It had all the makings of a viral YouTube video—only YouTube hadn't been invented yet. And David Platt is sure glad it hadn't been. Here's the scene: a preteen Platt takes the stage at a youth group service to deliver his first sermon. He walks on stage carrying a Bible and a water bottle. Before saying a word, he fills his mouth with water and spews it all over the front row. "If you're lukewarm," he squeaks, "that's what God thinks of you!" Platt chuckles as he recalls his debut. "What a horrible start to preaching," he says. "There's no way I should have been given an opportunity to preach a sermon at that age, but I was. Guess I had a prophetic, or pathetic, edge from the beginning."
The prophetic part stuck. At 27 Platt became the pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama, making him the youngest megachurch pastor in American history. A few years later he wrote Radical, a jeremiad against the American Dream, which hit The New York Times Bestseller List. Now in his mid-thirties, Platt is more committed than ever to reaching unbelievers and challenging complacent Christians. Drew Dyck and Marshall Shelley talked to Platt about his calling, his passion for disciple-making, and why he still feels he has "no clue" what he's doing.
Tell us about your calling. Was it always to be a pastor?
Preaching, evangelism, and mission have always been driving passions for me. The way that's played out is something I never could have planned. I went to seminary but never intended on pursuing a Ph.D. I had a passion to teach the Word and wanted to know how to do it more effectively. After I finished the Ph.D., I was asked to teach at New Orleans seminary.
I saw it as an opportunity to pour myself every semester into 50 or 100 students, people who would go around the world in ministry. And it would enable me to go overseas during fall break, spring break, Christmas break, ...