Called to an Abundant Life

By Elizabeth Barnhill

Pastor Jonathan Pokluda brings his ministry to the page in his best-selling books

Jonathan Pokluda’s passion for Jesus Christ is palpable through his preaching at Harris Creek Baptist Church, his collaborate podcast “Becoming Something” and through his five books that cover a variety of aspects of the Christian walk. He also spreads the gospel through Friday Q and A on his Instagram account, @jpokluda, which has over 150,000 followers.

Pokluda explained, “When we moved to Waco, the first Friday I came to church, I found that the doors were locked; I realized we were closed on Fridays. That was a new rhythm for me, so I just went home and did a question and answer on Instagram. Every Friday I get 2,000 questions. I’ll answer anywhere from 50 to 100, which gives me a way to reach a larger audience.”

Pokluda grew up in South Texas and moved to Dallas, where he lived for 20 years. It is in Dallas while he was working in the corporate world that he became a Christian. Pokluda joined Watermark Community Church, later becoming a member of the staff and ultimately, a pastor of that church.

“I was doing ministry geared toward young adults at a gathering called The Porch,” said Pokluda. “Through the grace of God, The Porch grew to be the largest young adult ministry in the world.”

Pokluda loved his work at The Porch, but he stated, “Four-and-a-half years ago, the Lord called my family to Waco, where I now serve as the senior pastor at Harris Creek Baptist Church. This was an unseen turn in life, and we have loved it. It’s been the greatest blessing to serve in Waco.”

His family consists of his wife Monica, a Waco native, who he married 19 years ago, and three children, Weston, age 10, Finley, 14, and Presley, 16.

Since Pokluda was hired, Harris Creek has grown to serving an average of three thousand people in person and five thousand online each Sunday.

Pokluda also has found a passion for writing Christian nonfiction as a way to further the gospel. When he was working at The Porch, he began writing with a man who served as an accountability partner what ultimately became his first book.

Said Pokluda, “We simply wrote. It was such a wonderful process because there was no deadline, there was no publisher, there was no one else. There was just a friend saying, ‘Hey, what if we did this or that?’. I got to chapter nine of what was going to be a twelve-chapter book and a literary agent named Don Gates called me and asked if I had ever considered writing a book.”

Pokluda told him he had already begun the process and sent the chapters to Gates, who later offered him a contract. His books are published through Baker Books. “Welcome to Adulting” was his first book followed by a niche book for young adult pastors. In time, Pokluda wrote an ancillary book, “Welcome to Adulting Survival Guide”, as well as “Welcoming the Future Church” and “Outdated”, which is a resource for Gen Z navigating the dating world. His latest book, “Why Do I Do What I Don’t Want To Do?”, tackles the topic of vices and virtues.

“I think for a long time in Christianity, it was all about the rules,” explained Pokluda. “Don’t do this, don’t do that, et cetera. But what I’ve learned both through the scriptures and experientially is that God calls us to an abundant life. He calls us to do things, not just not do things, not just abstain from things. God wants to give us life. And so this book presents this. Rather than just trying not to be prideful, what does it look like to pursue humility? Rather than just fighting anger, what does it look like to live a life of forgiveness? Rather than just trying not to be greedy, what if you lived a generous life?”

Pokluda added, “The same is true with authenticity, gratitude, rest, sobriety and optimism, which are all covered in the book. I can try to not be busy, or I can say, ‘I’m going to rest well’. If I rest, I’m not busy. It is to pursue something rather than just to try to abstain from something.”

The book was written to be read in a community or small group setting, although it could be read individually as well. Pokluda states that his other books have been geared toward young adults, but this book breaks out of that mold. It applies to people from teenagers through old age.

Pokluda has promoted “Why Do I Do What I Don’t Want To Do?” to many audiences on podcasts, radio interviews and speaking engagements, but one of the most interesting interviews occurred on “Good Morning America”.

“The show producers reached out and said, ‘We’d love to have you on our Faith Friday segment’. Every Friday they feature a person of faith and it was great because host DeMarco Morgan set me up to really share the gospel with a couple million people,” laughed Pokluda.

Pokluda is currently working on his next book, which will tackle spiritual warfare.