Friday, July 30, 2010

Introversion and the church

I read an article today on the Boundless Webzine called “An Introvert Goes to Church.” At the risk of sounding cliche and vague, it resonated with me—by which I mean, I felt like I could have written this.

A few of my favorite parts:

Much of our common church life is geared toward extroverts. We're encouraged to talk openly about everything God might be doing in our lives, pray out loud for long periods of time, shout out answers to questions asked from the pulpit, get involved in many different activities, "reach out," mix 'n' mingle, and enjoy goofy games with the singles group. In many ways, the church is an extroverts' world.

I am fairly certain that even if you could give me a million years' worth of Sunday morning gatherings, I would never connect significantly with anyone in them. If I'm going to make friends and enter into church life, I have to take steps to get to know people in a smaller and more up-close environment.

Filling a role, with a specific purpose and visibility, made it far easier for me to interact with people. I am fine when I know what the point is — what I have a job to do and can interact while I'm doing it. I thrive on what I see as meaningful work — far more than I thrive on goofy games or purely social get-togethers.

Honestly, read the whole article. It includes some really good suggestions for introverts on how to really be part of the church—some suggestions which I’ve already adopted in my own relationship with my home church. For example:

Does your church have a role you could fill? Can you pour coffee, stand at the door and shake hands, sing with the worship team, man the library, help lead a Bible study? Ask where you can serve. It will help.

In fact, I have done all but one of these things, and they are the most fulfilling part of my membership in the church. In particular, I’ve been part of the praise team at my home church for several years (ever since they let me be a regular singer at about 13 years old). Two of the longtime members, a song leader and a drummer, are like uncles to me, and I’m also close to another song leader’s family.

If it weren’t for smaller situations like that—situations that are not so large they are intimidating, and situations where I know my presence has a purpose—I would feel very much outside the church.

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