A struggling introvert


Actually, that’s not quite accurate. I don’t struggle with introversion, I quite enjoy it. Rather, I’m struggling to find a place to serve as a Christian who is an introvert.

For quite a while, I’ve used the excuse that my season of life as a mother of children, especially a homeschool mom, is my mission field. But frankly, that excuse is wearing thin. Yes, tiny people take a lot of time and energy, but they’re getting older and less dependent. Not only does this allow me the ability to serve elsewhere, I need to be giving them opportunities to serve and be involved in the church community as well.

The problem is that the church, especially the American Protestant Church, is optimized for extroverts. It’s all about activities and various groups and loud, loud music. There is no place for quiet contemplation in our churches, and the vast majority of the activities have to do with getting chatty with passing acquaintances. Some of that is just our “share everything” culture, but I don’t share a lot of intimate details of my life with people I know well. Why would I tell a stranger? Our church had a thing a while back called “Dinners for 8” where they assigned you to share a meal with 7 (or 6 if you’re married) other people you may or may not know. Let’s save gas and just jab a hot poker in my eye, okay? The American evangelical church culture is geared toward extroverts, but it’s important to realize those particular cultural practices aren’t gospel.

Stephen Altrogge wrote a very encouraging article about extroverts and introverts in church.

I would humbly suggest that many activities that take place in church tend to be biased toward extroverts. Talking to lots of people on a Sunday, cold contact evangelism with complete strangers, loud worship, and small groups are all activities that are much better suited for someone with an extroverted personality. And these things aren’t necessarily wrong, but I think we need to make sure we don’t assume someone is more spiritual based on their participation in these things.

And that is an encouragement, as far as it goes. But there has to be a second part of this. If not in these areas, how does an introvert be an active part of her local church?

Kamagra online is a good source online where you will find the right kind of resources and even have your questions answered levitra on line in real time by experts. You should get at least eight hours of sleep every night. purchase viagra uk viagra professional online The fatal lightning strike occurred seven minutes later in a parking lot behind the grandstands. Kamagra UK Today is a reputed pharmacy, which helps solve wholesale generic cialis the condition of male dysfunction. Sunday worship can frankly be tiring. Parts of it, anyway. Actually, any event or gathering with small talk and lots of personal interaction is a bit much. I can do it, I just find it challenging and need a nice long break from people afterward. I’m pretty sure Sunday naps were invented for introverted Christians who just needed everyone (family included) to shut up for a while. (A reminder: introvert doesn’t mean shy; it just means you people are exhausting.)

Actually, I can listen to (non-fluffy) sermons or have lively discussions about weighty matters all day. I love to debate, talk about current events, or explore topics history or science or philosophy. I actually find that invigorating. What drains me is small talk or a great deal of talk about emotions. So small group, for example, can be great or it can be a struggle, depending on whether we’re delving into scripture or talking about our feelings.

Perhaps you can see why I’ve never felt at home in any women’s bible study. There’s usually a whole lot of emoting going on and chit-chatting to a lot of people. Small talk is not a skill I’ve ever mastered. It’s also why I tend to gravitate toward situations and people where we discuss politics and intellectual topics. There may be a lot of trolling, but little emoting. I love it.

Okay, I got off track there. The point is that while it can be difficult being an introvert in an extrovert’s church, my introvertiness doesn’t preclude my call to be an ambassador of Christ. The typical diplomatic missions, however, give me hives. The gospel call in most churches seems to be to gush all over people, which frankly I can’t do. But that doesn’t mean I can’t do anything. I’m actually pretty good at doing stuff, and I’m not too shabby at giving practical advice. I’m a fairly efficient, competent person. I’m just not a people person.

It’s a good start to say that those activities most comfortable to extroverts aren’t the only way to serve the in the Kingdom of God. But that’s only the first step. The struggle — or the challenge — is this: how does an introvert serve the body of Christ and her community? Because introvert or extrovert, the call to love one another, serve one another, and take the gospel of Jesus Christ to all people is for us all.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? How do you serve in your church or community?

10 responses to “A struggling introvert”

  1. Misty Avatar

    Great post! I feel like I could have written this (you know- if I could write). At my previous church I felt like my strengths were really utilized- I am a great planning and logistics person, and I’m always willing to be manual labor. I’d often get calls to help prep 20,000 mailers or help the youth staff pull of our crazy (but amazing) youth pastor’s latest wild scheme. At our current church I volunteered to help out with youth. I though I’d be good at check in or working the info or snack table. I was assigned to be a floater. Basically I was supposed to walk around and make small talk- WITH TEENAGERS. There is not a job in the world for which I could be less suited. I’ve been blessed to find a small group that I love, but as far as service within the church I’ve yet to find my place. (I am also loath to attend a women’s event, but I’m going to one this Friday. Pray for me.)

    1. April Avatar

      Oh my. Small talk with teens. Fun stuff. You have my prayers for Friday! Maybe you can spot another introvert who would appreciate some solidarity.

  2. Richard Avatar

    I have discovered that I have a natural and God-given ability to mentor. So at my church that is my ministry. I mentor young men to help them grow, help them become good husbands and fathers. It is not glamourous, it is not showy, it is not loud. But, I love meeting with these guys one-on-one and in small groups. Ideally suited for the introvert that I am.

    1. April Avatar

      That’s the perfect role for an introvert! I’m glad you found a place to serve that fits your God-given personality.

    2. Cindy Watson Avatar
      Cindy Watson

      So happy that you have found what works and are able to do it within your church!

  3. Amy Avatar

    Thank you for sharing this, April. I CAN better understand all the introverts in my life & how they perceive church & small groups, particularly my husband. I appreciate all you do & enjoy reading your articles & blog posts. Keep it up & I’ll pay that you find the right place to serve at church. 🙂

    1. April Avatar

      Thanks, Amy. I think that’s a huge help just to understand that introverts perceive church differently. Thanks for praying, I really appreciate it.

  4. Cindy Watson Avatar
    Cindy Watson

    My kids love serving, nursery, sound booth, etc. what they HATE is being noticed for it and applauded! Like it is something weird and strange for teens to do. They would specifically NOT serve on the designated “Youth -led” Services days.

    1. April Avatar

      Fortunately our church has teens pretty integrated into service, so that’s not an issue. But yeah, that “Look at the cute little teenager!” attitude isn’t helpful.

  5. Hope Avatar

    Oh, my, what a great article. I am nearly 60, love the Lord with all of my heart, but have never been able to stick with a church (except the very God-fearing, Bible-believing megachurch in my area where I can melt into the background, and even then, all of those people milling around seem to be so…mindless and meaningless). After attending a work-related (semi-mandatory) cocktail party for my office last night, I came home feeling drained, almost desperate (introverts do not do well in such setings), and thought, ‘I have GOT to get to church this morning to be with other believers!’ Only to realize that that thought made me very depressed. I am beginning to realize (six decades in!) that I am an introvert trying desperately to operate in an extraverted world…it doesn’t work and has caused me a lifetime of pain. I’m going to stop, let the Lord lead me, and see what He has in mind. I’m relieved that I’m not the only Christian who feels this way about organized churches. I AM leading a Bible study in my area in a few weeks — I am a better leader than follower — and I think this may be where my Christian fellowship and service comes in, until the Lord tells me otherwise.

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