A Christianity Today article from the May issue described how Birmingham pastor David Platt inaugurated a 6-hour (!) special service based on his knowledge of Asian Christians’ dedication to studying the Bible:
At an average of 55 minutes, David Platt’s Sunday morning sermons at the Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama, are already far longer than those of most pastors. But to Platt, they seem awfully short. He has been struck in his travels by underground Asian house churches that study the Bible together, under the threat of persecution, for as long as 12 hours in one sitting. He has imported this practice into a biennial event that Brook Hills calls Secret Church. Starting at 6 p.m., Platt preaches for six hours on a single topic, such as a survey of the Old Testament. About 1,000 people, mostly college students and young singles, turned out for the first Secret Church. Since then, other Secret Church topics have included the Atonement and spiritual warfare. It is now so popular the church requires tickets.
“It’s one of my favorite sights as a pastor to look out at 12:30 a.m. and see a room full of 2,500 people, their Bibles open, soaking it in,” Platt says.
Platt’s description of the purpose of Scripture was really good, and the results of his engagement with Scripture have been interesting:
Disciples of Christ do not merely pursue Bible knowledge for its own sake, he says. It changes the way they live, but not by merely offering them tips for parenting or financial freedom. Rather, the Bible gets them in touch with the Holy Spirit, who conforms them to Christ’s image.One year ago, Platt endured a crisis of belief as he saw how, throughout the narrative of Scripture, God equates faith with care for the poor. Platt believes, preaches, loves, memorizes, and studies the Word. But he wasn’t sure if he had submitted his life to its teachings.
“We are ignoring the poor with the way we’re living in Birmingham,” Platt finally told his congregation. “If we believe the gospel, then our opulent living compared to the rest of the world does not make sense. We need to make major changes.”
The rebuke did not sit well with everyone. But Platt and his wife set an example by selling their house and living more simply. One wealthy church member called him crazy, but soon he too sold his house to invest in needs around the world. Biblical literacy is a precursor to biblical transformation.
I’m not saying that Platt’s path is the path for everyone. I just thought that it was worth passing on. Also, it’s interesting how an American pastor was impacted by the global church. You can see a review, critique, and author’s response regarding Platt’s recent book here.