Six members of David Platt’s megachurch, McLean Bible Church (MBC) outside Washington, D.C., recently filed a new lawsuit over what they say are the church’s improper ties to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).
It’s the second lawsuit MBC has faced over allegations the church violated its own constitution. The first lawsuit sought to overturn MBC’s 2021 elder elections and came amid unrest at the church.
Dissenting members claimed MBC leaders had embraced critical race theory and social justice instead of the Bible. Church leadership denied teaching anything besides what the Bible does.
That first suit was dismissed in June after the church agreed to a redo of its election of elders, The Roys Report (TRR) previously reported. But its plaintiffs have since appealed.
Now, a different set of plaintiffs allege the church has affiliated with the SBC and the Southern Baptist Churches of Virginia (SBCV), and has funded both, in violation of MBC’s constitutional ban on affiliating with any denomination.
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Neither the SBC nor SBCV lists MBC in their church directories. MBC did not immediately respond when TRR sought comment, but it previously denied ever being part of the SBC.
Yet the plaintiffs state in the lawsuit that the church gave at least $375,000 to SBCV from 2017-2020 without congregational approval. They also state the church gave millions of dollars to subsidize New City Network, an SBC church-planting effort. The church also donated additional, unknown sums to other SBC entities, the plaintiffs allege.
MBC elders agreed to a partnership with SBC ministries in 2016 before longtime pastor Lon Solomon became pastor emeritus. The agreement stipulated that MBC would remain a nondenominational church, an elder update on MBC’s website indicates.
Platt, a bestselling author and former head of the SBC’s International Mission Board (IMB), became MBC’s lead pastor in 2017, while he was IMB president. He left his IMB role in 2018. Platt now chairs Radical, a discipleship and missions organization he founded, in addition to leading the church.
MBC’s elders voted to end the church’s partnership with SBC entities in 2021 over growing “confusion and concern” about MBC’s relationship with the SBC, the elder chairman wrote in a letter to the SBC.
The plaintiffs claim in the lawsuit that Southern Baptist representatives told them MBC was part of the SBC at the national, state, and local levels—contrary to the church’s statements.
So plaintiffs asked repeatedly in MBC member meetings whether the church is part of the SBC, but never got a straight answer, they state in the suit.
Several also asked for copies of the church’s audited financials and other records but did not receive them, the lawsuit states.
Instead, those members received “Matthew 18 Restoration” letters asking them to meet with church representatives to “restore” their relationship with the church, according to the lawsuit.
The suit states those letters had a “chilling effect” on members seeking information.
Members who did go to “Matthew 18 Restoration” meetings risked “excommunication” from MBC, the lawsuit claims. And the plaintiffs allege those members still didn’t get answers, either.
In addition, the church censured two of the plaintiffs after they called for Platt’s removal, according to the lawsuit. The suit further states those members showed up at a member forum last November, after they were censured, and were charged with criminal trespassing. Case records show prosecutors dropped the charges.
Since March 2021, MBC has kept the plaintiffs from reviewing the financial records, meeting minutes, and other documents they asked for, they state in the lawsuit. In that time, the church also “effectively eradicated all avenues for members to advocate their views or even ask questions,” the lawsuit alleges.
The plaintiffs want the court to declare MBC in violation of its constitution and order the church to turn over its financials and congregational meeting minutes, the lawsuit shows.
MBC did not immediately return messages left requesting comment. In a statement to ChurchLeaders.com, MBC leaders claimed the plaintiffs were trying to “overturn the church’s continued and overwhelming affirmation to move forward under new leadership.”
The statement also noted that prior complaints had been dismissed, ChurchLeaders reported.
MBC leaders are “grieved that our brothers and sisters are still choosing to file lawsuits rather than meet with us,” the statement reportedly continued. “Our prayer is that we are soon nearing a day where this kind of thing is behind us for good.”
Sarah Einselen is an award-winning writer and editor based in Texas.
4 thoughts on “David Platt’s Church Sued Again, This Time Over SBC Ties”
In addition to the Biblical injunction against Christians taking other Christians to court, if you’re not happy with the way your church is being run, find another church.
On finding another church, the issue with that is, to whom does a church belong? To the leadership? Is church a consumer good, or a club? Or is it a fellowship, a body of believers whom are all equally members of the same body? Churches are supposed to be kept pure by ousting members who are in unrepentant sin, not by clamping down on those who call attention to the sin, nor expecting the whistleblowers to just leave.
It is my view that the People that are suing concerning the Church’s denomination status, should themselves either leave or be voted out by the Membership! I can tell this Congregation from first hand experience as to what happens to a Church where People have no regards to the clear teaching of the Scripture as it relates to taking God’s Church before the Courts: it will have long-term effects, and don’t be surprised if the Church dwindle in attendance, as People expect the Christian Church to behave better. David Platt and the Board of Elders had better get their act together before the enemy begin to cause irreparable damage to the Church’s reputation, but more significantly, the reputation of the Lord Jesus!
What a dumpster fire. A church can’t answer a simple question of about what organizations the church is a member of or produce basic accounting. Get out of there and find a community with a baseline of responsibility. I usually hear “it’s a God thing” AKA stop asking questions.
And the whole scripture reference to not taking fellow Christians to court. it always seems to be defendants making that reference…right after they stonewall of basic accountability.
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