I can’t remember how I found this, but it was one of the most insightful tidbits I’ve read in quite some time. It has to do with introverts and how they integrate (or not) into a local church body.
Introvert Involvement in Church
A review in Christianity Today highlighted this part of the book Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture:
Extroverts, who want to increase their level of involvement, may proceed roughly in a straight line as they move from the periphery into the nucleus of the community. They move from stranger to acquaintance to participant to core member as they increase the breadth and depth of their relationships, finding more energy as they progress into the community. The journey of introverts into a community, however, is better conceptualized as a spiral. They take steps into a community, but then spiral out of it in order to regain energy, to reflect on their experiences and to determine if they are comfortable in that community. They move between entry, retreat and reentry, gradually moving deeper into the community on each loop. The introverted path into community, much to the confusion of many extroverts, never reaches a point in which the spiraling form is shed.
This. is. so. true.
At least for this introvert it is.
I wish I had read this about fifteen years ago as I have struggled with settling into a church ever since I moved away from my home church to a new city. To be factual, our struggle with settling into a church has not been only an introverted thing (although it has been a significant factor). There were other dynamics at play as well (health, pregnancy, doctrine, family issues, etc.) that all have contributed to our seeming lack of ability to settle down happily. And I’m sure we left some people (and pastors) confused by our strong interest and then our subsequent leaving.
I haven’t had the opportunity to read this book yet as I still can’t do much reading. But I will be adding it to my wish list and look forward to learning more.
Help and Encouragement for Introverts
Adam McHugh has a site called Introverted Church, a spin-off of his book Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture.
Adam mentioned The Introvert’s Corner on his site as well. It is a secular site, but I was very encouraged by some of the things I read there and some of the comments. Sometimes the best encouragement in the world (and the cheapest therapy!) is just to read other people expressing the same things you are thinking. I especially enjoyed “It’ll Be Fun!” and Other Extrovert Lies and the follow-up discussion of Fun, Introvert Style.
A few of my ideas of hades on earth (ala the discussion on the first link):
- Cruises (being stuck on a ship surrounded by miles of water with thousands of people I don’t know full of extroverted activities and overeating?)
- Team-building, especially anything physical (mental exercises are OK since I tend to excel at those)
- Super friendly churches (I’ve been at churches that by the time the service started, I was exhausted from the noise and interaction)
Hope you find some encouragement from the links!