After listening to David
Platt preach it’s hard to think that a man so passionate, so clearly devoted to
following Jesus Christ, would ever say he experienced a crisis of belief.
This is a man who preached
through the book of Ruth and taught about God’s mercy, provision and
A man who teaches on going
into all the world and making disciples. Surely this pastor could not mean what
he said — a crisis of belief?
Platt not only meant it, he
changed his lifestyle in order to do something about it, and he changed life
for The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala., where he is pastor.
During an interview at the
February Convergence Conference in Charlotte, he explained more.
Convergence was a three-day
evangelism, prayer and training event sponsored by the Baptist State Convention
at Hickory Grove Baptist Church.
Platt’s crisis of belief
developed over time, as he realized he could no longer ignore the reality of
vast physical and spiritual need.
He could no longer ignore
the fact that children starve to death and people die from chicken pox and
Christians are martyred.
His heart became burdened
for the needs of others.
“If these needs are real,
and if I believe the gospel, then my life has to reflect a radical abandonment
to Christ,” he said.
Platt came to understand
that “to be serious about living the gospel out” he had to restructure his
values and priorities.
Platt and his wife sold
their house and moved into a smaller one. The goal is to “establish a cap on
our lifestyle to free up as much as possible to give away” and he is
challenging Brook Hills to do the same.
“We challenge families and
individuals in the church to look at the way they are spending their money.
Just because we have a certain salary doesn’t mean we have to live up to that
standard of living,” he said. The question becomes not what can families keep,
but what can they give away?
The church budget got a
serious makeover and staff started asking what could be cut so more could be
given away. Some events that once cost $1,200 now cost about $25.
Instead of spending money to
print posters advertising events, cardboard and magic markers now get the word
out around Brook Hills.
Eighty-three percent of the
worship ministry was cut as Brook Hills came to learn they really can do more
A plan to revise the budget
was in place in just a few weeks because the people were ready.
“They’ve seen it in the
Word,” Platt said.
Over the past few years
Brook Hills heard sermons on how Jesus called people to radical abandonment so
the changes seemed like the natural thing to do.
“The Word precipitated it,”
Budget changes now allow
Brook Hills to invest more in local and global ministries.
Locally, they work with
inner-city ministry in Birmingham, helping to plant a church and care for needs
such as food, housing, transportation and job training. Internationally, Brook
Hills is partnering with other organizations to help in India, where 41 percent
of the population is poor; where Platt said truly physical and spiritual needs
In India they are helping
train pastors, do Bible translation and feed the hungry.
Revamping the budget is not
the end for Brook Hills. In 2010, Brook Hills is taking on a one-year
commitment called “The Radical Experiment.”
The church is challenged to
pray for the entire world; read through the entire Word; commit their lives to
multiplying community; sacrifice money for a specific purpose; and give time in
“I want our people to see
the nations of the world day after day,” Platt said.
He hopes the church will use
mission trips as an opportunity to serve in a context different than their own.
Hearing about the needs
overseas is one thing, but “until you really see it and feel it and smell it,
you don’t get it,” Platt said.
“If we’re not careful, if
I’m not careful, we can start to think the world looks like Birmingham.”
Through this crisis of
belief and time of rethinking values and priorities, Platt is resolved more
than ever to “keep the Word in front of them. The Word is really the only thing
that’s going to create change.”