It’s been right at 15 years now since David Platt became a newsmaker — possibly more than he ever intended. After all, the consistent thread throughout his ministry has been a radical devotion to sharing the gospel.
But with his unique approach has come a good bit of controversy, including pushback on his “give it all up and go” concept for living out the Great Commission, downsizing Southern Baptists’ missionary force when the International Mission Board faced financial strains, concern over leading others in the sinner’s prayer without proper discipleship and, most recently, accusations of leading his church away from a theologically conservative foundation.
Announced as the new pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama, in June 2006, Platt quickly shifted from dean of chapel and assistant professor of expository preaching and apologetics at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary to someone to watch in Baptist life.
And with that fame came a fiercely divided response to his various stands, sermons and situations. Some have followed his messages, books, Secret Church presentations and ministry roles religiously, while others monitor his words and actions with caution, sometimes with harsh public challenges.
A quick search of his name on tabonline.org will showcase 184 results; several are focused on some type of controversy. But most demonstrate his commitment to Christ and the local church.
Platt, who served as president of the IMB (2015–2017) has served three churches since being called to the ministry. Prior to Brook Hills, he served as staff evangelist at Edgewater Church, New Orleans. He went to the IMB as president from Brook Hills and then to his current position in 2017 as pastor of McLean Bible Church in Vienna, Virginia.
It is unclear whether McLean Bible Church is part of the Southern Baptist Convention or an independent congregation. Some reports indicate it is, while others indicate it isn’t.
And while he enjoyed a few years outside the headlines, he’s now back because of a public dispute with a group of church members who claim concerns with his and other leaders’ decisions.
The latest controversy revolves around who was eligible to participate in a June 30 vote on elders and has resulted in a lawsuit.
Five McLean members filed a complaint July 15 alleging Platt and other leaders illegally barred them from voting at a recent congregational meeting to approve new church leaders, according to a report by Religion News Service. The plaintiffs also claim a follow-up election at the church violated the church’s constitution.
In response, Platt claims the church is trying to fight off a hostile takeover and that Satan is trying to divide the church, according to RNS.