COMMENTARY | Eric Reed and Meredith Flynn
The first time I saw David Platt was at the SBC pastors conference in 2012, explaining fervently why he questions use of the sinner’s prayer. In his preaching, Platt marries Reformed theology with a passion for missions.
The first time I heard of David Platt, he had just been called to pastor a megachurch in Birmingham, Alabama—at age 26. Leaders of the church were promising they would surround their new pastor and guide him through a ministry that would challenge a man with three times his experience. Platt had completed three degrees at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and served as assistant professor and dean of the chapel. Truly, he was a wunderkind.
He still is.
But at 36, it’s fair to ask if he’s ready for the enormous responsibility of leading a $300-million-dollar-a-year missions enterprise with 5,000 employees. His church’s record of bypassing the Cooperative Program for most of its giving to IMB and international missions has been reported. And Platt comes to office with many mission trips to his credit, but this position will be his first as a career missionary.
Still, we could be seeing the start of a long and remarkable tenure such as those of the giants who helmed our missions endeavors in the days of our greatest Gospel advance.
Let us pray so.
The first words I ever heard David Platt speak weren’t his own. At a collegiate conference several years ago, he walked on stage and started preaching through the first half of Romans. Paul’s actual words.
After the audience frantically paged through their Bibles to find where he was, they sat in rapt attention. It was an urgent message, one that clearly challenged these early 20-somethings to listen, respect the Word, and understand it in a new way.
The most exciting news about David Platt’s election as the new president of the International Mission Board may well be his ability to challenge young people to a deeper understanding of Scripture, and a more intentional following of God’s will for believers.
Several years later on a Good Friday, a slightly older group gathered for several hours of teaching during one of Platt’s “Secret Church” simulcasts. As they scrambled to fill in hundreds of outline blanks during his rapid-fire message, the challenge again was clear: focus, listen, learn. And, let’s all do whatever it takes to get the gospel to more people around the world.
Right after IMB trustees elected Platt last month, a group of young missionaries reportedly gathered around to congratulate him and thank him for the influence his messages and the book “Radical” have had on their lives. These newly appointed missionaries have followed God’s call to the ends of the earth.
Let’s pray many, many more will accept the challenge.