David Platt’s Troubling View of Church Membership

David Platt wrote an article at his website about why we date the church. He starts out by discussing dating and then marrying his wife. I believe this article is flawed as people do not date in high school for the planned purpose of marriage. From my perspective its a flawed analogy. This article also looks at the other issues and reminds people that one of the reasons why you never enter into a membership covenant at McLean Bible is because you will be subject to church discipline. In contrast people like David Platt will not as they are above church discipline. 

“Christianity means a lot more than church membership.”

Billy Sunday 

“I hope not in works. I hope not in ethics. I hope not in baptisms or church membership. I hope in Christ alone.”

Paul Washer

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.

Psalm 37:4 NLT

McLean Bible was theologically hijacked from 2015 until 2017. This blog has been writing about the issues at McLean for the past two years. The problems continue with a membership drive, and a push to membership covenants. Keep in mind that behind the scenes of McLean Bible Dale Sutherland allegedly worked with Mark Dever of Capitol Hill Baptist to flip a church behind Lon Solomon’s back. Lon didn’t realize what was happening until it was too late. When a church is flipped one of the items that is pushed is membership. For Neo-Calvinists membership is an idol and something that many worship, that is why many Neo-Calvinists embrace membership covenants.  This membership push has been ongoing. McLean Bible at Tysons and the individual locations are doing a push for Biblical membership which will likely contain covenants. I did an analysis of Eric Saunders sermon from McLean Bible Arlington and explained why his message was to be rejected. You can read that in, “Eric Saunders Recent Message on Biblical Membership to McLean Bible Arlington Must be Rejected. Today’s Wondering Eagle Explains Why.” Then at David Platt’s website there is another post about membership that I found quite disturbing. The post is called, “Why We Date the Church.” I am going to do analysis and commentary on David Platt’s article. The comments I am going to do are below in red. Before you proceed forward and as you read this article I want you to ask yourself the following question. Who thinks of marriage when they are 15 or 16 in high school? Also ask yourself is David Platt using a flawed analogy? 

I was a junior in high school and had little success on the relationship front. Truth be told, I had no success on the relationship front, not until this one girl came to church camp. Word spread around camp that she thought I was cute, and I thought, “Wow . . . a girl thinks I’m cute!” I started talking to her and eventually got up enough nerve to ask her to go out with me and some friends. She said yes, and we started dating, mostly in settings where we would hang around with our friends. Everything was going well until one phone conversation.

I decided I was tired of having to talk on the phone every night, so I told her that God, my family, and my schoolwork were more important to me than her. She was not thrilled at my priorities, and our dating experience came to an abrupt end. I was fine with the relationship ending, that is, until she started dating a close friend of mine, at which point I wondered what in the world I was thinking. I blew it. That moment of realization began the process of getting to know this girl all over again, becoming best friends with her, and eventually marrying her.

It is often said that Christians approach church attendance like dating relationships. In our contemporary church culture, we hop from one church to the next based on how we feel on that particular Sunday morning. We attend one church one week and a different church the next. Being a Christian is what matters most; we are part of the global church, after all. Why would we need to commit our lives to one local church? What’s the point of becoming a member—to vote in business meetings? That certainly doesn’t seem worth it, so we end up dating a church (or multiple churches) for years, never really making a commitment.

There are a lot of reasons why we date the church. At least six are worth noting.

Its my belief that this entire article by David Platt is built on a crucial and critical flaw. Its built on a flawed analogy. Church membership should not be likened to marriage. And why should marriage be a focus on someone so young? People date in high school for a number of reasons. Some do it to get to know other people. Some have the privilege of being in athletics and date to their advantage. And others are trying out the entire scene as its a stage of life where people are trying to figure themselves out. But at that stage of life people date for the experience of high school. There is nothing wrong with that concept. Its a part of life, and it shouldn’t be mocked or critiqued. 

1. We date the church because we are independent people who live in a very individualistic culture. We are self-made, self-reliant, and self-sufficient. The thought of mutual commitment, submission, accountability, and interdependence in a church seems foreign and frightening to us. A lot of us are skeptical: if we have experienced hurt at a church in the past or been burned in some way, then we may be guarded. Many of us are skeptical of all institutions these days. We look around at the world and see scandals, corruption, and abuse, including inside the church, which makes the thought of commitment to an institution feel scary. In the end, we like our independence, so we keep our distance.

Knowing the dark story of what has happened at McLean Bible behind the scenes this segment by David Platt loses all credibility. He was part of an effort or campaign to flip a church. A lot of people were hurt. And much of the responsibility rests with Dale Sutherland and Mark Dever. You can’t burn people over and over and expect them to take you seriously. You can’t be a part of these scandals or help bring them about and expect people to just dismiss those concerns. What is scary in my opinion is that I don’t think David Platt understands this. David lives in a bubble….the celebrity Neo-Calvinist bubble. Best friends with Mark Dever, preaches at T4G, preaches at The Gospel Coalition events, and more. I wonder if David Platt knows how much a problem some of these scandals are in evangelicalism. Names like Sovereign Grace, Mars Hill, Acts 29, Harvest Bible Chapel and Willowcreek carry a lot of baggage. And they have helped tear down the church in many ways. These problems are ongoing and consistent. 

2. We date the church because we are indecisive.
We cannot decide which church we really like. We apply the consumer mentality to the church, shopping for the best package for the best price on Sunday morning. We like the music at one church but not the preaching. Or we like the preaching but not the programs for our kids. We are always looking for a better deal, which often leads to a critical attitude toward the church. We can find something wrong with every church we visit, and even when we begin to settle down in one place, we keep a mental list of the things we do not like.

The driving factor for me is stability and avoiding the Neo-Calvinist mess that has infected a large part of evangelicalism. Here’s a question for David Platt…what if I reject Neo-Calvinist doctrine because it makes the problem of evil worse? What if I reject a church for theological reasons? The music or preaching is not a make and break issue for me. The make and break can often be the theology. Is David Platt so in his bubble that he can’t realize that some people leave a church because they don’t theologically fit in? 

3. We date the church because we are immature in our faith.
Oddly enough, I have often heard people use their supposed maturity in the faith to explain why they date the church. They believe they can grow in Christ and accomplish more on their own. Some even admit, “I love Christ . . . I just can’t stand the church.” But the Bible calls the church the bride of Christ (Rev 19:7; Eph 5:23). Imagine walking up to a husband and saying, “I like you, but I can’t stand your wife.” He probably would not receive that well. The Bible also calls the church the “body of Christ” (1 Cor 12:27). What if a wife said to her husband, “Honey, you know I love you, but have I ever told you that I can’t stand your body?”

This section by David Platt I find to be quite arrogant. Is everyone who leaves a church spiritually immature? Was I immature when I left one church a while back because of prosperity theology? Sometimes walking away from a church shows that you have a healthy and deep concept of faith. You do so because you make a stand and reject the changes which you do not believe are good. And here is another question I would like to ask. This is directed at Dale Sutherland, Mark Dever and David Platt. If you loved the church and considered it the Bride of Christ…why cause so much turmoil and pain in the name of Neo-Calvinist doctrine? I would suggest in light of the problems created that you do not view the church as the Bride of Christ. If you cared, loved and adored the church why would Dale or Mark Dever be involved in purging 135 staff. Putting some people in a physical or mental health bind? Why would you do something that results in some people leaving who in reality miss their old church and don’t want to leave?  

4. We date the church because our view of the church is incomplete.
Sometimes the church is reduced to a place where you simply sit and listen to a sermon. We ignore the many other ways God has designed the church for our good, as well as the many ways we can be useful in serving others and in obeying the Great Commission. With such a truncated view, it’s little wonder that we feel compelled to invest our lives in a body of believers.

This is complicated as some people view church as a Sunday only event and others do not. I can see what you are stating here to be honest. 

5. We date the church because we are inundated.
Church gets choked out because our lives are tied up with all sorts of events, obligations, etc. Whether it’s our job or our kids’ travel sports teams, we feel pressure to get other things done. Committing time to the church just seems like too much for our already busy lives.

Daivd Platt has only been in the Washington, D.C. area for a brief time. Does David Platt know what its like to spend 1.5 hours on the way to work on the 495, 95 or 66? Does Dave realize because of the culture and lifestyle here that its hard to do basic and normal functions in life? Whenever I travel away from the Washington, D.C. area I am struck by what I see outside the area verses what I see here. I remember one time dealing with an hour to 1.15 minute commute just to do a Bible study. Does David Platt comprehend these issues. After all you do have to work and engage in other commitments. That can’t go by the wayside. 

6. We date the church because we are indifferent to the church.
Many have never really thought about why committing themselves to a local church is important. Churches have contributed to this indifference by treating church membership as insignificant. But it hasn’t always been this way. There have been times in church history where membership in the church was highly valued and extremely important.

So if churches are “indifferent” to church membership does that mean slavery is the answer? Is legalism the response? I honestly would like to know what it indifferent mean? How does David Platt define it? Is that anything that is not a 9 Marks like membership covenant. Is that indifferent? 

So what does it really mean to be a member of a local church? Is it something more than the ability to vote in a meeting? If so, many people are uninterested in that kind of commitment. The name of the game in the church today is to make it as easy as possible for people to follow Christ and be members. According to many church growth experts, the last thing the church should talk about is church membership, that is, unless it hopes to decrease in size. But this kind of thinking is out of step with God’s Word.

The Bible teaches that committing yourself to meaningful membership in a local church is critical to your life as a follower of Christ. Commitment to a church should be a high priority, a priority that shapes your other priorities. It should shape the way you think about work and sports and a million other things. Amidst busy lives and families, commitment to the church is designed by God to be a revolutionary reality.


At McLean Bible David Platt Will Never be Subjected to Church Discipline 

Here is the biggest problem with church membership at McLean Bible and its something that many people need to keep in mind. David Platt and McLean Bible are pushing this kind of membership with the intent to get covenants in place and then to be able to practice church discipline. One of these days McLean Bible will be on the 9 Marks church search, and when that happens I will write about it to warn people to stay away from McLean Bible. In time people will face church discipline and there will be problems. I know because people in these kinds of churches always run afoul of the system in some pretty bizarre ways. Look at what happened at Matt Chandler’s church in 2015 when they practiced church discipline on a female who annulled her marriage to a child pornography addict. You can read that story in, ““The Explicit Gospel” at Matt Chandler’s “The Village” Includes Child Pornography, Church Discipline and Membership Covenants.” When church discipline is practiced in its totalitarian form and manner, it will be brutal. And yet keep this in mind. Church discipline at McLean Bible will be for the people in the pews. That is what it is designed for. Neither David Platt or any other leader at McLean Bible will ever fall subject to church discipline. That is why membership in churches like McLean Bible is a lesson to be weary of. That is all I have to say but I wanted to write a response. Keep in mind this is some perspective. If you disagree and feel I am offbase feel free to write differently below. That’s it guys know that you are loved. 

One thought on “David Platt’s Troubling View of Church Membership

  1. Why does David Platt date church pastorate and end his IMB career early?
    1. likes his independence
    2. In decisive likes to pick and choose his sheeps
    3. Imature in his faith. “I do not like IMB.”
    4. View of serving the Lord/great commission is incomplete
    5. Inundated by budget and missionaries support requests
    6. Indifferent to great commission

    I agree that David Platt analogy is 100% valid and applicable to him. 😛

    These type of character assissination leaves a bad taste – assuming this is how people think and act. Just look at the first point, he was describing that hurt people don’t trust church and immediately jump to a “does not follow” opinion that “In the end, we like our independence, so we keep our distance.”
    What does that has to do with not trusting church! Nothing. *Sigh*


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