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Introverts in the church

Discussion in 'Deeper Fellowship' started by Iquietguy, Aug 18, 2012.

  1. Iquietguy

    Iquietguy Newbie

    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?
  2. stormdancer0

    stormdancer0 Do not be so open-minded that your brain falls out

    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.
  3. RickardoHolmes

    RickardoHolmes Guest

    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.
  4. Iquietguy

    Iquietguy Newbie

    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.
  5. redphantom

    redphantom Newbie

    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.
  6. aloou

    aloou Guest

    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.
  7. shanethetheologian

    shanethetheologian Deacon

    United States
    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.
  8. aloou

    aloou Guest

    Good point :preach:
  9. stormdancer0

    stormdancer0 Do not be so open-minded that your brain falls out

    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.
  10. Andres88

    Andres88 Contributor

    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! :)
  11. lillivanilli

    lillivanilli May the schwartz be with you.

    I understand the OP completely. I too am introverted and shy, and I find being in large groups of people (or any size group if I don't know them well) to be mentally and physically exhausting. I am one of those who dart out of the church after services. Not because I don't want to socialize and fellowship, but because I am just socially awkward. I wish it could be different because I long for friendships outside of online communities! But it has thus far been impossible for me to attain.

    I think trying to guilt or pressure someone like us into being more social is the wrong way to go about it. We are thinkers and feelers, we need lots of space to process, time to test the waters and get our toes wet before we get our feet wet. Forget about jumping right in the pool!
  12. All4HISglory

    All4HISglory Guest

    I think you should pray about it honestly. It may be something that God can change within you that will allow you to branch out a bit but still be comfortable within yourself about just how much you are "out there."

    You asked what is your responbility to your brethen? My thought is that you have certain gifts that God has placed in you. What you posses may but what someone around you needs. You have to ask yourself if you feel it is more about what is comfortable for you or what God wants of you? We step out of our comfort zone (led by God) the result is a higher level in Christ, a greater joy and more wisdom and knowledge.

    Every outting or group may not be for you but there may be one that fits you and you are able to allow God to open you up and pour from you into someone else and vise versa.

    In addition, we draw strength from one another. One of the enemy's greatest tricks is to keep us isolated (I am not saying that this is your situation but just in general).

    Again, I would encourage you to pray about and see if God is ushering you into something new. If not and you are content, then all is well.
  13. childofGod31

    childofGod31 Regular Member

    I am like you and it's upsetting that some people want to make you "after their own image". Those people who like mingling don't understand why we don't want to. It's a personality difference. But they don't get that and make it into a spiritual issue. It's because of the lack of understanding things overall that they proclaim such judgements.

    Mingling itself is a good thing and good for society. People get helped when they mingle. They hear things that are good for them sometimes. They get help by being involved. And they help others by either deed or word.

    But we are NOT all created equal. We have differences. Paul said that we are a part of the body and that members have different roles to play.

    It would be unwise to take someone who is a very quiet person, able to quietly serve in some service role and make him a greeter or put him in a public speaking role.

    And Jesus said: my burden is light. So Jesus doesn't make people do what's too hard for them.

    So don't worry about it. Try your best, but don't make it too hard on yourself, otherwise, it will feel like a heavy burden. And it's not from Jesus then. Pharisees are the ones who put heavy burdens on people, as Jesus mentioned. I guess they are still here...

    I am sure you can be useful for God in some other way besides mingling. And you'll also be happy doing that. That's the one to shoot for.
  14. janny108

    janny108 Well-Known Member

    Word of Faith
    In Relationship
    Gosh this sounds a lot like us! I am thinking that pastors want more people like themselves, like they are making themselves the standard. We used to be part of churches like that.
    How do you feel in small groups or sunday school? I used to participate a lot that way and also be involved with music. We are introverted too. There is a good book called Introverts in the church you can look it up under Amazon; it explains how valuable we are to any organization as introverts.
  15. janny108

    janny108 Well-Known Member

    Word of Faith
    In Relationship

    Introverts are wired differently than extroverts. Introverts need quiet time to replentish their energy, extroverts are seeking to rebuild their energy thru interaction with people. I find too much interaction to be draining myself.
  16. Wayaok

    Wayaok Newbie

    I too was once an introvert wanting to leave after church; whereas wife was an extrovert that would've been the last to leave ... if not for me being shy/reserved. With the Lord's help it's not only possible, but you'll never regret the change, so practice, practice, practice. It will be awkward/uncomfortable at times. Like any new learning experience view it as a challenge that will make you a better person. Don't be discouraged or embarrassed by any temporary setback.

    First: Extroverts being more outgoing/outspoken think they are the standard by which others are measured as introverts seldom challenge them because when they do they are usually shot down. Most introverts are very good communicating one on one and often have better listening skills. Being a really good listener is just as important as being a good talker. That said your Pastor is still right so look at your church as the best place in the world to: Practice, practice, practice while still retaining your unique talents and reserved nature. Practice loving others as Christ loved us.

    I don’t picture Jesus as an introvert or an extrovert. We shouldn’t measure the worth of a person based on their outgoing charisma which can be deceiving. As you age like a fine wine you’ll acquire more and more of the love of Jesus in your heart. You’ll become more comfortable around others and involve yourself in meaningful conversations.

    In Isaiah 53:2-3 it reads, "He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face. He was despised, and we did not esteem Him." (NASB)
    And of Paul they said, "His letters are weighty and strong, but his personal presence is unimpressive and his speech contemptible." (2 Cor. 10:10)
    “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.” (John 21:25)

    God only needed to say four words, “Let there be light.” There are eleven “Then God said” in the first chapter of Genesis. The twelfth ‘God said’ is found in Genesis 2:18 “Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2012
  17. Alive_Again

    Alive_Again Resident Alien

    Word of Faith
    We sometimes tend to have too much of a "taker" mentality at church. We come to receive and hear and that's it. God wants to bless His people. He wants to do it through us. We are supposed to be prophesying and edifying and blessing each other in the church.

    We're being trained for the work of ministry (all believers). Part of this means stepping out of our shells and loving people.
    There's a lot of carnality we're supposed to avoid, and if part of the church is into that, I wouldn't hang out with them either. We can provide a good example of one who is not of the world and walking in agape love.

    Part of being filled with the Spirit, means being carrying the boldness of the Lord. The key is that it is of Him. We should expect Him to give us boldness, a boldness beyond ourselves, but we must ask for it and step out in faith, even before we seem to have it.

    The scripture where it talks about not being given a spirit of fear, but of power also talks about partaking of the sufferings of the gospel. Sometimes those sufferings come by means of a hurting church. There are a lot of opinions to offer, but if you give people the Word of God, that same Word does "the work" because it is anointed.

    I personally think the Lord will train us up to partake of His boldness, so we can give Him all of the glory. He drops His Word in our spirit and it blesses us. He wants us to share of that blessing with others. If we can't do it in the church, we're probably not doing it in the world. We could all agree to practice being more bolder (after praying) and tell people what is on our hearts to bless them. Who cares how they react. Just ask the Lord to direct you to someone who needs to hear it.

    Many times we are called to listen. We're supposed to be more inclined to listen than to "give the sacrifice of fools". You can love with your ears too by offering a loving heart to the church (and the world).
  18. LivelaWahrheit

    LivelaWahrheit Child of God

    I sympathize greatly. I have been a Christian for going on 2 years, and one of my biggest issues has been that of socializing. I'm a bit of a contradiction in that I'm somewhat boisterous with my close friends but generally very introverted and reserved around those I don't know well. It's tough because I desire intimate fellowship with more Christians, but any attempt of my own will to socialize generally ends in awkwardness. I believe like with everything else about ourselves, this is something that God will change in those suffering from it. Yes, I do see it as an affliction. As *Alive Again* pointed out, Scripture teaches us that we are to edify others in the Church, which inevitably involves reaching out to those we don't know or aren't exactly comfortable with.

    At my last church, there was this one member who was about as new as myself, and while I generally didn't seek out conversation with those who I wasn't already acquainted with, one day I saw her standing by herself, with a sort of look of shy longing to engage in the friendly conversation that takes place amongst the church before and after the service. I went up to her and started a conversation and it made me happy to know that I made her feel more welcome in the church, because I knew in that moment exactly how she felt.

    I believe that part of my issue is that I'm not exactly one for small talk, at least not with people I don't know well. I've learned to just be content being myself: I'm kind when I do speak with someone, but I do not by any means go out of my way if I feel uncomfortable. I believe this is just another matter of trusting God to fill in the gaps; when He has a purpose in my talking to someone I don't know or am not comfortable with, He makes it happen and gives me the grace to do it. :)
  19. aloou

    aloou Guest

    This is exactly me. Fun, loud and boisterous around those I know and seemingly paralyzed around new people. I too hate small talk and I don't enjoy getting to know new people which is so contradictory I know but like you said, make a decent effort toward our weaknesses and allow God to fill in the gaps.
  20. Emmy

    Emmy Senior Veteran

    Salvation Army
    Dear Iquietguy. We are all made different, and there are quite a few Introverts. Jesus told us in Matthews chapter 22, verses 35-40: " The first and great Commandment is: Love God with all thy hearts, with all thy souls,
    and with all thy minds. The second is like it: Love thy neighbour as thyself."
    Then Jesus gives us this great reminder: " On these two Commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."
    What does that mean? We treat all we know and all we meet with kindly words and smiles. The number of words do not matter, as long as they are
    friendly and with a smile. A friendly face and helpful hands will please your neighbour. God will see and God will approve and bless, God knows our hearts, and God always knows why we say little or much. Is it friendly or just forced? The church is a meeting-place for all loving and caring Christians, as long as you show that you belong, whether with many words or few words.
    God always sees the heart and that counts, even if they are Introverts, God will love them and accept them just as everybody else. Just keep smiling.
    I say this with love, quietguy. Greetings from Emmy, your sister in Christ.