Why David Platt Is A Great Choice For IMB President

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Guest Post from Jonathan and Nate Akin (also posted at Baptist21)

It has just been announced that David Platt is the next President of the IMB. We are so thankful for the Trustee’s hard work, and we could not be more excited for this election. Here are several reasons we think David Platt is a great choice:

  • We need a leader who resources cooperative missions corporately and personally

David Platt has a track record of aggressively leading his church to support cooperative missions. Brook Hills gives hundreds of thousands of dollars to the CP and SBC causes.

In 2013, Brook Hills gave $100,000 to the Southern Baptist Executive Committee to be allocated nationally; $25,000 to the Cooperative Program through the Alabama state convention; $12,500 to the Alabama Baptist Children’s Home; $15,000 to the Birmingham Baptist Association; $300,000 to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions; and $325,000 to the International Mission Board in special designated gifts, for a total of $777,500, or 8.9% of the church’s total giving for the year, to Southern Baptist causes. Projections for 2014 are: $175,000 to the Southern Baptist Executive Committee; $25,000 to the Cooperative Program; $15,000 to the Alabama Baptist Children’s Home; $68,000 to the Birmingham Baptist Association; $300,000 to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions; and $718,000 to the International Mission Board in special designated gifts, for a projected total of $1,301,000, or 13.8% in total church giving.

David also gives personally to resource the mission of God. He does not receive money for the books he writes. All of the earnings go to resource radical.net (i.e. Disciple-Making International) where materials are translated into the most popular languages in the world to equip leaders all over the globe. He makes great personal sacrifice to reach the nations!

  • We need a leader with a proven track record of using legitimate SBC means to advance cooperative missions among the unreached

Whenever such a high profile position is being filled, people often like to the play the percentage game when it comes to CP giving, but we all understand that every state convention is not the same, and churches have to make giving decisions that are best for them since we are a convention of autonomous churches and ultimately accountable to God for how we fulfill the Great Commission.

Some state conventions use their CP dollars to support liberal institutions. Some keep too high a percentage in state in some people’s eyes. So, it may be best for the Great Commission for a church to support the CP nationally, but not support it with as high a percentage locally if such conditions exist. We cannot know for sure the reasons why Brook Hills chose to give directly to Nashville, but the result of it is clear – more resources have been given to reaching the unreached!

David Platt has led his church to do everything they can within the legitimate structures of the SBC to advance the Great Commission. They have given to the CP, they have given to Lottie, and they have given to other SBC causes. A few years ago, the SBC messengers overwhelmingly adopted the GCR recommendations – one of which was “Great Commission Giving.” Brook Hills has utilized a track the SBC endorsed and has done so generously!

In addition, the GCR recommended that every state convention move to a 50/50 split so more resources would go to the unreached. Brook Hills has given in such a way that the bulk of their missions giving makes it to the unreached, and this impulse was overwhelmingly approved by the SBC!
They have given generously through Great Commission giving and much more of their budget goes to meeting urgent spiritual and physical needs around the world. A leader like David – who prioritizes giving to advance missions among the unreached through SBC channels – is a great choice to lead our missions agency.

  • We need a leader who will prioritize mission over politics

Not only has David Platt sacrificed personal resources for missions, but also he has led Brook Hills to sacrifice programming and accoutrements in order to get more money and people to the nations. If we had more pastors like David Platt and churches that gave to cooperative missions like Brook Hills, then we would have more missionaries among the unreached, and that kind of visionary leadership might cause churches and state conventions to sacrifice more for the nations.

As we’ve written, in 2013 almost half a billion dollars was given to CP ($486.8 million). Almost $300 million of that was kept in the state conventions ($298,850,365), which means that approximately $94 million out of half a billion went to the IMB. Under our current system, the CP dollars roughly spent per person to reach Alabama is $4.72 ($23 million kept in a state with 4.8 million people), North America 99 cents ($309 million kept by states and given to NAMB among 313 million people), and the world 1 cent ($94 million given to IMB among 6.9 billion people in the world minus the US)!

We need a leader – like David Platt – who has a track record of getting more resources and people to the unreached. We need a leader who cares more about rescuing cooperative missions than rescuing the Cooperative Program. CP is a means to something greater. We believe it is probably the best means to that end and encourage others to be a part of it, but let’s not elevate the means above the end – the propagation of the gospel.

  • We need a leader who will be creative in getting more funding and resources to the nations

David Platt has shown that creativity in leading his church to reach the nations by various giving and going mechanisms. And, David recognizes that creativity is needed in order to multiply the cause of the Great Commission. In this video, David talks about how we can move from 5,000 missionaries to tens of thousands. We pray that under his leadership that is exactly what will happen

  •  We need a leader who will mobilize people to fulfill the Great Commission

David Platt has a track record of mobilizing not just resources but people to fulfill the Great Commission. Brook Hills has sent out dozens of missionaries to the hardest places in the world in order to reach the unreached. Brook Hills is committed to sending their people short, mid, and long term to be directly involved with gospel proclamation among unreached people. This includes regularly sending out dozens and dozens of short term and mid-term teams to places like the Middle East, South Asia, and East Asia. In addition to the short and mid-term teams, Brook Hills has at least 4 active long-term church planting teams (through the IMB) engaging unreached Muslim peoples in places like North Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, and East Asia.

  • We need a leader who will unite us for cooperative missions

The SBC is a diverse people theologically and methodologically. Our history has proven that! The SBC has differed on the finer points of soteriology since our inception, and yet we’ve always been able to cooperate together for the higher cause of reaching the nations for Christ. We’ve had that fact restated in the last year by a Task Force appointed by Dr. Frank Page on Calvinism that brought unity rather than division. Also, this discussion of the best way to fund cooperative missions and getting more money to the nations has been going on for decades, and yet we’ve still been able to work together for the cause of international missions.

David is a worthy candidate because he is a BF&M 2000 advocate. He loves our theology. Further, every time he has preached on the convention floor, he has ignited a renewed passion for missions within the SBC. He has received enthusiastic support for these sermons as he called the SBC to focus on her greatest task. Every time he preaches at a convention or one of our seminaries, more people are mobilized to sell all they have and go to the unreached.
Field personnel that we’ve spoken to are ecstatic about David being President – many of them already know of his love for mission because of Brook Hills active partnership with the IMB all over the world.

A man so obviously consumed by the Great Commission we believe will unite us! He will be a pied piper calling Southern Baptists across the nation to go the tough places! We think that he will be good for the SBC, but infinitely more important than that, his presidency will be a good thing for our involvement in the mission of God. And we think it will be good for the CP, as thousands of young (perhaps nominally involved) Southern Baptist pastors are made aware of the IMB in a way they never have been before because of the platform of David Platt.

We prayed the trustees would elect the best man for the job regardless of convention politics, and we believe David Platt is a great choice. We ask all Southern Baptists to pray for and get behind this man who has preached so passionately about the nations, given so much towards reaching the nations, and has already released so many missionaries to the nations. Let’s thank God that He led the search team and the IMB trustees to select him.

Have We Left the Rapture Behind?

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The Apostle Paul says of the believers who will be living when Jesus returns: “We who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thess 4:17). We generally refer to the “catching up” as the Rapture. Does this event occur before the Tribulation? During? After? On Sept. 4th the Bush Center for Faith and Culture will host the Day of Prophecy conference, in which the arguments for a pre-tribulational rapture will be examined.

The speakers include Craig Blaising, Provost of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; Ed Hindson, Dean of the School of Religion at Liberty University, Michael Rydelnik, Professor of Jewish Studies at Moody Bible Institute; and William Watson, Professor of History at Colorado Christian University.

The schedule is as follows:

  • 10 am: Ed Hindson (Binkley Chapel) — “Can we still believe in the Rapture?”
  • 1 pm: William Watson (Bush Center) — “The Rapture before Darby”
  • 2 pm: Michael Rydelnik (Bush Center) — “Israel, the Church, and the Tribulation”
  • 3 pm: Panel Discussion (Bush Center) with Danny Akin, Craig Blaising, Ed Hindson, William Watson, and Michael Rydelnik
  • 7 pm: Craig Blaising (Wake Forest Baptist Church) — “The Rapture and the Day of the Lord”

More information about the conference (including registration) can be found here.

Ant Greenham: Friendship and the Great Commission, Part 1

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[Editor's Note: Dr. Ant Greenahm is Associate Professor of Missions and Islamic Studies at Southeastern. A specialist on the Middle East, he is author of Muslim Conversions to Christ: An Investigation of Palestinian Converts Living in the Holy Land (WICU, 2011), and co-author (with David Black and Allan Bevere) of The Questioning God: An Inquiry for Muslims, Jews, and Christians (Areopagus, 2012). He is also passionate about helping students see the breadth of the Great Commission. To that end, he writes below about the nature of friendship in the Great Commission. This is the first post in a three-part series. Come back next Monday for part two.]

“What surprised you the most about your trip to . . .?” I love asking this when I speak to anyone on their return from an overseas visit. It was also the question I put to my twelve-year-old niece, Amy, at RDU airport in July 2012. She was about to go home to South Africa after spending a month with us in the U.S. Well, what surprised her most was the heat (it was the 3rd hottest summer on record), but she also exclaimed how friendly Americans are.

If you know the U.S., Amy’s second observation isn’t all that remarkable. It’s something that Moreau, Corwin and McGee note in their helpful textbook, Introducing World Missions.[1] In a discussion ranging across their 14th chapter, “Relating to People of Other Cultures,” they consider friendship from a missions’ point of view. First, they speak of the need in all cultures to reduce uncertainty when meeting someone for the first time. Americans typically counter such hesitancy “by being friendly (upbeat, smiling, ‘chipper’) . . . in meeting strangers” (p. 234). This was the characteristic that struck Amy repeatedly while she was here. That’s how Americans come across, and my niece appreciated it.

But does initial, spontaneous friendliness translate into something more—into the depth of relationship? Addressing this, Moreau and company write of American friendships developing quickly (as with a child enthusing about the “new best friend” he or she made on the first day of school), but remaining rather shallow. In particular, they point out that “American friendships are formed in shared activities. They like to do things together. They have church friends, school friends . . . hobby friends, and the like” (p. 242). However, such activity-based friendship (ABF) has a downside. When folks “become interested in new activities or lose interest in old ones, they add or drop friendships related to those activities” (p. 242). This doesn’t mean folks act in an unfriendly way when they bump into their old acquaintances. If they have time, they may well enthuse how great it was to work/graduate/play/travel/participate with the person concerned. Unfortunately though, when the activity ended, the substance of the relationship would have ended too.

Moreau, Corwin and McGee examine the ABF phenomenon within Christian circles. Typically, people band together for a particular activity (such as a book-study or an organizational program) but feel no compulsion to stay with the group once it’s done. This obviously has implications for ongoing church membership and involvement. And it’s something we care about at Southeastern, given our concern to see students serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission. For now then, let’s compare ABF with the imperative of the Great Commission which, of course, is to make disciples.

Long before he captured and catapulted the essence of his mission on a Galilean hillside (Matt 28:16-20), Jesus showed how disciples are made. We see this in all four Gospels (and the rest of the New Testament too), but Luke and Mark help us on our way. Essentially, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40, ESV). Such likeness has to come from constant personal exposure. Thus, when Jesus chose his twelve disciples, he did so “that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach” (Mark 3:14, emphasis added). The latter purpose, preaching, is an activity to be sure. But it follows (and draws its strength from) being with Jesus. In fact, the crucial disciple-making activity commanded in the Great Commission is vitally encouraged by Jesus’ ongoing presence: “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt 28:20).

Spending time with, being with his disciples, in the midst of all kinds of activities, was central to Jesus’ disciple-making strategy. The relationship did not end when a particular activity did. But since that’s the case, how can we make disciples (and so fulfill the Great Commission) any differently? Friendship for the long haul, across a range of changing activities, is the way to go. In other words, for disciple-making Christians, ABF has significant limitations.

If that is so, it seems ABF needs some fixing, which brings all kinds of cultural and behavioral implications into play. But I’ll have to explore this (and the broader question of friendship in America) more deeply in posts to follow.

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[1] A. Scott Moreau, Gary R. Corwin and Gary B, McGee, Introducing World Missions: A Biblical, Historical, and Practical Survey (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004).