The body of Christ is made of many people with diverse backgrounds, personalities and interests. Christians grow best when they’re engaged in community with each other, building friendships and supporting each other through the challenges of daily life.
The church offers an environment where Christians can connect with each other and glorify God together. However, it can be challenging for introverts to feel comfortable in modern church settings, especially if the church is large. Here are six ways that you can get closer to introverted members in your congregation.
1. Say Hello
Although introverts don’t like to be the focal point of a room, they do appreciate being noticed by individuals. By making a point to say hello, you can help to set them at ease for the rest of the service. This doesn’t have to be a big event – simply make eye contact and let them know you’re happy they’re here.
After this moment of connection, be sensitive to whether they need space or want to continue talking. You can invite them to join a group of other people, but don’t press them to speak up or take an active role right away. When introverts feel supported and understood, they’ll start to open up.
2. Slow Down
Introverts are always internally processing. They’re considering their own thoughts and emotions and thinking about what other people are doing and saying around them. For many introverts, being in a crowd can feel overwhelming because there’s so much information to process.
One of the best ways to bond with introverted people is to give them space to think in your conversations. Speak slowly, use calm physical movements and give them time to answer your questions. Know that they won’t function at their best in a crowd or when people are staring at them. Introverts will feel much more comfortable with you if they sense you’re not in a rush.
3. Be Specific
Because introverts are deep thinkers, they like to talk about meaningful topics. Many introverts struggle with small talk because it doesn’t feel important or genuine to them. Although they may be interested in connecting with others, it can be hard for them to talk about generalities.
Instead, try asking them specific questions. For example, instead of “How are you,” try asking, “What was the best thing that happened to you this week?” Specific questions will make introverts much more comfortable talking to you and motivate them to give you a detailed answer. Remember to give them space to think before they respond.
4. Take Breaks
Many introverts are less than excited to be invited to a large and potentially noisy event, like a pool party or amusement park outing. If you’re throwing a party for church members, whether for Memorial Day or another upcoming holiday, there are a number of things you can do to help introverts feel comfortable after they arrive.
Be clear about who’s coming and plan in plenty of breaks. These give introverts time to rest from conversation and recharge for the rest of the event. Introverts will especially appreciate opportunities to escape from other people’s attention and think quietly by themselves.
5. Allow Silence
Healthy introverts enjoy spending time in complete silence. This gives them energy because it allows them to sort out their own thoughts and cultivate a calm interior. Without silence, introverts will burn out and may feel completely exhausted even after spending time with people they enjoy.
Another way to support introverts in your congregation is by making room for silence. This may feel counterintuitive, but planning not to talk will actually help introverted people feel more connected within the body of Christ. Silence will enrich their thoughts and help them feel more comfortable spending time at church.
6. Meet One-on-One
Many introverts will open up in one-on-one meetings. If you want to get to know an introvert better, consider asking them on a lunch date or taking an evening walk outside. Don’t make too much eye contact and allow moments of silence. This will give introverts the space they need to function at their best and feel comfortable with you.
One-on-one meetings are the best way to build a deep connection with introverts. They reduce the amount of information introverts need to process and provide space for deep conversations. They also show introverted people that you care enough to take time for them individually. Remember to keep these meetings short so your introverted friends don’t get tired from too much talking.
Every Tribe, Nation and Tongue
Jesus is calling people from all backgrounds, personalities and walks of life to join his kingdom. This diversity is what makes God’s people so beautiful – each completely different, they’re unified in their love for Jesus and each other.
Use these six tips to engage with introverts in your congregation. You can make introverts more comfortable at church by meeting them as they are and building trust with them over time. Although they may take more time to get to know, introverts form deep, rich friendships and are well worth getting to know.