Talking About God Without Being a Jerk

In everyday life, most Christians avoid talking talking about their faith. They freeze up. They don’t know what to say. Or they fear rejection. Or they don’t want to come off as a narrow-minded jerk.

The truth is, most people–even most churchgoers–lack a basic understanding in how to naturally bring faith into a real conversation. How could that be? Author Doug Pollock believes churches themselves may be responsible for this condition.

In my Holy Soup podcast conversation with Pollock, he said, “Most churches put all the emphasis on ‘playing home games.’  Their home-crowd ‘sage’ is on the stage. And they’re always trying to invite people into that environment where the expert is up front. People aren’t really trained or encouraged how to have spiritual conversations. They think their job is just to get people into the church building so the ‘master fisherman’ can go to work.”

Pollock said people haven’t experienced what a natural, healthy spiritual conversation looks or sounds like in real life. They’ve only seen street preachers, or obnoxious people at work, or those who have been disrespectful when talking about faith. When people have those images, they won’t share their faith, he said.

Pollock describes more of the problem–and the solutions–in this week’s podcast here:

 

Pollock advocates training people in practical faith conversation skills. He recently helped produce a training kit entitled Activating God Space to do just that. Rather than simply preaching about faith-sharing, it allows people to actually try it out.

Pollock learned much of his approach through his own failures. He calls himself a “recovering evangelist.” In his youthful zeal to “spread the word,” he realized he actually repelled people. “They didn’t want to see me again,” he said. “I was quick to speak, and slow to listen.”

He reformed. His approach today begins with listening–and asking “wondering questions,” which tend to invite people into comfortable conversations. Now he finds himself in friendly, spiritual conversations with all sorts of people, including those who some pious Christians would find repulsive. He’s learned to embrace them with “radical acceptance,” even though he may not always endorse all their behaviors. That’s an approach he says he learned from another great conversationalist and faith sharer, Jesus.

9 Responses to “Talking About God Without Being a Jerk”

  1. Sounds like another great podcast. Will listen soon!

  2. Pollock’s comment – “get comfortable with mystery”. Excellent – this changes so many encounters that may come my way. I don’t need to know answers to every question.

  3. Great information. The ONE thing that I think is missing from most of our discussions is that the initial evangelistic contacts are often polluted by Satan’s intervention, and it takes time for the Lord to penetrate the veil that Satan draws over the eyes of those who don’t yet believe.
    It’s also well to remember that we have the Spirit, Whom Jesus promised to send to “convict the world….” That conviction is often attended with hostility toward the Gospel, because the potential of facing God in judgment is not what any of us wants to hear. Of course, we need to be gracious, because we represent the God who is love.

  4. What we are seeing is the great disconnect between an individual Christ-centered life and an individual church-centered way of living life

  5. If we live a life of “no longer I, but Christ lives in me”, there will be no need for “training” anyone on how to communicate Christ to others. Who needs training on breathing? Or does anyone train you on how to eat (unless we are talking about formal dinners)? In the same way, if Christ abides in us abundantly, we will be speaking out of the overflowing of our hearts.

  6. Ali commented on Facebook: “I think for me, it’s probably because I try to find commonalities and talk about those with people. For example, I talk about my dogs a lot…but I talk about them MORE with dog people, and much LESS with non-dog people. The non-dog people are just not going to be as interested in hearing me gush about my dogs. So I think God is similar…I talk about God a lot with my Christian friends, because that’s a subject of interest to both of us. I’m less likely to talk about him with people who don’t share that bond.

    Not saying that’s biblical, or the “right” way…but it’s the rationale behind how I act.”

  7. I thought some of Jesus’s disciples were considered “unschooled” and just “ordinary” men? There’s no right way or wrong way. Jesus was about relationships, but he also challenged those relationships at one time or another. Better to say something than not say anything at all. And we will never know till we speak up. Bible also says, “love your neighbor…” I don’t think cramming the bible down or trying to convert them on the spot will work. It’s a matter of allowing the holy spirit to work thru us to others by seeing our light, not so much preaching about it, or trying any kind of trickery, or finessing Christ on them. I loved what Jack Welch said at a Leadership Summit, “Be real, don’t try to be someone your not, because after 15minutes are up everyone will know you could be a phone. That is why I appreciate Larry Head for being so bold and asking me if I ever studied or read the bible at a Singles function ( I didn’t go to church), but before all that we had built a relationship (friendship) at first, and when I saw his life vs. mine….I knew something was missing, but what??? I didn’t know, til God opened my mind by reading His words, and it was all God’s timing, but I needed others to help me in the process. I know the longest conversion in the bible was 3 days, but it took me a while to really understand everything, and when I counted the costs of what a disciple really is, it was a no-brainer after I read what Jesus has done for me. Maybe that is why everyone is so indifferent, and others are so much a like. I think God uses are talents for His Kingdom. Truly is amazing when you see how the bible can transform an individual that affects them til eternity, and more importantly watch them also become fruitful. Maybe I rambled on here too much, but that is my take on this. Be real. God will handle the rest.

  8. Excellent commentary. I really needed to read this, since it describes me so well. I’ve always shied away from sharing my faith, because my first experience of hearing a Christian share their “faith”, I was subjected to in-your-face, abrasive presentation of the gospel. Now as a believer, I’m repulsed by that. And so, I simply don’t share for fear of being repulsive. But I know God has something better for me, and this article has put me on that path. Thx!

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  1. Talking About God Without Being a Jerk — Holy Soup | spiritual maturity - May 7, 2016

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