Hello. My name is Sarah and (gulp) I am an introvert.
This is where you reply in supportive monotone, Hi, Sarah.
While IA (Introverts Anonymous) meetings don’t exist (at least, I hope not…) sometimes it feels like they should. The responses I get when it comes up in conversation run the gamut from surprise (“but you’re so friendly”) to pity (“sorry we asked you out tonight…”) to disbelief (“but you communicate so well!”).
But I am definitely an introvert. I spent a complete week of vacation happily forgoing any conversation. Silent retreats sound like a great way to spend life. In college, I considered becoming Catholic so I could become a nun so I could take a vow of solitude. Still praying about that…
I recently picked up the book Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture by Adam S. McHugh. One of the themes in the book is that American evangelicalism is an extroverted church culture to the extent that “introvert” and “Christian” can feel like an oxymoron. Listen to his observation of a usual church morning:
Whereas in some church traditions you enter a sanctuary in a spirit of quiet reverence, in evangelical churches you walk into what feels like a nonalcoholic cocktail party. There is a chatty, mingling informality to evangelicalism, where words flow like wine.
He quotes Eugene Peterson’s observation:
American religion is conspicuous for its messianically pretentious energy, its embarrassingly banal prose, and its impatiently hustling ambition.
McHugh writes passionately about the opportunity for mutual synergy as introverts and extroverts cooperate to create church culture.
Extroverts love the “one another” verses that call us into community. But they may have a tendency to drive the church body into overwork – focusing on action and speaking and doing.
Introverts love the call to draw aside and pray, to listen to Jesus, to reflect and to be. But they may have a tendency to become ingrown and self-focused.
Together, if we listen carefully to one another, extroverts can supply the impetus to action and introverts can supply the impetus to reflection and reverent silence.
Tomorrow I’ll tell you some of the other things from McHugh’s book that resonated with me, but now I’m interested in your thoughts.
Are you an introvert? Do you agree with McHugh’s assessment that evangelical culture is primarily an extroverted culture? How can we provide a balance that will benefit both personality types?