Today, I’m excited to welcome pastor David Platt back to the blog to discuss his upcoming “Secret Church” simulcast. David is the pastor at The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, AL, and he is the author of Radical and Radical Together.
Trevin Wax: David, the upcoming simulcast was originally about the last days. Why did you change the topic?
David Platt: We had originally planned to cover “Heaven, Hell, and the End of the World” at this Secret Church. But then, due to a variety of factors in our church, our culture, and in my own life, I decided that we would switch to “Family, Marriage, Sex, and the Gospel.” Daniel Heimbach, who wrote a wonderful book on sexual morality and the gospel, has said:
“The stakes in the current conflict over sex are more critical, more central, and more essential than in any controversy the church has ever known. This is a momentous statement, but I make it soberly, without exaggeration. Conflict over sex these days is not just challenging tradition, orthodoxy, and respect for authority in areas such as ordination, marriage, and gender roles. And it does not just affect critically important doctrines like the sanctity of human life, the authority and trustworthiness of scripture, the Trinity, and the incarnation of Christ. Rather, war over sex among Christians is now raging over absolutely essential matters of faith without which no one can truly be a Christian in the first place—matters such as sin, salvation, the gospel, and the identify of God himself.”
I agree with Heimbach. So we are going to dive into some of the most sensitive, and I am convinced the most important, issues that we are facing not just in our culture but in other cultures around the world.
- Same-sex marriage
I want us to look at how God’s Word uniquely and redemptively addresses each of these issues. I want us to see how the gospel transforms our understanding of family, marriage, sex, and a host of related (and controversial) issues that are ultimately foundational for the display of the glory of God in our lives, in the church, and in the world.
Trevin Wax: How is the Secret Church simulcast making an impact on “the secret church” around the world?
David Platt: On a very basic level, I hope the Secret Church simulcast is exposing more people to the importance of prayer for our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world. I just heard today from a brother in a persecuted context who was so encouraged to see the church here intentionally praying for and focusing on our suffering brothers and sisters in other nations. And I’m encouraged to hear that biblical resources from Secret Church are getting into the hands of churches that otherwise would not have access to such resources.
In addition, I think one of the most exciting things about extending the impact of Secret Church through a simulcast is the opportunity to worship, pray, and study the Word in a global context. During our previous simulcast, people were sending in pictures of groups studying all over the world. At one point during that night, we put up a picture of a small group meeting in Cambodia. The fact that all of us in Birmingham, AL, were able to join with brothers and sisters there was wonderful.
Trevin Wax: How do you deal with the discomfort of talking about issues that are so fraught with social taboo and political controversy?
David Platt: It’s never easy to talk about issues like sex, abortion, divorce, and homosexuality because so many people have been affected in so many ways by these issues. There are different situations represented in almost every single seat, including emotional, many times painful, struggles from the past or maybe in the present. When you add this dynamic to the reality that these are political hot-button issues, I realize that addressing them requires sensitivity.
But at the same time, the Word is clear on so many of these issues, and the Word is good. Where the Bible speaks clearly, I want to speak clearly. Where the Bible speaks with compassion and tenderness, I want to speak with compassion and tenderness. And where the Bible speaks with force, I want to speak with force. And as we prepare to gather together and study His Word on that Friday night, I am praying that God, by the power of His Spirit, will take His Word and apply it appropriately to our hearts and that we will respond appropriately with our lives.
Trevin Wax: Did you expect the Secret Church idea to spread beyond Birmingham? Are you surprised by the hunger for this method of studying the Word?
David Platt: We really weren’t sure what the response would be for the first Secret Church. We kept it very simple and didn’t do a whole lot to promote it. We made a few announcements to our church and put some information on the web. That first Friday evening from 6:00 p.m. – midnight, we gathered in our auditorium and just studied the Word. We had a little over 1,000 people in attendance, and we had no idea how much it would grow from there. People were drawn to the simplicity and gravity of the Word and to time in concentrated prayer for the persecuted church. After that first gathering, word started to spread, and we quickly outgrew our seating capacity. During the last Secret Church simulcast, we had about 50,000 people gathered literally from around the world.
Trevin Wax: What responses from the previous simulcast have encouraged you?
David Platt: There are stories like Cindy and her husband who attended Secret Church for the first time via the simulcast and afterward started two Bible studies in their home, reteaching Secret Church materials. Or the church in Mexico where 10 men who attended that night decided to meet every Wednesday morning to go back through the material we covered that night, studying it in a deeper way in order to be able to reteach it. That’s what we want to see happen.
We want participants to come away with an insatiable hunger for God’s Word, and we want people, when they leave, to be equipped to share what they’ve learned with others. The primary goal of Secret Church is to equip brothers and sisters – here and around the world – to spread the gospel to the ends of the earth, no matter what it costs.
Trevin Wax: Thanks, David. It’s great to see your heart for the persecuted church around the world and your heart for discipleship in churches here in the United States.
For more information on the upcoming Secret Church simulcast – Family, Marriage, Sex, and the Gospel (November 4, 2011, 6:00 p.m. – Midnight) - click here.