SBC / August 28, 2014

David Platt and the Future of the SBC

“We’d be all in!” Those are the words a friend of mine declared when I asked him a simple question several weeks ago. What would it mean for your church’s approach to the SBC if David Platt is elected as president of the IMB?

His church is emblematic of a group of younger generation leaders who have hovered around the fringes of SBC life. He was raised in an SBC church. Went to an SBC seminary. Planted an SBC church. By God’s grace, it became one of the fastest growing churches in his state.

But along the way he began to question the value of his church’s engagement in the SBC. Why put their energy and resources there when other opportunities for partnership exist that were less frustrating? Yet recently, connections with an SBC seminary combined with new leadership and vision at NAMB and the ERLC have reenergized his interest.

When he says, “we’d be all in!” what he means is that the SBC would now become like the lead sponsor of a NASCAR vehicle, with the most prominent logo spot emblazoned on the hood for all to see. Sure, there will still be other partnerships that continue. But the SBC would now be the church’s primary identity. As a result, their money, their missionaries, and their involvement in the SBC will increase significantly.

Now, there is no question that Platt’s election will generate some controversy in the short term. There are some in our convention who have reasonable concerns about his Cooperative Program giving track record. People who support Platt’s election should not dismiss his CP giving history as irrelevant, especially since Platt himself has acknowledged his track record.

We need to work hard as a convention to have an honest conversation about our differences that results in greater unity, not greater division. The worst thing that churches that are frustrated with Platt’s past lack of Cooperative Program giving could do is to use his election as IMB president to justify their own future lack of Cooperative Program giving.

There are several reasons why David Platt’s election as IMB president will solidify and shape the next generation of the SBC:

  1. Grow the SBC – Platt’s election as IMB president will grow the size and reach of the SBC. He has a platform and influence with many churches on the fringes of the SBC, like my friend, who will now have a compelling reason to be “all in.” Their youthful leadership and engagement will make a lasting impact on the denomination.
  2. Grow the Cooperative Program – Platt’s election as IMB president will grow the Cooperative Program in the long run. Sure, for the next 2-3 years there may be a plateau in giving if some churches respond to Platt’s lack of CP giving by a lack of CP giving themselves. But his passion and vision for international missions will soon inspire the entire convention to cooperate at unprecedented financial levels to reach the nations with the gospel.
  3. Grow the Missionary Force – Platt’s election as IMB president will grow the missionary force. More people will want to serve as missionaries. And more money will mean the IMB can fund them. As an example, my friend’s church currently has 60+ missionaries fanned out across the world who he would immediately want to figure out how to start sending with the IMB.
  4. Grow the Next Generation – Platt’s election as IMB president will grow the next generation of SBC churches and leaders. His selection will further signal to the younger generation that a new day has come in which their leadership and involvement is possible in the SBC. It will create this important question in everyone of their minds: If you want to partner with churches who love the gospel, care about their communities, and reach the nations, why would you think about partnering with anyone other than the SBC? Those who used to ask “why partner with the SBC?” will now wonder “why not partner with the SBC?”

I believe David Platt’s election as IMB president is the most significant step of the next 20 years for solidifying the next generation of the SBC. He will cast a compelling vision that will capture the hearts of future SBC leaders. My friend’s enthusiasm will not be an isolated case. My hope is that whether young or old, whether established church or church plant, whether currently committed to the Cooperative Program or not; all SBC churches, pastors, and leaders will rally around the election of David Platt and decide that they are “all in” for the sake of the SBC, for the sake of the CP, but most importantly, for the sake of the gospel. I am “all in.” Are you?

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