Doug Pollock on the Confessions of a Recovering Evangelist

Doug Pollock is a speaker and author of God Space. He is also a YMCA chaplain and minister with Athletes in Action since 1983. Doug seeks to help Christ-followers worldwide increase the quality and the quantity of their spiritual conversations in practical, doable, and authentic ways. The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily represent those of BCNN1.


Years ago, I flew to Colorado to help people increase the quantity and the quality of their God conversations in a church in Colorado Springs. On the shuttle ride over from the Denver airport to my rental car company, I struck up a conversation with a young man in his early twenties. He had just flown back into the U.S. after a year of graduate study abroad. We started talking about his career aspirations after his studies were finished.

We got off the shuttle bus and headed to the counter to pick up our rental cars. As I was getting my rental car, I couldn’t help but overhear the bad news this young man was getting about his. Unbeknownst to him, his driver’s license had expired while he was out of the country. Nudged by the Holy Spirit, I offered him a ride. He was totally taken back by my seemingly small offer of kindness.

As we headed into Denver, he asked me what I did for a living. I had a “holy hunch” that if I told him I was an evangelist, our conversation might have ended quickly and awkwardly.

So I told him I was an author and speaker. He quickly asked me what I write about and I responded that he could actually help me with what I was writing about. Intrigued, he asked, “How can I do that?” Here was my response: “I’m on my way to speak at one of the largest churches in Colorado. If I gave you 30 minutes to tell these Christians what not to do to have a spiritual conversation with you, what would you tell them?””

Without any hesitation, he said, “I’d tell them if you are not willing to listen to me, I am not going to listen to you. Every conversation I’ve ever had with Christians has been one-sided. They always want to do all the talking and expect me to do all the listening.”

I reflected back to him in my own words what I thought I’d heard him say: “It sounds like your conversations with Christians have left you feeling very disrespected and angry because it’s been more of a monologue than a dialogue. Am I hearing you correctly?”

He replied, “Absolutely, and it ticks me off because it’s quite obvious all they are concerned with is getting their point across. It comes across as very arrogant and rude. You know what most Christians don’t get? The whole time they are talking I have already made up my mind. I don’t want their Jesus because I don’t want to become rude and disrespectful like they are.”

Kaboom! God had just flip-flopped my 30-minute “Good Samaritan” ride into Denver. God used my attempts to reach out to someone to reach me instead. I was trained to be a teller, a presenter of the good news—an evangelist.

This young man unknowingly helped me to realize that far too often I was reaping what I was sowing. People were often not listening to me because I was not really listening to them.

More importantly, they were saying no thanks to Jesus because of the way I was coming across in the conversation. I was awakened to my great need to listen for heaven’s sake. I was on my way to becoming a “recovering evangelist.”

Recent research by Barna validates what this man was saying to me. Listening without judgment is the number one thing not-yet Christians want but very rarely experience when talking to Christians.

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Source: Christianity Today

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