David Platt: An Interview About Secret Church

February 28, 2011
Post Quarantine Church
Cover Expressions
How to lead a virtual bible study

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?  

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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.

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8 Comments

  • Sandra Murphy says on

    Pastors should see not feel threatened by SC but see it as a tool to deepen the understanding of the their congregation as to the on-going persecution of the saints across the globe. Also any opportunity to go deeper into God’s word should be embraced and viewed in a positive way. Traditional worship on the Lord’s day cannot be enough to reach a lost and dying world. God uses people when they are willing to move out of their comfort zone. Perhaps SC can be a tool through which that can happen.

  • DINA GUAJRDO says on

    Gloria a Dios por esta clase de libros,realmente alimentan nuestro espiritu y nos instan a tomar ejemplo, esperamos que el libro sea tambien traducido al Español y me gustaria implementar este programa en Salinas Victoria,, un pequeño pueblo al norte de Monterrey capital del Estado de Nuevo Leon, México.
    Dios me llamo a este pueblo hace casi 27 años a servir y compartir de su amor,, estendiendo este ministerio por otros estados de la Republica Mexicana.. pueden visitar nuestra pag. web
    http://www.jahdiel.org , estamos haciendo la traduccion al Inglés,, si alguien quiere venir como voluntario contactenos , nos sera de mucha bendicion,,, en la escuela que tenemos como ministerio ,necesitamos maestros del idioma Ingles,, actualmente hay una joven de Alemania,,, Bendiciones con amor Dina

  • John, I believe the point is that S.C. is for those who want to do more than simply go to a one off revival event.
    Churches today a seemingly trying to shorten their services, cutting down the sermon so that people are not inconvenienced. It seems a struggle to get people to come to church and so we try to make it more enjoyable.
    I see S.C. as an attempt by a pastor to bring back peoples’ love for the word of God. You are right, some people will see this as a novel event and go along accordingly, but these are simply not who it is aimed at.
    The successes of this event will be those who go because they hunger for Gods word and desire to grow in knowledge. people who want to learn, to understand and finally to go to the world, publicly and audibly (not silently) serving God by proclaiming the good news to the lost.
    As for the simulcast. I live in New Zealand, it is a blessing that God has given us a way to hear preaching and teaching from people all around the world via the internet.
    You say:
    “This Secret Church program has great potential to further develop disciples who will perpetually need something extra-ordinary in their life to motivate them.” I pray not, rather I see this as an opportunity for people to rediscover their love and passion for God, by deep study. I have spent happy evenings sitting with friends, listening to a recording of a S.C. and discussing the points made, my soul delights to do so!

  • John A. Hartley says on

    With all due respect, this is not good news. This Secret Church program has great potential to further develop disciples who will perpetually need something extra-ordinary in their life to motivate them. Also, does this not burden the pastor to come up with something new and dramatic after this wears off? Does this not teach the saints that regular Lord’s Day worship is the low life and Secret Church is the high life? What would be truly radical would be to silence ourselves and serve God without anyone noticing, without simulcasts.

    • I can see the danger you are speaking of John. I am planning on attending a simulcast this Friday but I had already been thinking about those things. I think we can learn how to bring God’s word into our every day lives. Each day we can intensely study God’s word and come together in our own families or close friends to share and pray intensely for those things God places on our hearts. Also, why can’t a weekly prayer meeting be spent praying rather than talking about praying and listening to a devotional. God can work just as powerfully in one hour of focused prayer weekly as 6 hours a few times a year. I believe It will be good for my husband and I to attend. My heart is so burdened for what is going on around the world and I will be praying how we can make changes daily in our relationship with God and how we show Him to others in our service to them.

    • Bob Moore says on

      Couldn’t you make this argument about any special Bible study event? Should we not do anything extraordinary because we fear it might relegate Sunday worship to runner-up status? With all due respect, this perspective sounds a little silly to me. If you want a minimalist agenda for your church, that’s fine, but calling SC “bad news” is nonsense.

  • I admire the sentiment. With so much happening at present with natural disasters and political uprisings I think it’s time for a new perspective on faith and God.

  • Michael Holenbrook says on

    My church is signed up for the Secret Church simulcast. I can’t wait to participate in it. Also, Radical Together can’t get here quickly enough!