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  #1  
Unread 18th August 2012, 09:09 AM
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Introverts in the church

I'm torn about something spiritually and could use some perspective. My pastor has often times commented on people who don't hang out after the service is over (which I don't). He also has commented on how some of us don't participate in small groups and we don't attend the breakfasts or prayer meetings (which I don't) but that we need to.

I'm an introvert. I find hanging out making small talk uncomfortable. I don't like groups with several new people. This has nothing to do with the church or my spiritual walk, it's just the way I am. In every other area of my life I am exactly the same... When confronted with a problem, I don't immediately look to others for help. When pursing hobbies, I don't search for people with the same interests. When I have an evening of leisure, I don't go out and meet new people. And spiritually, I don't seek out fellowship. Professionally I have to spend time with people and so of course I do, but after a week I'm drained, and the last thing I want to do is hang out for coffee after service or spending the afternoon in a small group. I'd much rather go home and spend time in scripture, alone.

My professional world is bad enough. I constantly hear "You need to get out there! You need to network! Meet people! Get involved!" and when I hear it from my pastor I just want to put my head in my hands and sigh.

My issue: What is my responsibility to my brethren in the church? I mean, my salvation is secure, I'm comfortable with who I am, Jesus certainly knows this about me... why is it so important that I mingle? In the professional world I have to be who I'm not and be outgoing, engaging, and extroverted. But at my home church I just want to be who I am, sit quietly and listen to the service, and then go home. Why is that so wrong? How do the other Christian introverts manage their relationship with the church?
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  #2  
Unread 18th August 2012, 11:00 AM
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I would sit down with your pastor and tell him exactly what you've told us - you are aware that idle chit-chat is not your forte, and you are very shy. Ask if there are ways you can help the church that do not involve a lot of social interaction - maybe do some office or yard work, or something like that. God uses all personalities, and does not expect you to change your base personality just because you are His.
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Unread 18th August 2012, 01:49 PM
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SO let me make sure I understand. Your pastor is complaining and trying to send a guilt trip to people who do not choose to live their lives exactly as he does? Seriously? Is he so narrow minded, unenightened, and desperate to say something like that ?

In my professional work, I too deal with people all week, and I do not seek religious company/socialization on the weekends either. Lately, I have even been attending Buddhist meditations instead because something wonderful happens there: people leave me alone. Each person seems to be their to focus on his or her spiritual growth. I am finding it to be useful as well.
If people like you at your church and want to spend time with you, then that in and of iteslf is a good thing. but i can relate to what you are saying. A good book written by Nieztsche or the Yogananda would give me greater spiritual/mystical insight and inspiration in life than idle chit chat with some one who just sees church as a place to socialize. NOT THAT THERE IS ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT ! it is just not for me.
I have personally found the myth of the "friendly church" to be just that...a myth, and I would be resentful as well of any clergy who tried to goad me into participating in activities and events which would not be of benefit to me.
Seeing how membership in churches in on the decline, your pastor should be THANKING people for being there, not complaining about the way they choose not to attend the lunch hour.
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  #4  
Unread 18th August 2012, 05:40 PM
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Thank you Rickardo, your reply felt good to read.

To say the pastor is "complaining" might be too strong a word. He did admonish some of us for always leaving after the service was over and not staying for coffee, but in general his comments are in the context of the journey; Our Christ relationship will never mature unless we're pursuing fellowship with other people.

He is probably right, but I'm just not called to that kind of ministry. My general rant (which I guess what this is, I mean I never post on forums but this does feel good) is that for those of us who are quiet, the message is that we're wrong. But it doesn't feel wrong; I'm in my 40's and I've never liked socializing, and I don't think I ever will.

I guess I want hear someone say (like Rickardo and storm) that it's OK to not be Mr. Bubbly, that it's OK to be quiet, that I can grow in scripture and maybe write or blog or something.

So thank you for the responses.
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  #5  
Unread 18th August 2012, 08:27 PM
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I am a loner too. I'm very introverted. When I was in school the professors' said the people who came into church last minute, sat in the back, and left right away were often the ones who complained the curch was unfriendly. Perhaps this is something he's trying to encourage loners to avoid. I do agree that you need some interaction with other Christians to help you grow. I'm very uncomfortable with other people. I force myself to leave my comfort zone and go to a bible study not because I'm looking to grow (well not entirely) but because I know I can also help others grow. I'm not trying to brag, I'm accepting a responsibility. You too maybe able to help others in such a way.Do what you need to do but even if you do go to something, don't be afraid to say no to requests. I'll talk quite a bit in bible study at times but ask my to pray aloud and you will get a resounding no each and every time.
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Unread 18th August 2012, 10:22 PM
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I really struggle with this too. I don't necessarily find it necessary to "mingle" and constantly be searching out people. I am not wired that way. I do however notice that Christians in general put pressure on us introverts to be more social. There's a lot of unspoken (sometimes spoken) expectations that other Christians put on Christians. I find them exhausting. I am very slow to warm up to new people. Like lava slow. I am always in a bible study, I always go to church on Sundays, I am always surface friendly but I share my intimate friendships with a small handful and don't feel the need to be all cozy with many.
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Unread 18th August 2012, 10:35 PM
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One of the purposes of the gospel is to transform you. If you cannot work within Christian society how will you commit the things which you have word from faithful witnesses to faithful ones who can do likewise? How will you go into the world and make disciples?

I too was an introvert and a scholastic, but I came to realize that is incompatible with the evangilistic and edificational missions of the church. It's a hard thing to do, but you must struggle to break down the your barriers.
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Unread 19th August 2012, 12:32 AM
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Originally Posted by shanethetheologian View Post
One of the purposes of the gospel is to transform you. If you cannot work within Christian society how will you commit the things which you have word from faithful witnesses to faithful ones who can do likewise? How will you go into the world and make disciples?

I too was an introvert and a scholastic, but I came to realize that is incompatible with the evangilistic and edificational missions of the church. It's a hard thing to do, but you must struggle to break down the your barriers.
Good point
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  #9  
Unread 19th August 2012, 09:05 AM
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If I can step in as a pastor.

Introverts should be allowed to perform work for the church appropriate for the personality that God has given them.

HOWEVER, there are a lot of "introverts" who are actually unwilling to help out because of laziness, being "too busy," or just under the mistaken belief that the tithe is the extent of their responsibility.

It is perhaps THOSE people your pastor is directing his words to.
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  #10  
Unread 20th August 2012, 09:06 AM
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I read an article a while ago about introverts in church (there's actually a book called "Introverts in the Church"!). Most of the times, there are high expectations for everyone to be on the go when it comes to social interaction, but what happens with the diversity of personalities that God has given His children? Not everyone is called to do and/or act the same way. Yes, we all need to show love, but do we have to express it in the same way? Yes, we do need to be in fellowship, but should it be something forced and without considering the personal differences as God-given?

Introversion, however, should never become a barrier for believers to share the gospel, and it shouldn't be seen as an enemy either. Doing God's will has nothing to do with introversion or extroversion. Celebrate God-given differences!
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