(Updated Feb. 12, 1 p.m.)
David Platt announced today (Feb. 12) that he plans to resign from his position as president of the International Mission Board (IMB) and asked trustees to begin searching for his successor, according to a press release at IMB.org.
Platt said he is “burdened to continue preaching and leading in the local church. … I am more passionate today than I have ever been about getting the gospel to the nations, and I want to spend what little time I have left on this earth with urgency toward that end.”
Photo by Matt Miller
Platt, 39, stepped into the IMB’s lead role in 2014, following an eight-year tenure as pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala. He will continue with the IMB until a successor is elected by the trustee board. The board's presidential search committee will be named by chairman Rick Dunbar, member of First Baptist Church in Madison, Miss.
In late 2017, Platt took a volunteer position as teaching pastor at McLean Bible Church in metro Washington, D.C. He and IMB trustees agreed at that time to evaluate his involvement at McLean over the following months to ensure the dual roles were beneficial for both organizations and him personally.
“I have come to the realization that it is not viable long-term for me to lead as president of the IMB while serving as teaching pastor in a church,” Platt said. “This realization has been sobering, for I don’t believe I can choose between preaching and leading in the local church, and mobilizing and shepherding people in global missions. Therefore, I have come to the conclusion that if I am going to serve in this way in the local church, then I need to serve in different ways for the cause of global missions.
“I love this IMB family, and I want to encourage you continually with God’s Word, I want to mobilize limitless missionaries to join you, and I want to work with you overseas in any ways I can help you,” Platt continued. “In short, I want to do anything I can to see missions succeed across and beyond IMB and the SBC for the glory of God.”
The IMB was founded in 1845 as the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, and grew into the largest denominational missionary-sending body among American evangelicals. There are 3,506 IMB missionaries serving around the world, according to the IMB’s website.
In 2015 the IMB went through series of changes to counteract years of deficit spending that totaled more than $210 million dollars. A downsizing plan included incentives for voluntary resignations and retirements that reduced U.S. and field personnel by more than 1,000, helping the IMB achieve financial stability in 2017, and continue sending new missionaries across the globe.
The organization also adopted a strategy to open “limitless pathways” for sending long term missionaries at various funding levels, from volunteer to full time, in an effort to start church planting movements among unreached people groups.
Platt is the author of bestselling books, Radical and Follow Me. He and his wife Heather have four children: Caleb, Joshua, Mara Ruth and Isaiah.
Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS), said on social media that he is “grieved and saddened” by Platt’s announcement. Akin added, however, that he is “grateful our sovereign God is in control! Our trust ultimately is always in Him.”
Frank Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee, told Baptist Press, “I love David Platt and thank God for him. I wish the best for him and his precious family during this time of transition. I look forward to working alongside him in the future as well as the new president of the IMB.”
IMB trustees from North Carolina told the Biblical Recorder they applaud Platt’s leadership and asked Southern Baptists to pray for their international missions agency:
– Will Gatling, associate pastor at Bay Leaf Baptist Church in Raleigh, said, “David has been a real asset to Southern Baptists in his position as president of the IMB, and he has provided us with a renewed passion for reaching out to the lost people of this world.
“He has led us to use multiple pathways of engagement by the local church to reach out to the world, as well as using the skills and talents of the team members of the IMB. He has a wonderful team surrounding him that will continue to help lead in this transition.”
– Rob Peters, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, said, “I am thankful for Dr. David Platt’s leadership at the IMB. David is a man of integrity, vision and passion.
“As the trustees work with David to begin this transition process, I know [he] will continue to lead our IMB family to fulfill its mission. I ask Southern Baptists to pray for the IMB family, for the trustees as we begin this transition process and for David as he fulfills God’s calling on his life. I know we can trust in God’s sovereign plan as He leads.”
– Bobbi Ashford, IMB trustee and mother of SEBTS Provost Bruce Ashford, said, “David Platt’s wise and prayerful leadership has brought us safely through some challenging years, and I am grateful that he will remain in his role as IMB President at this time. May Southern Baptists to be devoted to prayer as a search committee is formed to begin the process of searching for David’s future replacement.”