Recently, I read Introverts in the Church by Adam S. McHugh, who has a related blog. As an introvert, I had wanted to read it for some time. All in all, I am glad that I did. I have had several “personality” tests and the one area that I consistently nearly max out in is introversion. Being an introvert carries several challenges but also several advantages. That seems to be the point of McHugh’s book, but it is a point that can be easily lost if we take a “woe is me, I’m another victim” approach. Clearly, McHugh did not want to go there; however, at times, his book could fuel the fire for someone who did. It is worth the read, but as with all things, one should read with discernment. The reader should approach it with an openness to grow instead of seeking of validation.
I was able to relate to many things in the book. Nothing intimidates me as much about visiting a church or small group as the fear that they might say, “I see we have a visitor. Stand up and tell us about yourself.” They may as well say, “Stand up and try to hide that you’re trembling while we all stare at you.” It isn’t because I am afraid to speak to a crowd. I can stand up and teach and enjoy that experience. However, when I enter a new group I want some time to observe and figure things out. I want to process what is happening and think about it. I definitely don’t want to open my heart to strangers and I probably don’t even want to speak at all. However, I have learned that saying hello will not kill me, though I might feel like it will at the moment.
I found some points of the book helpful. Some suggestions on spiritual disciplines and being in leadership were helpful. However, I had trouble relating to some things that he said about corporate worship and church. I am much more comfortable in a “traditional” evangelical church than he is. And it was at the point of being involved in church that I thought he missed an opportunity to make a stronger point than he did.
If an introvert approaches church life totally turned inward with a “let me stay anonymous” attitude, he has missed God’s purpose for being a part of church. In an extrovert approaches church life with an attitude of “be quiet while I talk and get my kicks from being here with you people,” he has missed the point as well. Church is a place where we are to give ourselves for others for the sake others. It is the place where we are not to think of ourselves more highly than we should and to put the good of others above our own. (Romans 12:3 and 1 Corinthians 10:24) The church is the body of Christ, and each part is dependent upon the other. Most of our problems are not issues of introversion or extraversion but of self-centeredness or selflessness. Introverts and extroverts can both struggle with self-centeredness. As we walk with Christ, take up our crosses and crucify self, we are better able to serve others with both the gifts and the personality that God has given us.