Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Introverted Evangelist

A very important issue here for those of us who care about discipleship.

Seth McBee:
  • Introverts, by nature, have a tough time being around people they do not know. So, find an extrovert, or functional extrovert, that loves Jesus and understands introverts. Have the extrovert invite the introvert into their daily lives and functions. This will allow the introvert to be with those they know, yet still be with those they don’t know. 
  • Allow the introvert to serve at events, parties, activities, etc. in a way in which they are comfortable. We have an introvert in our missional community who started by taking out the garbage, cleaning, and making the food at our BBQs and breakfasts. It was pretty funny because he was like a silent cleaning assassin. People would ask, “who is that?” I’d let them know he was a friend of mine who was here to help, so I could spend more time getting to know my neighbors. Please tell me how that doesn’t speak to kingdom living! After a while, he started to build friendships and started to speak into them and felt very comfortable at our large events, because he knew everyone now. I wasn’t patient at first, but when I started to realize how God had made him and his love for Jesus, I allowed him to live out his identity. When we do this, we become a beautiful picture of the diverse body of Christ. 
  • Know that because introverts do not like being around people they don’t know or large groups, they will not be the ones who are planning parties, or are the life of the parties. Allow this; it’s okay! Do not force them to do things that they are not made to be. Of course, there is a balance to the call of mission, but at the same time, be patient. I’ve found that the more you allow the introvert time to be around extroverts, or just strangers in general…the more they get to know them and then desire to be around them. When an introvert speaks, listen. Introverts don’t want to bother people, because they don’t like to be bothered. But, after they get to know people, they will speak into their lives and their wisdom is usually spot on. First, they listen and watch. When they finally feel the need to speak, they usually hit the heart of the issues at hand. Do not gloss over what they say, but listen and encourage. If you ignore or talk over them, they are stubborn buggers and might never talk again. 
  • Introverts desire community, they just don’t know it. Most introverts think they want to be by themselves. The fact is, they just don’t want to be around others they don’t know. And it’s not something they need to just “get over”; it’s as real as trying to get an artist to put on a suit and sit behind a desk all day. It just isn’t going to work. So, you can tell when you have an introvert who is an evangelist because they start to gather with those they’ve developed relationships with. My wife is like this. She hates meeting new people; however, once she has developed relationships, she not only makes space for them, they make space for her. 
  • What is an evangelist anyways? An evangelist isn’t a personality type or a personality disorder, but an evangelist is one who brings good news, both in the proclamation with the mouth and their actions. If this is the case, where does it say that an evangelist is going to be an extrovert or introvert? What if God’s plan was for everyone to do the work of an evangelist? (2 Tim 4:5). Think of the power of the church if we empower both the extrovert and the introvert to be the representation of the good news in the way that God has made them? How many more people would be reached for the sake of Jesus? 
Read the rest.

Book recommendation = Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture


sara said...

Can we please make a distinction between socially debilitating shyness and introversion?

I have to disagree with most of the assumptions made here about "what introverts like." As an introvert myself, I'll say this - I like people, but they exhaust me. I need to "recharge" frequently after exerting myself with a lot of chit-chat. I have extroverted friends who feel energized by being around people and drained after spending too many hours alone - for me, it is the opposite.

Speaking of chit-chat, I find small talk boring and inane. Yes, I recognize that it's sometimes necessary to discuss the weather before delving into something deeper, but it sure does seem pointless sometimes.

Anonymous said...

The book "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking" shines some light on this topic as well. It's from a mainstream perspective but also gives valuable insight to the "Church World."

Steve said...

Sara has it about right & beentheredonethat gives some helpful counsel. I also disagree with Mr. McBee's general assessment of us introverts. And I take strong exception to the statement that we introverts dislike being around people we don't know and that we want community but that we "just don't know it." Spoken like a true "extrovert" who thinks it is introverts who are somehow dysfunctional and need to be evangelized. Maybe it's not that introverts need to be "evangelized" (whatever that is supposed to mean anyway)but that it is extroverts who need to back off of assuming that we introverts need (or want) what they think we need and just let us be who we are.


sara said...

To be fair, Steve, I think the point of the post is that introverts can be evangelists, not that they necessarily need evangelizing.


Steve said...

Sara, Point-Counter Point: Not trying to be fair. Just correct. Mr. McBee's condescending attitude toward introverts needing some sort of help as they "allow" us to enjoy community (as they see it) is really beneath the vision of community that Jesus really intended. Once again, my point is that Mr. McBee's attitude is typical of extroverts - They think there is something that needs fixing and introverts need to change & extroverts such as himself can fix what ails us introverts so we can become more like them - extroverts. And it would be my contention that we introverts are better at "evangelizing," long-term than extroverts give us credit.

Corey said...

I would consider myself an introverted evangelist. I think a great tool to help introverts share the message of Jesus is with Christian shirts. It creates a way for the introvert to start a conversation much easier because they do not actually have to be the one to start the conversation. Its a passion of mine to provide shirts with the mission of helping others spread the message. What are your thoughts on this?

You can see my designs at www.toolsforchrist.com

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with Sara and even Steve regarding the condescending attitude. I am an introvert, I preach often, win people for Christ (usually when they are on my context or after knowing them for a while), and have been a cross cultural discipler among the unreached launching a church movement. But I need to be alone to recover my energy, not because I don't like people. As Sara said "they exhaust me". I need time alone to pray, to think, to read, to write, to enjoy music or a good movie. I need it like oxygen.