NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–On Good Friday, more than 50,000 people across the world participated in Secret Church, six intensive hours of biblical teaching and prayer for the persecuted church led by author and pastor David Platt of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala.
The event — held at the church but simulcast into 42 states and 11 countries — was designed to call the church to greater awareness to biblical fidelity and to build unity with the persecuted church worldwide. While thousands gathered live and on location at The Church at Brook Hills, more than 50,000 people from 1,300 churches and small groups participated via simulcast. They gathered in church sanctuaries, fellowship halls, living rooms, dorm rooms and LifeWay’s Ridgecrest Conference Center to hear God’s Word taught. It was the 10th Secret Church event but the first one simulcast.
It was simulcast by LifeWay Christian Resouces and Disciple-Making International (DMI), a nonprofit, Christian-equipping organization founded by Platt.
Secret Church was born from Platt’s experiences teaching in underground house churches throughout Asia. There, Platt experienced how Christians met in secret for fear of persecution. This awareness sparked a desire to transplant the urgency of sound Gospel proclamation to congregants in his own church.
“We set up a Friday evening where we would gather from 6 p.m. until midnight for two main purposes: to worship through intensive study of the Word, and to identify with our persecuted brothers and sisters by praying intentionally for them,” Platt said. “Just a simple six hours of straight teaching and prayer.
“People are hungry for the Word,” Platt said. “There’s really nothing special or creative about it. It’s just the study of the Word and then prayer for our persecuted brothers and sisters. The Word itself does the work. One of our goals in Secret Church from the beginning has been to study not just for our own sake, but for the sake of the nations.”
Partnering with LifeWay for the simulcast was a way to share the message of Secret Church with churches all around the nation and the world, said LifeWay President Thom S. Rainer. There had been nine prior Secret Church events, but after the first meeting The Church at Brook Hills was forced to start a reservation system due to the sell-out capacity. Its on-site popularity led to the idea of a simulcast.
“We recognized that God was doing something big through Secret Church,” Rainer said. “We were also painfully aware that more and more people were being turned away from each successive Secret Church event. After much prayer and deliberation, we made the decision to simulcast the tenth Secret Church with the hope that God will use these resources well beyond the single event itself.”
Micah Fries, lead pastor of Frederick Boulevard Baptist Church in St. Joseph, Mo., said the turnout at his church for the simulcast went beyond his expectations.
“We anticipated a certain number of people showing up, but had many more than we expected,” he said. “I attribute it to the hunger for rich theological training. Our churches have been defined, to such a great degree, by less and less theology over recent decades.
“Additionally,” Fries said, “I am encouraged to see pastors like David Platt taking the lead in developing theological depth among our people. It seems to me that for a long time, we’ve believed theology is best learned in the classroom not the worship center. Secret Church proves that our people have that hunger and desire for the Word.”
Randy,* a Southern Baptist worker among unreached peoples in Asia, participated in the simulcast with members of his home church while on leave in the United States.
“This was a great event for me personally, because seeing the Gospel spread to the last peoples on earth is what I’m passionate about and what moves me,” he said. “All the people who attended with me just finished a study on [Platt’s book] ‘Radical’ over the last three months. The one thing they walked away with was getting the big picture of the doctrines of salvation and how they all fit together within the big picture of the Gospel and redemption.”
“One person said that if our pastor preached all the content they received at Secret Church it would take six weeks of preaching,” Randy said. “They were so excited about it and wanted to know when the next Secret Church event was going to be held.”
*Name withheld for security reasons. Compiled by staff of LifeWay Christian Resources.