David Platt is not just a three-time New York Times Bestseller, he is also the former president of the International Mission Board, who currently pastors the influential McClain Bible Church outside of Washington DC. In Platt's new book Don't Hold Back, he doesn’t hold back in making it clear that as believers, we have been called to live out the truth of Jesus, even when it’s controversial to those around us.
Controversy is nothing new to Platt. He recently endured a lawsuit brought against him by a group of former church members regarding his leadership style and the handling of issues related to culture and race.
In Platt’s new book, he explores issues that he describes as being out of the overflow of his heart.
Platt says “Every book I've written is the overflow of conviction in my own heart, going all the way back to ‘Radical.’ The last few years, Pastoring in Metro Washington DC and experiencing the joys and challenges of trying to shepherd a church with a hundred plus nations represented, in this city, amidst political tensions, amidst racial tensions and trying to promote the supremacy of Jesus above it all, and shepherd the church to be the bride we're created to be. This book is just the overflow of those joys and challenges in my own life, conviction in my own life, things I'm learning along the way that God is sanctifying me, and at the same time encouraging me through his word. I talk with so many Christians who over recent years have been disillusioned by the church, or discouraged or divided in the church and, people just looking around saying, I thought there was more to the church than this. I thought there was more to Jesus than this, I really wanted to write a book, to say, to shout, there is, there's so much more to the church and so much more to Jesus. We can experience it.”
Platt wants people to speak about experiences and express issues related to race with those outside of their circles. Platt, who is a graduate of a Southern Baptist institution, New Orleans Theological Seminary, points out in his book that he too hasn't always experienced what God wanted him to experience growing up in the institutions he attended, and even with his time of pastoring in Birmingham while leading the International Mission Board. Platt came to his own personal conclusion that he needed to hold nothing back in his own life when it comes to letting God deal with the same issues and blind spots that he is challenging his readers to deal with and experience.
“When I am addressing an ungodly contentment with racial division in the church, I am addressing and confessing ungodliness in my life.”
Platt is on a mission and ventures to be a part of turning the tide in pointing people to understand the heart and mission of Jesus, who, according to Platt, also held nothing back when it came to key social issues such as race.
“…in our country, the realities of racial division in the church we want to turn the tide on. Surely, we're not content with that. I wanted to share some of my own personal journey of how being in, leading and being apart of a multiethnic church with a lot of different brothers and sisters from different backgrounds and different perspectives, and leading alongside people from a variety of different backgrounds and perspectives has been so eye-opening and so helpful for me. It's time for the church to lean into these issues with our bibles open, and to see the beauty of the Gospel come to bear on a church that for centuries has been divided according to the color of our skin. It's way past time for us to turn the tide on that history.”
Platt not only believes that it's time to turn the tide, but that Jesus has given us all we need as Christ followers to turn the tide if we will just tap into what He has equipped us with.
“We are more equipped than any other people in our culture to think about these issues. With our bibles open, we have the spirit of God inside of us. I think one of the challenges is that we don’t have discernment between primary (and secondary) issues … and so as a result, it makes these conversations a lot harder.”
Platt believes that we have to lean into issues that divide us in order to achieve a better understanding of one another. He points to a group within his church that meets together regularly, who are opposites of one another on many issues, as an example that it can be done.
“We're going to have different thoughts on issues, but we can have conversations about it with our Bibles open, with listening ears, along with understanding as the body of Christ. I think about a group in our church that just went through a multi-week journey where they were diving into all these different kinds of issues together, and people sharing passionate disagreements with each other, with tears, born out of a lot of personal experience and even hurt. But they were listening to each other. They were encouraging each other. They're helping each other understand different perspectives. And they're walking away, loving each other, caring for each other, arms around each other. This is the beauty of what we can do as the body of Christ. The problem is, over recent years, we've shown our muscles aren’t strong and need to be strengthened by the spirit of God.”
Platt is hoping that people will not only lean into his new book for guidance and encouragement, but also lean into understanding that God has so much more for us, if we will put in the work of leaning into issues that may make us uncomfortable.
“I think we have such an opportunity to show a different way in the world that the spirit of God leads us to do, and the love of God leads us to do. I don't want to hold back from that. I don't want to be like the world and just isolate ourselves from each other. I'm a work in progress. We all are. I would say that my goal in this book was to hit the prominent issues that I've walked through. And we as a church have walked through, and that I see around us that we need to address.”
For Platt, the book is a compilation of what he has experienced along with the overflow that has seemed to come from those experiences and why he has decided to hold nothing back.
Photo credit: ©David Platt Facebook