Friday, April 20, 2012

On Being Introverted

I have come across some of the most interesting blogs and websites lately, due to Twitter.  It's almost an overload of information.  No, not almost.  It IS an overload of information and quite frankly, I am ready for a break.  One that has popped up a couple of times recently, though, that I think deserves attention is Introverted Church.  And thanks to the author of that site (who has also written a book called Introverts in the Church, which I hope to read someday) I also found this post that has over 400 comments from mostly introverted people about the ways in which they just do not fit in during Sunday morning church.  I kept nodding along to most of them.

In general, people think that introverts are just shy or anti-social, and that is just not the case.  I even had someone tell me one time that he just didn't know how to talk to me well because I was an introvert--as if it was my problem that he couldn't communicate well with me about anything.  The thing is, even though I am introverted, I can have a conversation with people.  I can do public speaking (and I enjoy it!).  I can be in groups of people.  I just can't do it continuously and all the time.  I need time to be by myself too.  I've also realized that as a mom of two rambunctious little boys, who both like to talk incessantly, that it is really hard to be at home with them all the time.  When I worked even just part-time before I recently moved, I at least had some time alone in my office, and that was something that energized me.

Reading a little bit from that blog, and particularly that second post that I linked to, made me realize why I dislike "greeting time" in churches so much, and why I have never enjoyed being a greeter at the doors of a church, and even why I often dislike "fellowship time" after a service.  It's because I am introverted and those things drain me rather than give me energy.  I would much rather talk to one or two people that I know well and have a good conversation for 10 minutes than greet as many people as I can in those same 10 minutes with a "church smile" pasted on my face.

And you know what?  It's OK that I don't like those things.  Being introverted is part of who I am and I do not need to apologize for it or try to be something that I am not.

When I worked in campus ministry, I enjoyed leading services (and I almost never made people greet each other!), giving sermons, and leading small groups, but I really enjoyed when students would come to my office and we could just talk for a while.  It was during those times that I could connect with them and relate with them and continue to think about our conversations long after they had passed.  It was through those things that I could remember to pray about a certain topic that they had brought up.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?  Are there things about the way church is usually done that goes against this part of how you were created?  What do you usually do about it?  How can we use the strengths of both extroverts and introverts in the life of the church (both local congregations and the Church as a whole)?


Family Bugs - Sarah said...

My husband is an evangelist and I've never heard of leaders in a congregation "forcing" members to greet each other. But, we are usually at the assemblies at least 30 minutes early. I always try to be friendly, but get lost in a crowd really easily. I can talk to one person all day long without issues, but if just one other person is added to the conversation, I retreat into my little shell. It's a bit of a challenge being "the preacher's wife" and the expectations to visit shut-ins, be best friends with everyone in the church, be hospitable to visitors, etc.

Kelly said...

In most churches I've been in, after the singing, there's usually a time when you are supposed to "greet your neighbor".

I do bet that is extra hard for you because people tend to see you as an extension of your husband and his job duties.