Home > Church, John's Blogs > Introverts and the Church, Part 2

Introverts and the Church, Part 2

Last week I noted that extroversion is rewarded by our culture, including modern church culture.  (As I mentioned then, I’m reading this.)  It’s unfortunate, because spirituality is not measured by how outwardly focused a person is.  Nonetheless, extroversion seems to be the spiritual goal in many churches.  Does the following list fit your experience?  (You might even be able to add to the list…)

  • Small group leaders are looked up to, while the wallflower in the back of the room is seen as “anti-social.”
  • The ability to give a riveting account of how God is working in someone’s life is seen as more valuable than someone who faithfully prays for others.
  • Hard-charging pastors in upwardly mobile suburbs grow their churches and are revered, while the quiet pastor who faithfully serves in a farming community is viewed as being on a failed career path.
  • Personal evangelism (striking up lots of casual conversations and sharing faith) is rewarded, while painting the nursery is unnoticed.
  • The ability to teach with stories and provoke conversation is rewarded, while the discipline of studying and understanding a subject is seen as “tedious” or “boring.”

If so, J.I. Packer has some helpful words:

The healthy Christian is not necessarily the extrovert, ebullient Christian, but the Christian who has a sense of God’s presence stamped deep on his soul, who trembles as God’s word, who lets it dwell in him richly by constant meditation upon it, and who tests and reforms his life daily in response to it.

Good definition, don’t you think?

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  1. Andrew Ford
    August 3, 2010 at 10:55 am

    Let me add these thoughts to the discussion. I think introversion and extroversion are opposite sinful bends in personality of the same force – pride. So we are bent in one or the other direction, but when we add sinful pride it pulls us to the extreme of our bent. Now, I’m not saying that the personality is the sin, but the weight of pride at work in ones life is the thing that needs to be confessed. We all need relationships – it’s the context where God works on us to grow us and be a blessing to others. The extrovert gets into trouble when he wants to be the center of the world – making it all about him (and often is a hiding place). He probably misses a lot of opportunities to bring grace to a situation. On the other hand, the introvert gets into trouble when he shuns relationships and avoids “opening up” and misses either being a recipient of grace or a giver of grace as well. Both deal with pride and both, when pride weighs in, move persons toward sinful extremes.

    I’m still thinking this through. Not sure what this means for the perfectly well balanced person – are there any of those out there? Maybe the balanced person is the one who allows Christ into their context to moderate personality for the glory of God.

  2. mikewittmer
    August 4, 2010 at 10:06 am

    In my experience, many outstanding preachers happen to be extreme introverts. That makes me think that perhaps a person can choose to exhibit extrovert qualities when necessary. In other words, being an introvert can not be an excuse to not speak up for Christ when given the opportunity. Perhaps rather than focus on what type of person we are, we should have the attitude of I’ll do whatever needs to be done.

  3. John Lemke
    August 5, 2010 at 10:19 am

    The book notes that a study of megachurch pastors showed 25% of them to be introverts. That’s not much lower than the percentage in the population at large (40%, I think, is what I’ve heard). I found that VERY interesting.

    I know many outstanding introvert pastors, but they are in smaller churches (because ALL the pastors I know are in smaller churches). I thought pastors of large churches would almost by necessity be extroverted, but I was wrong.

    I am very introverted but can turn on the extrovert for a number of hours every week. As long as I get a certain amount of “me” time, I do fairly well. (I never schedule meetings on Sunday afternoon, for example, and the few things that I have to do on some Sunday afternoons just about kill me. I have two small groups at night that require lots of people time. I gotta have time off in between!!) However, I’ve also said that I am not extremely introverted.

  4. Alan F
    August 12, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    John,

    Great post, thanks for sharing. As an introvert, I am going to whole-heartedly agree. One of the things that frustrates me about church life is that it seems to me that pastors really like the guys who toot their own horns and tell everyone how great they are. The guys who just serve in a faithful, yet quiet manner seem to go largely un-noticed by the pastor. And yes, I got it that we don’t serve to be recognized by others.

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