Platt asks trustees to begin search for successor

RICHMOND, Virginia—International Mission Board President David Platt has asked the mission agency’s trustees to begin searching for his successor. Platt announced his decision to IMB field personnel and staff on Monday, Feb. 12, in person and via email to those not in Richmond.

While requesting that the search for the IMB’s next president begin immediately, Platt will continue as president at IMB until a new president is elected. A presidential search committee will be comprised of IMB trustees selected by trustee chairman Dr. Rick Dunbar, a member of First Baptist Church Madison, Mississippi.

Platt told trustees, missionaries and staff that during his nearly four-year tenure at the IMB, he has been “burdened to continue preaching and leading in the local church,” which led to assuming a teaching pastor role at McLean Bible Church in Northern Virginia, alongside his leadership of the IMB.

“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,” he said. “This passion is what drove me to become IMB president, and I have sought to honor Him and you in this role over the last four years.”

During the November 2016 IMB trustee meeting, IMB President David Platt reports about Southern Baptists’ sustaining gifts through the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering to send and support missionaries around the world. (IMB Photo by Roy Burroughs)

Founded in prayer

Platt said his decision to begin the process seeking a successor for his current role is founded in concentrated prayer and fasting alongside counsel from various leaders across the Southern Baptist Convention over recent months.

“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 said. “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.”

Senior IMB leaders, including Platt, have stated their commitment to the continuity of IMB’s work during the search. Platt said they will continue to implement the initiatives that leaders in Richmond and around the world have put in place aimed toward fulfilling the agency’s mission as the IMB. During Platt’s tenure, IMB has achieved a stable, healthy financial position; clarified its mission; and recalibrated internal systems and structures around that mission.

Clear vision for future

“We have set the stage for a limitless mission force that is focused on the missionary task with urgent motivation and strong biblical, theological, ecclesiological, and missiological foundations,” Platt said. “We have sought to create collaborative processes in the IMB such that what we do doesn’t revolve around one leader, but around all of us working together. Consequently, our vision for the future remains the same: we will continue partnering with churches to empower limitless missionary teams who are evangelizing, discipling, planting and multiplying healthy churches, and training leaders among unreached peoples and places for the glory of God.”

Specifically, Platt encouraged Southern Baptists’ 3,500-plus missionaries around the world to remain steadfast in their devotion to the missionary task in the place and the role where God has placed each of them, noting they “know better than anyone else: the nations need the gospel.” He implored the missionaries to not let this news distract them from getting the gospel to those who have never heard it.

After preaching at Cristolândia — a Brazilian Baptist ministry that reaches out to drug addicts in São Paulo with a daily meal, a shower, clean clothes and the gospel of Jesus Christ — IMB President David Platt prays for those who have responded to an invitation to follow Jesus Christ. (IMB Photo)

Trustees offer support

“I am thankful that David will continue to lead until a new president is elected,” Dunbar said. “He wants to continue IMB’s momentum and progress in reaching this lost world and making us a more effective organization to do that.”

Platt was named IMB president in August 2014, succeeding longtime Oklahoma pastor Tom Elliff, who served as president for three years. Trustees will begin their search for the 13th president of the 173-year-old entity following their next board of trustees meeting.

“We are sad, but also feel confident in the future as we move forward,” Dunbar said. “We trust that David’s gifts of preaching, teaching and writing will continue to bless the work of the IMB for many years to come, and we look forward to a long-term relationship.”

The next IMB board of trustees meeting is Feb. 28-March 1 near Richmond, Va. The meeting will include a Sending Celebration recognizing the appointment of new Southern Baptist missionaries.


A Letter from David Platt

Note: David Platt sent this letter to IMB trustees, field personnel, and staff on Monday, Feb. 12, 2018.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Language is insufficient to express all that is on my heart and mind as I write these words, but I want to let you know that I have asked trustees to begin a search for a new president of the IMB. The paragraphs below are my best attempt to explain why and what that means.

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. This passion is what drove me to become IMB president, and I have sought to honor Him and you in this role over the last four years. Along the way, as I have shared with you, I have been burdened to continue preaching and leading in the local church amidst the lack of biblical literacy and missional urgency in the church and culture around me. That is why I began volunteering as Teaching Pastor in a church alongside my leadership in the IMB.

However, through concentrated prayer and fasting alongside counsel from various leaders across the SBC over recent months, 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. 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.

This is why I have asked trustees to begin a search for a new president. To be clear, I am not resigning now, but I will resign upon the election of a new president. Until that new president is found, I am committed to serving you faithfully in my current role. Trustee leaders have communicated a desire for me to serve with the IMB in the future in some capacity, and I am certainly willing to do so if the Lord so leads. 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. In short, I want to do anything I can to see missions succeed across and beyond the IMB and the SBC for the glory of God.

So what does this mean for now? While this search begins for a new president, trustee leaders have asked me to continue implementing the initiatives that our leaders here and around the world have put in place aimed toward fulfilling our mission as the IMB. In other words, we will keep moving forward together in all the ways we are currently moving forward. By God’s grace over recent years, we have come to a stable, healthy financial position, we have clarified our mission, and we have recalibrated our internal systems and structures around that mission. We have set the stage for a limitless mission force that is focused on the missionary task with urgent motivation and strong biblical, theological, ecclesiological, and missiological foundations. We have sought to create collaborative processes in the IMB such that what we do doesn’t revolve around one leader, but around all of us working together. Consequently, our vision for the future remains the same: we will continue partnering with churches to empower limitless missionary teams who are evangelizing, discipling, planting and multiplying healthy churches, and training leaders among unreached peoples and places for the glory of God. Specifically, I want to encourage you to remain steadfast in your devotion to the missionary task wherever God has placed you. You know better than anyone else: the nations need the gospel. Please, please, please don’t let this distract you from getting the gospel to them.

As I spent time with the Lord this morning, I was reminded that my life, along with yours, is His to spend for His glory however, wherever, and whenever He wants. I know that you are serving where you are because you believe this same truth. So this morning my prayer for your life and mine was the same—that one day, Lord willing, we will kneel before His throne together with every tribe, tongue, and nation, and He will say to each of us, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Yours in Christ,

David


These Questions and Answers are also found on IMB.org/FAQ.

Q: Why did David Platt ask trustees to search for a successor for him?

A: Through concentrated prayer and fasting alongside counsel from various leaders across the SBC over the course of the last couple of months, David Platt came to the realization that it is not viable long-term for him to lead as president of the IMB while serving as Teaching Pastor in a church. David strongly desires to mobilize and shepherd people in global missions while preaching and leading in the local church. Therefore, he concluded that if he is going to serve in this way in the local church, then he needs to serve in different ways for the cause of global missions.

Q: When did David Platt make this decision?

A: David Platt has been in constant communication with trustee leadership and senior leaders over recent weeks. He finalized his decision in a call with trustees and then an announcement to IMB personnel on February 12, 2018.

Q: Did David Platt resign as IMB President?

A: No. David Platt asked IMB trustees to begin searching for his successor as IMB President. Platt has no timeline for his departure, but he asked that the search begin immediately.

Q: How long will David remain at the IMB?

A: David will remain as President of the IMB until his successor is elected.

Q: Will David Platt’s announcement impede operations at the mission agency?

A: No. Under David Platt’s leadership, IMB will continue implementing the initiatives that leaders here and around the world have put in place aimed toward fulfilling the entity’s mission.

Q: Do other IMB senior leaders plan to remain at the entity?

A: Yes. While continually seeking to follow God’s leadership, other IMB senior leaders remain committed to and excited about the IMB’s work.

Q: What is the process for seeking a new IMB President?

A: The IMB trustee chairman will name a Presidential Search Committee comprised of selected trustees. This committee will determine the characteristics they seek in the next IMB President, and through a process of seeking recommendations and prayerfully interviewing potential candidates, will nominate a new leader for this critical role. The full board of trustees will then vote on that nominee.

Q: How long does the search process take to find a new IMB President?

A: The board of trustees presidential search committee, appointed by trustee chairman Rick Dunbar, will determine their process for seeking David Platt’s successor. For the past three presidential searches, the process took between six and 18 months.

Q: Who is on the presidential search committee?

A: The IMB presidential search committee is comprised of IMB trustees selected by trustee chairman Rick Dunbar. The committee will be named at the Feb. 28-March 1 board of trustees meeting.

Q: How can I recommend someone to be considered as a candidate for the IMB presidency?

A: The search committee will be receiving names for consideration at trustees@imb.org.

 


Julie McGowan is public relations manager for the IMB.