New IMB President David Platt Ready to Handle Mission Challenges

Platt's first priority is a loving goodbye to The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala., the congregation of more than 4,500 that he has led for eight years. Then comes a time of meeting and listening to Southern Baptist missionaries at a major strategy gathering in Asia. After that, he anticipates "100 percent focus" on the task ahead. (IMB photo)
Platt’s first priority is a loving goodbye to The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala., the congregation of more than 4,500 that he has led for eight years. Then comes a time of meeting and listening to Southern Baptist missionaries at a major strategy gathering in Asia. After that, he anticipates “100 percent focus” on the task ahead. (IMB photo)

After a whirlwind week, what’s next for newly elected IMB President David Platt?

First, he will give a loving goodbye to the church he has led for eight years. That will be followed by a time of meeting and listening to Southern Baptist missionaries at a major strategy gathering in Asia. After that, he anticipates “100 percent focus” on the task ahead.

“My head’s still kind of spinning,” admitted Platt, 36, in a wide-ranging interview the morning after his Aug. 27 election by IMB trustees to succeed Tom Elliff as leader of Southern Baptists’ global mission enterprise. “It’s good, though.”

One of his favorite moments came minutes after his election, when news of the event started spreading around the venue near Richmond, Va., where the trustee meeting was held. An excited group of new missionaries — all 20-somethings — surrounded Platt in a lobby area to congratulate him and express their support. Several said God had led them toward international missions while they read Platt’s bestselling book, “Radical,” or heard him speak about taking the Gospel to the darkest places on earth.

“I think they were encouraged to see there’s somebody else who’s a bit younger who sees the value [of what they’re doing with their lives],” said Platt, the youngest leader in the history of the 169-year-old mission organization.

“It’s encouraging that some of the folks I was talking to yesterday said that things I had written or my preaching ministry had an influence on them coming to that point. Any gifts that God has given me, any gifts in preaching or writing or teaching, I just want that to fuel and mobilize more people who see their lives in the context of global mission.”

Platt asked for prayer as he returns to his congregation, The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala., for several weeks. He hopes to “love and lead and leave The Church at Brook Hills well,” he said. “This is a people that I’ve had the joy of shepherding for the last eight years on mission.”

After that he heads for Asia, where he will attend an already-scheduled meeting of IMB missionaries and leaders studying the most effective models for reaching the lost.

“That’s when my focus will really shift 100 percent to all that lies ahead at the IMB,” Platt said. “I know I’ve got a lot to learn. I look 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. I want to ask that people pray for discernment as I’m listening. I need wisdom from God to see what He sees as He looks at the IMB now and the potential for what the IMB can become.”

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SOURCE: Baptist Press
Erich Bridges

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