N.C., SBC leaders speak out
    September 9 2014 by Michael McEwen, BR Content Editor

    The Aug. 27 election of David Platt as president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board (IMB) brought praise and calls for prayer from Southern Baptists. He succeeds Tom Elliff who served as IMB president since March 2011. 
    “I do not know a more godly man or missions-driven pastor,” said Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) president, Danny Akin. “I believe he will mobilize us like never before to take the gospel to the nations. I am more excited to be a Southern Baptist than at any time in my lifetime.”
    Platt will be leaving his position as pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala.
    The 169-year-old largest and oldest missionary-sending entity boasts more than 4,800 international missionaries worldwide. Notable leaders like Paige Patterson have confessed that Platt was not their first choice. Patterson, now president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, said, “All critics beginning with me must bury our reservations and get on our knees in behalf of this talented young man who now assumes this role.”


    IMB photo by Chris Carter
    Newly appointed missionaries gather around IMB President David Platt and his wife Heather to pray for the them as they step into their new role at IMB.


    Since his presidency was made public, some have highlighted Platt’s youth and lack of qualifications in international missions. In response, Platt said he has much to learn, and he looks “forward to listening in the days ahead to missionaries on the field, listening to pastors and getting a picture of how we can best mobilize churches here for missions.”
    “[David’s] appointment to this position is so encouraging to me on numerous levels,” said Tony Merida, pastor of Imago Dei in Raleigh and associate professor of preaching at SEBTS, who has known Platt for more than 15 years. “Here’s a theologically brilliant man. Here’s a man of integrity. Here’s a faithful husband and father. Here’s a man who understands the centrality of the local church. Here’s a man who will mobilize thousands of younger men and women. … These are exciting days.”
    Since his election, Platt has emphasized the importance of missions-minded cooperation amongst Southern Baptist churches. The goal, he said, is seeing disciples made and churches multiplied across the globe “It’s not cooperation for the sake of cooperation; the goal is seeing more people reached with the gospel,” he said.
    Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, and others like him hope Platt’s election will revitalize a younger generation of Christians who may entertain an unhealthy skepticism toward larger institutions and programs like the IMB and the Cooperative Program (CP).
    In a recent interview, Platt said the fundamental paradigm IMB operates from is a “bottom-up perspective.” He said, “The temptation is to view a denominational entity as the agent for mission: ‘We [IMB] send missionaries, and we do strategy, and we support missionaries. So churches, we need you to send us people and money, and we’ll carry out mission for you’ – as opposed to flipping that and saying it’s actually the local church that is the agent that God has promised to use for accomplishing the Great Commission.”
    Search committee chairman and pastor of First Baptist Church of Orlando, Fla., David Uth, told Baptist Press: “When we realized his sense of call, whether that meant serving as IMB president or going himself ... we realized how passionate, how deeply committed and called he was to the nations.”
    Ethan Moore, guest-contributing writer to SBC Voices, noted in a blog on the site that an important action by the IMB board was lost in the hype of Platt’s election.
    This action is an “announcement … to alter funding patterns for short-term field personnel,” he wrote. The funding is a new pilot program that may “represent a tremendous philosophical shift for the organization.”
    The pilot includes the two-to-three year plans like the International Service Corps, the Masters and the Journeyman programs. It will begin with candidates in March 2015. This will permit IMB to send greater numbers of short-term missionaries while “forging deeper partnerships with churches,” said IMB leaders before the entity’s trustees.
    According to an IMB press release, the pilot is founded on the 1977 Southern Baptist Convention’s Mission Service Corps model, where “more than 50 percent of short-term missionaries’ financial support will continue to be provided by Southern Baptists through the Cooperative Program and Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. The remainder, set at $15,000 per person per year for the pilot, will be raised by the missionaries themselves.”
    Moore said that well-known “policies forbid missionaries from requesting funds for personal support. Field workers usually ask churches to continue their support through the CP and the [Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions], though the IMB does accept special gifts to for specific types of work and specific missionaries.”
    Jay Wolf, administration committee chair of IMB and pastor of First Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala., said, “The objective is simple: we want to put more people on the field. We want to attack lostness, and right now we don’t have the financial resources to do that. So we need to be creative and do more with less.”
    Executive-director treasurer of the Baptist State Convention, Milton Hollifield believes Platt will bring fresh eyes to the IMB while focusing its energies to assist churches in fulfilling their divinely appointed mission. He said, “As IMB president, David will bring the focus of the board in line with the mission of the board. This alignment will serve Southern Baptists well, but most of all will greatly enhance our efforts to make disciples of all nations.
    “I ask every North Carolina Baptist to join me in praying for David Platt and all of our IMB missionaries.”

    Related Stories:

    Platt: Bible convey's mission strategy, paradigm
    Cooperation central to Platt's vision at IMB

    9/9/2014 10:45:34 AM by Michael McEwen, BR Content Editor | with 0 comments
    Filed under: David Platt, IMB, N.C. leaders

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