Editor’s Note: Scott Harris, missions minister at Brentwood Baptist Church, Brentwood, served on the search committee of the International Mission Board that called David Platt as president. Here is his perspective on the new IMB leader.
By Baptist and Reflector
“Our ultimate goal in the process was to find the right leader for the ultimate responsibility of the Church; bringing the gospel to all nations.
“Shortly after our committee was formed in February, we knew that we needed feedback from the field, the Richmond home office, SBC pastors, and denominational leaders. We received 2,000 opinion surveys and over 100 nominations.
“We bathed the process in prayer and prioritized the qualities and values needed in a leader of the IMB in an ever-changing world and declining denominational landscape. The stark reality is that the SBC and our mission efforts are struggling; the baptism rate for last year — 314,000 — is at a 60 year low. Our missionary force has been drawn down in the last seven years from 5,620 to 4,860 due to lack of funding. If things don’t change, this number could go down to 4,200.
“We were impressed by the Spirit that we needed a humble servant-leader who would engage the next generation. Otherwise, the IMB and the SBC face a bleak future of irrelevance.
“A fellow search team member, Jay Wolf of Alabama, has summed it up well: (David Platt 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, SBC, and funding systems.)
“Many people have fairly brought up the issues of Calvinism and Cooperative Program giving:
“David fully supports the the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message. He has affirmed that he will not lead the IMB to be a Calvinist organization. After nine hours of interviews, we were confident that David is thoroughly grounded in Scripture. He is comfortable with the divine mystery that ‘God is sovereign and man is responsible.’ His capacity to memorize and apply Scripture is outstanding; he is humble in his approach and lifestyle. David’s theological positions are ones that are in the mainstream of Baptist life and theology.
“In 2014, the Church at Brook Hills will give $25,000 to the Cooperative Program through the Alabama convention and another $175,000 directly to the Executive Committee in Nashville. In total, $1.3 million will be given to Southern Baptist mission causes which amounts to 13.8 percent of their budget. David acknowledged that he wishes he had led the Church at Brook Hills to give more to the Cooperative Program. He shared that he is a product of the CP and will become an advocate for it. We were heartened when he shared that he believes that our institutions are vital to sustaining movements. He affirms the value of our entities.
“Russell Moore of the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission provided the insight that David Platt as the IMB President could bring a new infusion of energy and enthusiasm for the Cooperative Program 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.
“Finally, our support for David was powerfully magnified by IMB leaders Tom Elliff and Clyde Meador who compellingly and tearfully affirmed that they are 100 percent convinced that God’s leader for the IMB is David Platt.”