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

The following book review, I think will be helpful to those who are in the church, and specifically to those in the church that have felt like they just don’t fit.

I have been heavily involved in ministry for a few years now, and it is undoubtedly a rewarding enjoyable job, but the fact of the matter is- it’s hard. At times the lifestyle seems to be a whirlwind of frenzied meetings, counseling, and emotionally-charged-busyness. And it was in the midst of feeling like this that I ‘Stumbled Upon’ a book by Adam McHugh called Introverts in the Church.

Let me start off by saying that for the longest time I have considered myself an extrovert, because I do well in crowds and tend to be talkative in a big group. However, this is a common misconception- (very simplified) an extroverted individual is someone who gets energy from being around other people, and an introverted person is one who recharges by being alone. Once I understood this, it became obvious that I was an introvert. The combination of this discovery, and feeling inadequate to do ministry due to the aforesaid feelings, I committed to using some of my gift card money and purchased McHugh’s book.

Here are few quotes that made me jump up and down with excitement, because it is precisely how I felt/feel about ministry in our culture:

“American religion is conspicuous for its messianically pretentious energy, its embarrassingly banal prose, and its impatiently hustling ambition.”

“It’s as if the moment we surrender our lives to Christ we are issued a flashing neon sign that says “GO!” There is a restless energy to evangelicalism that leads to a full schedule and a fast pace. Some have said that, in Christian culture, busyness is next to Godliness. We are always in motion, constantly growing never expanding.”

“We (introverts) don’t avoid social situations like we would a trip to the dentist, but sometimes we avoid them like we might avoid exercise, because we lack the energy for it. Long periods without quiet refueling leave introverts feeling physically exhausted and emotionally hollow.”

I kept reading the limitless artillery of quotes like this and I was thrilled. I thought, “I’m not the only one!” I kept standing up from my recliner to hunt down my wife so I could read her McHugh’s words that so accurately represented my heart.

Introverts in the church helped me to understand, that I’m not bad at ministry, but that I am an introvert in a extroverted ‘business.’ It also helped me to understand that I can still be successful in ministry while offering helpful tips on how to construct a schedule that works well with my introverted-ness. The fact of the matter is- introverts function differently. We require serious amounts of time to collect our thoughts and process alone. And in a culture of church that posts billboards that say things like ‘When Christians rest they rust’ it can be difficult to do this. (By the way I really did see a sign that said that).

So if you feel out of place in ministry, because it seems so overly-busy, or if ministry-related meetings take discipline for you to attend,  or if the words “The Great Commission” make you cringe in guilt and shame, while simultaneously giving you crippling anxiety, please, please read this book.

For those that are concerned that McHugh will essentially advise introverts to retreat from community, you couldn’t be more wrong. He fully knows that community is essential, especially for introverts, and also places a high a value on the Great Commission, and offers helpful ways for introverts to approach our mandate that seems to be so difficult.

This one is a must read.

5 of 5.