David Platt’s Megachurch Names New Elders Despite Controversy

By Sarah Einselen
David Platt
David Platt has served as lead pastor of McLean Bible Church in McLean, Va. since 2017. (Photo: MBC)

McLean Bible Church, the multisite megachurch in McLean, Virginia near Washington, D.C. where David Platt pastors, confirmed three new elders Sunday in a revote where members labeled their ballots with their names.

The July 18 vote has been surrounded by controversy, with some decrying what they saw as creeping liberalism within the church’s leadership. And five members are taking the church to court, arguing the church illegally barred them from voting and violated its own constitution.

It followed a vote June 30 that the church later said was plagued by “voting irregularities that prevented us from declaring a clear outcome.”

The church’s constitution requires a vote of at least 75% in favor to confirm elders. The June 30 vote was “too close to call,” lead pastor David Platt told the congregation afterward.

Platt alleged just before his July 4 sermon that some former members of the church, who’d moved away or joined other churches, had come back to vote in the June 30 meeting.

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The second time, the church required members to label their ballots with their names to ensure only members in good standing voted.

Those whose membership was in question were given provisional ballots, Platt said, and depending how many of them were counted, the resulting June 30 vote was “anywhere between 70 and 78%” in favor of confirming the new elders.

Abby Peregrino is one of several at McLean who expressed concerns about the church’s direction — and the voting process. Peregrino claims that about 40 longtime members received provisional ballots, and almost all of them had been vocal about their opposition to the new elders.

Peregrino had been a member of McLean for 12 years but withdrew her membership in December. Since then, she said she’s tried to rejoin the church, but hasn’t been granted a required elder interview. As a result, she said she was forced to cast a provisional ballot.

Peregrino also expressed concern that requiring an open ballot may have intimidated church employees, who were also voting members, to confirm the elders.

The Roys Report reached out to McLean Bible Church for comment but hasn’t heard back.

Yet, on its website, the church announced that the July 18 vote resulted in more than 80% support for the new elders, including all provisional ballots. It added that “there is no scenario” in which the results of the vote for each nominee failed to meet the minimum required threshold.

Many leave over perceived political agenda

Platt, formerly president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board, joined McLean Bible in 2017. He succeeded Lon Solomon, who’d led the church for 37 years. Since then, thousands have left, according to former elder Mark Gottlieb, due to Platt’s perceived liberal tendencies.

Platt, however, contends that many of the concerns about him are baseless. A church spokeswoman told MinistryWatch that attendance has been down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an open letter July 8, Gottlieb wrote, “The unifying concern . . . is that David Platt is the wrong pastor for MBC (McLean Bible Church). We were historically a conservative church and David is left of center — he’s taken our church down paths we never anticipated.”

Gottlieb added that he’d watched as the church became “a political, stripped-down version of what it used to be.”

Church members posting to “Save McLean Bible Church,” a Facebook page for those voting against the elders, said they thought the church was espousing Critical Race Theory, a controversial academic movement seeking to explain issues of race and justice.

Among other things, they pointed to a statement by Mike Kelsey, another McLean pastor, in which Kelsey admitted anger toward white people over racial injustices.

“To be totally honest, it’s difficult for me sometimes not to just torch all white people, specifically white evangelicals and Christians,” he told podcast host Jennie Allen, who had asked him to reflect on his feelings after the death of Trayvon Martin.

“What keeps me from that is meeting and being in community with so many white brothers and sisters. Jesus never gives us permission to hold people in contempt. . . . So I’ve been wrestling through how I’ve been feeling. The dominant feeling has been anger, but I’ve been trying to submit that anger to the Spirit so it can be productive and redemptive anger, not just out here going in on everybody.”

Kelsey did not return a message requesting comment.

However, in a posted FAQ, McLean stated that its leaders “understand CRT to be a human (and therefore inherently flawed) effort towards understanding injustice. . . . The Bible teaches that all expressions of racism are sin, displeasing to God, and incompatible with following Jesus, but we do not need a “theory” in order to communicate this truth.”

Other concerns included reports that the church would be selling its main campus, change its stances on abortion and homosexuality, or allow the Black Lives Matter organization to drive church decisions — all “unquestionably untrue and in many ways completely unreasonable,” Platt said in his July 4 sermon.

The church in its FAQ pointed to recent sermons in which Platt described abortion as “sin against God” and acknowledged homosexual behavior as “a lifestyle that would displease God.”

Sarah Einselen is an award-winning writer and editor based in Texas.



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27 thoughts on “David Platt’s Megachurch Names New Elders Despite Controversy”

  1. Two comments: Trayvon Martin was shot by a Hispanic.

    How is saying “I want to torch all white people” not racist?

    1. The number of provisional ballots counted = whatever was needed to get the desired outcome. (Insert your own 2020 election joke here)

    2. Re Trayvon Martin:

      His death was a tragedy, NOT a thing to Advance My Agenda (which it became as soon as it hit the news).

      Both his and Zimmerman’s backgrounds predisposed them to immediately and instantly believe the worst about the other – T as getting hassled for being black, Z as finding one of the burglars that had been hitting his neighborhood (described as black and wearing the young black uniform of hoodies). So they encountered each other, pre-groomed to believe the worst of each other. And the fight was on.

      Though T was a teen, I understand he was a fairly large and imposing looking teen, and was getting the upper hand in the fight when Z escalated, drawing and shooting. Probably out of fear T was going to do a number on him – Fear has pulled far more triggers than Hate.

      It was a fight that escalated into a shooting and T ended up dead. If the two had not been predisposed to immediately believe the worst about the other, he’d probably still be alive.

      P.S. The name “ZImmerman” is not Hispanic, so the first impression would be that Z was white. “Hispanic” identity (at least in the Southwest) is more by language than by ethnic appearance. (It’s said that a Spaniard or Argentine would be White until he opened his mouth and spoke either in Spanish or with a Spanish accent.) And where I am, there is a lot of knee-jerk hostility between blacks and hispanics. That may also have been a factor.

  2. Seems like it’s simply a time for a church split

    What’s the big deal? it’s been going on for two Millennia – it’s happened at least a million times…

    1. The MBC platform to speak is worth 150 million in real estate and brand name that took 60 years to build collectively,

      If this were just a battle of free-of-charge youtube channels, it would be no big deal.

  3. Robert Bonilla

    Well now that Platt has been given a “death threat” by a staff member (allegedly) this will justify all him and the Liberals intentionally destroying MBC are doing. He’s literally pulling an Obama on them and they’re all too stupid or weak to see it.

  4. This sounds like a case where Trumpian Christians are upset that the church isn’t in lock step with their nationalism. Platt is anything but a liberal.

  5. I like how Kelsey, their pastor, spoke racist comments against “white people, especially “white evangelicals.” He is not the right person to be a pastor in their church. If my Pastor said that of me, I would be out the door, but not before giving him a piece of my mind. And he is from the hood. What kind of a pastor despises the people he is supposed to serve? He went public with his racist thinking. I just don’t get it.

    1. Cynthia Wright

      “He went public with his racist thinking. I just don’t get it.”

      I don’t get it, either, but it seems as though he accurately assumed he would receive praise and sympathy.

      1. Robin Wiggins

        It’s the same sort of attitude that drives congregations to rally round abusers and jettison the abused. The abusers typically know how to play a room. They confess (at least sort of, they probably seldom truly confess all) and thus get churchy style points for their confession and candor and tears. Then people circle the wagons round them and stroke them and applaud them. They hold them up as models of godliness and examples of how the church can truly restore. If the victim at this point still has anything to say about how they feel like broken glass inside, they become the problem and the same crowd stroking the delicate narcissistic abuser’s feelings now turn with hatred and rage upon the one they harmed because they’re not getting with the program.

        I’d bet you the equity in my house to your pocket change that if someone at Platt’s church just honestly said “Hey guys and gals, does a person who has said he’s literally wanted to burn all white people to death (what else is a “torching”?) really qualify for spiritual leadership?” they would be quickly defamed and destroyed. They would be persona non grata in this “wonderful, uplifting church.” Bet you.

    2. Oh Oh that stings that a black brother called you by the sacred epithet “white evangelicals” huh? John the Baptist called his crowd a “brood of vipers”; and you know what, they didn’t give him their piece of mind or run for the door. You know what they did…they REPENTED…you might wanna do the same.

  6. On one hand, members actually have the right to vote. That’s better than some churches. On the other hand, the decision to require names on ballots, for whatever reason, shows the church doesn’t know how to conduct a vote. I’m really not sure how many churches actually do.

    CRT, the evangelical boogie man. We should just name it Crit, like some kind of monster. Then we can warn our kids that if they don’t behave, Crit will get them.

    1. That’s hilarious! Churches do need to figure out a way to advocate for an honest attempt to see from another’s perspective without all the baggage of CRT. Maybe we shouldn’t be so insecure, but be “slow to speak and quick to listen” to other perspectives without getting all defensive.

  7. Cheryl Martin

    I have been a long time member of MBC and I must say that under Lon Solomon’s leadership and David Platt’s, each Sunday I have heard messages based on biblical truth that changes lives. I leave each week with a desire to be more like Christ and to search my own heart according to Scripture. I am so thankful for God’s grace and His Word which clearly points out how we are to handle disagreements in the body of Christ. I continue to pray for unity and for God’s love to be evident. Satan is always the author of confusion, not Christ. The Church of God will prevail because it’s founded on the Rock, Christ Jesus,

    1. This has been a troubling and eye opening situation. I’ve been attending McLean for 17 years, and I sit under Mike’s teaching as our campus pastor. I commend him for sharing the struggle that invariably follows being in black skin, from seeing the outward manifestation of racism that comes from under the Christian umbrella, even as a pastor, and sharing how that’s made him feel. That’s not sin, nor is it any invalidation, what it is is transparency regarding the attacks on his mind. How many of us have thoughts equal to this in wrong that we wouldn’t dare divulge publicly? Personally, I believe there is a problem here, and I think this situation that is occurring is the flashlight needed for members and attendees to look at and consider what is being taught from the pulpit, in this situation, regarding CRT and racial justice. Remember, the tares were sown among the wheat while men slept. Don’t assume anything. It was also great to hear from Cheryl Martin here. It’s been a long time.

      1. If a pastor said “I struggle with thoughts of killing all Asian, Latino, African, European, Eskimo, Indian, Native American, etc. people” I would tell them they need to find a new profession and deal with the demonic forces within before they pretend to be capable of spiritual leadership. That’s some sick stuff, having thoughts of torching all people of a particular race. It just is.

    2. Debbie Chatman

      David Platt was my former pastor at The Church at Brookhills in Birmingham, Alabama. I was under his teaching for 8+ years and never once did I hear anything from his mouth that was unbiblical. His heart for God is the most transformative attribute I had ever experienced. He taught me how to truly walk in Jesus’ footsteps and have a TRUE relationship with Him. David sees no color in human worth. Everyone is worthy of God’s love and redemption and he spoke to that EVERY Sunday. He taught nothing to me that was not supported by Scripture. His depth of knowledge of the Scriptures is like nothing I have experienced in my years as a Christian (since 1962). I can truly say that the problems at McLean Bible Church lie not with David. Maybe the church should consider who their real enemy us…..Satan himself.

  8. What does “too close to call” mean? It’s not like there were 10 million votes. Was the initial vote 75% or not? Simple math, announce it, be done with it. Why no announcement of what the numbers were?

    If you looked out in the congregation during the voting and noticed a bunch of disgruntled ex-members with ballots, wouldn’t the time to deal with that have been then? (“Hey, uh, you renounced your membership last year, why would you want to mess with our vote?”)

    If the initial vote with all these ex-members voting had come out in favor of renewing the elder board, would Platt have denounced all those alleged ex-members voting from the pulpit?

    I don’t care if Platt and others on the pastoral team (in spite of the seething, hateful, bigoted thoughts of at least one pastor) have done a wonderful job of spreading “biblical truth” and teaching how to “handle disagreements within the Body of Christ”, it would seem as if once the rubber hits the road for them and their interests, they have a very tough time indeed with the truth and seem to handle disagreements along the lines of the average tinhorn third world dictator. As one who once sat on the elder board of a neocalvinist church that degenerated into cult-like abusiveness, it certainly appears that way. My spidey senses are tingling.

  9. For all of those complaining about Platt- Did you even watch the video linked? He does a great job of explaining this situation. Julie has once again, and without wisdom, chosen to attack another Christian leader. And not only that, but she is leading others to attack a Christian leader. These are deep issues that have not been explored or presented appropriately by Roys. Do yourself a favor and actually pay attention to the source materials. Watch the video and see for yourself. And FYI, I’m no Platt fan or Calvinist. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xY2sdEf7bgY

  10. The church needs to KISS it. Go back to its simple roots of fulfilling the Great Commission. I don’t understand how preaching CRT will win souls over the blood and personal sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The Church Industrial Complex is so caught up in today’s world problems when Jesus already told us of such heart aching calamities thousands of years before.

  11. I’m an outsider looking in, but for videos. Back in the late 1990s/very early 2000s, David Platt had a You Tube channel where he sat a small desk and taught the Bible. First Christian teacher I found when I first discovered YouTube, and he was excellent and taught me SO much. About a year ago, I found McLean Bible Church on You Tube and watched. The service where Platt literally apologized for “being white” is when I finally quit watching though I DID watch a video about the voting. (Disabled, my church is online). I quit watching because the “woke” is out of control there, sorry, though again, I learned so much. Acts 17:26 tells us God created all men of one BLOOD. No ‘skin hues’ involved here, as there are none in the Gospel either. The same Gospel I’d love to see ALL of the churches come back to. My prayers are with all at McLean Bible Church and as someone else said, I agree – Len Solomon absolutely is also a blessing as is his preaching as well

  12. An old TV show “Lost in Space” had a robot as one of the characters. I used to love watching it as a child. The Robot’s name i don’t remember. But what he said, every show, has stuck with me: “Danger! Danger! Danger!” I am far removed from this situation and have little knowledge of Pastor Platt. As I read through the comments on this issue, I found myself greatly disturbed.
    No judgment toward any group, pastor, or former or current members. Somethings you have to leave in prayer. You can actually bring the displeasure of God on you even when trying to do the right thing. Trying to catch the Ark was the right thing, or so it seemed. But, it cost a man’s life. Even if Platt is in the wrong, deal with that in private prayer for him, ask the general offices to intervene, but do not create damage to the body of Christ. Danger! Danger! The church may not be as you wish it. But, it is not anyone’s to possess, but Christ’s. Leave it in Prayer. Your families are MORE IMPORTANT and may be in danger because of what I have read in the above thread. For biblical guidance out of this, read with humility Prov. 6:16-“19”

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