The Wondering Eagle has a question…can David Platt successfully lead the SBC’s IMB and also be the Teaching Pastor of McLean Bible here in the Washington, D.C. area? This article overlooks the challenges the IMB has dealt with as well as the problems McLean Bible is also going to face by having a celebrity pastor. Plus what is the trajectory for McLean Bible? Is 9 marks next?
“The moment there is suspicion about a person’s motives, everything he does becomes tainted.”
“People’s behavior makes sense if you think about it in terms of their goals, needs, and motives.”
Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children.
Ephesians 5:1 NLT
There is a lot that is transpiring at McLean Bible Church (MBC). To give you some history and understanding about the issues at MBC these past few years here are a couple of older posts that can get you caught up to speed.
- “Not a Sermon Just a Blog Post; McLean Bible’s Affiliation with The Gospel Coalition” is about MBC joining The Gospel Coalition (TGC). This looks at the issues in TGC for example from its promotion of Douglas Wilson who married a pedophile on the sex offender list to an unsuspecting female. The State of Idaho is involved the last I heard. In addition this also looks at how TGC behaved in the SGM lawsuit and asks the question, why would any sexual assault victim want to attend a church in TGC?
- Then there is “Why is McLean Bible’s New City Network Promoting 9 Marks’ Church Revitalization Conference?” In that post I looked at McLean Bible Church’s church planting network and ask why is it promoting Mark Dever’s 9 Marks?
- Not long ago MBC took down its statement on Calvinism. I preserved it and you can read it in “Preserving McLean Bible’s Statement on Calvinism.”
- Next there is this post that deals with Lon Solomon’s retirement and MBC looking for a new senior pastor. In the interim period David Platt became the teaching pastor. You can read more in “McLean Bible is Looking for a New Senior Pastor, and Deep Concerns About its New Interim Teaching Pastor David Platt; Plus Here is the Problem with Being “Radical”
- Finally there is this post that asks the question, is MBC in the process of joining the SBC? You can read about that in “Is McLean Bible in the Process of Joining the Southern Baptist Convention?”
Before I continue let’s take a step back and look at the issues in the International Mission Board (IMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).
The Challenges Facing the IMB
The International Missions Board (IMB) is the arm of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) that sends missionaries around the globe except the United States and Canada. The IMB receives most of its funding from the SBC Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. The statistics for 2016 are currently available. For example in 2016 it was claimed that 1,938,973 people were evangelized globally. 189,128 people described as seekers allegedly had been witnessed. You can read more in detail in this annual statistics report of 2016. David Platt was elected the IMB President in August of 2014. He replaced Tom Elliff who was the IMB President from March 2011 until August of 2014. You can read about Platt’s election in this Baptist Press article.
Platt had planned to to send out “limitless missionaries” when a financial crisis came to the surface of the SBC’s IMB. Then in August of 2015 IMB president David Platt stated that the agency needed to cut at least 600 missionaries and staff in order to balance the budget. This was going to be done to make up for $21 million dollar deficit in 2015. At the time of this announcement the IMB had a staff of 450 employees and about 4,700 missionaries scattered around the globe. This number was in decline from the 5,600 that worked for the IMB in 2009. Platt also had committed to change how the IMB functions and to re-organize the organization. It was stated that over the past 6 years the IMB had overspent $210 million dollars and that to pay their bills they were selling off property. The problem that the IMB was running into is that they were almost out of property. When this all came out the IMB planned to encourage voluntary retirements. For me the question I have is the following…as a Neo-Calvinist did David Platt’s organization go after those who are not Neo-Calvinist and use this financial crisis as a means to remove them from the missionary field?
If you would like to read more about the IMB financial situation I would recommend the following articles.
- Christianity Today “Southern Baptists Will Cut 600 to 800 Missionaries and Staff.”
- Christianity Today “The Southern Baptist S(p)ending Crunch.”
- Christian Index “UNDERSTANDING THE IMB FINANCIAL CRISIS.”
- Baptist Press “IMB personnel face difficult decisions.”
- SBC Today “IMB Exodus: 1,132 Missionaries & Staff Take ‘Voluntary’ Pink Slips.”
- Peter Lumpkins “More dismissing fiduciary obligation of IMB administration and trustees.”
- Todd Wilhelm “David Platt Announces SBC International Mission Board in Dire Straits.”
- Wartburg Watch “The SBC International Mission Board Needs an Experienced Fiscal Leader and a Clear Vision.”
In 2016 David Patt announced that the IMB was in a much healthier position after the layoffs. In the end close to 1,000 missionaries and nearly 150 staff members either resigned or accepted early retirements. You can read more about that in “Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board in ‘much healthier financial position’ after layoffs.” The IMB has a current statement on how things were supposedly resolved. The IMB is what David Platt has been elected to lead and serve. However, the changes going on at MCB, a Washington, D.C. area mega church where Platt has been serving as a Teaching Pastor are also changing.
Teaching Pastor at McLean Bible?
David Platt has been the interim Teaching Pastor at MBC since February of 2017. Recently MBC extended an invitation for David Platt to become a long term Teaching Pastor. This offer was given while David Platt is still serving as the head of the SBC’s IMB. During an August meeting the executive committee of the IMB trustees evaluated David Platt’s engagement and their request for him to be pastor/teacher. (according to the MBC Constitution) for the next few months. David Platt allegedly wanted to continue to teach at MBC which has over 13,000 attend each weekend at all five locations in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Hance Dilbeck who presides over Quail Springs Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma said that following about Platt and MBC. “Our president, Dr. David Platt, has expressed a deep sense of calling to serve as teaching pastor of McLean Bible Church while also continuing to lead the International Mission Board,” Dilbeck said. “We respect Dr. Platt and his sense of the Lord’s leading; and we recognize our responsibility to hold him accountable for his work leading the International Mission Board. Over the coming months, while Dr. Platt serves as teaching pastor for McLean Bible Church, the trustees of the International Mission Board will evaluate Dr. Platt’s fulfillment of his responsibilities as IMB president. Trustees also will evaluate McLean’s level of partnership with the Southern Baptist Convention. We plan to revisit this matter in our February trustee meeting.” David is asked to be the teaching pastor and not be the senior pastor. Dale Sutherland who is the Lead Pastor will still deal with all the day to day challenges at the church. David Platt spends 65% of his time in a local church on weekends. Then he spends 35% of his weekends he travels both domestically within the United States and abroad. This role would not change for David Platt as the Teaching Pastor of MBC.
My question is this…can David Platt successfully do both jobs? Can he fulfill both responsibilities to MBC and the IMB? Honestly I have my doubts given the great demands of both jobs. The question I have is the following, what is the deeper motivation for the SBC in this situation? Given the obsession that the SBC has had with the culture wars does this drug deal allow the SBC to put its stamp on the Washington, D.C. area? Does this allow the SBC to control and influence the D.C area? After all who approached who? In 2015 did MBC approach the SBC and ask to be a cooperating church or did the SBC contact MBC and knowing that Lon Solomon was toward the end of his pastor life saw an opportunity and moved on it? In this model its a win/win for the SBC, as well as the Neo-Calvinists. Plus in addition the SBC would get to influence one of the largest mega churches in the country that is not Southern Baptist. According to Outreach Magazine MBC is the 35th largest mega church in the United States, and its location in the Washington, D.C. area makes it even more enticing.
The Trappings of Celebrity Christianity and McLean Bible’s Continued Decline
MBC is going to learn the challenges and problems with celebrity Christianity. In the process they are also losing their identity and revealing how shallow many evangelical Christians are about doctrine. You trade all that when you go for a celebrity pastor that you can boast about in name. People will be able to identify with such a celebrity leader. There is another way to say this and forgive me for putting it in these words, MBC is about to enter a pissing contest about which church can do more and have more name recognition in the process. Because with David Platt its going to be about the brand especially with the darling reputation Platt has with the Neo-Calvinists. Celebrity Christianity in my view is a zero sum gain, and the equivalent of junk food in that in the end it lacks substance and depth. Remember all those times Lon Solomon spoke about doctrine and warned about the “emergent church” and other threats? MBC in this theological shift is showing that conservative evangelicals are flexible when it comes to doctrine. Under David Platt the focus is going to shift in a hard core Neo-Calvinist direction. Its going to become more of a show as things continue. As this process continues with David Platt this is what I believe is going to start to occur at MBC.
- Because many people at MBC don’t know the difference between grace and the doctrines of grace, when they start to realize what is happening there are going to be many people who will leave. Some are discovering this now as my blog statistics have been strong over the past few months in regards to this issue. A large number of spiritual refugees from MBC will be created. People will ask, “what happened?”
- More legalistic membership covenants will be on the horizon. Those in the pews will face a dark choice.
- I predict that in the next 2 to 5 years MBC will become a part of Mark Dever’s 9 Marks network. For years Mark Dever and Capitol Hill Baptist Church (CHBC) allegedly criticized and ridiculed MBC. People who left CHBC took refuge at MBC. Will some of those CHBC refugees face more problems and have to leave again?
- The problems of CHBC will start to duplicate itself. Remember when Matt Chandler’s The Village Church attempted to place a woman who annulled her marriage to a child pornography addict under church discipline. You can read about that in “The Explicit Gospel” at Matt Chandler’s “The Village” Includes Child Pornography, Church Discipline and Membership Covenants.” Expect to see and hear about questionable and abusive church discipline at MBC.
- Blogs will pop up on the internet from former MBC members dealing with and writing about the problems and issues at MBC. Blogs will be named “McLean Bible Survivors” or “McLean Bible Refuge.” People will learn problems and the dark side of MBC that they did not know. Its what happens when a church is theologically hijacked.
- You will have more Neo-Calvinist celebrity pastors dropping in to speak or support David Platt and MBC.
- Since David Platt supports Mark Dever and preaches at T4G members of MBC will be offered discounts to work at the event. That is what CHBC does with its members from what I have heard.
- As MBC under David Platt moves closer to Mark Dever people will be told that C.J. Mahaney is a humble and great guy. C.J. is just C.J.! In a church that once looked at Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) as a cult, people will begin reading and using his material. When this happens Christians in the Washington, D.C. area should get on their knees and weep.
In 2 to 5 years people will not recognize MBC as it will become something vary dark. MBC will continue in its decline and down the rabbit hole things will continue. That is what happens in these situations. That is what happened at Covenant Life Church and SGM when it shifted its theology. CHBC also had a shift when Mark Dever came on board. There are other churches who have gone through all this who can be studied and learned from. If during this time any current or former MBC members want to tell their story or write up what happened I will be more than happy to let people explain what happened. This blog exists for those who want to tell their story. That’s it for the day guys, know that you are loved.