David Platt is one of the most influential Christian leaders of this generation. He is the face of a new generation who is excited about making the name of Christ known to the ends of the world. Evangelism and Missions: these are a constant theme of topic for Platt at conferences for pastors and students.
1. He is Gospel-centered. Thoroughly gospel-centered. Whether it was at the Church at Brook Hills, or at Together 4 the Gospel (T4G), or in many interviews, articles and books, His motivation to reach unreached people groups is driven by the good news of Christ, and the reality that millions are perishing having never heard the message of Jesus. Platt doesn’t stand up in front of others and pat himself on the back for his church’s growth, though there are many men who do so or attempt to do so in a subtle manner. He doesn’t rest on his laurels and allow his church to be content with the status quo. Platt could be found always pushing his church to give more, do more, say more for the advance of the gospel in other nations. “Gospel” isn’t just a term used by the spiritual to seem more so, it really is good news and has the power to save (Rom. 1:16-17). To pastors and missionaries like Platt, “hell” isn’t a church-y word only used by people who want to seem spiritual; it is a reality with eternal significance and PEOPLE WILL GO THERE AS JUST PUNISHMENT FOR SIN, or as I like to put it cosmic treason. In the West, many churches and pastors, particularly those of liberal persuasion and those consumed with consumerism, forsake missions. Either because of theological error or pride, churches and pastors are not pushing to make the gospel known. The former believes that Jesus will either save everyone (universalism), the souls of the damned are annihilated, or that people will be saved through (sincere) belief in misrepresentations of Christ. In my somewhat scholarly opinion, each of those three views, though there are many more, are unfounded in Scripture. Platt believes Scripture teaches the unrepentant person will face severe consequences for sin is a severe crime against a holy God. Jesus speaks to this issue. Jesus preaches repentance throughout the gospels. People are perishing and liberal churches and pastors attempt to soften, and in turn, distort that reality. The latter, the consumer church, is too prideful to give, and go. In some cases, both pastor and church are wrapped up in building their brand. New buildings. New lights. New everything. They believe their church has it figured out and must be doing something right because it is booming, which could be right, but the problem with the last two sentences are the inward focus of the church. The community events are less about reaching people for Jesus but about getting people to come to their church. The Church at Brook Hills have had a very healthy focus on outreach, meaning it wasn’t self-centered. Platt, as pastor, hardly ever, if ever, makes himself the hero of a story. Jesus is always the point. The president of one of the largest, if not the largest, missionary sending and supporting agency cannot afford to be lackadaisical about reaching lost people (referring to liberals) and cannot be focused inwardly (egoism). The President of the International Mission Board must be about the business of the Great Commission; and given the evangelistic and discipleship-focus of Platt’s ministry and church, this why I believe David Platt is an excellent choice for President of the IMB.
2. He has done real mission work. Platt isn’t just a popular name. He is experienced. He has been on real mission trips internationally, and not just community projects (not discounting them). He has been in the trenches. Platt has been out of the country in lands that are impoverished, economically and spiritually. He knows how difficult it is to reach unreached peoples. Even if he isn’t a full-time missionary, he continues to go on trips and is in touch with missions in the world today. Which is why he contemplated on leaving Brook Hills Church to do mission work full time. He recently was in Nepal and was convicted about its lostness, as he witnessed the burning of the bodies of Hindus so their souls could be sent up to a heavenly place. The fire, he says, was a vivid reminder of the lostness of these people and about the eternal fate of those who don’t hear. He isn’t just reading Voice of the Martyr Newsletters, as I do. He has served on foreign land out of a desire to make Jesus known and worshiped. His book, Radical, is full of stories and illustrations about such experiences. And it is this sort of background that qualifies David Platt to be president and gets people, like myself, excited about the future of missions.
3. He is young. He speaks our language, and by “our,” I mean everyone between the ages of 18-50, though people older than that can certainly be influenced by him. I don’t mean to sound prejudice or discriminate by age, but it is refreshing to see a young(er), godly pastor step into a role and lead the charge for something, especially in the SBC. It seems that many of the people that promote the IMB and organizations like it are older, white-haired men (or close to it; this could be because of their experience and wisdom, but surely there has to be some younger guys who are qualified). Anyway, not to chase a rabbit or cause any disunity, my point is that Platt connects with a younger generation in ways some older men don’t. He doesn’t tell stories of a glorious yesteryear. He is focused on the now, and the future, and knows that there is a younger generation that is being raised up and in need of being mobilized for gospel advancement.
4. He is passionate about missions. This is a culmination of the previous three. His passion comes from gospel-centered hermeneutic, previous experiences, and youthfulness. As I mentioned earlier, he is always talking about missions outside of Brook HIlls, which will be everywhere now as he has stepped down. At chapel at Southern Seminary, at T4G, at SBC pastors’ conference, during Secret Church. He is all about missions, and his passion cannot be more easily seen.
I am excited that David Platt has accepted the position of IMB President. I know some people are not, and this is due to his theology of salvation (he is a Calvinist), and have threatened to boycott giving money to missions through the SBC, which is really harming the missionaries who are supported by that money and not really David Platt, but anyway… I believe that there will be a growth of missionaries, particularly younger folks who want to see Christ worshiped among these unreached peoples. I cannot think of anyone more passionate, qualified and gospel-centered to lead a missionary organization like the IMB, and I believe God has raised up David Platt to be a leader and a voice for this moment, a crucial moment of gospel advancement.
To catch you up on how Platt became President of the IMB: