Introverts in the Church

Scott McKnight highlights a new book from IVP titled Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture. The author, Adam S. McHugh, is an introvert himself and has some interesting observations about how introverts understand the word “community” — it is “entry, retreat, and reentry.” For someone like me who is zealous for my solitude I can relate.

I have also found the word “retreat” to be something presenting a challenge rather than something refreshing. At just about every retreat I’ve been to, I have broken off from the main group to be by myself. Whether it is going to bed early or sitting off to the side in a corner it always seems to happen. A lot of this can be chalked up to social anxiety, the unjustified need to have all communication happen on my own terms, or a genuine disinterest in certain group activities, but there really is a part of me that would like to be alone.

Is that wrong? That actually has been hard question to answer. Part of me says ‘no’ because that is just how my personality processes life. It’s a natural thing, not a moral thing. On the other hand, I feel like I can use that as an excuse to avoid people and be selfish.

In any case, McHugh’s book looks like an interesting take on a curious problem with regard to how people view themselves and minister to others.

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11 thoughts on “Introverts in the Church

  1. I, too, have struggled with “retreat” as an introvert. Being a pastor, it’s often difficult for me to engage outside of the church context. I am much more content to lock myself in my office and get lost in exegesis. I’ll probably add this book to my list.

  2. Adam: I thought it was going to be the Redskins! Looking ahead, there’s a strong chance of an undefeated season. However, as the Pats proved a few years ago, there’s little comfort in an undefeated regular season when there’s a defeat in the post-season!

    • I was thinking Vikes v. Saints in the NFC Championship game, but after the thrashing my poor Vikings suffered at the hands of the Cards I am also thinking “Who dat gonna beat them Cards?”

  3. Hi Adam, that sounds like an interesting read, I’ll have to check it out. I can definitely relate.

    When in a community setting I have to force myself to interact with others, particularly when “small talk” and “chit chat” is called for. Otherwise I do the entry/retreat thing. Of course if the conversation comes around to something I’m interested in or know a lot about, I can talk too much. :)

    I also find that I must make an effort a church setting to meet new people and make them feel welcome. It doesn’t come naturally.

    • You sound like one of those saintly people like my fiance who has discipline herself to get over her introverted tendencies.

      I do, however, talk a lot in small groups. Probably because I am too opinionated for my own good :)

      • Chris E says:

        It’s not necessarily about talking a lot or a little is it ? Which can purely reflect confidence levels.

        It’s more a case of energy levels – I can have a really good set of interactions with people and still feel the need to ‘recharge’ by being alone.

  4. Chad says:

    Least you know your introverted… I don’t know what I am. Sometimes I like being around people but often I get overwhelmed and my mind can’t process all the interaction. Things like retreats put me over the edge but things like being at church for the most part is fine. Yep, I’m a freak.

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