Over at Evangelical Outpost, Rachel Motte reviews a book called Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture. Looks fascinating, and (in my humble opinion) it’s long overdue.
I probably don’t need to mention that this is an issue of considerable interest to me (though to call myself an introvert is a gross understatement). I’ve heard of churches where every single member is required, as a condition of membership, to do house-to-house visitation. It seems to me that that kind of one-size-fits-all Christianity is entirely false to the true nature of the church. As the apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:14-20, “Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body…. But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”
A church, as I understand it, isn’t meant to look at its membership and say, “Where can we find people to do this and this and this?” It shouldn’t try to shoehorn members into pre-defined roles. Instead, the leadership ought to understand that God has already given them the parts He intends, for the sort of ministry He has in mind. They should get to know their fellow members, and prayerfully try to set each one to work doing what God has gifted him (or her) to do.
That’s not to say that a certain amount of personal growth isn’t necessary, or that people can’t learn to do things they’ve never thought of before. But I think many churches are in the position of the man who looks at himself in a mirror, decides he’s too short, and resolutely sets about finding a way to be taller. God (one assumes) made him the height he is for a reason.
As I mention in my comment to Rachel’s review, I attended a church years back (in Florida) whose pastor was also an introvert. He preached extremely well, and many people came to listen to him. But he himself admitted that he was poor at the one-on-one aspects of the ministry. He was blessed with an understanding board of elders, who were willing to back him up by finding others, both assistant pastors and laity, to take much of that burden off him. That church was dynamic and growing, one of the most exciting churches I’ve ever been involved in.