Faith Journal

What Introverts and Extroverts Can Learn from Each Other in the Church

What Introverts and Extroverts Can Learn from Each Other in the Church www.herviewfromhome.com
Written by Sarah Jean

 

I’m embarrassed to admit this, but here I go. A few weeks ago my husband and I arrived early to church and sat down in our seats. I was hungry and wanted to see if there were any snacks, but also torn because I feared that if I got up someone would try to talk to me.

As soon as I walk in the door each week someone is trying to shake my hand or worse – hug me!  As my husband and I make our way to our seats we have to say good morning to at least five more people. Then after the time of worship, I hear the feared “Turn around and greet at least six people! Don’t forget to tell them your name and your favorite color. And heck…let’s give each other big hugs today too!”

I am an introvert.  And if you’ve ever been in a church you may have noticed that they are geared towards extroverts.

And that’s just one day of the week. There are small groups, community groups, volunteer groups, dinner groups. Plus, I work 50+ hours at work and also participate in activities such as eating, exercising, sleeping and doing laundry. About time someone asks me if I want to join another group, I feel completely overwhelmed.

There is no question about it: churches are geared towards extroverts. But does that mean they should cater to introverts? The answer is a strong resounding “No!”

As an introvert, I can only imagine what churches would look like if we ran them:

No one would ever greet anyone at the door, tell newcomers where to go, or that they were glad they came that day. No one would catch-up before service started, but instead – maybe – quietly chat with the person they sat next to.

No one would initiate a small group, but we’d feel guilty about not doing it, so we’d hold one at random nights and only send out an invite – last minute – through a text. We may give lots of money to our church and community, but be nervous about actually going out into the community.

We need extroverts to keep the church going. We need extroverts to reach out to the lost and lonely, and not be shy about inviting their co-worker to church. We need extroverts to plan activities and groups that push us all towards spiritual maturity. Goodness, the church NEEDS extroverts or there probably would be no Church.

Us introverts have a lot to learn from extroverts. We need to learn to initiate friendships, make small talk because that often leads to deeper conversations about our faith, and how that greeting in the morning may do nothing for you, but it’s may be the highlight of someone else’s day.

We need to learn that we need to go out and be the hands and feet of Christ as we are called to be, and not just the heart sitting at home sending out prayers and good thoughts. We need to learn that someone physically needs to set up the booths and games for the community event that brings non-believers into your doors.

But extroverts can learn from introverts, too.

They can learn that it’s okay to not attend every single social event. Because sometimes it’s better to stay home and spend time with God, or even just with your thoughts.

They can learn that sometimes the quietest person in the room has the most insightful to say. And that while they may not like to be called out in a crowd to speak, they do like opportunities to not have to fight others in a group to speak, but instead raise their hand and give their input.

Extroverts can also learn that just because someone doesn’t appear friendly or cringes when you hug them, that they actually can be a kind and warm person. Keep asking them to grab coffee or lunch because eventually they’ll say yes and you both will be blessed by it.

The point is: extroverts can learn the benefits of a quiet and peaceful life from introverts, that it’s okay to say no, and that they will be blessed by spending more time alone with God.

Introverts can learn how to stretch ourselves with our schedules from those friendly extroverts, how to initiate conversations and friendships, and yes, even give an occasionally hug or two.

I’m so grateful for what I’ve learned from my extroverted friends, and while I may still be occasionally awkward and recluse, I’m learning to push myself.

About the author

Sarah Jean

Sarah is a Buffalo transplant living in Washington, D.C. with her husband Josh and cat Squeakers. By day she work as a Communications Director for a Member of Congress; by night she dreams of being Martha Stewart. She also loves pigs, peonies, politics and peanut butter. Follow her at http://prettysimpleideas.com/

  • Autumn N Randles

    Love this! So very true! Both have lots to offer and much to learn from each other!

  • Valerie

    Love this! I am also an introvert so I know and understand exactly what you are saying. But both introverts and extroverts can learn so much from each other.

  • Terryn Winfield

    Aww, I laughed a bit at your “fears” in the beginning. 🙂 I am also an introvert and our church is small, so there’s no hiding. It is like family though and I love it. I agree with you, it is the extroverts that keep the church moving, so needed! I try to remember that it isn’t about being social, it is about loving the way jesus loved. It takes some of the pressure off.

  • Kristina Baum

    Great piece!!! Very well thought out and insightful! 🙂

  • I loved reading this I believe I am more introverted but I can be very outgoing. Last summer I switched churches just because that was so overwhelming my home church everybody has seen me grow up. Now I come back and I’m thankful for it but yes we can all learn from each other. So blessed reading this.

    Corsica | kissesfromcarolina.com

  • Janice Shaw Crouse

    As an extrovert, I smiled at the perspective of this article. I remembered all the times I elbowed my introvert son to suggest he go talk with a friend or participate in a discussion. Love the emphasis on appreciating the gifts of all!

  • Demelza Shaw

    Yes, so true! I am an introvert and I totally get this. Great lessons to learn from eachother. Great post x

  • Candy Kage

    Well said and thank you for addressing this. I use to be an introvert, not anymore.

  • Such a great post! I’m also an introvert, but I know I need to be pushed sometimes, and you gave the exact reasons why.

    • Sarah Jean

      I always need to be pushed. 🙂

  • Great insight! I’m a cross between introvert and extrovert. I think it really depends on the situation!

  • Love this! I’m definitely an introvert but as I’ve gotten older I’ve had to learn to push myself out of my comfort zones. We can all learn things from one another, I think. Great post!

  • SkyeWard

    I’m not sure if I’m one or the other! I think Im both depending on circumstance. I’m a little eccentric though…..

  • herelectricocean.blogspot.co.u

    This is such a great post. As an ambivert I can completely see how both extroverts and introverts can lesrn and grow together. We balance eachother out!

  • Samantha

    Very good post! I am an introvert and I just started to push myself to go back to church mainly because of my friend who is very much an extrovert.

    • Sarah Jean

      haha while the pushing is hard – it’s worth it!

  • Neely

    Im an introvert unless I am around people I know 🙂

  • Nikki Frank-Hamilton

    This is the best! I am an INFJ and although we are good at being an extrovert at times, we would prefer to be an introvert. There are times I am so overwhelmed by my feelings at church it’s so hard to pull myself together to have a conversation afterwards. I’m great with a large group of people that I know, but a large group of people that I don’t know is sometimes terrifying to speak or interact with. I love this. I can be who I am and still do the job God needs me to do! Thanks Sarah!

  • I think the best balance is somewhere in the middle between the two. I am married to an extrovert and I’m the opposite but we get along very well.

  • I love your point that an introvert often has an insightful thing to say. We are observers, and when we finally get an opportunity or the courage to speak, we just might surprise you! Great article!

  • CathyLynchLawdanski

    This made me laugh. I do not feel the need to hug everyone I meet! But I shudder to think what the church would be like if it was run by introverts!

  • Jessica

    I am sorry, but I laughed at your comment about the hugging. I hate being hugged by 99% of people. I was not raised religiously, but my husband was. I have been working on my faith, and we have tested a few churches over the past several years. We finally found the right church for us at his last duty station. I was starting to come out of my shell a bit, and then we moved, again. This time we moved back “home” and started to attend the church that my husband grew up attending. The one that his parents still attend. It sounds like that should be okay, but for this introvert, it was so uncomfortable. Because everyone there has known my husband since he was a child, there were extra hugs, and extra grabbing of my hands. And let’s not forget the awkward comments from other women about how much they loved my husband when they were younger. While I understand that the message that they were trying to send was one of love and letting me know that I was part of their family, it was so overwhelming that the next time we went, we arrived late, snuck in the back and tried to sneak out un-noticed. We haven’t been to that church since. This was a great article that I can really relate to. Clearly, I need to work on pushing myself more.

  • Great article! I am a introvert unless I am around people that I’ve known for a while, I’ve gotten a little better but it’s hard because I’m so shy. My hubby is a extrovert, and him and his whole family are huggers, and I’m still trying to get use to that. At family functions everyone hugs everyone when they get there then again when they leave. Too much hugging for me, lol.

  • Erin -SuburbanSimplicity

    Great article. I think it is hard for introverts to especially in an environment where there are lots of extroverts! I think they can learn from each other. Thanks for your perspective!

  • Shani Ogden

    I’ve discovered that I am an “ambivert” which is basically a cross between introvert and extrovert. I need time with other people but I’m totally okay to be by myself too. I love that you point out that there is not one way that is better than another because we are all different and we can all learn from each other.

  • Summer

    Great article!!

  • Tracy Arora Wright

    So true! I am an introvert as well, but you are so correct that introverts and extroverts balance each other to create a full church Body!

  • Rachel Dean

    I am a little of both but one thing is for sure, I dislike the greeting time. If I want to greet people, I’ll do it on my time not because someone told me too. The greeters at my church are not suppose to shake hands or hug because of introverts!

    • Sarah Jean

      ha that made me laugh! I too wished greeters would just wave and smile as we walk in. That would be a true win-win, right? 🙂

  • I’m definitely an extrovert, but have my introvert moments! I think it’s great to have both qualities and that can help in many social situations!