Although Harlow was at the helm during the church’s massive expansions, he said it’s been members’ heart for outreach that’s really spurred the growth at Crossroads.
“You have to have people who see beyond themselves — who buy into the idea that their real calling is to the community,” he said. “People were willing without fail to say if we can be more effective by changing our name, moving to a new location and worshiping in a style that isn’t our favorite in order to make this a place where kids and the unchurched want to be, then what they need is more important than what we want.”
That may be true, but Administrative Pastor Smith said Harlow’s leadership was paramount in moving the church forward.
“He’s always cared more about the church than his own personal career or legacy, and he’s exhibited an extreme sense of vision,” he said. “Jeff has made us all feel that we were raised up so we could reach out to the community.”
Dave and Angie Spell, who have attended Crossroads since 1993, said it’s Harlow’s down-to-earth, sincere personality that’s made the church feel like home to them.
“You can tell that Jeff cares,” Angie said. “He’s always interested in what’s going on in your life. When he says ‘How’s it going,’ you know he really wants to know.”
Dave said although the location and worship style has changed since he started coming, Harlow never tampered with the central mission of the church.
“He’s always been faithful to the Bible, and he’s never wavered from that,” he said.
Harlow said at his core he’s still a small-church pastor. He said throughout his entire stint as a preacher, he’s worked on his family farm in Tipton County driving a combine or helping manage finances. That’s where he first developed his managing skills, he said.