Influence

 the shape of leadership

Six Things to Know About the Introverts in Your Church

Understanding this valuable segment of your congregation

Influence Magazine on October 4, 2018

You’ve probably heard a claim that started like this: “There are two types of people in the world.” Rarely is that a good way to describe large groups of individuals. However, when it comes to how people interact with the world around them, there are two basic types: introverts and extroverts.

With lively worship and engaging large groups, today’s churches seem ready-made to answer the needs of extroverts. But introverts should have a place in church as well. Here are six things introverts wish you knew about them that would help you better serve their needs:

1. They need lots of time and space. Don’t expect an introvert to jump right in. When joining the church, finding a place of service or committing to a small group, they like to take their time. They also need space, both physical and mental. Make sure they have it.

2. Your worship style may not be their worship style. For most churches, high energy is a sign of spiritual engagement. About half of our worship songs have a driving beat. People stand, clap, raise their hands or even dance! Introverts may not care for that. Many would rather sit and pray, meditate on God, or sing quietly. Think about them the next time you plan a worship set. They’re willing to belong to your church. Are you willing to help them feel comfortable?

Introverts are willing to belong to your church. Are you willing to help them feel comfortable?

3. Some things you do turn them off. Asking everyone to “turn to your neighbor” can send a cold chill down an introvert’s spine. Even raising a hand, standing up, and coming down to the front can be a huge hurdle. Perhaps you should consider different ways for people to respond to a message, like praying where they are and then sending a text or email about their decision.

4. Large groups aren’t their thing. Even small groups can intimidate them. Within a small group, they will weigh the quality of conversation over the quantity of words. It’s not that they aren’t good with small talk; they just want to get to the point. They would rather have five minutes of deep, reflective talking than half an hour that barely scratches the surface.

5. They want to volunteer, but they need to do so in a way that feels right for them. It’s important to find the best place of service for each person in your church. Serving as a greeter may not be a good use of an introvert’s gifts. But that doesn’t mean they always want to stay behind the scenes. Like everyone else, they have talents they desire to use. Some may be open to playing keyboard on stage or leading a small group discussion. Others may want to avoid the spotlight altogether. Encourage them to participate in the life of the church, but don’t push them to take on a role that is not a good fit.

6. Just because they’re quiet doesn’t mean they’re not paying attention. Introverts usually don’t wear emotions on their sleeves. They are reflective, so when you talk to them, they are really listening, processing what you are saying rather than trying to come up with an immediate response. Don’t misread this as a sign that they are aloof or somehow detached from the teaching or conversation.

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