At church this morning, after a great worship time, we had a speaker called Ray Lowe, who seems to be an itinerant Bible teacher. He’s spending a couple of weeks with the church and is well known to most people…except me, as we’re pretty new to the church.
He was teaching from Acts on how God creates situations for us to communicate our faith, how our task is be aware of the opportunities, to be prepared and give a ready reason for our faith. The sermon was pre-empted by a prophetic word about being passionate and infectious about God.
Ray’s teaching was biblical, engaging, convincing and funny, you could tell people’s hearts were stirred, and this sermon would impact a lot of folk. He told stories of how God had brought people across his path, in fact there were lots of stories, and lots of people whom God had touched through Ray’s life and activities.
As a card carrying introvert, this sermon was a rollercoaster of emotion for me, I bought into the words and the passion, but felt uncomfortable that I should try and be someone I’m not . He was gracious enough to say that not everyone is a extravert, and you don’t have to force yourself, as God leads you into the places where he wants you to connect with people, and our job is to be open to that.
Our Church is part of New Frontiers which is a charismatic church, where outward expressions of faith, such as exuberant worship, speaking in tongues are a regular part of a service. These are very extravert activities, but I enjoy being part of this group.
So how can introverts cope where the values and dna of a church are very extravert?
I think there are several ways….
- Don’t worry!…It’s important not to let this become a defining problem about church. It is more important to find a church family you can commit to, and be a part of.
- Don’t feel under pressure…you don’t have to be someone you’re not, you don’t have to perform. You just have to be faithful to God, and open to the church.
- Get to know a few people….that way you can have easy conversations without having to permanently mingle with the crowd!
- Join a home group… a smaller group is easier to connect with, and allows for a different sort of connection to people.
- Find a spiritual escape route…use retreats, books, blogs as an additional element to your spiritual life. I was part of Carlisle Cathedral for a number of years, so I go there and a retreat centre called Launde Abbey for my spiritual bolt holes.
I’ve just ordered a copy of “Introverts in the Church” by Adam S McHugh, it’s been well reviewed, and I think could be very helpful.
It is possible to be an introvert in an extravert church, it takes some work, it can be challenging at times, but there are great rewards as well…at least there will be a queue of people ahead of you to volunteer for the up front jobs! That doesn’t mean to say that introverts don’t have a great deal to offer all parts of church life, but that’s another post.