McLean Bible Church slashes budget as thousands of conservatives flee to nearby churches.
McLean Bible Church is one of the most influential churches in the United States. It sits in what can only be described as one of America’s Elite areas. Many of its members come from the top ranks of government, media, and business.
Despite its elite membership, McLean has long been a conservative theological church populated by politically conservative evangelicals.
The church teachings were theologically conservative under its previous leadership, the legendary Lon Solomon. Solomon pastored the church from 1980 until becoming pastor emeritus in September 2017. It was then that David Platt was named Teaching Pastor.
Things began to change. The church leadership was forced to embrace the Woke Social Justice rhetoric.
While the church building was locked down and most of its ministries ceased amid Covid-19 fears, David Platt turned a blind eye to his staff marching in a Black Lives Matter (BLM) event in Washington, DC. It took repeated requests from a few conservative Elders to take down Facebook photos of staff holding BLM signs.
The church was rocked by controversy in 2019 when President Donald Trump stopped by the service for prayer. Platt mishandled the aftermath of the prayer. Instead of defending President Trump’s visit, Platt seemed to apologize for publicly praying with Donald Trump.
One of the church’s pastors expressed outrage over it. Michael Kelsey rebuked people offended that some were upset at praying for the President of the United States. He ranted, “To those of you (esp. in our church) who have criticized him for acknowledging the hurt his decision caused, and who have even had the calloused audacity to malign those who are hurt, your brash insensitivity is the reason why so many minority and marginalized people struggle to be a part of ‘Evangelical’ churches. If you *really* care about ‘gospel unity’, ‘racial reconciliation’, and ‘the least of these’, do better.”
Kelsey is now Pastor of Culture at McLean.
David Platt’s Woke teaching causes attendance collapse, budget cuts
Attendance is also suffering under the Platt regime with many longtime church leaders and members leaving, according to numerous letters and e-mails received complaining about the Woke teaching at McLean Bible Church.
Platt’s silent embrace of the radical Black Lives Matter movement and the promotion of Kelsey along with Social Justice Bible studies including Platt’s own book legitimizing Christians who vote for Pro-Abortion Democrats, conservatives are leaving the church for new homes.
That comes with attendance issues and budget cuts.
Attendance is down about 40-percent year-over-year. So, in May 2020 just before Platt’s hard social justice push, McLean Bible Church reported attendance averaged 12,154. In May 2021 following the Social Justice push and Platt’s book on politics, McLean Bible Church reported average attendance of about 7,300. A drop of 39%.
Because of the mass exodus McLean cut spending. The church approved a 2021 budget slashing $2.5 million from what it budgeted in 2020. That follows the 2020 budget being about $1.5 million below the 2019 budget, according to a member of McLean Bible Church. Thus, McLean is spending about $4 million less in 2021 than in 2019.
While the church is slashing spending on a variety of things including missions, discipleship, outreach, and church plants, one area of increased spending in 2021 is in the Senior Management salaries. According to the McLean Bible Church budget for 2021, $291,719 more is slated for Senior Management—making that line item in the budget total $1,121,967.
Are the budget cuts and declining attendance a message that Platt’s Social Justice Theology is unpopular with churchgoers?
Some say it is now a running joke that McLean refugees are showing up in other area churches looking for the truth and the Gospel instead of racial identity politics.
David Platt’s Social Justice Crusade
It is no secret that David Platt promotes Social Justice causes. His emphasis on incorrect definitions of justice caused widespread criticism among McLean members. The flashpoint in the last year included a special course on Social Justice called The Gospel, The Church, Justice and Race.
Yet, even before this course, some noticed David Platt’s trajectory away from the Bible and into the Woke error. Dr. Voddie Baucham specifically highlighted David Platt’s 2018 sermon at the T4G Conference as Woke.
According to Dr. Baucham in his book Fault Lines, “David Platt, then head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board, delivered a message from Amos 5, then repented in tears for his white privilege, silence, and inaction. Those inclined toward CSJ found it inspiring. But to others, Platt’s message represented a fault line. It was an exercise in eisegesis” (p. 121).
Even before Dr. Baucham’s book, other Christians were critiquing the David Platt’s Social Justice sermon. Dr. James White dissected David Platt’s errors in a podcast examining that T4G sermon. The podcast is two hours on the use of Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality at the MLK50 Conference and the T4G Conference sermon by David Platt.
Platt’s teaching in his McLean Bible Church Course The Gospel, The Church, Justice and Race (GCJR) highlights a Hegelian-inspired dialectical synthesis between Christianity and Woke Social Justice. Platt taught the course to about 1,000 church members. The course lasted about 15 hours of direct discipleship teaching.
Attendance began to decrease significantly after the first class as attendees realized the Woke content.
In the course, Platt fuses Christian teachings with the worldview assumptions of Critical Race Theory. Specifically, Platt’s course reveals his assumption that disparity is proof of racist systems.
According to course documents provided to the Capstone Report, “Injustice like we see in Scripture is evident in and around us today.” However, Platt’s course provides no proof of this assertion but launches into the typical CRT-inspired list of supposed American wrongs including things like “discrimination, persecution, prejudicial creation and execution of laws, crises of excessive crime and incarceration, corruption in leaders, suppression of the marginalized, and oppression of the poor.”
Platt asserts in the course that the Bible teaches both individual and corporate responsibility and that present systems are discriminatory.
“The Bible speaks of individual responsibility and personal motivation and the Bible speaks to unjust systems and discrimination. Brothers and sisters, I think we see all over Scripture that the Bible speaks of both sides of this picture,” Platt said. “We see throughout Scripture that individuals affect structures and structures affect individuals, so we emphasize both personal and corporate responsibility in matters of justice.”
And, “We do grieve over the existence and effects of racism, and to the extent that we are part of a larger group of people guilty of racism, we appropriately confess corporate sins of racism and take appropriate steps of repentance, much as we do when the Holy Spirit convicts us of any corporate sin. We are zealous in the present not to prolong or replicate in any way racial injustice from the past. We recognize the need to examine each of our hearts humbly and continually with the help of the Holy Spirit and the encouragement of brothers and sisters who enable us to see sin in us and sin’s effects around us in ways that we might not see ourselves.”
Notice the racial Gnosticism contained within this paragraph. Platt’s teaching explains that some people (no doubt an oppressed racial group) can better see sin than those people “part of a larger group of people guilty of racism.”
David Platt asked the remaining Elders to approve the GCJR course curriculum as the main theological underpinning of all other teaching and worship activities at McLean Bible Church. The GCJR will be the focus going forward and all staff will be required to fall inline.
One former McLean Bible Church member pointed out that Platt’s preaching is mostly informed by sociological approaches to race through works that Platt read and promoted like Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America. In fact, this book was required reading for Platt’s course.
Past and Present Leaders Abandon David Platt & McLean Bible Church
Lon Solomon the legendary pastor of McLean Bible Church has not set foot in McLean for a worship service since becoming pastor emeritus. (He recently preached one funeral in the building.) That speaks volumes about the problems in the McLean leadership team and specifically David Platt.
Some may wonder what Lon Solomon thinks about the heretical social justice teachings. However, Solomon cannot state his opinions publicly because of a separation agreement he signed with the church. Solomon would forfeit his retirement package if he spoke out about the problems.
Lon Solomon made one statement in opposition to the Social Justice heresy. Solomon signed the Dallas Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel. This fact was pointed out to the current McLean Elders in a document that warned against the syncretism currently shaping Platt’s approach to social justice.
No current McLean elders signed the document.
However, that is not the only vote of no confidence in David Platt’s Social Justice Gospel. Many former elders have left McLean Bible Church since David Platt’s takeover of the church.
According to former members and staff, these former elders have left MBC for what reasons, no one will say: Jim Battle, Mark Gotlieb, Craig Proulx, Jimmy Mitchell, John Baber, and Lon Solomon.
When longtime leaders and perhaps thousands of members are abandoning the church, what is the lesson David Platt draws? Is it to be humble?
No. Of course, not. Platt doubles down on his Woke Social Justice agenda.
In fact, in a sermon around the time of the November 2020 Presidential Election, Platt dared conservatives to leave the church over his welcoming of those supporting pro-abortion candidates, i.e.: Democrats.
Attendance at the church was steady for most of the early period of the COVID pandemic; however, following the racism class and David Platt’s book on the voting, attendance began a precipitous decline.
One former Mclean member said, “He (Platt) gave a sermon that essentially said, ‘If you can’t unite with us find a new church.’ So, people did.”