An Introverts Church Experience
The term introvert was introduced by the psychologist Carl Jung to describe a person whose motives and actions are directed inward. Introverts tend to spend a lot of time inside their own minds, may have little interest in the other people's thoughts or feelings, and minimize their contact with other people.
If introversion and extroversion were placed on opposite sides of a line and we fall somewhere between the two extremes, I would be consider myself to be far from the center line of the introvert side of the scale but by no means the farthest.
For an introvert like myself, attending church can be quite overwhelming and exhausting but at the same time it can also be invigorating. There is a lot going on. There are people everywhere. It’s sensory overload. It would seem to be quite the opposite of where I like to be for a few of the following reasons:
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I Dislike Small Talk (Or Talking At All)
Talking is a lot of work me. From the minute I walk in to the doors of a church, there are greeters that want to talk to me, people that want to hug me or shake my hand. It’s exhausting, it’s annoying, it’s necessary and unnecessary at the same time. People at church love to talk. Women at church love to talk. Pastors love to talk. I do not like to talk, I particularly don’t like to make small talk. It’s a waste of my energy.
I prefer to have conversations that are stimulating to the mind and encourage deep thinking and conversation. I think that is why I prefer to sit in a Thursday night two hour long small group for bible study than sit through 45 minutes of a pastor preaching at me on Sunday morning.
I Dislike Crowds
I do enjoy some amount of crowd exposure and hanging out, however I tend to navigate away from the crowd after some time of being in it. I will often find myself wandering away to sit and watch everything going on from the exterior of the room. This allows me to decompress and refuel from the energy exhausted from conversation and being around people.
As we mentioned this week in our Empty Conversation, there are benefits/strengths to hanging out/fellowship with other members of the church. As an introvert, I can come up with a million threats to hanging out vs strengths. It means I have to see people and talk to people and be around people. The benefit of potluck dinners is that everyone is stuffing their faces with food and conversation is kept to a minimum.
I Am Constantly Forced to Be Uncomfortable
We live in a world full of extroverts and outgoing people and while there is nothing wrong with being extroverted, as an introvert we often face challenges in church:
- Visitors - “If you’re visiting today, raise your hand or stand up so we can shake your hand or hug you and put you in a headlock!”
- Small Groups - “Why don’t we go around and share something you’ve never told anyone before?”
- Forced Public Prayer: “Let’s end with a prayer. Introvert, can you lead us in prayer?”
These are all things that I have experienced. I have also experienced times where the Pastor asks us to worship in a different way or asked everyone to come up to the front to be prayed for or to pray for someone. I am perfectly content sitting or standing in my spot where I am comfortable being.
The nature of the extravert has made it seem like introverts are bad Christians because they don’t necessarily pray out loud, dance around during worship, or participate in activities involving a lot of people. I have heard numerous times that church isn't about being comfortable. I don’t know if I agree with this or not. If God made me introverted, why should I act differently when I am in church? We all have our place in the Church and there are many ways introverts and extraverts can explore faith differently and in a manner in which they are comfortable.
While not all introverts are the same, these are just a few of my experiences and not all introverts are going to share the same thoughts on the matter.