Introverts in Worship
As a pastor who is by nature an introvert, I found this piece by my seminary friend and now a professor at Fuller Seminary's School of Psychology very interesting. Dr. Cameron Lee is Professor of Family Ministries at Fuller Theological Seminary. He blogs regularly under the title Squinting through Fog.
Sometimes worship seems fit for extroverts. Indeed, we seem to prize extroverts as preachers. Such a person is not me, though like Cameron I have figured out how to be extroverted professionally. But, like Cameron I need to get away from the crowd afterwards. I invite you to read and reflect -- You will need to click through to read the entire piece. But come back and offer thoughts!!
In some ways, I’m a pretty public person, as a teacher with a writing and speaking ministry. But I’m also an introvert by nature. A fairly strong one, in fact. I’ve learned to adapt to the demands of my role, the vague (and sometimes not so vague) expectation that I should be more extraverted and outgoing (and yes, I spell “extravert” with an “a”). At the end of the day, however, when I’m done being public, I need time alone to recover the energy I’ve expended.
That’s typically how it is with introverts. And it’s perfectly normal.
Maybe that sounds defensive. I don’t mean it to be. But introverts appear to be in the minority (and typically don’t draw too much attention to themselves anyway). Extraversion is often the expected norm. Someone who doesn’t readily volunteer his or her thoughts and opinions may be labeled “shy,” leaving others to wonder how that poor soul came to be that way.
And sometimes, extraverted norms play out in the church, too, even in the context of worship.
A believer may encounter culture shock moving from one church to another. If you were raised in an emotionally buttoned-up liturgical tradition and a friend invites you to a more charismatic church, you might suffer a kind of worship whiplash. But make no mistake: there are extraverts in high-church congregations and introverts in Pentecostal ones. The question is whether the spoken and unspoken norms of those congregations leave some worshipers feeling like there’s something wrong with them