Following is a full transcript of the press conference:
ROCKVILLE, Va. (BP) — David Platt, as the new president of the International Mission Board, spoke with Baptist media representatives in a telephone press conference shortly after his election to the position Aug. 27.
Following is a full transcript of the press conference, moderated by IMB spokesman Van Payne, with trustee search committee chairman David Uth, pastor of First Baptist Church in Orlando, also participating.
To read the Baptist Press story about the press conference, click here.
DAVID PLATT NEWS CONFERENCE, AUG. 27
Van Payne: Folks, we’re glad you joined us. We’re going to get started, and I’m going to take the privilege of opening us with a prayer. And then we’ll get into our agenda.
Father, we’re grateful for a beautiful day and for all it means in Your Kingdom and among us as colleagues and friends. We thank You for the opportunities ahead of us. We thank You for the way You make every day fresh and new and give us a chance to start again. So Father, help us have clarity of thought and wisdom in our proceedings and to be able to get the word out about what’s happening in Your kingdom, and the ways that You would have us to be engaged. Father, we’re thankful You give us all to each other as friends and colleagues, and we pray all this in Christ’s name. Amen.
OK, we’re going to start with an opportunity for Dr. David Uth to speak on behalf of the search team and the trustees, and then we’ll have some comments from Dr. Platt, and then we’ll get to questions.
David Uth: Greetings — glad to have you as a part of this historic day for us. It was the culmination of long months that involved a lot of meetings, a lot of emails, a lot of praying, a lot of soul-searching and really crying out to God. As you can imagine, we were inundated with the recommendations that came from all over our convention and all over the world, literally. And as a part of our search, we determined we wanted to hear as much as possible because we believe God has great counsel for us if we’ll seek it. So we did, and almost 2,000 people were gracious enough to respond to us, to let us know what [were] the qualities that they look for in the next leader, and then what were some of the issues they needed to be prepared to tackle. So we took all of that and we got it boiled down to what we would call a “profile,” though it wasn’t in the true sense a profile because it wasn’t about age, it wasn’t about experience, it wasn’t about whether it’s a missionary experience or non-missionary experience. It really was a profile more along the lines of character and leadership.
So we started the process with that in mind and began working through, and I think it’s important for you guys to know that we considered every recommendation we got. The only one we didn’t consider was a gentlemen in our church that walked up to me the day I announced that we were going to be looking for a new president of the IMB — I said, “I’m a part of that search, so church, I want you guys to pray for me” — and a gentleman walked up and said, “You know, I’m out of a job, I’ve been kind of thinking about what I’m going to do next, I’d like to be a part of that.” And I looked at him and said, “Man, you’re so gracious, and I know your heart is for the nations, but I really think what we’re looking for is going to be a little different than maybe what you can bring.” I was trying to be as gracious as I could. That would be the only one we didn’t actually consider. All the others, we tried to be faithful and really talk about these names.
We had a group of 15, as you might already know, that really was one of the best teams I’ve ever been a part of, and it’s not because I named them [as IMB trustee chairman], God just brought them to my heart. I really wrestled in prayer over those names, and God gave them to me, I believe, and we had a great team; it was like a family, looked forward to meeting together. Several of them today are a little bit sad; they said, “Can we meet again?” I said, “No, not for a while.” But they want to continue because the fellowship was great, and it was of a common mission and vision that we had about what we were going after.
So we basically took that profile as we began to work through and, through a series of questions and interviews, began to narrow it down. Upon the basis of those we narrowed down, there was a significant moment in our life in Denver, Colo., when David and Heather [Platt] came in and sat down. And I can’t really describe it, I think the best way I can describe it is if you’d been where I was, if you’d seen what I saw and if you’d heard what I heard, you would believe what I believe today, and that is that David Platt is the man that God appointed and anointed for the head of the IMB. That was a turning point for us in Denver, and from that day until now, we have been just kind of drilling down and zeroing in and focusing what we believe God wanted us to do for the trustees this weekend and also for the IMB at large. So it’s been a great journey; I’m glad we’ve come to this point and I believe God has been honored and glorified.
Van Payne: Thank you, Dr. Uth. Dr. Platt, would you like to just share some thoughts for us to begin?
David Platt: Sure, I’m sitting here even just listening to that — honored, humbled, overwhelmed — just seeing God’s hand in what He was doing in the search team and what He was doing in my own life, has been doing especially over the last year. The only way I can describe it is a narrowing Romans 15 kind of ambition. I’ve trumpeted the need for the Gospel to go to the unreached as a pastor of a local church and have loved doing that and have had, in that sense, no desire to leave the local church God has entrusted me to pastor. But over the last year, God — through a variety of different circumstances — put a deepening, narrowing desire in my mind and heart to spend more of my time and energy and resources in the short life that I’ve got seeing Christ preached where He’s not been named and seeing unreached peoples reached with the Gospel. And [I] was wrestling actually after some time on a short-term trip with some pastors in Nepal about whether that meant I needed to leave the local church where I was pastoring to go and move overseas.
But a couple months later, David [Uth] made initial contact with me and began praying about this possibility, and the Lord really, in my own heart, just [began asking], “Why would I be willing to consider moving overseas and not be willing to consider mobilizing and shepherding thousands of more people to go overseas?” And so He began to shift my heart and mind and my wife alongside me in that direction in a way that has been so clear. I could go through day after day in my time with the Lord — journal, praying, based on the Word — and just show you the clarity with which God has brought me to this point.
What God — and I know most of you who would be on this call know this — but what God has created in the International Mission Board is breathtaking. It’s really beyond words to marshal the force of 40,000-plus churches working together with about $300 million a year going after unreached peoples with the Gospel. [That] is mind-boggling and that’s just it — there’s so much there, and a legacy of 150 years that’s led to this point — but there’s so much more that I believe can be done in the years to come. And the task is great. Like I was reading at one point in this process just about how there has been 20,000 missionaries in the IMB over the last 150 years, and I thought, “Well, that’s glorious, but we need 20,000 now and multitudes more now.”
And when you look at the picture of the Southern Baptist Convention that the IMB is a part of and this coalition of churches together, there are the Moravians, in missions history: It was said that one out of every 92 of them were crossing cultures for the spread of the Gospel. And you think about a number of Southern Baptists — say 15 or 16 million, even if we could find 10 million of those — if we had that ratio, that would be over 100,000 of us crossing cultures for the spread of the Gospel. But I don’t even think we’ve been thinking in terms like that. I think we need to be thinking in terms like that, so I have a desire to lead the IMB, mobilize Christians to see global mission, not as a compartmentalized program in the church for a select few who are called to that, but as the purpose for which we have been created, the reason why we have breath.
The reason why we have the Gospel is to make His grace and His glory known to the ends of the earth. So to see that mission captivating the hearts of followers of Christ with different skills and different gifts and different callings and different places, and then serving churches, for the IMB to come alongside and equip and encourage and empower local churches to accomplish global mission, I really believe that … I know biblically the local church is the agent that God is going to use for the accomplishment of the Great Commission. And so it’s the role of the IMB to come alongside local churches in order to see that mission accomplished.
Tom Elliff has been a huge encouragement to me at different points in my life and ministry and in this process, so I can’t go without saying just how thankful I am for God’s grace in him and his leadership and in the way he has handed off leadership. … In a way, that I’m sitting here even a part of this conference call, just overwhelmed, honored…. On one hand I’m grieved when I think about the local church that I won’t be pastoring anymore, I’m exhilarated by the possibilities that lie ahead as president of the International Mission Board.
Van Payne: Thank you. We do have a series of questions that we received by email, and I’ll try to get to as many as possible. The first set of questions comes from Keith Collier at the Southern Baptist TEXAN, with the first question for Dr. Uth: What are the particular ways Dr. Platt and The Church at Brook Hills do missions that made the search committee more interested in him as a candidate?
David Uth: Great question. The thing that resonates with us is when we hear — or we see, in David’s case — a pastor who is able to marshal the church to the field (or to whatever the mission may be) … a couple things stand out: the number of couples and singles and individuals that have been sent from Brook Hills. … The second thing is the unbelievable story in the book “Radical” of the adoption ministry movement, whatever you call it. We were looking for somebody who could move the SBC; in other words, when they finished speaking, we’re standing at the altar, ready to go. We had a member of our team who happened, just happened to be driving through Birmingham and said, “Hey, let’s run by Brook Hills. I don’t know what time they meet. Let’s go to church there.” She went in, it happened to be the day he stood in the pulpit and called the people of Brook Hills to do something about those who were waiting for a home, those who were waiting for foster parents or for adoptive parents. So she saw the response, and she spoke to us, and we knew the story from the book and also from personal conversations. We just felt like David Platt can mobilize and can motivate because we’ve seen it happen.
Van Payne: The next question is for Dr. Platt: You obviously have large support from pastors and Southern Baptists younger than 40 years old. How do you hope to garner the support of older missionaries and Southern Baptists?
David Platt: I am grateful to God for great friendships and mentors. When, as soon as I hear “older missionaries and pastors,” (who) immediately comes to my mind are men on whose shoulders I know I’m standing. Tom Elliff would be one of the first ones that comes to my mind, but then obviously many others, and I think that’s the beauty of what we have in the SBC. When you think about the intergenerational cooperation together for the spread of the Gospel in North America and to the nations … whenever I travel to different places and I’m preaching in different places, I’m always encouraged, yes, by a younger generation who I want to lead in such a way that a new generation is engaged in SBC, IMB, in the opportunities that are before us. At the same time, I’m always encouraged by the older brothers and sisters that I meet who are so excited about that new generation and who are leading the way in investing in that new generation. I’m a product of that; I’m a product of men who have poured their life into mine.
That’s one of the things I was thinking about even in my quiet time this morning, just the brothers who have gone before me who have made what I’m doing right now possible, and so I want to cultivate that kind of spirit among both generations represented in Southern Baptist churches — just an appreciation for those who have gone before and who’ve led the way, and an example that is to be emulated there, and then a desire to explore new paradigms for engaging a new generation alongside. And so, to the extent with which I can cultivate that, even from this position, I want to do.
David Uth: If I could, I’d really like to speak to that because we noticed something about David, and we noticed something as we heard from people. It wasn’t just the chorus of recommendations or emails from, let’s call them, the “younger” leaders. We had the same chorus from the older leaders and older missionaries. This is a bit anecdotal, but it serves the point: Sunday afternoon before flying to Richmond on Monday morning I’m doing a funeral, and a part of the program was one of the godliest men I’ve ever known, former IMB missionary, 27 years with the IMB. He is about 85, and he looked at me and said, “Pastor, how’s the search going?” I said, “It’s going well. We’ve got a meeting this week. I really want you to pray because I believe you’re a prayer warrior for me.” “Oh,” he said, “Pastor, I’ve been doing that.”
Now this man, he knows nothing and I’ve not really given him information. He looked at me and he said, “All I want to say to you — I didn’t want to get involved in this, and I didn’t want to come and tell you who I think or what I think — but could I just tell you that, would you promise me you’re going to get somebody like David Platt?” and I looked at him and said, “You know what, I’ll do my best.” And so here’s a guy 85 years old, with the IMB 27 years, medical missionary, and out of nowhere, unsolicited, he says, “We need a leader like David Platt.” So I think there’s been some — and I wouldn’t call it “misunderstanding” — but I think the appreciation that I have and our team has is that David rallies all sides of the generational gap, and I think it’s a great, great gift that God’s given him to do that.
Van Payne: I have a question from Gerald Harris of the [Georgia] Christian Index for Dr. Platt: Since IMB receives 50 percent of all Cooperative Program money, the lion’s share of all missions money, how will you be able to inspire Cooperative Program giving among our churches, or will you focus on inspiring churches to designate their giving to the IMB?
David Platt: That’s a great question. The last thing the SBC needs is a “do-it-alone” IMB that’s trying to, in any way, undercut the Cooperative Program. That is the economic engine that, since 1925, has fueled this coalition of churches. So I say to pastors all the time — particularly younger pastors who are wondering, “Why should we be engaged in the Southern Baptist Convention or in Cooperative Program or in working together? Why don’t we start something ourselves, do it alone?” — and I just look back at them and say, “Do you realize what God has given?”
And this is why I believe in the SBC, and the Cooperative Program as an engine that fuels that, is because you’ve got — and we know this — but close to $500 million a year between NAMB and IMB focused on planting churches in North America and among the nations … just supported by six of the largest seminaries in the world that are training up pastors and missionaries on the front lines of that church-planting movement … combined with the ERLC [Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission] that is in this rapidly shifting moral landscape that we live in, helping us think through how the Gospel relates to ethical and political issues around us and other national entities … and then entire associations and conventions of churches cooperating together, working together in this bigger mission. I say to them all the time, “It would take us 150 years if we were to start something on our own to get all of that and, once we did, we’d have all kinds of problems once we got there.” So is cooperation — are there challenges that come with that, or is there an evaluation that needs to happen to continue with that? Sure, but my hope is … and this is why I’m sitting here right now in this role and part of what the Lord’s used — how the Lord has even worked in this process has given me an even greater appreciation for what He’s given the SBC … the IMB is a part of that, Cooperative Program is the economic engine behind that … I really believe that this is why I’m standing here, because I believe in this whole coalition of churches working together like it does, and I believe that not because I have to but because the force of 40,000 churches working together to go after the nations with the Gospel is just too great a thing to waste. And so I want to work with pastors across the SBC, entity heads across the SBC, to say, “How can we show that this is the best way local churches can work together for the spread of the Gospel here and among the nations?”
Van Payne: I have a question for Dr. Uth from Lonnie Wilkey at the [Tennessee] Baptist and Reflector: Was there any opposition to the election of David Platt?
David Uth: Yes, it was done within the Southern Baptist Convention, so yes, there was opposition. It was not the kind of opposition that we thought was formidable, but you know that’s the great thing about our convention and the great thing about our process: We let people speak into us, we listened to every email. We even gave the trustees, let’s see, the total number of hours to ask questions would probably be four, maybe five, and some of those were with David. Some of those were just with the team because we wanted to give them a chance to be just very honest with us. So we welcomed the opposition because we felt like it would help us to make us stronger and really help us to define what we need to be looking for.
Van Payne: I’m going to go back to Keith Collier’s questions from Southern Baptist TEXAN: Dr. Platt, what missions strategies do you think will be most effective in the future that we haven’t considered or pursued in the past?
David Platt: Fundamentally we’ve got to make sure the paradigm with which we’re approaching mission strategies is less “top down,” more “bottom up.” And what I mean by that, I think there’s a temptation in a denominational structure to see the IMB, for example, the IMB exists for missions, so the IMB sends missionaries, raises funds and then once it sends those missionaries, they support them and do all the strategy, and the local church then just exists — from a top-down picture — the local church just exists to send money and send missionaries, and then the IMB takes care of it. We’ve really got to make sure that paradigm is turned upside down so that the local church is the agent that sends missionaries and shepherds missionaries, and the IMB comes alongside local churches to do that … because those strategy questions don’t necessarily need to be manufactured in a boardroom of denominational entity as much as they need to come from the hearts of the Spirit of God working in the hearts of local pastors who are owning missions and who are seeing the gifts represented across the body of Christ … and saying, “How can we, together, most effectively plant churches around the world?”
Then what’s needed is not an IMB to do missions for the church, but an IMB to connect all these churches that are going after the nations with the Gospel and help us wisely do that, to help equip pastors to send and shepherd missionaries wisely, and that’s a fundamental … I think it’s what we see in the church at Antioch in Acts 13. The pattern we see in the New Testament is local churches planting churches, not conventions planting churches, and so when the local church is owning that, then the possibilities are huge for thinking through how businessmen and businesswomen can be engaged in this mission. How people with all kinds of different gifts and skills, yes traditional church planter-type calling, Pauline picture, but then also a whole army of brothers and sisters who can go after the nations in different ways, different times, short-term, mid-term, long-term … and not just here, but equipping the church around the world to go with us.
So the picture I have in my mind is just, when it comes to strategy, “blank check” on the table: How can we as churches most effectively work together? How can we as the IMB empower the church here in North America, equip the church around the world together, to plant the church where it doesn’t exist? And the number of possibilities … we’ve really got to open ourselves up to all kinds of new paradigms for what that might look like if we want to see 20,000, 100,000, however many more people crossing cultures with the Gospel.
Van Payne: Dr. Platt, this question is from Lonnie Wilkey, editor of the Baptist and Reflector in Tennessee: Many Southern Baptists will be concerned about your church’s actual giving to the Cooperative Program. What was the church’s rationale in designating missions giving around the Cooperative Program? With your new role, has your stance about the Cooperative Program changed?
David Platt: That’s a great question. I would be the first to say that Brook Hills is not a perfect model when it comes to giving, and I’ve never said that every church should give like Brook Hills has. Just what would be maybe helpful just giving a little bit of perspective from me as pastor stepping into a church eight years ago that was pretty disengaged when it came to the SBC — I’d say totally disengaged. Non-traditional, in some ways anti-institutional, “Hey, let’s do this alone, we’ve got resources, we can do this.” And over the last eight years to see how we’ve made, by God’s grace, major strides in working with associations and conventions in planting churches here in North America and then through the IMB, sending church-planting teams overseas … by no means perfect, I can walk you through different flaws in the way we’ve done that, but we’ve made major strides in a way that Brook Hills, I don’t think, is alone in that picture.
I think there are scores of non-traditional churches that are totally disengaged from the SBC and Cooperative Program and even from the IMB and everything, and “Why do we have to do that?” … And I don’t think the way to mobilize them is to tell them they ought to give or make them feel guilty for not giving, but to show them that this is worth giving to. And so that’s what I want to do. I want to work with pastors, entity heads, national level, state level, associations, to say, “How can we together, alongside one another … how can we show that this is the wisest, most effective means for working together with other churches to see the Gospel spread here, to see healthy churches making disciples and multiplying churches in North America? And then to do that around the world through the International Mission Board?” And so I look forward to the opportunities that are there and, I hope, bring to the table with that perspective from a non-traditional, disengaged Southern Baptist church that is by no means perfect at this point but has made some major strides … I hope that, Lord willing, there will be some major strides in the days to come for a variety of other churches in similar settings.
Van Payne: Another question from Keith Collier at the TEXAN: You have a strong following among young leaders in the SBC. What would you say to them about the significance of supporting SBC’s holistic approach to Great Commission cooperation, both mission boards, seminaries, ERLC, etc., the whole Southern Baptist system?
David Platt: I was telling the trustees last night, I know I am a product of the Cooperative Program and that holistic picture that it funds, so [I] grew up in a Southern Baptist church that was active in the Cooperative Program and giving and going; was a part of a campus ministry, Baptist Campus Ministry, where I went to school that had a huge impact on my life; went to a Southern Baptist seminary; most of my missions involvement here and around the world has been through that holistic Southern Baptist picture. And so what I want to do is help people see, because my appreciation for this grows more and more and more … there’s no question that even in this process my appreciation, when I think about that, has grown. The impact of a Baptist Campus Ministry on the heart that I’ve got now for the nations is huge. … And so what’s going on in this holistic picture … it’s one of the great things about the Cooperative Program, and the whole picture of the SBC is that it’s not just the nations — yes, the nations need to hear the Gospel — we have a clear command to make disciples among every single people group in the world. There are 6,500-plus people groups that haven’t been reached with the Gospel, so we’ve got a clear command to get there. But the answer is not just exclusive, “OK, we just give to IMB.” No, the answer is we work together with other churches to make disciples here, to multiply churches here in healthy ways, but a holistic picture that is healthy churches here working together to make disciples that then overflows into healthy churches going there to make disciples. So I want to cast that kind of vision, picture, even as leading in the IMB for the holistic picture of what God has given in the SBC.
Van Payne: I have a question from Gerald Harris of the Christian Index: How will your view of the sinner’s prayer influence your presidency of the IMB?
David Platt: I really appreciate that question because it gives me an opportunity to clarify. The context behind comments that I made that were on YouTube about a sinner’s prayer a couple years ago were in the context of a missions conference where I was talking about the need for Gospel clarity on the mission field. I used an illustration I’ve used numerous times, so this was in my mind when I was saying what I was saying about the sinner’s prayer. I can think of places where I’ve been overseas — Latin America, one particular in India — where within a large group of people, someone was preaching and then started calling people just to raise your hand and, “Say these words, and you’ll be saved.” The missionary who I’m with is sitting there just almost in tears saying, “I can’t believe this is happening. These people don’t know what they’re doing. There’s a lack of understanding of cross-cultural communication and receptivity.” … What that looks like, he said, all these people — there are pastors over here that are raising their hand and praying — so there’s a lack of Gospel clarity. I just said we’ve got to make sure when we’re doing evangelism missions here or anywhere else in the world that we’re being clear on the Gospel call to repent and believe.
Basically I was saying what I’m pretty sure every Southern Baptist — I hope every follower of Christ — believes: coming to faith in Christ is never a matter of just saying some rote words and, “You say these words, and you’re in.” Nobody believes that, so that’s all I was going for, I was trying to say, “Let’s make sure we’re clear in the Gospel call to repent and believe.” That was the context behind those comments.
As soon as the YouTube clip started making the rounds, I understand and appreciate even some who were reacting against that, because the people reacting against that, for the most part, have evangelistic hearts who want to see people saved. I just want to say, “Yes, I have an evangelistic heart, I want to see people saved.”
I had an opportunity with a good friend of mine not long ago, as I was sharing the Gospel with him say, “I want to trust in Christ,” so I invited him, “Let’s pray, call out for God to save you right now.” I believe everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved, it’s Bible, and so I just appreciate the question, it gives me an opportunity to clarify. What I was trying to say in that YouTube clip was maybe not the best choice of words, but what we all believe about salvation and repentance and faith.
Van Payne: And one last question — Keith Collier, TEXAN: In the future over the years as you add senior leadership to your team, what criteria will you use?
David Platt: A number of criteria come to my mind, so I don’t want to assume anything, so I’ll just start with men who love the Lord, leaders who love the Lord, who walk humbly with Him, who pray, not just as a casual routine, but who love the Lord in prayer, who are long in the prayer closet, men of the Word. We’ve got to make sure the Word is primary in everything we do in the International Mission Board … that we don’t come up with ideas and go to the Word looking for permission to do those ideas … that we’re going to the Word, day in and day out, looking for direction that informs the ideas we have. I don’t want to assume that, but so once you’ve got that, then skilled, strategic thinkers who know how to empower, equip and encourage the church here to engage the nations there with the Gospel.
Different people bring different things to the table, so obviously there’s a need, in the International Mission Board leadership, that knows what it’s like to live in other cultures and learn language, learn culture, go through all the challenges that come with living on the field and engage people groups with the Gospel. There’s got to be people with that kind of experience. At the same time, there also needs to be people with experience in equipping and empowering and encouraging the local churches here to give people there — so a collision of those two combined with men and women who know how to think creatively, wisely and strategically with how to get masses, more people and churches, engaged and going to the nations with the Gospel. That’s what’s driving me when I think through leadership around me at the IMB.
Van Payne: OK, you have worked through the questions that were submitted prior to the beginning of the press conference. Folks on the call: We have approximately 10 minutes remaining before Dr. Platt and Dr. Uth have to move on to their next obligation here at the board of trustees meeting. We have more than a dozen people on the call, so I’ll do my best to recognize folks; we do have time for some additional questions, so let’s hear from folks on the call.
David Roach: Van, this is David Roach with Baptist Press. Dr. Platt: When you were speaking about the Cooperative Program, in several instances it seemed to me like you were referring to cooperation in general without referring to the CP in particular, and I just wondered — maybe I was hearing you wrong, I’m totally open to being told that — but I wondered if you were suggesting at all that a church can be a cooperating Southern Baptist church and really play a part in taking the Gospel to the nations without focusing that cooperation exclusively through CP. Can you speak to that a little bit?
David Platt: So I wasn’t trying to communicate what you had just expressed, and when I was using “cooperation” I guess maybe I was using it intentionally to say, “Hey, there’s value in the holistic picture of cooperation.” The Cooperative Program is the economic engine that fuels that picture, that is the genius of what was created back in 1925 that I think we need to continually say, “OK, well then how can we evaluate that Cooperative Program and how can we continually make it better?” I think that’s the task of every leader in the SBC: to continually work together to ask that question in the same way that, as a pastor every Tuesday, we’d have an evaluation of my sermon the Sunday before. There still hasn’t been a perfect one of those. I don’t think the Cooperative Program is perfect as it is now, but I’m definitely not saying, “OK, Southern Baptists, let’s cooperate regardless of the Cooperative Program.” The Cooperative Program is the primary economic engine that fuels this holistic picture of Southern Baptists working together on mission.
Allan Blume: Van, this is Allan Blume with [North Carolina] Biblical Recorder. Is David the youngest president of the IMB?
Van Payne: Allan, we will get back to you to confirm that. I suspect the combined wisdom of folks in this room would say yes, but let us fact-check that for you.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: IMB Archives confirmed David Platt is the youngest president in the history of the IMB, once known as the Foreign Mission Board. Robert J. Willingham held that distinction until Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014. Willingham had just turned 39 two months prior to being elected in July 1893. December marks the centennial of his death in 1914 while serving as the executive secretary of the Foreign Mission Board.]
Brandon Pickett: This is Brandon Pickett with the SBC of Virginia. I just wanted to ask Dr. Platt — and if you had said this before I came on the call, please forgive me — but the transition period … I did not hear what that would be when you would pretty much be taking full-time role as the president of the IMB and transitioning out as a pastor. I’m sure that there’s a time period here and a plan.
David Platt: In a sense, the transition is effective immediately in the sense that Tom is handing this off, joyfully. But at the same time, I will go back to Birmingham. I’m going to preach at Brook Hills for the next three Sundays, and then the Lord, in His providence … just the timing in all of this … after I preach at Brook Hills for the next three Sundays, I really want to love and lead and leave the Church at Brook Hills well over the next few weeks. Then after that there’s actually a strategic meeting overseas with many of our personnel who are leading around the world, and I’m going to have an opportunity then, after I finish preaching at Brook Hills, to then go to that meeting. That’s when my full energies will shift to full-on IMB. That doesn’t mean for the next three weeks this isn’t running through my mind all the time, and there’s a lot of focus there and things that I’ll be doing, but it will kind of be a both/and over the next few weeks in my heart and mind and the time I’m spending. That shift will happen, I think that Sunday is Sept. 14, that will be my last Sunday at Brook Hills, and then we’ll begin to shift totally after that.
Lonnie Wilkey: David, this is Lonnie Wilkey at the Baptist and Reflector in Tennessee. Do you plan on working with state conventions in helping to promote the Cooperative Program and missions?
David Platt: One of the first things I wanted to do even today was communicate with state convention leaders and entity leaders really across the SBC saying, I want to work alongside leaders across this convention to say, “How can we mobilize, how can we engage new generations in the whole picture that God has called us to?” I want to be clear: What I want to trumpet more than anything else is the Great Commission and disciples made here and among the nations. That’s what we cooperate together for, right? It’s not just cooperation for the sake of cooperation. We’ve got cooperation with a goal in mind. We want to see God glorified in the church here, God glorified among peoples around the world that haven’t even heard the Gospel. That’s what drives us, and I think the more we keep that goal out there before people … and I want to work, yes, to trumpet that more than anything … and then along the way to say, “And here is the most effective means that I know of, there’s nothing like it in the world, it’s not perfect, but there’s nothing like it in the world … this cooperation of churches together in these different ways, holistic ways, going after that goal.” I want to trumpet, more than anything, biblically, the Great Commission, and then to show and engage new generations with seeing — not just new generations, all Southern Baptists — with seeing and this is the means that God has given, by His grace, for us to accomplish that.
David Roach: This is David Roach again, I just have a quick question for Dr. Uth: You mentioned Denver being a key moment. Could you tell us how long ago that moment was to give us a sense of the timetable?
David Uth: Yeah, that was in July. It was toward the end of July.
Jennifer Rash (The Alabama Baptist): Just following up on what Lonnie mentioned about state conventions — Dr. Platt, Alabama already has a really strong program, Acts 1:8 Connections, where they’re working with IMB and trying to connect missionaries from Alabama with the churches. Do you know anything about that program and if you do, do you think it’s something that might play into what you’re talking about?
David Platt: I do know generally about that program, and the first thing that comes to my mind is yes, yes, yes. I think this is where we have so much opportunity from different states in different ways to work together in ways that serve and support one another in the larger picture of this Great Commission. To say I think there are strategic ways that associations and state conventions can work together with the IMB in the same way — I know there are differences, in some ways it’s apples and oranges as far as working with the North American Mission Board — but there is beauty and overlap in the way, yes, how can we mobilize churches to go after their communities with the Gospel, to go after North America with the Gospel, their state with the Gospel, North America with the Gospel, the ends of the earth with the Gospel, and the more we’re coordinating together on what that looks like, the healthier we’ll be.
Van Payne: We’re almost out of time. I’m wanting to give Dr. Platt one last opportunity for a concluding statement.
David Platt: I mentioned in the beginning, “honored, humbled, overwhelmed,” all of that with excitement and exhilaration about the possibilities that lie ahead. You know, Dr. Uth mentioned earlier, “Was there opposition to this at all?” and, well, we are Southern Baptists, and there are differences we have on different things, theological things, and just a variety of differences we may have. But I really believe that the majority of Southern Baptists want to come together across a variety of differences and get the Gospel to more and more people in North America and more and more people among the nations, and I want to cultivate that kind of spirit among all Southern Baptists so that we are giving our lives, living. I was just talking with some of the folks that are here from churches and states represented all across this call who are preparing to go overseas. It’s an awesome opportunity that God has given us, a stewardship that God has given us that I want to maximize.
I would just say there’s a part of me that I’m living and leading for the day when the IMB is needed no more. I want to see the day where the concept of unreached peoples is nonexistent, where peoples have been reached with the Gospel, and to be a part of this picture of healthy churches here that are making the Gospel known — there is really an honor beyond words.
Van Payne: Friends, our time is up. We appreciate you joining us today. Feel free to email me or Julie McGowan with any further questions or things that we might help you with. Thanks, everyone, have a good day.
Transcript provided by the International Mission Board’s communications office.