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.