>> by Staff & excerpts from Baptist Press reports
ROCKVILLE, Va.—On August 27, the International Mission Board (IMB) trustees, meeting at the IMB International Learning Center in Virginia, announced the election of author and pastor David Platt to serve as the new IMB president.
Platt, 36, who serves as pastor of The Church at Brook Hills, a Southern Baptist congregation in Birmingham, Ala., will take office effective immediately and follows retiring IMB President Tom Elliff who is a former Oklahoma pastor and previous SBC president.
The reactions to the selection of Platt, author of bestselling books “Radical” and “Follow Me,” were widespread and immediate, including through social media circles, as well as among Southern Baptist leaders.
Praise of Platt came from many notable SBC leaders, including Russell D. Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Seminary.
Reactions were heard from Oklahoma Baptist state leaders. Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma Executive Director-Treasurer Anthony L. Jordan said, “David Platt is a much sought-after preacher, commentator and author in Southern Baptist life. Everything points to the fact that he loves the Lord and serves him with a whole heart. For this I give thanks. It is unfortunate that his strong commitment to missions has not resulted in a stronger demonstrated commitment to the Cooperative Program, which is the foundational funding stream for missions. My hope and prayer is that he will awaken to the genius of the Cooperative Program as together we spread the good news of Jesus Christ from the front door of the church to the ends of the earth.”
According to the last Annual Church Profile report in 2007, the church had undesignated receipts of $7,068,727 of which they gave $24,996 through the Cooperative Program. That amount remained constant during his pastorate.
BGCO President Nick Garland, pastor of Broken Arrow, First, called the election of Platt “an interesting choice.” He said, “While Dr. Platt is a remarkable young man and communicator, we as a Convention do not typically elevate folks to leadership who have not demonstrated more continual support toward our shared cooperative ministries around the world. Nevertheless, this will be, indeed it is, a new day, and I pray that Dr. Platt will be dedicated to our cooperative SBC efforts in this new role. The Southern Baptists’ global missions efforts require that.”
Hance Dilbeck, pastor of Oklahoma City, Quail Springs, who is currently serving as second vice president of the SBC said, “David Platt lives with a passion for making disciples of all nations. He seems to be a man of integrity, intelligence and humility. We will pray for him and continue to support our IMB missionaries through the Cooperative Program.”
Doyle Pryor, pastor of Norman, Bethel, served on the executive search committee that selected Platt. Saying it was not an “emotional or light decision,” Pryor said, “I believe that a stronger IMB is a strong SBC and believe that this choice will help expedite us getting the Gospel to the ends of the earth.”
Shane Hall, pastor of Del City, First Southern, who also serves on the board of the SBC Executive Committee, added, “The Southern Baptist Convention faces many challenges today, none greater than reaching our neighborhoods and the nations with the Gospel. I am praying God would provide great wisdom and direction to David Platt, as we work together as a cooperating Convention to reach people around the world for Christ and impact lostness.”
Platt succeeds Elliff, 70, who has served as IMB president since March 2011. Elliff and his wife Jeannie plan to return to their home state, Oklahoma.
In an interview, with Baptist Press, Platt said God had done a unique work in his life over the past 12 to 18 months.
“This is not something I saw coming,” he said. “I love pastoring The Church at Brook Hills. I love shepherding this local church on mission for the glory of God among the nations and could picture myself doing that for decades to come. At the same time, God has been doing an unusual work in my heart and life. The only way I can describe it is that He’s been instilling in me a deeper, narrowing, Romans 15 kind of ambition, where (the Apostle) Paul said, ‘I want to see Christ preached where He has not been named.’ … He has given me a deeper desire to spend more of my time and energy and resources in the short life He has given me to seeing Christ preached where He’s not been named. The concept of unreached peoples — of nearly 2 billion people who have never heard the Gospel — is just totally intolerable.”
“I came back (from a recent mission trip) with a desire to say, ‘How can my life more intentionally be used to get the Gospel to unreached peoples? Maybe I need to move overseas.’ Then the (trustee) search team contacted me and said, ‘Would you be willing to consider (becoming IMB president)?’ And I’m sitting there thinking, ‘Why would I be willing to consider moving overseas, but not be willing to consider mobilizing thousands of people in a more intentional way to do that?’
“The Lord has made it so clear, clearer than just about anything else I’ve ever done in my life. I told my wife the only thing I can compare it to is asking her to marry me.”
Platt spoke about his hopes to influence people to multiply the involvement of local Southern Baptist churches for missions in a way that glorifies God and His Word.
For IMB missionaries overseas, Platt said, “I just (want) to say to you, more than anything, that the vision of the IMB remains the same: a multitude from every language, people, tribe and nation knowing and worshipping our Lord Jesus Christ.
“I am honored, humbled, overjoyed and overwhelmed to be in this role, and I just want you to hear from me from the beginning that I am committed to praying for you, to supporting you, to listening to you, to learning from you.”
The Platts are natives of Atlanta. He received two bachelor of arts degrees from the University of Georgia in Athens and master of divinity, master of theology and doctor of philosophy degrees from New Orleans Seminary. Before becoming pastor at Brook Hills, he served as an assistant professor of expository preaching and apologetics at New Orleans seminary and as staff evangelist at New Orleans, La., Edgewater.
SBC president Ronnie Floyd, pastor of Springdale, Ark., Cross Church asked that people pray for Platt. “May God raise up David Platt to place in our 50,000 SBC churches and congregations, a passion to reach the world for Christ. Pray for him.”