By Aaron Wilson
When a best-selling author pens a new book, his or her inspiration might come from the comfort of a library or private study. For David Platt, however, the idea for his latest title came from a journey to some of the world’s highest mountains and most remote villages.
In his new book and workbook, Something Needs to Change, Platt chronicles a weeklong trek through the Himalayan Mountains and addresses what God revealed to him as he came face to face with great need and wrestled with tough questions about the Christian faith.
Facts & Trends recently sat down with Platt to discuss topics he addresses in Something Needs to Change.
In the sense of not burying the lead of your new book and workbook, what needs to change?
First off, something needs to change in the mountains where I was trekking.
In those remote villages, there are young girls being sex trafficked. That needs to change. There are people dying of preventable diseases. That needs to change. And there are scores of people who’ve never even heard the name of Jesus. That needs to change.
But in order to affect change, something also needs to change in my own heart, in my family, and in the church I’m a part of. If we’re not careful, we can live in a pretty insulated world. We can live with a blind eye and deaf ear to urgent needs around us and around the world.
We need to be willing to get close enough to really need to feel the weight of the hurt and pain around us. Then, we need to open ourselves up to the ways God has graciously given us opportunities to make His love and hope known in otherwise hopeless situations.
God wants to make our lives count for His glory and the spread of His good in the world, and He’s uniquely given us opportunities to be a part of affecting change for people in need.
The question is: Will we take advantage of it?
As a pastor, how would you encourage fellow church leaders to spur their people toward the call of making their lives count in a world of urgent physical and spiritual needs?
If we’re not careful, we can so overcomplicate things in the church.
I get it. As pastors, we’re often busy running this program and that and making sure all the different ministries of our church are functioning. But before we realize it, we’re missing who we’re supposed to be as the church.
A small church found along the trails of the Himalayans may meet in one tiny room with a light bulb hanging in the middle. They don’t have programs. They don’t have so much of the stuff we have, but they’re caring for one another and are working to share the gospel.
Likewise, we have to fight to keep the focus on what matters most.
How do we do that? We have to shepherd people. As pastors, we need to look for opportunities to lead the way in this—to take people into places of urgent need and help them see how their lives can be leveraged there.
If we don’t keep this focus, we’ll quickly get consumed with what we don’t like about logistical details in the church and we’ll totally lose perspective. It’s our role as pastors to help people get that perspective.
And if we’re going to do that, we’ve got to make sure we’ve got the right perspective also.
In the West, we live in a pretty individualized culture. What’s the value of processing the themes of this book with a group of believers?
That’s really, really important. It’s one thing for someone to process such things on their own or even in their own home.
It’s a whole other thing to be in a small group and to process this together in a way that you’re learning from one another, sharing with one another, and dreaming together about how this can change not just your life, but also your community. It reminds us we’re a part of something bigger than ourselves.
This is why we intentionally created a group Bible study for Something Needs to Change. Books are meant to be read individually. Bible studies are designed to be done in group settings where you’re able to consider your community and can spur one another along.
I find that as someone is sharing how God is working in their life, it spurs on another person in the group to think about how their life can be used. That’s part of why I tell stories of different believers in the Church in this book—because this is how we spur one another on toward Christ in a Hebrews 10 kind of way.
I hope this Bible study will foster the kind of community that spurs one another toward Christ where we lock arms to make a difference for Him in ways that are much bigger than what we can do on our own.
In Something Needs to Change, you intersperse the narrative of your trek with excerpts of what you were reading in Scripture at the time. Why is it important to stay grounded in the Word as the church tackles urgent physical and spiritual need?
If we’re not standing on the Word, we’re shifting sand blown and tossed by the wind. And that’s especially the case when we come face-to-face with some of the most urgent needs in the world that prompt some of the hardest questions about our faith.
These are questions like: Where is God’s goodness and justice in the middle of oppression and poverty? Why are some people born into such earthly suffering only to move on to eternal suffering?
My trek in the Himalayans was like a collision of the Word and the world in my own heart. Both are needed.
If we’re encountering needs in the world but are doing it apart from God’s Word, we’re prone to error. And not only that, if we’re detached from Scripture, we’re also not honoring God, not following Him, and are not basing our thoughts on truth.
At the same time, if we’re in the Word but are not engaging the world in need, then we’ve become pretty cold. We may have good facts about what we believe, but we’re disconnected from people in need. We need to put both of these things together.
Once we’re engaging needs in the world with God’s Word, our hearts will be totally transformed.
AARON WILSON (@AaronBWilson26) is associate editor for Facts & Trends.