I believe that Jesus’ “Well done!” was shouted a little louder on Thursday night.

By now most of the Summit Church knows that our dear friend Curtis Crutchfield died suddenly last Thursday of a heart attack. To say that Curtis was a key figure in the life of our church is a vast understatement. On his blog, Pastor J.D. recounted Curtis’ tie to the days just before the Summit became the Summit. (Please click the link to read Curtis’ final, incredible letter to J.D.)

Curtis was a true prayer warrior. A man who – perhaps more than any other – led our church to both corporate and private prayer. For the last several years, Curtis was the one-man force behind our church’s vast email prayer chain. While many people at other campuses may not have known Curtis personally, they certainly knew his email name, “Putterbud.” I’m afraid to guess how many hundreds of people received his daily prayer updates, and how many thousands of people Curtis personally prayed for through the years.

Regardless of all of our fancy websites, our multiple blogs, and our bajillion Twitter feeds and Facebook pages, Curtis remained the primary communications arm of the Summit. At church on Sunday, one of our deacons asked me when we’d be making Curtis’ funeral arrangements public. The irony is that it was Curtis himself who we usually turned to for things like that.

Many tributes have been and will be made. Yesterday Curtis’ wife Kathy told me that she’s had complete strangers walk up to her and tell her what an impact he had on their lives. This post, however, is about Curtis’ impact on one life: my own.

My friend Curtis wore many hats at the Summit: deacon. Route 56 Kids’ director. VBS worker. Mission trip participant. First Impressions team member. Chicken suit wearer. But the role I’ll remember him for more than any other is that of my sons’ teacher.

When my family and I first arrived at the Summit in 2002, Curtis was teaching the first grade Sunday School class, along with “Mrs. Joan.” My oldest son Jacob – now 15 – was in that class. Curtis and Joan moved up with the kids to second grade. And then to third. And then to fourth and fifth. Jacob was exposed to the sweet heart of Curtis Crutchfield for five solid years.

My second born Austin (now 13) was a part of Curtis’ Wednesday night group from the time he was four. He loved…dare I say adored…Curtis. He even had a stuffed puppy that he named “Mr. Curtis.” (There’s no higher honor than having a stuffed animal named after you.)

And it was Curtis I turned to when Austin started asking questions of faith. I was convinced that at four years old, he was too young to understand the gospel. I asked Curtis to cross-examine Austin to see if I was missing anything. He spent a few minutes with him and came back to me, smiling: “The kid is good,” he said. “he’s got solid theology. Don’t stand in his way.”

It’s been bittersweet to watch my boys over the last few days. These young men have been reconnecting with their Summit Kids’ classmates, sharing the initial news and then the ensuing memories of Mr. Curtis…all via text messages. A generation that still remembers who he was…what he taught…how he loved. Curtis was known for saying, “We don’t give these kids enough credit. They’re capable of so much more than what we challenge them to do.”

And challenge them he did. He wanted them to pray. To read their Bibles. To believe God for great things. And to share their faith with their friends. I dare say that my boys are who they are – not because of me – but because of Curtis.

When I received the call on Thursday night that Curtis was gone, I was sad…but only for a moment. How can you truly mourn a man who lived a life as he did? How can you keep from smiling at the certain reality of heaven that Curtis is now experiencing? What Curtis once saw by faith, he now sees by sight. The hope that once accented his prayers is now his for eternity.

Well done, Curtis. I can’t wait to see you again.

You can honor Curtis’ memory by joining us for a celebration of  his life and the gospel that he loved. Visitation will be tonight (Monday) from 5:00 – 8:00 PM at Hall-Wynne Funeral Home in Durham. The memorial service will be tomorrow (Tuesday) at 11:00 AM at our West Club Campus.

More tributes to Curtis by…