David Platt is very uncomfortable when someone refers to him as the rising star in the evangelical world. Indeed he is very uncomfortable when any focus is on him. Nevertheless, I must acknowledge, to the chagrin of David I’m sure, that he has indeed become one of the most quoted and noted figures in evangelicalism. His New York Times bestseller, Radical, has increased his visibility. His next book, Radical Together, will be released in April. I just read a preview copy and I think it’s even a better book. God is indeed doing a great work in David Platt. In my interview with him, I asked him about the phenomenon called Secret Church.
Thom Rainer: How did Secret Church get started?
David Platt: Secret Church began at Brook Hills based on time I had spent with our brothers and sisters in underground Asian house churches. In those contexts, they gather together at the risk of their lives for 8-12 hours at a time simply to pray, worship, and study the Word. It’s simple, raw, dangerous, and satisfying…all at the same time. So when I came to Brook Hills, some of our leaders sat around one day saying, “Why don’t we do the same thing?” So we decided to try it. We set up a Friday evening where we would gather from 6:00 p.m. until midnight for two main purposes: to worship through intensive study of the Word, and to identify with our persecuted brothers and sisters by praying intentionally for them. Just a simple six hours of straight teaching and prayer. The first night we did it, we had about 1000 people, and after that it began to grow. We now have “Secret Church” a couple of times a year, and soon we had to start taking reservations because our auditorium at Brook Hills was packed full (tickets, which simply cover the cost of a study guide for the night, sell out every time now in a couple of minutes). That’s one of the many reasons we are so grateful for this partnership with Lifeway on the simulcast/webcast. Anyway, one of my favorite sights as a pastor is to look out across a room packed with people at 12:30 a.m. (we never finish right at midnight!) with their Bibles open just soaking in the Word of God.
Thom Rainer: To what do you attribute the massive interest in Secret Church?
David Platt: People are hungry for the Word. There’s really nothing special or creative about it. It’s just the study of the Word and then prayer for our persecuted brothers and sisters. The Word itself does the work!
Thom Rainer: How do you go about choosing a theme for Secret Church?
David Platt: One of our goals in Secret Church from the beginning has been to study not just for our own sake, but for the sake of the nations. I want to pastor a church filled with people who are equipped to make disciples in all nations, and so the purpose of Secret Church is to equip people in ways that they will then be trained to go into other contexts of the world to teach the Word. I also want to serve our brothers and sisters around the world who don’t have access to a lot of biblical/theological training. So we are in a process of taking all the teaching from Secret Church and translating into the top six languages in the world. That way, we can go into underground locations in other countries with hours worth of biblical/theological training we can give them mp3 players or notebooks with a plethora of biblical/theological training in their own language. So the goal is not just what happens each night at Secret Church in this context. The goal is the equipping of the church to make disciples in contexts around the world.
Thom Rainer: What do you hope will happen in the lives of people who attend a Secret Church event?
David Platt: The more we taste God’s Word, the more we desire God, and the more we want to multiply God’s Word to the ends of the earth. So my prayer is that whether someone is at Brook Hills, in a simulcast at another church building, or doing a webcast with a small group in a home, each person who attends Secret Church will see the wonder of God’s Word and be compelled to give their lives making it known around the world – particularly in places where it is most costly to follow Christ.