Introverts in the Church (by Adam McHugh)

This post is by Adam McHugh, author of Introverts in the Church. His book is a one-of-a-kind, and for many of us a very important book. I hope you take his book ideas seriously at your church.

The scowling old man nearly bumped into me as he fled the sanctuary.

As I turned to watch him stomp out to the parking lot, I asked a friend if she knew why he’d left before the service started. She replied, “You know how in your sermon last week you encouraged all of us to be more welcoming to newcomers? Well, after five people came up to him to introduce themselves, he blurted “Can a guy just be anonymous when he checks out a new place? I want to be left alone!” And thus concluded his seven minute survey of our church.

It’s not only cantankerous old men with a flair for storm-off exits who are turned off by hyper-friendly churches, however. As I reflected on that event, I realized that I too would be intimidated and overwhelmed by that many strangers approaching me, no matter how genuine and kind they were. As it turns out, our churches are actually teeming with this species of people called “introverts.” I am one of them, as is 50% of the American population, according to our best and latest research.

My questions: Is your church “introvert-sensitive”? Have you thought about it? Are your activities and events shaped for the extrovert (alone)? What about youth pastors/ministries: Any experience here?

Unfortunately, owing to a few antisocial types as well as to a general extroverted bias in our culture, introverts get a bad rap. Mainstream American culture values gregarious, aggressive people who are skilled in networking and who can quickly turn strangers into friends. Often we identify leaders as those people who speak up the most and the fastest, whether or not their ideas are the best.

As a result, introverts are often defined by what we’re not rather than by what we are. We’re labeled as standoffish or misanthropic or timid or passive. But the truth is that we are people who are energized in solitude, rather than among people. We may be comfortable and articulate in social situations and we may enjoy people, but our time in the outer worlds drains us and we must retreat into solitude to be recharged. We also process silently before we speak, rather than speaking in order to think, as extroverts do. We generally listen a little more than we talk, observe for a while before we engage, and have a rich inner life that brings us great stimulation and satisfaction. Neurological studies have demonstrated that our brains naturally have more activity and blood flow, and thus we need less external stimulation in order to thrive.

I saw the need for a book on this topic when I realized that our cultural slant had infiltrated some wings of the church, especially mainstream evangelicalism. As I say in Introverts in the Church, entering your average evangelical worship service feels like walking into a non-alcoholic cocktail party. Evangelicalism has a chatty, mingling informality about it, and no matter how well-intentioned that atmosphere is, it can be a difficult environment for those of us who are overwhelmed by large quantities of social interaction and who may connect best with God in silence. Sometimes our communities talk so much that we are not able to express the gifts that we bring to others. Yet if we are given the space, we bring gifts of listening, insight, creativity, compassion, and a calming presence, things that our churches desperately need.

Even more dangerous is the tendency of evangelical churches to unintentionally exalt extroverted qualities as the “ideals” of faithfulness. Too often “ideal” Christians are social and gregarious, with an overt passion and enthusiasm. They find it easy to share the gospel with strangers, eagerly invite people into their homes, participate in a wide variety of activities, and quickly assume leadership responsibilities. Those are wonderful qualities, and our churches suffer when we don’t have those sorts of people, but if these qualities epitomize the Christian life, many of us introverts are left feeling excluded and spiritually inadequate. Or we wear ourselves out from constantly masquerading as extroverts.

In the end, though I empathize with that old man, I wish he had endured the overwhelming hospitality of our community that day. He would have learned that the Christian life is not about anonymity, and we would have gained another introverted member who contributed valuable gifts to our community and ministry. Both he and our church would have been better for it.

Adam S. McHugh is the author of Introverts in the Church. He is an ordained Presbyterian pastor, a hospice chaplain, a spiritual director, and a retreat leader, but he mostly just wants to write.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • http://www.dyfedwynroberts.org.uk/ Dyfed

    I’m an introvert in church … and I’m the leader!

    Great post.

  • Richard

    So good…and so true. I’m an introvert and have had to endure all the pressures to act like an extrovert. Once I realized what I am I found the power to enjoy being with people without being a performer.

  • Joe Canner

    This is a much needed post and book. As an introvert I am painfully aware of the ways in which church life is slanted towards extroverts. It was for more or less this reason that, some years ago, our church discontinued the practice of greeting one another at the beginning of the service. However, there are still a lot of church social activities that are geared more for extroverts. I don’t object to the church having such activities, I just want to be able to say “no” when I need to. (Being married to an extrovert makes that harder, which is not necessarily the church’s fault.)

    As noted in the post, evangelism is another area that is geared towards extroverts, although there is more to it than that. (My father is a die-hard evangelist and is more introverted than I.) I constantly struggle with the tension between accepting who I am as an introvert and not using that as an excuse for inaction and isolation.

    I wonder how many of the prominent believers mentioned in the NT were introverts?

  • http://www.redeemchristianity.org Redeem Christianity

    The problem with today’s church is people think it is a “service” where they can go and get refreshed and leave. The reality is the true “church” was always designed to be a body, a group of people living together in love and fellowship. The concept of the true church leaves no room for the introvert.

  • expendable adjunct

    Approaching some are like trying to befriend a skittish animal. Unfortunately many are jaded by being hurt by so-called friends and it reinforces their shyness.

    It is important to read body language and give people space if they need it.

    I wonder how this book relates to the one the other day on why people are leaving the church.

  • DLS

    This is one of the best summations I’ve seen on the subjects.

    http://experimentaltheology.blogspot.com/2007/06/walk-with-william-james-part-8.html

    Specifically this:

    “For years, sociable churches have ignored the introverts in their midst. Worse, they have sent a consistent message that they were less spiritual than their extraverted brothers and sisters. That to be like God was to be extraverted.

    In my opinion, the damage this subtle message has caused has been enormous.

  • http://biblingualbibleblog.blogspot.com Brian

    Introversion is why I generally tend to behind-the-scenes ministries. Running sound for youth service while in college. Camera operator for our TV ministry. Only in the last few years have I begun to get up in front to teach a class or give a message. But I can only do that if I’ve had my “introvert time” to dig into the Bible and other books on the subject I’m teaching.

  • Rob

    @4 – The concept of the true church leaves no room for the introvert

    That is a pretty narrow view isn’t it? Introversion and extroversion are ends of a continuim. Just because one finds their energies being alone doesn’t preclude them from enjoying smaller community settings.

  • Kristin

    @#4 “redeem Christianity”

    Your understanding of an introvert is incorrect. Being an introvert doesn’t mean we don’t like being around people or being in fellowship. It simply means the manner in which we fellowship with others is different.

    Compacting church “fellowship” into an intense 3+ hour session on Sunday mornings is extremely draining for an introvert, especially since it’s usually just mindless small talk. An introvert tends to perceive such fellowship as shallow and invasive (borderline gossip fest), and such is the risk of an extrovert dominated community.

    Introverts would much rather be in fellowship with the same people in smaller chunks throughout the week, investing in people over the long haul, going through life together…slowly and more purposefully. Of course this comes across as boring to an extreme extrovert who is allergic to silence, but that is why the church needs to do a better job at advocating fellowship that supports both the introvert AND the extrovert.

  • Kristin

    Another quote from the post referenced in #5:

    “Introverts are very, very relational. They just aren’t sociable. And to confuse the two is a grave theological and ecclesial mistake.”

  • DLS

    #4 needs to read the link I provided above.

  • Robin

    The part of church that I have a problem with, as an introvert, is surface extroversion. I have no problem minglinh and fellowshipping in situations like small groups where I get to know people on a deeper level and have actual substantive conversation about miscellaneous topics.

    What I can’t stand is (1) greeting people with a handshake 5 minutes into every service and (2) having 20 conversations on the way into and out of church that consist of “how are you?”…”I’m fine, what about you?”

    Our church meets in a school cafeteria, so every week as soon as the service is over I start stacking chairs and breaking down equipment so I can avoid “cocktail hour conversations.”

  • Joe Canner

    RC #4: “The concept of the true church leaves no room for the introvert.”

    Sorry to pile on here…but you do realize that you’re saying that 50% of the population is not welcome in the “true church”?

    You have identified some real problems, but the solution is not to kick out the introverts, but to seek ways to draw in the introverts and minister to them in ways that are meaningful for their God-given personality type.

  • AHH

    Amen and amen. A good and needed book.
    And amen to commenters who point out that introversion does not equal non-relational. It is more a valuing of long-term steady relation (with individuals and consistent small groups) and an inability to deal with the superficial and spontaneous relating to masses of flickering people that is often dominant in the church.

    It can feel lonely in a church setting when the “event” is over and everybody else has flitted into chatting with somebody and I am left out as the introvert. Or when, as a reflective introvert, a discussion has already been pulled in other directions by the talkative extroverts while I am still processing and thinking about what I can contribute.

    I also have wondered recently if this is another reason (probably not the largest) why the church is typically not a welcoming place for scientists. Just from observation, we scientists are more likely to be introverts than the general population.

  • Fish

    I have read that pastors tend to be introverted while congregations tend to be composed of extroverts.

    As an introvert, there have been several times that I haven’t went back to a church after a first-time visit just because I was descended upon by too many people looking to greet me, learn who I was, invite me back, etc. Or even have all the new visitors stand up during the service!! I went there to worship God and found a meet-and-greet.

    Evangelism is a double-edged sword, for sure. What we do to try and welcome people in can also drive them away.

  • Rick

    Fish-

    As a leader, greeter, and introvert, I do feel that I am sensative, and hopefully accomodating, to apparent introverts who are visiting. But I can tell that extroverts would handle some of those situations differently.

  • http://transformingseminarian.blogspot.com Mark Baker-Wright

    I love my church in most respects, but I have to say, the weekly “Passing of the Peace” segment (whereby people not only get up out of their pews, shake their neighbor’s hands, say the “peace of our Lord be with you” and so forth, but generally also chat about what’s going on… for about 5 minutes!) is a weekly bit of Hell for me.

    But I haven’t stormed out yet.

  • Rick

    In addition to what Mark Baker-Wright said in #17, let me say, as an introvert, I really don’t want to hold hands with others when praying. That actually is an understatement.

  • Lars

    Im with a couple of previous commenters. This is a narrow and ultimately incorrect definition of introversion. I’m a pastor who has always graded out as the most severe kind of introvert, but I love people and love conversation. It’s an issue of energy, and where we get it. I think you are addressing some sort of social anxiety, which is quite different. The majority of evangelical pastors grade out as introverts, but the American population is over half extrovert. If anything, I think we need to serve extrovert more creatively.

  • http://chickchaotic.wordpress.com/ Elizabeth Chapin

    As an extrovert on the church married to an introvert in the church, we have had to negotiate and navigate our differences, but we both like our big church culture. I like it because there are SO many people to talk with each week and so many opportunities to serve. My husband likes it because it’s easy to get lost in the crowd, and be more anonymous, and there are plenty of opportunities to serve behind the scenes. We have found some of our greatest joys when I am up on the stage leading worship and he is behind the camera! Our first negotiation had to do with where to sit – I prefer the front row – right in the middle of all the people, he prefers the back row where he can sneak in late (after the meet and greet time) and leave early to avoid the crowds in the parking lot. At one church, we found a perfect middle ground – the front row of the balcony ;)

    I agree with those who have posted that introversion does mean non-relational, but for some introverts, the pressure to be more extroverted can be subtle and disconcerting when it is paired with being “more spiritual.” We extroverts need to be sure we don’t communicate those subtle messages unintentionally. Thanks for this post, I have the book on my Kindle and plan to read it soon over Christmas break.

  • http://chickchaotic.wordpress.com/ Elizabeth Chapin

    #20, I meant to say, “I agree with those who have posted that introversion does NOT mean non-relational…”

  • Matthew Miller

    Hi, I am an introvert. People exhaust me. But its not because I find them intimidating or anything of the sort. As an introvert what I want from people is to think about how their behavior–good or bad–well intended or not–affects others. The problem with extroverts is they assume people are or want to be just like them. This is why introverted people tend to be labeled “crumeddgeon” (sp?) because they react negatively towards people when they perceive that the person is not being thoughtful about their actions. Maybe this is what being sensitive means, but I am not necessarily, nor are the people I know who are also introverts “sensitive”. People should be intentional and aware of how they approach people. This being said, McHugh’s book is a big step in the right direction.

  • Matthew Miller

    One more thought…previous posts have discussed the relationality of introverts. As an introvert, I prefer relationships with depth and meaning. I eschew superfiscial “acquaintences” and dedicate little if any time to them. This often means I am labeled “unfriendly” when in fact what it means is “I’m coll with not having a well developed friendship with you, but I am not going to act like I do either.” The truth is introverts are incredibly relational but it takes time to get to know them and to really to enter into their lives. But most extroverts simply do not want to invest in that way. And this is totally fine, but they need to understand the way introverts tend to work, not the way folks believe they should work.

  • Amy

    When I read this book, it was the first time that I felt I could be thankful for how God made me. It helped me realize that I had things to contribute to the body of Christ. We are all different, and that is a good thing. It’s still hard for me to get past this notion of the ideal Christian being an extrovert, but I’m learning to value things differently.

  • Barb

    I’m pretty sure that I’m one of the FEW EXtroverts at my church. AND they aren’t very extrovert sensitive–So I just decided to pretend that they DID all want me to talk to them and so now we get along just fine. HOWEVER, less motivated extroverts might not ever come back.

  • http://Ministrymac.tumblr.com Jon

    I am an introverted pastor overseeing and directly working with youth. They know and understand that big groups drain me, and really enjoy having personal, quiet connections. I often ask forgiveness those times when I get overwhelmed by the big group and act out by becoming short with them, especially on long trips. But I know that many of my students are introverts, and they at least don’t feel left out since we don’t glorify extroversion.

    Honestly, more adults at our church are offended by my introversion than students.

  • http://5minutebible.com Tim Bulkeley

    But, of course to believe our society we introverts are sick and need curing. See http://www.bigbible.org/blog/2005/03/brash-culture-marginalises-shy-or-i.htm

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    Wow, just had a big fight with the wife how I have been out there acting as social DRT all week and I just. neeed. to. be. alone…

    Ah.

    Not what she wants to hear.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    BTW, I love the comment above about the hello during service being a horrible thing. I was a Catholic growing up and when they introduced the peace handshake and we had to shake other people’s hands, that was horrible. I found it was acceptable to turn one way and the other, and if the other people turned the opposite direction I got of free, but then I only had to worry about the people in the front turning around. But if I really did not want to deal with that, I would watch until they started to turn and I would make a quick turn rearward to look for people there. But I was in control at least.

    10 year ago wifey started going to a church where it was the 5 minutes of saying hi, I refused to go.

    Several years ago, in what I thought was my church, I brought up in a planning meeting that we need to respect the introverts and everyone around the table made jokes and poked fun at introverts, in very cruel ways. They truly thought that something was wrong with introverts. I am not a very timid person, but it even shut me down from saying something.

    I agree with what someone above said, there are social anxiety disorders and people who cannot cope in social situations, but that is quite different from people who are introverts. No one who I work with would consider me to be an introvert unless they are people astute. I am considered by most to be gregarious, social and vocal. But I am definitely an introvert.

    To relax and be in my zone I need to be in my own thoughts, not adapting to thoughts of others.

  • JohnM

    #22 – “The problem with extroverts is they assume people are or want to be just like them.” Exactly. Extroverts, we don’t. Now you know ;)

    #12 – And add to that the multiple times you’re “greeted” before you can even sit down. It reminds me of those big friendly, annoying dogs that jump all over you uninvited, tails a-wagging. You don’t want to be mean to the dog, but you want to get away from it. At least the dog is sincere.

  • Elaine

    DRT@28,

    “Not what she wants to hear.”

    And this was a complete surprise to you?
    ;)

  • KLE

    When I was in seminary a classmate of mine complained that they were questioning their call to ministry because they were having a hard time with their “quiet time.” I asked him what his view of ministry was and he began talking about getting people “hooked into the body and ministry.” I looked at him and said, “my vision of ministry is sharing with people what God has showed me in the secret place. I have no problems with quiet times. In fact, spending a couple of hours in prayer is no problem. The spiritual discipline I struggle with is the church potluck. Those are hard work!” He looked at me like I was from another planet.

    Needless to say, I am an introvert and he was an extrovert. Both are needed in the Body of Christ.

  • Stephen Hesed

    As a solid introvert, I am puzzled by a lot of the comments here. It’s possible to be an introvert and still be very outgoing and comfortable in social situations like the ones mentioned. You just need to take time to yourself to recharge periodically. The introvert/extrovert split is more about where you find energy/process life than how you behave socially.

  • http://www.flickr.com/groups/majlens_art/ gingoro

    ” The concept of the true church leaves no room for the introvert.”

    Well in that case I guess that I should just leave the church as I am somewhat of an introvert and also have a speech disability so glad handing is very hard for me.
    Dave W

  • Rick

    Somebody once said, every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets. The old man came to check out the church. He checked it out and found he didn’t like it. That wasnt a failure on the church. It was simply not the right church for him. Mission accomplished. If God wants him in a church, he’ll end up in another one. Why are we so arrogant to think its up to us?
    I’m so glad my family doesnt try to change whenever we have a new guest over.

  • Rick C.

    I tend to agree with #33 (Stephen Hesed’s) where he said, “The introvert/extrovert split is more about where you find energy/process life than how you behave socially.”

    Reason being, I’m a ‘strong’ INTP (the I is 79%) and I’m constantly witnessing or just talking about the Lord with virtually everyone. I actually enjoy this (a lot).

    I’m thinking that what’s happening is I’m accentuating what I lack. Or rather, perhaps, God is doing this work in and through me. (I’m referring to how Introverts need to focus on Extraverted-Sensation type stuff, which, is where my connection to people seems to just ‘happen’ in discussions I have about God).

    At the same time, in church I don’t care for a lot of singing or stuff that is ‘putting off the sermon’, as it were. The T in my INTP craves learning!

    I’ve found that, many times, after church (and I’m not a member any place) that I find myself having been talking with just one person (for maybe 30-40 mins) . . . and the janitor wants to know when we’ll be leaving, LOL

    Interesting blog.
    Thanks!

  • Rick C.

    Errata: (that should have read) . . . “I’m referring to how Introverted Intuitives (the IN in INTP) need to focus on Extraverted-Sensation type stuff . . . “

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    Rick C., as a fellow INTP, talking with others about God is a natural part of our makeup http://www.personalitypage.com/INTP.html

    The one deviation from INTP I have is that I am unusually accepting.

  • Kristin

    #33 – “The introvert/extrovert split is more about where you find energy/process life than how you behave socially.”

    I agree with this technical definition but introvertedness/ extrovertedness definitely affects social behavior, especially as you approach the extremes. If introverts and extroverts “process life” differently it must include how we process relationships. There are social cues that to extroverts read as friendliness but invasive to introverts, and others that are welcoming to introverts but unwelcoming/boring to extroverts.

    I’m curious the relationship between introvertedness/ extrovertedness and the 5 love languages.

  • Bryn

    Great post, very interesting and well-written.

    I just want to comment about the increasingly common misspelling of the word “extrAversion” in popular culture. Carl Jung and his friend Katharine Briggs (who intented the MBTI with her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers) spell it this way. And if you think about word origins for a second, the prefix “EXTRA” makes sense. There is no “extrO”. The words are “extraordinary”, “extravagant”, “extraneous” etc. and they all share subtle meanings with the extraverted personality type.

    Thanks!

  • JohnM

    Kristin, I think you’ve got a pretty good understanding of it – #9 “Being an introvert doesn’t mean we don’t like being around people…” and “..much rather be in fellowship with the same people in smaller chunks..” (I talk a lot in small groups). And then #39 – “There are social cues that to extroverts read as friendliness but invasive to introverts”.

    I’d add, not only invasive, but in a typical contemporary church context the “friendliness” reads to me as artifical, forced, and shallow. Maybe it isn’t always, but the bigger the church and the less people really know each other the more I’ll suspect it is.

  • Tony M

    Thank you very much for this post. As an introvert, this is just what I needed.

  • KLE

    Rick C. – as a fellow INTP I can hear you loud and clear. In large group settings I usually find myself looking for that one person I can have a significant conversation with. My “duties” as a pastor have me frequently “working the room” to try to touch base with as many people as possible. This is the part that drains me. I guess I see it as part of my task as a shepherd.

  • rjs

    I’ve been pondering this post for a couple of days – which makes me late to the game, but so be it.

    Like several above I score INTP on the Myers-Brigg for what it is worth. I’ve been thinking about what this means or may mean for church …

    Church that is centered on a large gathering, conversational connections (cocktail party like mingling), a sermon directed to new Christians or non-Christians (of necessity limited depth and nuance), even with the addition of small groups (these tend to an expectation of intimacy – but generally provide no safety for that intimacy until long established with connections well developed, most small groups are too ephemeral) is intrinsically an extravert centered church. It isn’t bad or wrong – it is just going to miss part of the population.

    An introvert sensitive church (ha!) has to build into the mix spaces for other kinds of interactions. A choir or such to join, a classes to attend or teach … group interactions with structure and purpose. Some number can find this perhaps teaching children or working sound … but not all.

    I don’t think this isn’t so much a question of how many times one is greeted coming in as it is a chance to find a place to be comfortable and to belong and to grow.

    (And for those who wonder — introversion isn’t necessarily an aversion to public speaking or presence, I can lecture to 400 students … but cocktail party like mingling is a draining. Meet and greet is too much like mingling.)

    Others, though, may have a different take on the issues or think that other issues are more important … I think I am going to have to get McHugh’s book and read his take.

  • AHH

    The 3rd paragraph from the end captures a big issue for me — the church’s vision of the “ideal” Christian as a gregarious extrovert, plunging into new situations with new people and being an evangelist. All those times I hear stories from the pulpit about people sharing the Gospel with their seatmate on an airplane, all I can think of is how weird it would be for my personality to initiate any conversation about anything with a stranger on an airplane.

    And RJS has a good point that, at least for many of us, it isn’t an issue of being with people; I can also teach or do a prayer in front of a worship service. At least for me, it is the structure that makes the difference — what kills me is random people coming at me in unstructured situations, the superficial mingling.

    Here’s a hint (don’t remember if it is in the book) for those looking to make their churches less introvert-hostile. Start events on time. The unstructured time between when we show up for something and when it actually starts, when the extroverts are happily mingling and chatting, is hell for us, especially if we have come alone.

  • Rick C.

    (Though individual blogs tend to die-out after a day or three; I have some replies, mostly to acknowledge):

    DRT (#38) – I’ve seen the link you posted (and have done lots of Myers-Briggs studies before, etc., but thanks)!

    You wrote: Rick C., as a fellow INTP, talking with others about God is a natural part of our makeup . . . The one deviation from INTP I have is that I am unusually accepting.

    On the first bit, I can see how a religious and/or spiritual INTP would wanna talk about those kinds of topics (for sure). Makes sense.

    Btw, I’ve been a JC reader (tho a seldom poster) for quite some time. I recall once when I said to self, “That DRT guy HAS to be an INTP” (coz I can tell you thinkalot).

    As to your being “accepting”; I’m not sure what you were getting at. I’ll assume you meant “accepting of people”(?). Maybe you meant that you’re more at ease with folks than yer average INTP(?). In any event, good for you!

    ‘Not sure if this relates to that, but . . . I went to a Bible study and was asked what I thought about some certain passages. I said something like, “Theologians have different views on this” — at which point I was interrupted by the facilitator with, “We aren’t discussing theology. We’re discussing the ‘Word of God’.” At which point I said, “Okay. Sorry. Go ahead. I can discuss theology on the internet.” And I never went back. Typical INTP Reaction that “some people enjoy being stupid.” Now, I “accepted” this facilitator for his stance, so to speak. But I saw no reason to attend the study again. I mean, what could I say? LOL
    ===============

    KLE (#43) – Actually, I studied at a Bible college and almost graduated. I had to leave the denomination it was affiliated with because, after taking a great course in hermeneutics, I interpreted the Bible differently than the denomination — and couldn’t meet the “doctrinal requirements” to minister with them.

    That’s something of an aside to introversion, I suppose. However, at least with we INTPs, we have to follow ‘truth’ wherever it leads, which, of course, all believers should. In my case, it ended a ‘career’ as a minister (this was some time ago, I’m 55 now).

    At any rate, you wrote: My “duties” as a pastor have me frequently “working the room” to try to touch base with as many people as possible. This is the part that drains me. I guess I see it as part of my task as a shepherd.

    I completely follow you here. As I contemplated entering into ‘the ministry’ I felt as though I might lose my mind and/or totally lose my focus had I gone ahead and done what, at least, was expected of ministers — (the ol’ 24 hours on-call thing).

    Interestingly along these lines, my cousin was an elder in a church and did the teaching and preaching. Another elder who was ‘gifted with empathy and encouragement’ did ALL of the funerals, weddings, hospital visitation, and such like. It was a great arrangement for all concerned.

    If I was in your position, though, I’d probably come up with some kind of rationale for being The Smiley Preacher (doing rounds). Maybe something like, “It’s like brushing your teeth. Gotta do it.”

    Thanks, long post, I know . . . .

  • Noel Kara

    Hey some good thoughts…..maybe we just gotta keep hungry for the One who best captures being an introvert (loved being alone, debriefing and recharging with Dad; belonged to a very “structured and feast orientated church…lots of compulsory interaction and yet seemed to fly under the radar for 30years) and an extrovert ( hung out with 12 blokes of all sorts of backgrounds, spoke in front of the masses, had masses of people cramping His space, touching Him, questioning Him, slandering Him, using Him, misunderstanding him, misjudging him and nearly every other human response you can think to a person)….”Jesus”. If I hang out with Him more maybe I can be “both” introvert when needed and extrovert when needed?

  • http://study-and-faith.blogspot.com JB

    This is a fantastic post, and it makes me want to get around to reading my copy of McHugh’s book even sooner.

    Perhaps even more than the post, through, I really appreciate the discussion that’s been going on in the comments. Heh, this is probably the biggest ‘gathering’ of Christian INTPs I’ve ever seen. As an INTP and a seminarian gearing up for pastoral ministry, it’s especially encouraging to read the input of folks like KLE – even if simply to know that, by the grace of God, it can be done!

  • Joseph Madere

    I enjoyed reading this article, as there is a lot of truth in McHugh’s observations and efforts to raise awareness about introverted Christians, but my main interest is to locate and communicate with other Christian INTPs. Are there any forums designed specifically for Christian INTPs, or would any of you INTPs be willing to share some of your experiences? Any feedback is appreciated.

  • http://www.truthmill.com C.S. Countryman

    Thanks so much for this post and all of the comments. It’s nice to know I’m not alone in dreading many of the things mentioned above re: extroverts and the modern day church experience.

    In my case I now go to a pretty large church (some say a megachurch) about 45 mins from my house where I can blend in to the background and it’s great! Decent preaching and I can be myself with much less stress.

    God has also given us some great Christian friends for intimate fellowship and it’s wonderful.


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