Out of Network

By Tim Harlow

My best advice for your ministry: share the Spirit.

So Moses . . . brought together seventy of their elders and had them stand around the tent. Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke with him, and he took some of the power of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders. . . . However, two men, whose names were Eldad and Medad, had remained in the camp. . . . Yet the Spirit also rested on them, and they prophesied in the camp. A young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.” Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses’ aide since youth, spoke up and said, “Moses, my lord, stop them!” (Numbers 11:24-28).

I love this. It’s so . . . human nature. We can’t let these people prophesy—they are “out of network!” (Sorry, I’ve been dealing with health insurance lately!)

It’s similar to the New Testament incident when John told Jesus: “Master, we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us” (Luke 9:49).

01_harlow2_jnI love it when Christians censor each other.

“Moses replied, ‘Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!’” (Numbers 11:29).

And, in turn, here was Jesus’ reply to John: “Do not stop him, for whoever is not against you is for you” (Luke 9:50).

I think I’m getting better at this with age. At some point, you have to wake up and realize God doesn’t actually need you to save the world. He doesn’t need my church or your church, either. He doesn’t even need my “tribe.” I love my tribe. This movement of churches we call the Restoration Movement is so attractive; it’s a church magnet. I was recently at a gathering of some of our largest churches and more than 20 percent of the churches joined this conference recently, from outside of the movement. To quote the musical Wicked, we’re “very very pop-u-lar.”

What should “sharing the Spirit” look like?

Our church has adopted the nation of Malawi. Our goal is PEACE.

Plant churches that promote reconciliation.
Equip servant leaders.
Assist the poor.
Care for the sick.
Educate the next generation.

We are partnering with Rick Warren and Saddleback church in bringing a model they’ve pioneered in Rwanda. (They came from a Southern Baptist background.) The beauty of the PEACE plan in Malawi is the unity of the churches working together.

So we’ve started this process in Malawi, and we have already seen almost all of the major churches and denominations come together. It turns out there are only a few religious institutions and seminaries in that region of Africa, so most of these pastors are trained at the same schools.

They already know each other. They have high respect for each other. In most cases, the denominational markers are only on the buildings and the signs. They think and act very similarly.

In Rwanda, from what I’ve seen, when churches work together, then business and the government take notice and join them.

Maybe the problems in Africa are so vast, the Christians have decided that solving the problems outweighs denominational differences.

Working Together

But we don’t have issues in the United States, right?

Let me remind the majority of the readers of this magazine: our movement was birthed in the idea of putting denominational differences aside and “sharing the Spirit.”

I love that Scripture says God actually took “some of the power of the Spirit that was on Moses” and spread it around.

I LOVE that.

Moses had to share. The Spirit of God is limitless in power, but the Bible tells us it can be limited by our “quenching” (1 Thessalonians 5:19).

If we worked together, perhaps the Spirit would flourish.

In my younger days, I wanted to hog the Spirit for my church and the things I thought God wanted us to accomplish. I was jealous of the Spirit in others. Now, I’m trying to learn how to share.

That makes my perspective so much different when one of our leaders leaves to go to a new place and share the Spirit.

New and Exciting Ways

Casey Tygrett served on our staff for seven years and was recently called to the lead teaching role at Heartland Community Church in Rockford, Illinois.

I am sad. Casey will be missed; his family is dear to our family in many ways. But this is good. It’s great, actually, because the Spirit will be able to move through him in new and exciting ways. It’s great for Heartland Church.

Heartland is the church that sent three Spirit-filled couples to Ventura, California, several years ago to plant a church. Parkview partnered with them in that plant. I’m still an “elder” at that church plant.

And then my daughter, Lauren, and her husband, Tommy, decided to take a deeper look into doing ministry and did a residency with Mission Church Ventura. After a year of residency, the church hired them, and my granddaughter is now growing up in that church. I’m sure glad Heartland shared the Spirit!

So put this all together. Heartland shared the Spirit with Ventura, who shared it with my kids. How could I not be excited to share the Spirit back with Heartland?

Heartland didn’t come from our tribe of churches. Who cares? They shared it.

One of the most Spirit-filled moments of my life was when we first gathered church leaders together in Malawi. A group of 60 of the top leaders from the country gathered and selected nine men and women to serve as the steering team for the PEACE plan. There were people with big titles—apostle, archbishop. There were multiple denominations.

As we asked them to come forward for prayer, I thought to myself, it sure would be good to have them kneel as we lay hands on them. But I didn’t know how that would play out culturally. Then, as they came forward, several of them turned to each other and motioned that they should kneel, so they did.

I’ll tell you, if tongues of fire had come and rested on their heads, I would not have been shocked. It was one of those moments!

I agree with Moses. “I wish the Lord would put his Spirit on everyone!”

It may come back to bless me personally; it may not. Who cares? Share it!

Tim Harlow serves as senior pastor with Parkview Christian Church, Orland Park, Illinois.

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