Unless you have been living under a rock, you have probably already heard the news that the International Mission Board (IMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has hired David Platt as their new president. David Platt comes to the IMB from The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, AL where Platt was the senior pastor. Platt became a household name because of a little orange book he wrote called Radical. Radical was published in 2010 and became a New York Times bestseller. By and large, Christians raved about the book that called for radical and sacrificial living for the sake of the proclamation of Christ’s name in all nations.
Many Christian news agencies, ministries, and leaders have reported and responded to the election of Platt as president of the IMB with overwhelming excitement. Hershael York, professor of preaching at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and pastor of Buck Run Baptist Church, has written that he has never met anyone on whom the anointing of God rests as powerfully and comfortably as David Platt. This is why he believes “the greatest days of Southern Baptist missions lie ahead.” Russell Moore says he is “radically happy” with Platt’s election and admits he has been praying for this for a long time. Even Paige Patterson of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary who opposed Platt’s election says it is time for Platt’s critics within the SBC to bury our reservations and get on our knees in prayer for the new IMB president and his family.
While concerns have been raised about Platt’s Calvinistic soteriology and The Church at Brook Hills relatively scarce giving to the Cooperative Program (CP), the above articles from York and Moore should eliminate such concerns. In fact, for anyone who knows Platt or is familiar with his ministry, there is little to no apprehension whatsoever about his election; only pure elation. I am one of those young evangelicals who was caught up in the hype of Radical and can honestly say that David Platt saved my faith by rocking my comfortable and complacent Christian world. My first two years of college were spent being fed by Platt every week via podcast. I am very familiar with his preaching and ministry. I have led a group of friends to Birmingham the past two years to attend Secret Church, an event started by Platt to help Christians identify with and give to the persecuted church. I have met Platt on both of those occasions and had one substantial conversation with him. I can honestly say that he is one of the most humble Christian leaders I have ever met and he is clothed with his love for Christ and his Church.
Yesterday, Platt was trending #1 on Twitter, which says a lot about his influence for Christ and his kingdom. Regardless of your stance on Calvinism, Southern Baptists should be thrilled at the election of David Platt as president of the IMB, the largest missions agency of its kind in the world. Here are five reasons why.
1. Platt’s passion for the global glory of God
Platt has taught and preached for years now on how God’s purpose in the salvation of sinners is primarily the praise of his own glory. On numerous occasions I have heard Platt preach that fulfilling the Great Commission is all about a desire to extend the grace of God to the ends of earth for the praise of the glory of God. He not only sees the mission of God in Matthew 28:18-20, but he sees God’s mission for the salvation of peoples from all nations to fill the earth with his glory is found in every book of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. His passion for the extension of God’s glory to the ends of the earth is what makes him perfect for the role of president of the IMB. The only way for the Great Commission to be accomplished is for local churches to take up a similar vision and now Platt is in a position to instill a passion for God’s global glory in thousands of local churches.
2. Platt’s passion for the unreached
Related to the first reason is a passion that is unique in David Platt. While many Christian leaders talk about giving and sending to the nations, I know of no one who talks about unreached people groups with the frequency that David Platt does. Platt’s heart breaks for those people groups who have yet to hear the name of Christ. Recently, Platt has said that the fact that there are billions of people who have never heard the gospel must become “intolerable” and “unacceptable” to Christians. It is this heart-wrenching passion for those who have never heard the gospel that will get the gospel to them. As president of the IMB, more and more local churches will catch the fever of the intolerable truth of gospel advance in thousands of people groups.
3. Platt’s passion for the fulfillment of the Great Commission
I have had the privilege of visiting The Church at Brook Hills on a number of occasions to worship with those brothers and sisters. At the close of every service, Platt led the gathering in a recitation of the Great Commission. By God’s grace, the man had created a culture of people who were committed to obeying the Great Commission in their workplace, community, state, nation, and world. I recall a sermon in which Platt declared something to the effect of, “If there is one verse plastered all over the walls of hell; if there is one verse Satan has memorized forwards and backwards, it is Matthew 24:14 because it is the proclamation that his time is short and his end is certain.” Platt also believes that the accomplishment of the Great Commission is possible in this generation if all local churches would take it seriously. His election as president of the IMB places him in a position to impact local churches to capture this vision. It is this overwhelming desire for the accomplishment of the Great Commission that makes him the man for the job.
4. Platt’s passion for the local church
In a recent interview, Platt expresses his love for the local church and how it is this love that compels him to take this position. Platt has said that the God has chosen to use the local church to accomplish his mission. His experience as a senior pastor will help him know how to best serve local churches for the accomplishment of the Great Commission.
5. Platt’s passion for Jesus
Maybe this reason should be first. David Platt loves Jesus. There is no doubting this. But David Platt has a passion to take Christ at his word and willingly obey him no matter the cost. He frequently and most recently in this video has said he views his life as a “blank check” for God to use in any way he sees fit. Platt is committed to personally follow Christ and offer his life as a living sacrifice with “no strings attached.” It is this unadulterated and even radical(?) passion that the IMB needs; that Southern Baptists need. I wholeheartedly agree with Dr. York when he said, “the greatest days of Southern Baptist missions lie ahead.”
A New Generation of Missionaries
Currently, the IMB has commissioned over 5,000 missionaries to the field. Expect this number to increase. I foresee many more Christians to give their lives as missionaries for the sake of Christ’s name as a result of Platt’s election as president of the IMB. Last night during my local church’s kids ministry, I prayed over a group of over 20 kids. In that prayer I asked God to call out missionaries from among them and for all of them to be committed to the Great Commission and the fame of God’s name among all people groups. I am confident that with Platt at the helm of the IMB, the reached will begin to reach the unreached with the gospel at a much greater rate because of the passion of the new president. As a young Southern Baptist, I am thrilled about Platt’s election as president of the IMB and I am thrilled about how God will use him for the spread of his glorious grace among all peoples.
I encourage you to check out these links and videos below where Platt discusses being named president of the IMB, a message to The Church at Brook Hills, and many other things relating to his transition.
Pray for the Platt family as they shift into this massive role. Pray for The Church at Brook Hills as they search for a new pastor.
David Platt Speaks to Southern Baptists
David Platt on His Ministry Transition and the Future of Radical
Mathew Gilbert is a student at Boyce College (B.A. Biblical and Theological Studies, Dec. ’14). He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their dog, Simba. You can follow him on Twitter @Mat_Gilbert.