In the words of John Maxwell, “a leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” And for those who serve under pastor, teacher and author, Alan Platt, this is certainly a testament to his leadership style.
As the leader of Doxa Deo (a church network across South Africa, New Zealand, the UK and Germany), Alan is committed to instigating change (for the Gospel’s sake) specifically in cities, the engine room of transformation.
An agent of change
Through Alan’s primary gifting in leadership and teaching, he has established a unique approach to effective ministry and influenced a wide spectrum of organisations, denominations and church networks internationally. His impact extends beyond the church to the influencing of the business sector, education and society at large.
We caught up with Alan to find out how Doxa Deo remains relevant in our post-Christian society and find out more about the man behind the ministry!
Q. Did any specific event influence your conversion to Christ?
A. Growing up in a Christian home, I gave my life to Christ at a very early age. Although I had my own prodigal journey, I never turned my back on God. I did however have a deep experience all on my own, while doing border duty in the army. In a moment of solitude, God arrested my life and refocused my intention to give the rest of my life serving Him and His Church.
Q. How did God confirm that you were meant for ministry?
A. Since I can remember I have had the conviction that I wanted to work in a full time capacity for God. Growing up in a somewhat legalistic environment, I was often more convinced of my calling than of my salvation. Knowing that I wanted to give my life serving God, the options at that point in time were either becoming a pastor, engaging in a para-church missions organisation or becoming an evangelist.
I did not really sense that any of these three were exactly what I was to do. However I went and studied at the AFM Theological College and became Youth Pastor for 8 ½ years. It was in that season that I realised that my primary gifting was to identify, raise and work with leaders, establishing teams that would be effective for the Kingdom. I loved the strategic element of mobilisation within a shared vision and values environment. I was also clearly a teacher at heart and developed a deep love to understand the Word more accurately.
Q. You have been in ministry for 30 years as the Leader and Founder of Doxa Deo. Did you ever imagine you would have 21 churches in over 9 cities around the world? How did you get to this place of influence?
A. Jesus said, that the Kingdom of God is as a mustard seed. Its beginning is very small and then grows into a significant tree. This has been our experience as we have been faithful in the small things God has entrusted to us. I am also extremely grateful for the
incredible leadership team that God has graciously allowed me to father and lead.
Q. What is Doxa Deo’s ethos?
A. The name Doxa (Greek for glory) and Deo (Latin for God) is an intentional combination of languages to reflect the bringing together of different peoples in one new understanding that man is destined to be the exhibitor of the Glory of God. One of the old Church Fathers, Irenaeus, made this statement: “The Glory of God is man fully alive”.
For that to be fully experienced and expressed, the Lordship of Jesus Christ needs to become a tangible reality, not only in our personal experience of salvation, but also in the very construct of our society and world. Therefore education, arts, business, government, sport, the media, social society as well as the Church, all have to be aligned to the influence of the Lordship of Christ.
We therefore do not just want to be a church for the church, but a church for the community. Our people see themselves not as members, but as partners of a dream to see cities and communities transformed. We therefore refer to them as being ‘City Changers’, not coming to the church for a programme, but discovering that they are the programme!
The activities of Doxa Deo therefore are outward focused, engaging intentionally the different spheres of society. One example is our engagement in education, where we not only have our own schools, but have a programme to have a permanent presence in state and public schools, where we now effectively engage over 130 of these schools on a daily basis. We have an office that co-ordinates not only the placement of youth workers, but also a facilitation empowerment of headmasters, teachers, parents and coaches in the different educational environments.
We are therefore celebrating not only what God is doing in the four walls of the church, but rather what He is doing through the ‘Church’ affecting our society at large. Although we started as a predominantly Afrikaans ministry, God has graced us to establish works in inner city centres, as well as partnering with township churches to empower their impact, and also now rolling out English churches in the suburbs of the cities where we are involved.
Q. You are married to Leana and have two children. Are either of them in ministry with you?
A. We are blessed to have two beautiful children: Duncan 24, who works for a Social Media Company based in the USA, although his office is in South Africa. This is after completing his honours degree last year at the University of Pretoria.
Amy 23, studied fashion, and after working as a Visual Merchandiser with a well-known Australian based retail brand, has decided to take a break to do some missions engagement, as her heart has always been to serve the disempowered children of Africa.
Both our children love Jesus and have been deeply mentored by my wife Leana, whom I truly honour as an incredible woman of God and a devout mother. She has affected the worldview and values of our children very deeply.
Leana is active in ministry with me and has been an pillar of strength in the many years of ministry, where I know literally hundreds of women in the ministry look to her as a role model, and for that I am deeply grateful.
Q. You travel around the world and advise churches and leaders on strategy; what exactly do you teach and impart with others?
A. I believe God has a heart for cities, as the biggest portion of humanity today are urban dwellers. Therefore God will also have a strategy for the Church to deeply impact city environments. God is graciously affording me the opportunity to be able to share on many international platforms the opportunities and possibilities for the Church in the 21st Century.
The challenges for the Church today are very different to even 10 or 20 years ago and it is within that context that we need to tap into the frequency of what God is downloading to the Church about becoming more effective in the new construct of globalisation, urbanisation, and rampant secularisation of our world. I believe the Church is to be central in offering hope to a very confused and leaderless world.
Q. What trends are you noticing globally in regard to Christianity and the role the Church plays?
A. One of the deepest challenges all over the world is materialism and consumerism, which leads to a very shallow spirituality. Christianity, when truly understood, repositions man in a ‘contentment’ relationship with God, that dwarfs our insatiable appetite for ‘stuff’. “All these things”, Jesus said, will be given to us if we first seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.
Q. Many South Africans, under financial pressure and cynical about service delivery and the government, are pessimistic about our future. Even some Christians feel this way – what is your advice to people living in this spiral of hopelessness?
A. South Africa is an incredible paradox. On the one hand it is this most marvellous country with so much promise, and on the other hand, we often experience deep disappointment and even anxiety about where we are headed. This is not unique in history, nor to our country.
The Early Church found themselves within a social construct which was extremely challenging. It was within that reference that they were always encouraged to put their hope in God and to make a contribution as light bearers in a broken and confused world.
Likewise we are called to make a contribution in our nation at this time. We cannot allow ourselves to be overwhelmed. We must stop cursing the darkness and light a fire! We have to engage similar to Nehemiah, who set up the people to build a wall, taking the responsibility in your direct area of influence to change that which you are able to affect.
Q. Finally, you recently wrote your first book. Tell us more...
A. Many people expected me to write a book on leadership. While this is to follow, I wanted my first book to be about the Gospel. The book is an attempt to help people understand how they can effectively live from the reference of the accomplished work of Christ. Everything we do and believe flows from a point of departure, a premise, a conviction. If our premises are wrong, our whole life moves in the wrong direction.
This book is not about ‘doing’ - it is about ‘discovering’ as Rob Hoskins stated in his endorsement: “If you are tired of trying to be good, worrying about eternity and earning your way to Christ’s love, this book is liberating.”
The English version is called ‘We start at Finish’. The Afrikaans is ‘Volbring– dit is waar ons begin’. To order the book, or for more info see www.doxadeo.co.za.
Interview by Jackie Georgiou