groups.  

Learning from Craig at the ground level of this movement was tremendous for this young kid at the time.  I found the importance of building and theming the teaching throughout the production process, how to make it “sticky” for the audience and move them towards a deeper connection with God and others.


There’s no doubt that Craig was a go getter.  He knew what God had called him to do in his ministry and he did it.  His drive to found Empowering Kids was much of the inspiration for me to eventually found One Ten Pictures.  To have an organization that can provide for and equip other ministries around the country and the world is a gift.  

God may have placed something on your heart to go after.  I’d encourage you to just go for it.  You never will get it perfect, nor will you ever have perfect circumstances.  Time is going to keep on rolling, but are you going to be faithful to the vision that God has given you?

Well, there you have it.  The world of children’s ministry is better because Craig was in it and it will never be the same now that he has left.  I am personally thankful for the legacy that he has left on me and my family.  

By Jeremy Gant