My Reasons for Endorsing David Platt as IMB Presidentcomments (2)
September 2, 2014
By Jay Wolf
It has been a high and holy privilege to serve on the presidential selection team for the International Mission Board (IMB). We started this unsolicited yet remarkable journey Feb. 26, 2014, in Austin, Texas. The Lord welded our diverse search team of 15 together under the exceptional leadership of David Uth. Our only agenda was to find the most effective leader for the most important enterprise on earth, which is sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with all perishing people.
After our committee created a solid foundation of prayer and a biblically based profile for our new leader, we solicited almost 2,000 opinion surveys and received more than 100 nominations for the presidency. Our Holy Spirit-guided process of thorough investigation of the candidates’ abilities coupled with thoughtful projections of our future opportunities led us to eventually focus on David Platt. If you would have been part of the process of the interviews and receiving the same promptings of God’s Spirit, I am confident that you would be joining me in affirming that David is God’s anointed leader for the IMB.
David is a Bible-driven, Spirit-led, totally devoted follower of King Jesus. He is a “once in a generation” servant-leader. He has become the face and voice of missions mobilization in America. David is a transformational leader who possesses the capacity to reinvigorate our dangerously declining IMB, Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and funding systems.
Let me frame the reality of our current status: the number of IMB missionaries has dropped in the last 7 years from 5,620 to 4,860 and our current financial resources will only support 4,200. Additionally the SBC membership has declined for the last 6 years. We baptized 314,000 people last year, which equals a 60-year low. Fifteen percent of our SBC churches are actively dying and 70 percent are plateaued. If we remain on these trajectories our Kingdom impact will evaporate and be replaced with irrelevance.
Our primary concerns linked to David were Calvinism and a lack of Cooperative Program (CP) support that merit our attention and explanation.
1. David is not a Calvinist — he is a Jesus man.
After an aggregate of nine hours of interviews, I am completely confident that David has a thoroughly biblical theology, worldview and missiology that is very similar to mine and most Baptists. However, his amazing ability to correlate and articulate biblical truth places him in a singular category. He has memorized a massive amount of God’s Word. David is extremely intelligent and possesses a near photographic memory. Yet he is truly humble in attitude, actions and lifestyle. He is simply an authentic Jesus man.
David resolutely affirmed he will not lead the IMB to be a Calvinistic organization. David completely supports the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message.
He acknowledges that God is sovereign yet man is responsible. David’s primary message is simple: Driven by God’s love and humanity’s lostness we are compelled to take the gospel to all perishing people.
Treasured Kingdom partners, we must remember that our enemy is Satan and lostness, not our brothers and sisters in Christ. Unnecessary theological division will only distract us from doing the Great Commission assignment together. We agree on the basics of the gospel, which contains Christ’s clear mandate to take the saving message of Jesus to all perishing people.
2. David’s CP support.
A. In 2014, The Church at Brook Hills, Birmingham, will give $1.3 million to Southern Baptist missions causes, which amounts to 13.8 percent of their budget. Their other missions expenditures elevates their total missions giving amount to an impressive $3.3 million.
B. Through the specific channel of the CP, Brook Hills gave $25,000. When our committee talked with David about this low amount for their CP giving, he sincerely acknowledged that he made a mistake in not supporting the CP at a better level and plans to correct it. Furthermore he acknowledged that he was a product of the CP and should have been more circumspect in supporting it. He pledged to become a passionate advocate of the CP.
C. David encouraged us greatly by sharing that he had come to a place of understanding that “our institutions are vital to sustaining movements.” Consequently he affirmed the value of our entities.
Infusion of energy
D. Russell D. Moore, president of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, provided the powerful insight that David as the IMB president could bring a new infusion of energy and enthusiasm for the CP as he stands with other SBC leaders and freshly articulates to a disengaged younger generation the need to be mobilized for doing the Great Commission and fuel these Kingdom causes by supporting our cooperative giving mechanisms.
I am convinced that God will not only use David to mobilize the younger generations but he will bring a desperately needed renaissance to the IMB, SBC and our financial support systems.
And lastly our support for David was powerfully amplified by Tom Elliff, outgoing IMB president, and Clyde Meador, IMB executive vice president, giving tearful affirmation that they are 100 percent convinced that God’s leader for the IMB is David Platt.
After immense and intense investigation and intercession, the Lord has led me to fully support David Platt as the next president of the IMB. I would urge you to use your influence to rally our SBC teammates around our singular new leader and “finish the task” as we urgently take the gospel to all perishing people.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Jay Wolf is pastor of First Baptist Church, Montgomery, and is a trustee of the International Mission Board (IMB). He served on the 15-member IMB search committee that nominated David Platt for president.