Tim Harlow: Beyond "Nickels and Noses"

“We measure the same as anyone: nickels and noses. But everyone is trying to figure out how to measure the deeper discipleship issues.”

Tim Harlow Senior Pastor
Parkview Christian Church Orland Park, Ill.
A 2013 Outreach 100 Church


My wife and I moved to a 40-year-old church in 1990. Average attendance was 150 per weekend. It was a completely dysfunctional group. There were two sides warring against each other in areas of women’s roles, worship styles, evangelism methods (which was a joke because no one was being reached), etc. After seven years of blood, sweat and tears, we had grown to around 300 per weekend. We had grown on our 2-acre piece of property to the point where we were doing three Sunday services, and it was time to relocate.

At that time, we still operated largely under the non-biblical but democratic system of voting on all major issues. The decision to hire a stewardship consultant was of a significant enough cost to merit a congregational vote. It also served as a test case for the idea of relocation. The vote was taken, and only 56 percent were in favor of hiring the consultant, which, at its core, was a vote against relocation, period.

This is the distinct turning point: Thankfully, not only had we figured out how to move our focus to those outside of Christ in seven years, but we had also replaced the leadership who was more concerned about the sheep inside the fold with leaders who had a vision for the lost one. What our leadership team was faced with was an obvious split congregation. But according to the bylaws, we only needed a majority on this one—so we had to decide if we were going to make the hard decision to move with only 56 percent support. I remember not being barely down the hall and two minutes removed from hearing the vote tally—not even taking the time to sit down—and all of us coming to the same conclusion: this was God’s vision. Lost people matter.

From Outreach Magazine  1800s Re-creation Draws Community