A Tribute to Craig Jutila

The urgent prayer request by Venture Christian Church was unexpected. The tragic news that followed not long after left all of us in shock and disbelief.

Craig Jutila met Jesus and their son, Blake, in heaven on December 26th. Initial reports suggested it was a snowboarding accident, but later Mary shared that the autopsy report found a sudden heart attack was the cause of his passing.

My wife, Cailey, and I share a special friendship with Craig and Mary. It all started when Mary agreed to have coffee with Cailey while Craig was speaking at a CPC event in Orlando about 8 years ago. It was almost an instant friendship. Their relationship led to Cailey and I volunteering to support Craig’s speaking and EmpoweredLiving for the next 5 Orange Conferences in Atlanta.

 

 

 

 

Craig initially coached and mentored us in our KidMin and FamMin roles. Both of them poured into us, professionally and relationally. Craig took extra time out of his schedule to guide me in preparing my notes for 3 sessions at a conference in Kentucky 3 years ago.

Craig was the life of the party. And if there wasn’t a party, that changed when he arrived. His personality…MAGNETIC! And as a couple, Craig and Mary are the most humble, generous, trusting people you could ever meet.

And I mean ‘trusting!’

I helped Craig with broadening his Twitter and blog platform for a couple of years. My involvement required me having access to his Twitter account. I remember vividly our phone call when I was just starting this partnership. Craig very nervously said, “You know, I’m trusting you with my career right now. You literally have the power to destroy me with one wrong post!”  Then we laughed.

Did I mention generous? They had us stay with them back in August after illness prevented us from flying back to WA from a leadership training we were in town for in Compton. And yes, we always volunteered to support them at Orange Conferences. But they would manage to take us out to eat, buy coffee, and give us warm ‘Thank You’ cards with various gift cards enclosed. They really just loved blessing others.

And while I’m on the topic of the Jutilas blessing others, they wrote a book together. It’s titled, ‘From Hectic To Healthy: The Journey To A Balanced Life.’ 

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This is one of the most authentic, open, and painful books on marriage and ministry you will ever read. For that reason I encourage you to do just that. Please read it! Carey Nieuwhof also recorded a powerful interview with Craig on the topic of ‘When leadership ruins your family: How to live and lead differently.’ If you’ve never had the privilege to hear Craig speak, this would be a wonderful way to experience his heart.

Craig’s passing has caused me to reflect on my own life. He was an incredible, loving husband and father. He was a faith-filled, obedient child of God. He took what the Lord gave him and ran with it. And if you knew Craig, he probably ran with a lot of ideas/callings before God actually released him to (alluding to Craig’s self-disclosed ADHD behavior). His energy and creativity were contagious.

Craig was at the height of his personal life and ministry calling (in my opinion). Why? Because the platform and range of influence God had given him was constantly growing and changing. I have tried to model my public speaking style more after his creative energy than anyone else over the years. Now he’s telling stories and entertaining all of heaven. What a sight this must be!

Lastly, to Mary, Cameron, Alec, and Karimy I offer this prayer.

May you be blessed by the tangible feeling of Jesus’ loving arms wrapped tightly around you in this time of heartache. Lord, bless this beautiful family’s season of mourning with support, quiet time, joyful memories, laughter, comfort and strength. Amen!

 

 

 

 

In Loving Memory

Empty Nesting & Time Zones

IMG_5663I have a love/hate relationship with watching our kids grow up!

In our 26+ years of marriage, our family has moved over 20 times.  And 5 of those have been large moves across the country.

Why?

One word.  ‘Adventure.’

What I’ve discovered as Cailey and I are quickly becoming empty nesters is that our kids are taking on the rhythm of life they were raised in.

Take exhibit A (image to the right).  This is the new world clock on my phone.  As of this week, this now represents the 3 time zones our immediate family live in.

Most of our moves, and all 5 of the big ones, were related to doing ministry.  And it wasn’t ever as simple as going where employment was.  There were always multiple options for us to choose from.  I guess we’ve just firmly believed in listening to God carefully and stepping in faith in whichever direction He sends us.  We’ve modeled this lifestyle to our kids, so it should not surprise me that we now have a 21 y/o son living in Colorado and a 23 y/o son serving the next 3 years in Guam with the U.S. Navy.  Our other two kids currently live at home, but who knows where they will end up in the next year or two?

 

All that said, here are a few lessons I’m learning about watching our kids leave our nest and become highly independent adults.

  • Our direction and influence in their lives must look different than before. It also needs to be OFFERED, not GIVEN.
  • Their life choices are THEIR life choices. Their career, family, lifestyle, and overall worldview isn’t going to look just like mine. Those are not wrong or right. They are simply going to be different…unique to the person they are becoming.
  • It is fun watching them discover ADULTING along the way. But this is a spectator sport. We must not interfere in game play when we’re on the bench. And guess what? Our kids will determine if and when we come off the sidelines, not us.
  • Lastly, I love the fact that our kids still TALK to us! Now, I’m not so naive to claim that they tell us everything and they know all there is to know about Mom and Dad. But we still share our ambitions, worries, victories, and basic joys with each other. Cailey and I call that a win for our family.

Our family is far from perfect. We’ve even been told we’re entertaining at times (that’s not always a compliment). But our kids genuinely love each other, and deep down they know that their parents love them.

Here’s to family, life transition, and simply going with the flow!

 

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I Don’t Want To Pray For Your Church

That’s right! I don’t want to pray for your church.

Jesus said He would build his Church.

I can tell you this, though. After 25 years of church ministry I’ve learned to pray for church leaders over anything else in the church.

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Here are 4 things I’ve discovered to be true when we prayer for pastors and other leaders in the church.

  • Healthy churches grow from healthy leaders, NOT the other way around.
  • We don’t see church congregations that are healthier than their leadership.
  • Our focus changes from ‘are they meeting my needs’ to a genuine desire to partner with them for stronger Kingdom impact.
  • We know that prayer works, and that our prayers can be powerful. Our prayers can make a huge difference in the personal and professional lives of our leaders.

If you lead a church or other ministry and would like prayer, I’d love to come along side you this week. Feel free to email me at BrentDumler@iCloud.com

 

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Farewell Colorado!

God has a new assignment for us….in WASHINGTON STATE.

After 2 years in Colorado Springs, Cailey and I will be moving to WA to lead the development of an existing Missional Community in the city of Yakima.

Friends, this has been a casual, ongoing discussion with leadership there since April.  Yes, since April!  It has taken us that long to seek God’s will and really KNOW that he is calling us to this.

We do ask for your prayers.  One of our kids plans to remain in Colorado, while another is heading to the Navy on 10/16.  If you know us, you know that we are a very close family.  This transition will undoubtedly be the most unique, most difficult one we’ve had yet.

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We plan to hit the road with a moving truck in the first part of November.  That’s another concern…traveling through CO, WY, and UT in the winter months.  But the Lord has led us this far.  Why would we doubt his protection in getting us there at this point?

Below is a mere sampling of how God has spoken to us over the past few months, in his Word, prayer, devotional readings, and worship music.

“Is there anyone I can send? … “I will go, send me!”  (from Isaiah 6:1-3, 5-8)
“The amount of faith God has given you is equal to the assignment He’s given you.”
“There’s a big difference between self-reliance and God reliance.”
“What you give to God, He handles.  What you keep, you handle.”
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Change, and huge steps of faith, have never been easy for our family.  They have, however, become a common theme in our journey of following Jesus.  In every new direction we have tried to focus more on obedience than determining what the sacrifice will be.

Max Lucado once wrote, “God promises a lamp unto our feet, not a crystal ball into our future.” 

We don’t really know what tomorrow has in store, BUT we do know that God will be there.  He will be there saying, “Thanks for taking those few steps with me.  Now, let’s keep on going.”

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The Myth Of Balance (Book Review)

Until we take responsibility, we will continue to pursue balance and blame others when we can’t find it.  – Frank Bealer

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I’ve been in church leadership for over 20 years, and I’ve experienced A LOT of dysfunction in the church.  The size of the church doesn’t decrease or increase the severity of the dysfunction either.  But I will say this.  The last 3 churches I’ve had the honor of serving on staff at were roughly 750, 1000, and currently 2000 in weekend attendance.  The dysfunction is the same.  It’s the QUANTITY that gets you!

But let’s not blame the church.  The church is made up of people (you and I), and it’s no different than a marriage relationship.  Problems are almost always connected to both sides.  That’s what I appreciate about this book.  It addresses the side leaders can have direct influence on.  OURSELVES!

I have been following Frank Bealer for the past few years and have enjoyed listening to his interviews on Carey Nieuwhof’s Leadership Podcast.  The Myth of Balance, however, elaborates on an entirely deeper level of Frank the leader, and Frank the husband/father.  He is authentic with certain ministry challenges, and if you’ve been in ministry longer than 6 months you will likely relate.  In fact, there were two points in the book which caused a knot in my throat (Don’t judge.  I’m more sensitive than the average guy).

Disclaimer:  This book is NOT for leaders who are hung up on ego and need to be NEEDED by the church.  It is, however, for those who are clearly called to making a difference in God’s Kingdom work while SIMULTANEOUSLY leading a healthy family.

Let’s get to the book.  Below is a short list of my favorite quotes from The Myth of Balance.

“Balance. It lives somewhere between unemployment and renowned success.”

“God never intended for us to sacrifice the family He blessed us with on the altar of the ministry He called us to.”  (read that one a couple more times)

“We often excuse our mismanagement of time, energy, and effort as just being busy.”

“Just because you FEEL overwhelmed doesn’t mean your work schedule is paralyzing you.”

WHEN THIS, THEN THAT… it’s coming to realize that exceptions in ministry are going to happen.  They always do.  So Frank offers a practical approach to planning for these exceptions.  Get a copy for you and your team HERE and discover your WHEN THIS, THEN THAT.  I promise…..this will create real growth conversations in your staff.

 

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2 Things I Did Not Expect This Week At Orange Conference

And no, I’m not talking about things like hitting every green light on the way to work on a Monday.  (although those days are pretty epic)

My wife and I attend Orange Conference every year as volunteers, serving and assisting one of the regular speakers.  One of the things I have enjoyed most is the networking with other leaders.  Some are well-known and have significant platforms.  Others don’t necessarily have the same level of influence, but their contribution to Kingdom work is still very notable.  I learn from all of them!

So, here’s what I DIDN’T expect while at Orange Conference.

 

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Soulcare Praise – About a year ago, I had the privilege to speak at another Children’s Ministry conference in Kentucky. We ran into a young lady in a local coffee shop who was also attending the conference.  We were able to listen and pray with her about the challenges she was facing in her ministry position at the time.  Well, we just happened to cross paths again this week.  Among over 8,000 attendees, my wife spotted her across the lobby.  We learned that she had taken a couple of ‘nuggets’ of encouragement from one of my conference talks last year and really worked hard to implement them.  She shared with us that she is doing so much better as a leader now.  Amazing, and Jesus gets all the praise!

The Praying Caterers – I know what you are thinking.  The food service workers made it a practice during the conference to ‘Bless’ each person’s food before they sat down to eat.  While that would be quite cool, it wasn’t the case.  You see, my wife was getting dinner in the volunteer green room area and was simply asking about the menu over the next few days.  I’m having gall bladder surgery next week and she has been helping me be to be careful with my diet.  The caterers (all 6 of them) just happened to also be believers AND all attend the same church!  They gathered around Cailey and I and prayed over me and the surgery.  Can I just say…I really miss the Southern Hospitality in the South.

My takeaway?

“Jesus will often interrupt our journey of ministering to others so that OTHERS can minister to US.”

 

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How To Date Your Spouse On A Budget

We’re so excited…Episode #1 of the new Hot & Cold vlog is in the books!

If you enjoy this post, please consider leaving a comment below and even sharing it on Facebook or Twitter.  We’re also taking suggestions for future topics.

Lastly, congrats to the winner of the marriage book giveaway!  We announce the winner in this episode AND have a fun, new contest for you.

The new CONTEST runs through Saturday, May 20th.  Details in this video.

Resource:  HomeWord, with Jim Burns & Doug Fields, is an incredible resource to marriages and families.  We cannot say enough good about the amount of helpful information you can find throughout this website.  Check it out!

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(Our son, Garrett, composed & produced the theme music for our vlog. Contact us if you would like to have him produce something for your needs)