Book Notes: It by Craig Groeschel

Craig Groeschel is the founding pastor of, a multi-campus church with dozens of weekly services in thirteen locations, including an Internet campus. In his book, It: How Churches and Leaders Can Get It and Keep It [affiliate link], he describes that illusive something that some leaders and organizations have and others don’t. In a moment, I will tell you how to get a copy FREE.

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Yes, this is a book written by a pastor. It assumes that you are reading it in a ministry context. Nearly all of the illustrations and organizational profiles are from the church world. But don’t let that fool you. The principles Craig sets forth in this powerful little volume apply equally to leaders and organizations of all types, including for-profit businesses.

The book is an attempt to explain the phenomenon Craig calls “it.” In the first part of the book, he attempts to define it. He admits this is impossible. You can’t put it in a box. But we all know it when we see it. He also asks,

  • Why do some leaders and organizations have it and some don’t?
  • Why do some leaders and organizations have it and then lose it?
  • How do you get it if you don’t have it? How do you keep from losing it once you’ve got it?

Craig doesn’t provide a formula for developing it or for keeping it. This is not a how-to or self-help book.

In the second part of the book, Craig describes seven consistent qualities that are almost always present when it is present in a leader or organization:

  1. Vision: The ability to see it clearly. He describes what vision is, how to find it, and the importance of communicating it. He also explains three levels of vision buy-in, which I found particularly helpful. In this chapter, he also profiles Herb Cooper, pastor of People’s Church in Oklahoma City, OK.
  2. Focus: You know where it is not. Craig discusses the peril of trying to do everything. He draws upon Jim Collins “Hedgehog Concept” from his book Good to Great to demonstrate the importance of know what you can be the best in the world at. He also explains the importance of pruning not allowing yourself to get side-tracked by your opportunities. He profiles Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA.
  3. Camaraderie: You enjoy it with others. He talks about the power of a team who “does life” together. He talks about intimacy, integrity, celebration, and community. He explains “refrigerator rights,” when someone who is so trusted that they can walk into your home, open the refrigerator, and help themselves to a sandwich and a drink. They don’t have to ask. He profiles Perry Noble, pastor of NewSpring Church in Anderson, SC.
  4. Innovation: You’ll do anything for it. He discusses the elements of break-through thinking and how one idea can change everything. He also explains the importance of embracing your limitations as the foundation for innovation rather than an excuse for not innovating. He encourages breaking the rules and how true innovation will inevitably offend some people. He profiles Tim Stevens, pastor of Granger Community Church in Granger, IN.
  5. Humility: You fail toward it. He uses John C. Maxwell’s concept of Failing Forward. He explains that failure is not an option and that failure is something that speeds us toward ultimate success—if we embrace it. He also writes about learning to fail gracefully, which is worth reading and re-reading. He profiles Mark Batterson, pastor of National Community Church in Washington, DC.
  6. Outreach: You want others to have it. Organizations that have it have an outward focus. They are motivated by love toward outsiders. They are willing to sacrifice and confront the obstacles that stand between them and those they want to reach. He profiles Jud Wilhite, pastor of Central Christian Church in Las Vegas, NV.
  7. Abundance: You share it. Actually, Craig calls this Kingdom-mindedness, but I want to put it in a larger, non-ministry context. Leaders and organizations that have it are not afraid to share it—even with their competitors. They are generous and give without any strings attached. This includes sharing their time, ideas, people, talent, buildings, and even their reputation. He profiles Dino Rizzo, pastor of Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge, LA.

In the third part of the book, Craig explains how to determine whether or not you have it and what to do if you don’t. This is where he makes it very clear that there is no simple formula. Ultimately, God gives it and you can only have it if you pursue Him—not it. In the final chapter he explains how to keep it once you have it.

It by Craig Groeschel

I really found this book stimulating. In fact, I am going to ask my executive leadership team to read it before our strategic planning retreat next month. I think this is exactly the conversation we need to be having at this point in the life of our company.

Just to prove how valuable I think this book is, I am recommending it to you despite the fact that it was published by Zondervan, my company’s biggest competitor! However, they are practicing what Craig preaches by making 100 copies of It [affiliate link] available to my readers. To get a chance at snagging one, you must take the following three actions:

  1. Leave a comment below. Tell me why you want this book. Be creative. I really do read these comments and base my decisions on them.
  2. Fill out the special form. I have set up a separate contact form to make it convenient for you to provide your mailing address. Please do not put your shipping address in your comment. This will automatically disqualify you.
  3. Twitter a link to this post. You can do so automatically by clicking here. If you don’t have a Twitter account, you can use Facebook. Yes, I know if more people read this, it will hurt your chances of getting a copy yourself. But the only incentive the publisher has to provide these books to giveaway is the free publicity that you and I collectively provide.

On Thursday, October 8, I will select 100 people, based solely on my arbitrary and subjective evaluation of their comments. If you are one of those selected, Lindsey Nobles on my team will notify you via email. If you don’t hear from her, you can assume you didn’t make the cut.

Question: Why do you want a copy of this book?
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  • @ericsyfrett

    Saw Groeschel speak on this book at a conference and he really has a gift for bringing IT! Thanks for the opportunity and would love to have this book.

  • Brian Pickerel

    I am 28 yrs old and am really passionate about learning how I can become the best leader I can be. Invest IT in me. You will be very happy, because IT

    I= I really need this book, and T= thank you for sending me the it book.

  • Lana

    Simply, I want to be the person who can better bring my “it” to our team.

    I’ve been on church staff for 20 years, and will be stepping into another area in the church requiring more “it”-ness–continuing & overseeing the building of volunteer teams. Anything I bring will be God’s grace because I feel so inadequate. Anything with which I can avail myself to be of help is appreciated.

    Thank you!

  • Jason Walker

    Michael: Top 3 reasons you should pick me:
    1. I am young and impressionable. I will take the book to heart
    2. I have never really won anything – it's time and I'm over due.
    3. I will give you a big thank you when I see you at Catalyst and tell everyone I know how cool you are and that you hooked me up.

  • Lana

    Not sure if my first comment posted. Forgive me if I appear twice!

    Simply, I want to better bring my "it" to our team.

    As church staff for 20 years, I'll be stepping into another role within the church, and I need God's grace, because I am inadequate. I also want to do my part, and avail myself to any equipping necessary. Looks like this book will speak to issues that will help in this process!

    Thank you.

  • bwilliams

    I've started coaching small group leaders and this book hits the mark when leading leaders. I would love to discuss it on my blog and then give it away to one of the leaders. Thank you for the opportunity.

  • Sandy

    I would love to receive a copy of "It" to give as a gift to our church's pastoral staff. I believe our church (a 2,000 Sunday average attendance church community with 5 services) has the "it" described, but hasn't probably understood what "it" is that God seems to be blessing. We now may be on a threshold to greater ministry. This book could provide a timely message about being aware of these qualities, and how not lose them as we continue to grow. We also are partnering (mentoring) another church in this area, so these principles could be multiplied. Thank you for your consideration.

  • tlyates

    Here is the thing, Craig has it, lives it and loves it. If you have followed Craig at all you know that "it" for him is absolutely Jesus. The beauty of this book (and others of Craig's, particularly Chazown) is its powerful leadership content I can easily share with non-believing leaders. God has given Craig the ability to influence kingdoms and nations (Jer. 1:10). I love to share "it" with my clients in any way, form or fashion possible. Craig makes it easy to do. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. ty

  • Johncoxlive

    I would love an opportunity to use this book to help focus and
    move my ministry to a new and more effective place as
    a leader, a father, a husband and a Christ follower.

  • Calum

    I would like a copy of the book as it will help us get the non profit we are working on get up and running.

    We have been hitting our heads against a wall trying to make people see how remarkable we are. We are good at what we do but we have been missing a very valuable point made above.

    Ultimately, God gives it and you can only have it if you pursue Him—not it.

    I believe this is what we are missing and this book will get us back on track.

    Thank you

  • Derek Berg

    As a regular reader of your blog I think you have "It" and with today's post I know you have at least a 100 copies of "It". As for me I do "IT" for a living for our church. I want to make sure that we continue to strive to get "It" as I do "IT" enabling others to focus more time on getting "It". So hopefully you'll feel "It" as you read this and allow me to get "It", that's "It" for now.

  • Tommy

    As a minister, I have been very curious about his church model. I have heard quite a few people talk about his book, but have never picked it up. I agree that some churches have "It" and some don't. That may sound unholy, but some churches actually do things different, not just for the sake of being different, but because they want to be relevant. My hope is my church will seek that relevance. To start a church the way he did was to see a need to be relevant in a culture that has people who have never even entered a church door. I'd love to have a copy of this book to see how I can look for "it" and see if "it" exists at my church and if not, why.

  • @Jonathanstarkau

    I'm a pastor from Australia who began following you @MichaelHyatt when you started following me on tweeter. I have enjoyed reading your tweets and found them very helpful. I have since became a reviewer of Thomas Nelsons books and posted my first review of Max Lucado's "Fearless" on my blog If I am sent a copy of "IT" all the way from the US to Australia I will know that you are just it and a bit! I'll also have our ministry team read 'it' if I think 'it' 's all 'it' 's cracked up to be!

  • jacob van sickle

    The reality is: We serve a God who loves us with an eternal passion. He loves us so much he sent his Son who was willingly tortured and murdered for our sins. His Son, Jesus, is the way truth and life and no one comes to the father except through him. Because God is just and perfect, heaven and hell are real places and everyone who has ever lived will spend eternity in one of these two fates…. this is reality.

    If this book will help me be more in tuned with reality and teach me how to lead others in view of reality, I want to read it. If it will not help me be used by God to save a dieing humanity, then I don't.

  • Gareth David Hogg

    When I was little I watched the movie IT written by Steven King. Really disturbed me and gave me terrible nightmares. Every-time I walk passed a drain in the road I think a freaky clown monster is going to grab my leg. Now that I have given my life to Jesus I really want God's IT and so I need a copy of Craig's book to help me renew my mind and forget about the counterfeit IT! Thanks, appreciate it.

  • Mark Renfroe

    I lead a Christian organization working in one of the toughest parts of the world…the Middle East and North Africa. While good governance is needed and expected, it alone will not produce spiritual fruit in such a spiritually dry climate. In order for the organization to grow, I need to grow. I believe Craig's humble approach to personal/spiritual growth will be helpful to me as I further develop into a leader with more of IT.

  • EdwardPaz

    Mr. Hyatt…

    I am 27 years old and am the Founder/Executive Director of a non-profit organization by the name of Designing Your Best Year Ever! based out of the Bay Area, CA.

    For the last couple of years, from a distance, I have followed the ministries of Andy Stanley, Craig Groeschel, Mark Driscoll and Jentezen Franklin, and I have been amazed by their organization's ability to have an abundance of "IT."

    I have a sincere desire to build a company that has "IT" and believe this book would be a great resource for me as I endeavor to do so!

    My mission in life is to complete to the very last detail what God created me for, and from your review I can expect I am going to need "IT" to do so!

    Thank you for considering me as of one of the 100 individuals you will be sending a copy of "IT" to! Your work has been a blessing to my life and I appreciate your leadership!

    Edward Paz

  • @matt_mccomas

    I neeeeeed this book! I'm stepping into uncharted waters this spring as we launch a brand new campus ministry in the Portland, Oregon metro area. We'll be seeking to give thousands of college students in one of the most liberal, unchurched cities in America the chance to say yes to Jesus Christ. I would love this book as we begin to create the leadership culture around our ministry!

  • @nmabry

    I appreciate Craig's story and how it can encourage us all. I love to listen to his biblically-centric speaking. He's a proven leader in coordinating the One Prayer initiative, in which our faith community has participated.

    I heard Groeschel at Willow Creek's Leadership Summit. I value any thoughts he would have on leadership and would love a copy of IT to read personally and to share with my leadership team.

  • @austinbrowne

    We are all called to be leaders–albeit at different times, in different contexts, and in different ways. As a graduate student studying Organizational Development, my primary interest is in change management and its symbiotic relationship with leadership and lifelong learning. Having read many texts on the subject, I am intrigued by Groeschel's perspective and definition of "it" leadership.

    The seven principles outlined in your blog post are essential characteristics for all organizational leaders ranging from Fortune 500 CEO's to non-profit Executive Directors to both formal and informal leaders of a church. In school, we use case studies as a tool to reflect-on leadership decisions, work through possible alternative solutions, and dissect both intended and unintended consequences. All case studies to date have been on for profit institutions–thus I am interested by the cases outlined by Groeschel and his team as they examine organizations that meld both traditional and volunteer leadership structures and the joys and struggles that come along with working with such diverse stakeholders.

  • I've Lost "IT"

    I've lost "IT"!

    What's sad is when I possesed "IT" I didn't even know it. After reading your post, I am only now looking back and realizing "IT" is gone. I've known something has been different over the past 5 years, but haven't been able to put my finger on it.

    I would love a copy of the book to help me understand how to get "IT" back.

  • @geofflittle

    This sounds cliche'd perhaps, but is no less true – my job as best I can tell is to fit my story into the life story of Jesus of Nazareth: to approach my life with humility, sincerity, tenaciousness, zen-ness, cutting-edge-d ness, witness, and "all-out-edness" (including martyrdom if necessary). This is what I find in the Gospel narratives, anyhow. This said, it appears that this book is a tool to help organize these imperatives. Christ attracted thousands in his lifetime without so much as a brochure (that we know of), and left a life millenia later of unsurpassed impact across planet Earth. That's it-ness if I've ever heard of it. Not that I want to be famous for fame's sake – but I do want to lead others (including myself) into deeper ways of love and respect for all across the world. I'd like a copy of the book as I go deeper into service, leadership, sacrifice, nonviolent revolution, and apostolic witness. Plus, I hope its got some funny stories – that'd be nice too.

  • oforo kimambo

    M not a good reader and it is the first time I heard the name Craig in writing industry. I was so moved by your review and found out the this book is a must read, when it reach this end I will be glad to pay for it.

  • @DaveAnthold

    It = Innovative Turbulence. It appears that for churches, companies, and internal organization to really transform they have to be willing to shake things up a bit. They have to try new things (innovate), learn through their failures (turbulence) or they will not be all that they can be (pardon the Army pun). Growth happens when we experiment. Just as chemistry class was good for bubbly beaker projects, our ideas can be full to overflowing with new and exciting projects as well as many mishaps. Without the mishaps, we never would have some great ideas both in Chemistry and in churches.

  • Whitney Capps

    My name is WhITney Capps. My name's got IT, but do I have IT? I don't know. More importantly, does our church? I'd love to find out. My husband and I are prayerfully considering leading small group development for our church. I'd sure like to know how to help leaders catch the vision for IT if God says "go for it."

  • Fran

    During my career I’ve been exposed to good leadership and bad leadership. As a leader, I’ve learned from those examples, through training opportunities and from my own missteps. Filling a leadership role in a ministry can be a completely different experience (compared to “industry experience”). Recruiting, motivating and retaining volunteers is often more challenging than leading employees.

    My own history, including many mistakes and “failures”, supports Greg’s conclusion that God is a key element in successful leadership. Bringing God into my workplace has clearly improved team dynamics, issue resolution and productivity. Now, I’d love to better understand the qualities of effective ministry leaders. Does the busyness of service preempt God in the work at hand? I can see how that might be so. I'm particularly interested in the case studies.

    • Fran

      Except of course that I meant "Craig" not Greg". :)

    • Fran

      Lindsey's e-mail indicated I should tell you where I heard about this post. I follow you (Michael) on Twitter so I read the Tweet on Monday. I've been thinking about the book since I read the review and finally decided to throw my name in the ring!

  • Noah

    Hi, well I am the Youth Leader at my church. I served in the Air Force for 6 years serving in Baghdad and Kuwait. While I was in the military I decided to surrender my life to what I felt God calling me to do. So when I got out of the Air Force I decided to help out at my church where my dad is my pastor.

    The first day I was out of the military and back in San Antonio my dad asked me to lead the young boys class, after taking over there class I was asked to help with the youth group after the Youth minister stepped down.

    Our church is located on the south side of San Antonio and in a low income economic area, i don't get paid any stipend but I work with the kids because I love making a difference. After helping with the kids for a few months, I started to plan events, and lead the Sunday Morning and Weds Evening Bible Studies.

    After a year and a half, I am using more people to teach and help out. It feels good that even though my youth group isn't huge, and we get on a good night 15 people, I feel that God is using us.

    I work at Home Depot and I coach part time at a High School on the football team, and I go to UTSA full time studying History, I really want to be a teacher and Full Time Coach. Even though I am busy I love helping kids who need it.

    My kids deal with drugs, gang violence, and other terrible hardships. I would like to receive a copy of this book because If I can find out some ways to get IT, maybe I can learn some more methods to see if more kids can come to know Christ.

    Thank You.

  • Ben Villescas

    I am a missionary in training @Seminary and would like to glean insights from the book to put into practice in future church plants on the mission field and possibly here in the states-I desire a double portion of the Spirit in ministry and I want to know how to get "IT"

  • Jeff Miller

    I want this book becasue for years I thought "it" was a creature on an old black and white show and did not want "It." Now that I know what "It" is, I would certainly love a copy of this book.

  • @curtislbaker

    So bummed I missed "It"…the deadline. I have seen it cut off because leadership didn't know how to explain IT and IT didn't fit within a simple theology. I have seen IT change and transform kids that has lasting fruit and causes a deep hunger within them for more of IT! Thanks for getting IT out :)

  • Nannytaxi08

    To get closer to god and be a better Christian