David Platt has recently become one of the best-known young preachers among evangelicals. Platt is senior pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala., and is former dean of the chapel at New Orleans Baptist Seminary, where he also taught preaching and apologetics. Preaching magazine Executive Editor Michael Duduit recently visited with David about his new book Radical. This is the first of five segments.

Preaching: You have recently written the book Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream, which is a powerful message to church leaders. What is behind that?

Platt: I came to Brook Hills as the pastor about four years ago, and God had been working on various part of my heart regarding some of the truths I’ve tried to express in the book. As I came to Brook Hills they really took on a whole new level, because I found myself in a church culture where a lot of the standards of success seemed a lot more worldly and American than biblical and Christian. We’d embraced some ideas and values that were common in our culture but ultimately antithetical to the gospel.

As we began as a faith family to walk through the gospel and consider its effects on the way we live—particularly in a suburban context in the southern part of the United States—we began to see a lot of our faith looked more American than biblical. In some ways, we were twisting Jesus to look like us instead of adjusting our lives to look more like Him. So that journey—during the past few years as pastor in this church—really has been the overflow of what God has been and still is teaching me and this faith family.

So the book grew out of some things we were walking through as a church; members who will come to the church a year or 10 years from now, will know some of the issues we had journeyed through as a church—to understand where we’re coming from and why we’re approaching church and Christianity the way we are. That’s where it started; from there it grew and developed.

Preaching: I suspect most pastors and most American churches would find that a lot of those characteristics you’re talking about in your church are common to most of our churches, where we’ve tended to be so acculturated that we’re not necessarily focusing on the biblical gospel so much as we are the American gospel.

Platt: That’s exactly it. I don’t want to cast a totally negative light on some of the things in church growth and other things that have brought us to where we are and the state of the church; but there’s really a church culture that has been built on entertaining and comforting ourselves, when the central message of Christianity is about abandoning ourselves.

We see it in some of the ways we do church, the way we structure church, the way we organize ourselves in church; the deeper issue is exactly that—it’s the gospel. Who is the Christ we believe in? What does He require, demand of our lives, by His grace and in His mercy? What does it really mean to follow after Him in a context where we are incredibly wealthy compared to the rest of the world, where we have so many resources, where we are tempted at every turn to trust in our own power, innovative skills and creativity as opposed to trusting in the power of God in a world where there’s more than a billion people who haven’t heard the gospel and don’t have access to the gospel? Our Christianity really does need to look radically different for the sake of sharing the gospel with the world.

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About The Author

Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

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