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MelindaB

Reading Maketh a Full Man...

More to come...

Currently reading

The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature (Canto)
C.S. Lewis
Boys and Girls Learn Differently!: A Guide for Teachers and Parents
Michael Gurian, Terry Trueman, Patricia Henley
Ambition and Survival: Becoming a Poet
Christian Wiman
Deep River: The Life and Music of Robert Shaw
Keith C. Burris
Daring, Trusting Spirit
John De Gruchy
The Vatican Diaries: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Power, Personalities, and Politics at the Heart of the Catholic Church
John Thavis
The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia
Orlando Figes

Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture

Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture - Adam S. McHugh Adam McHugh's book has given me a new perspective on a discussion I sometimes have with other Christians, "why are you comfortable in XYZ church yet uncomfortable in ABC church?". The author's premise is that your ability to feel at home and valued in a given church setting has to do with what builds you up and what drains you. In other words, whether you are an introvert or an extrovert. In my many musings on "why is friend A in this church situation?" and "why am I in the church situation I am in?" I confess I never thought of an answer that had to do with my personality bent. So this book is very worthwhile to read!The author begins with our American obsession with extroversion. To be counted successful, on the way up, gifted, a mover and shaker.... you need to be extroverted or at least develop extroverted traits. Extroverts are seen as engaging, energetic, powerful, active and progressing -- all positive traits worthy of imitation. Introverts are seen as shy, reserved, aloof, passive, timid, and self-absorbed -- traits that are negative in their slant and not worth imitating. Both of these stereotypical definitions have elements that are totally incorrect, but they are nevertheless acted on in our culture as truth. Statistics indicate that there is close to a 50-50 divide between personality types that are extroverted and introverted. Yet the extroverts win in setting the bar for success, simply because they are energized by being around people and are thus in the public eye. Introverts are energized by time alone and away from people. Since you aren't in the public eye and don't look busy when you are sitting there thinking, you must not be doing anything, right? This "force fit to be successful" attitude grates on introverts, and deprives extroverts of the balance they need from people who fall on the thoughtful end of the scale.While this emphasis is prominent in the American culture at large, it has also bled over into the church. When the church adopts a partiality towards extroversion, the introverts that attend or visit them often find environments that are intimidating and uncomfortable. So certain church cultures are more difficult to navigate for an introvert.By way of some examples, many evangelical churches encourage and expect people to "share" with groups (talk about difficulties or areas needing help or prayer that are often times very personal and private); greeting and visiting involves alot of small talk; services build to emotional crescendos that allow little or no time for quiet prayer or reflection; music is loud and similar to rock concerts; a service can seem rushed and hurried to get from one "event" to the next or to build tension.In direct contrast, introverts resist sharing private thoughts with strangers or groups. Being forced the "share" feels very uncomfortable and intrusive. Introverts also dislike small talk, so heavy time on meeting and greeting and visiting can leave them feeling unwelcome and isolated. (When you don't like to make small talk, you usually stand not talking to anyone until the "visiting" time is over.) Introverts have great powers of concentration and enjoy quiet atmospheres in which to think and study. So it is no wonder that the increasing crescendo of activity, loud music, and emotional hype can leave an introvert feeling drained and tired and overwhelmed. Introverts think alot and reflect alot. A service that does not really provide something to think about and reflect on may seem shallow to them.Church services that are regular in their liturgy, that have more structure, incorporate times of quiet and reflection, and allow congregational participation without small talk seem to be services that minister to and build up introverts. As such, churches that have a higher or more formal liturgy are services that are more attractive to introverts. So this book provided some excellent thought fodder for me. And yes, I am an introvert and yes I appreciate and thrive in a higher liturgical church setting. The author challenges introverts to stand up and participate, and for extroverts to look for introverts to help balance the unbalanced type of services in church. Each personality type needs to seek out the other and find ways to minister to them, instead of always seeking your own good. There is not a simple solution, but rather a recognition that all personality types are made by God and as such should not be left out in the larger body of the church. NOTE: I am reading another book, "Giving Church another Chance: Finding New Meaning in Spiritual Practices" by Todd D. Hunter. It traces Dr. Hunter's Christian walk from non-denominational Bible churches (Calvary Chapel and Vineyard Churches) to the Anglican Communion. I am wondering now if Dr. Hunter is an introvert? More on that when I finish his book.