If you’re anything like me, you get your energy from being alone. And I’m not talking about “alone in a crowded room” – I’m talking about being locked up in your house or your apartment with no other humans around (pets, though, are always welcome), where you’re able to completely drown out the oh-so-loud noise of society and truly soak in the silence, restoring your soul.
Sound about right? Figured I wasn’t alone. From a young age, I have always enjoyed the company of myself or my cats over the company of other people. It’s my safe space. But what do we, as introverted Christ followers, do when most church events seem to be geared towards extroverts? How can we find a place to fit in organically when we’re surrounded by greeters who are maybe a little too excited to shake your hand?
I know I’m not the only one asking these questions, as a quick Google search brings up a litany of articles and blogs on the subject. One person even asked, “Is it wrong for a Christian to be an introvert?” This kind of thought breaks my heart because, both as a Christian and as a human, I do not believe being an introvert is wrong or even a weakness.
Let’s look at what God’s Word has to say about this:
I don’t know about you, but within the church, I’ve never heard being introverted described as a gift or even as a good thing. When doing a spiritual gifts test, extroverted qualities seem to be held higher than anything an introvert would have to offer. When asking for volunteers, it often seems like if you are not willing to be a greeter or hang out with the kids or youth, the only thing the church wants from you is help with administrative work, if they even want that.
Of course, I cannot speak for all churches but only the ones with which I have experience, and the larger ones with thousands of congregants tend to lean toward this line of thinking. What I tend to think in these meetings or announcements asking for volunteers is, “Well, if I don’t have anything you’re wanting, why would I even get involved? I’ll get lost in the crowd, anyway.” After I get over my pity party and these initial feelings of rejection, I begin to wonder why the church would let the gifts of introverts go to waste.
If we truly believe we are the body of Christ, we have to appreciate every single member and what they bring to the table.
Introverts, we have great qualities that extroverts usually don’t. And the same goes for extroverts – you have many gifts and talents introverts don’t have. Yours are just usually focused on, hence the article for introverts, since we’re often forgotten. The “lost children” of the church, if you will. But here’s the thing – we don’t have to be lost. 1 Corinthians 12:16-19 (NIV) says, “[I]f the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed 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?” We wouldn’t be a church if we had duplicated personalities. How boring would that be?!
Sure, we may not always fit in as greeters and Sunday School teachers, but we know how to be alone well. We know how to mentor one-on-one really well. We have a lot to bring to small groups (and I mean actually small, less than 10 people). We have so much more as individuals that we offer – case in point, me writing to all of you instead of getting up and speaking at a conference. We all have gifts and abilities that the church desperately needs but may not yet know they need them.
Since a lot of these sorts of roles don’t exist, we might have to suggest them ourselves. I know, personally, that I am much more inclined to make suggestions the more I get to know the people in the church and feel comfortable around them. If you see a need in your church, speak up! When my now-husband and I, who are self-declared and Meyers-Briggs confirmed introverts, were engaged, we realized there was not a small group for couples who were seriously dating (talking about marriage) or engaged. There was nowhere for the “in-between” people to go (kind of like introverts, now that I think about it). So, we decided to form our own small group to create space for these people. This group has lasted for 3 years, and we have all grown so much and found lasting friendships within it. We are so glad that we chose to create this group and get to see the beautiful results, but it did not happen right away. One thing to remember is that this is a process – it’s not going to happen overnight. And it will not happen without all of us introverts uniting to stand up for ourselves. This is where would could take a page out of extroverts’ book and become a little more confident in what we have to offer.
Will it require a lot of effort? Absolutely. Will it be easy? Absolutely not. Will it be worth it? It just might be.
All in all, being an introvert is not wrong – in fact, it can be a great strength. You are just as loved and valued to God as extroverts are. We can still love people and get our rest from being alone. We can still be leaders within the church and prefer to have a small circle of friends. What I’m trying to say is that if we have to tolerate extroverted aspects of the church, I think extroverts can tolerate introverted ones. We may not be the ones front and center or jumping around on stage to “Way Maker,” but we can still be a huge force of good for God’s kingdom in our own unique, introverted way.
Hope Fairchild Hughes is an avid reader, lover of coffee shops and bubble tea, wife to an amazing man who works at The Walt Disney Company, and mom to 3 adorable cats. Hope grew up in the Lutheran church, which has a soft spot in her heart, even as she and her husband attend and serve at a non-denominational church. Currently residing in lovely Central Illinois, she and her husband will be moving down to Central Florida within the next few months and are ready for some sunshine! Hope has worked at State Farm Insurance for 2 years as an Underwriter and is looking forward to the future and opportunities that await her and her family down in Florida.