‘What kind of Christianity have you bought into? Who told you that following Jesus would lead to greater comfort and ease in this world?’ Because that didn’t come from this Book,” said Platt while holding up his Bible. “That came from a very skewed version of this Book that’s being sold all across our culture.”
Platt said that many Christians need God to point them to the reality that “the ultimate need of every single person in the world is to be forgiven for their sins.” However, he said, in order to be reconciled to God, a person needs to first hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Platt emphasized the importance of Christians not being afraid of difficulties that they might face while spreading the Gospel to remote places because, he said, “there are 3 billion people in the world who have never heard the Word of God, and they won’t have their sins forgiven if they never hear the Gospel.” (My add) Moreover, if God has called you to go, He will guide and protect you.
“God made a way for humans to be forgiven for all their sin, to be reconciled to Him, to eternal life, through faith in Jesus, by what He did on the cross, His resurrection from the grave,” he maintained. “We have been commanded to show God’s love in a world of earthly suffering, and ultimately, we have been commanded to proclaim the Gospel to keep people from a second death (David said eternal suffering). “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. “Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. The victor will never be harmed by the second death.“
“Somebody has to go and tell them. If no one goes and tells them, they will spend eternity separated from Him. Do you see what’s at stake here? Do we see the need?” Platt asked rhetorically.
More good sense from Michael Todd on church. Michael says many house churches stream Transformation Church’s services and use them to supplement small-group discussions. He’s very encouraged by this development, saying it reminds him of both the early church and Netflix all at once.
“It takes me back to Acts 2:42, where people gathered in homes, shared what they had, read the apostles’ teachings and talked about it,” Todd says. “Well, that’s what they’re doing on social media. They’re sharing about it. Friends are finding out about it. … We’re not facilitating it or doing anything. The reason Netflix blows up is because they provide content, but you decide how you want to watch it and how you want to use it. And as we’ve done that, we’ve seen salvation skyrocket. We’ve seen people get baptized. We’ve seen people go from being drug addicts or in different lifestyles or shacking up to being convicted or getting married.”
Transformation Church has been particularly effective at reaching a diverse cross-section of young Millennials and Generation Z, a group often described by demographers as uninterested in religion. Todd disputes that point; he says what they are really uninterested in are frauds.
“They’re leaving the church because the church, in many respects, is a big business and a facade,” Todd says. “That’s why they’re leaving. This is the most authentic, self-aware generation that we’ve had in a long time, and they can smell a fake from a mile away. I think that’s why I’m appealing to this generation: Because they see it’s real. It’s authentic. If churches and leaders would value authenticity more, their Millennial and Gen Z attendance would go up tremendously.”
Put simply, if young adults are going to do something, they want to be 100% all-in, without any reservations. They don’t want to play church politics, pretend to be someone else or compartmentalize Christianity to Sunday meetings. They want to be free to be fully who God created them to be and hold nothing back in pursuit of Jesus. Because of that, Todd believes they can represent a threat to some “old guard” Christian leaders, but that they can also change the world for God.
“Nobody can tell me Millennials are not interested in God,” Todd says. “They’re not interested in a big business with no power. They can’t do that. …These young people? If they’re committed to something, they’re getting a tattoo of it, they’re changing their license plates to “SOLD OUT,” they’re telling all their friends. And so, it’s a bigger decision because they can’t do anything halfway.”
Todd says the beautiful thing about Transformation Church is that it’s as diverse as the kingdom of God. Whether young or old, digital or in-person, black or white, the movement is united around loving and obeying Jesus. And Todd says it’s his honor to serve as their pastor.
God is using Michael Todd big time, but Michael has no allusions that he is the one doing it and he rightly gives the glory to God.
Todd says he has no illusions that his church’s success can be attributed to savvy marketing, great technological design or his own inspired preaching. In fact, he says his entire testimony served as a test of obedience: Was he willing to obey God even when it didn’t make sense or match his own life plans?
His involvement at his parents’ small house church began after his mother called him on the phone and informed him, “God told me you’re supposed to do something with the youth of this church.” Todd tried to politely refuse—even suggesting that maybe she had misheard God, who meant to use one of her other sons. After all, Todd had never preached or taught from the Bible. But his mom would not be swayed. The next week, Todd became the youth pastor of his parents’ church. There were only seven youth present: three of his brothers, three god brothers and god sister, and one other person. (The church itself had only 15 members.) Todd called the ministry “SO FLY,” an acronym for “Sold Out Free Life Youth.”
“I had never prepared a message or done anything like that,” Todd says. “But God told me four things before I walked in there. He said, ‘Be real. Tell on yourself. Don’t judge them. And love them first.’ And that was my instructional guide into ministry.”
Six months later, Todd says SO FLY had 150 young adults attending weekly. SO FLY had no flashy sound system or game systems. The youth group was 150 young people “literally in a room in a circle,” Todd says.
Today, he recognizes it was a spiritual phenomenon, it was real church, but at the time, he says he didn’t take it that seriously. He didn’t even study or prepare message notes; he just showed up every week planning to share what was going on in his life, talk about the Bible and try to relate to the kids. He says he focused on the four tenets God taught him before his first night of SO FLY. That meant confessing his own sins to the group at times—including pornography addiction and emotional manipulation—and sharing how Jesus personally transformed him every day. He believes that raw, uncomfortable honesty is the real reason young people responded to him.
“I think people are drawn to authenticity,” Todd says. “We have a saying around here: ‘It’s not about perfection; it’s about progression.’ So that gives people license to mess up and be like, ‘It’s my bad. I messed up, but I’m going to get better.’ And I think hearing that from somebody who holds the office of a pastor—when most pastors [project perfection]—is just refreshing to people. … How many pastors or small group leaders actually confess what they’ve done—not in an ethereal story or in an ‘I know a guy’ story? That’s how the Bible tells us we overcome. Yes, it’s by the blood of the Lamb—that’s what God did and what Jesus did on the cross—but then by the words of our testimony. And I think that’s what’s missing today.”
You will need to listen to the Podcast to learn how one of Todd’s sermons got posted on YouTube and went viral. It was certainly not Michael’s’ doing.
Michael now has a huge following on the Internet and it is interesting to read what he has to say about its use by God.
“The first thing you have to know is the internet has changed everything,” Todd says. “And [in some ways], the last thing it has touched is the church—because we want to keep our traditions. I really do believe the Great Commission is to go into all the world and make disciples, but I don’t think we could have done that in a healthy way until now, with the internet. There’s no way I could be a good father and a good husband and all this other stuff, and also go into the world and make disciples. Even if you’re [focusing] only on your house and your neighborhood, that’s still a huge undertaking. But I believe God’s given us the internet … for great good.”
Todd has chosen to obey—and God blessed his ministry beyond his wildest expectations. He spoke to Charisma about his testimony, why the next generation has latched onto his approach to preaching the gospel and how pastoral responsibilities are shifting in the internet age.
Todd never wanted to be a pastor. In fact, as a teenager, he wasn’t even sure he wanted to be a Christian. Though he grew up in a Christian home, he says he never had an authentic relationship with God until his late teenage years. Before then, he says he was primarily raised and discipled by BET and MTV. The church didn’t have answers for the problems he and his peers were going through.
“I messed up so much because I didn’t have an example,” Todd says. “The only rule we were given was, ‘Don’t have sex before you get married.’ Well, what happens when you’ve done that? What happens when the locker room introduced you to pornography? … The church has been so silent about that. In recent years, they’ve started talking about it, but even then, the church is so PG when our middle school locker rooms are R-rated and X-rated. … So what ends up happening is we’re trying to spend the rest of our lives undoing what was presented first.”
That feeling of being failed by the church as a teenager is part of why Todd says he’s so passionate about helping teenagers and young adults today. He says he wishes he’d had a relatable, young mentor like himself when he was struggling with his faith.
You can connect with Steve Strang’s Charisma Media’s podcast with Michael Todd by clicking on the link below.