Thinking Out Loud

April 27, 2015

Security Threat Forces Partial Cancellation of David Platt’s Secret Church Event

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:40 am

Friday night’s Secret Church was truly held in secret

Pastor and author David Platt

Pastor and author David Platt

The live, national simulcast went out as planned from an undisclosed location, but people arriving at David Platt’s Birmingham, Alabama church with tickets to be in the live audience for Friday’s Secret Church event found themselves out of luck as security concerns forced the cancellation of that aspect of the event and the evacuation of The Church at Brook Hills.

Fox 6 WBRC reported:

…Brook Hills communications director Chris Kinsley said around 10 a.m. Friday, a threat came in to their sister organization Radical, a parachurch ministry started by Platt which provides Christian resources, including Secret Church.

Kinsley said they evacuated the entire facility, including their early learning center and preschool. Parents were contacted to come and pick up their children early.

The church contacted Birmingham police, who did a sweep of the facility and didn’t find anything. Kinsley didn’t know the details about the threat, but described it as a security threat.

Birmingham police are still investigating the threat.

The Secret Church events are modeled after something Platt experienced when traveling through Asia. People come together in unannounced locations to cram as much Bible and theological teaching as possible into a long, overnight session.  The hours-long lecture often has a broad, pan-thematic subject, such as “The New Testament;” more than one would cover in a single sermon, or even several sermons.

Platt brought the format to his own church and remarked in the book Radical what it was like to look out and see a packed auditorium with thousands of people quietly taking notes… at 12:30 AM. (Read a review of the book here.)

As the book gained popularity and the live events continued to attract more and more people, the church arranged for other churches in other cities to sign up for a live satellite simulcast, technically not unlike the LifeWay events with Beth Moore. Existing recordings of past events have now been translated into twelve languages.

Platt describes his events on the Secret Church website:

When we think of “church” in America, we think of going to meet at a building, singing, praying and hearing a message from a pastor or teacher. But in many places around the world, “church” meets in a home, an apartment, and sometimes even in secret. Many times there are just a few believers who know and follow Christ. These small groups of Christ-followers often meet for many hours in study, prayer, and fellowship. Sometimes they face great difficulties to meet together. In some places it may even be dangerous to gather as a church to worship, pray, and study the Word. So when they come together, they want to make the most of their time together.

Secret Church is our “house church” where we meet periodically for an intense time of Bible study—lasting 6+ hours…

Where the simulcast originated from, and the security issue’s impact on dates for the next Secret Church event were not available as of late Sunday night, nor did we know if police traced the source of the treat. Many people had traveled a great distance to be in the live audience. Watch for updates.

In addition to his role as author and Brook Hills pastor, Platt is also currently the president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board.

June 22, 2010

Radical: It Truly Is

On April 30th I responded here to the sample chapter of David Platt’s Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From The American Dream, all the while not expecting to be given a copy of the complete book.   On Friday that changed.   I started reading around 3:00 PM Sunday and by 11:00 Monday morning had finished all 216 pages.

Radical truly is.

In the meantime, I thought I had included another mention of David Platt in the link list, but I see instead I e-mailed it to several pastor friends:

At an average of 55 minutes, David Platt’s Sunday morning sermons at the Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama, are already far longer than those of most pastors. But to Platt, they seem awfully short. He has been struck in his travels by underground Asian house churches that study the Bible together, under the threat of persecution, for as long as 12 hours in one sitting.

He has imported this practice into a biennial event that Brook Hills calls Secret Church. Starting at 6 p.m., Platt preaches for six hours on a single topic, such as a survey of the Old Testament. About 1,000 people, mostly college students and young singles, turned out for the first Secret Church. Since then, other Secret Church topics have included the Atonement and spiritual warfare. It is now so popular the church requires tickets.

“It’s one of my favorite sights as a pastor to look out at 12:30 a.m. and see a room full of 2,500 people, their Bibles open, soaking it in,” Platt says.

Platt believes churches have lowered the bar for biblical and theological literacy by treating it as something for professionals. Equating serious biblical engagement with seminaries rather than the local church has impoverished both institutions, he says. So Brook Hills has launched its own training center for lay leaders and is preparing a one-year training program for church planters, with separate tracks for full-time pastors and bi-vocational ministers. Platt recognizes that smaller churches lack the human and financial resources to offer these programs, but he thinks the principles transfer to churches with only 50 members.

continue reading at Christianity Today

Radical is a book about the state of the American church.    But while it comes close, it isn’t too American to miss out on a larger audience.   Radical is a book about missions.   But it is engaging enough to eclipse the negative stereotypes which cause books of that genre to escape our interest.   Platt keeps it pertinent by including examples of people in his church who have allowed their lives to intersect with the lives of people in the much broader world.  Examples of people not too different from people like us.

Mostly, Radical is about you and me and all that we could be doing that we’re not doing.   He ends with a one-year challenge called “The Radical Experiment.”   Not content to simply write a book review, I decided to check out the sermon where he introduced the experiment in his home church, The Church at Brook Hills, in Birmingham, Alabama.

Platt has a quiet, gentle preaching style and a laid-back southern accent that belies the degree of challenge he is presenting to his hearers. The website Baptist 21 says, “He is a phenomenal preacher of God’s Word, we would probably label him as one of the best and certainly one of the young up and coming preachers in the Southern Baptist Convention. God is blessing his ministry as Brook Hills is growing and sees weekly attendance of over 4,000 people.”

Reading the book however, it is very clear that Platt is not entirely comfortable being the pastor of a ‘megachurch’ of 4,000 people and all its attendant accoutrements.  His frequent and intensive visits overseas mean that he is somewhat of a ‘fish out of water’ in the affluence of his home church.  I am sure there are Sundays where his heart is in another place.   Consequently, he is a liaison between the affluent North American Church, and the persecuted church overseas.

…Every few months, a book is released with a message and significance “for such a time as this.”   Books like this capture the spiritual imagination and present us with new possibilities.   Radical is that book for the summer of 2010.

I want to end this with an endorsement the book received from Russell D. Moore, whose blog is often linked here:

“Sometimes people will commend a book by saying, ‘You won’t want to put it down.’ I can’t say that about this book. You’ll want to put it down, many times. If you’re like me, as you read David Platt’s Radical, you’ll find yourself uncomfortably targeted by the Holy Spirit. You’ll see just how acclimated you are to the American dream. But you’ll find here another Way, one you know to be true, because you’ve heard it before in the words of the Lord Jesus, perhaps most forcefully in the simple call ‘Follow me.’

Read this book. Put it away for a time, if you need to, while your conscience is invaded by the Spirit driving you to repentance. And then pick it up again. After you’re done reading, I think you’ll know better how to pick up your cross and follow Christ for the advancement of the kingdom and the destruction of false dreams.”

A copy of Radical was provided by Augsburg-Fortress Canada, the Canadian distributor for Waterbrook/Multnomah. (Thanks, Norm!) The related booklet, The Radical Question is available for giveaway purposes in packages of ten.

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