Insight for innies and outties
Introverts in the Church
Adam S. McHugh
IVP, 222 pages
I hate the title of Adam S. McHugh’s book. I hate the title, but love the book. The title implies it’s for introverts only. Instead, it’s a book for everybody in the church.
If you’re an introvert, raise your hand if someone has ever said to you, “You can’t be an introvert; you’re so friendly,” or “You can’t be an introvert; you’re so comfortable talking to large groups of people.” Introverts aren’t necessarily unfriendly, shy, or unable to speak to a crowd; rather we process information and get energy for living differently than extroverts.
McHugh’s book is helpful for introverts because he synthesizes the literature on introversion, introverted personality types, and how introverts interact in an extroverted culture. Although I’ve known for a long time that I’m an introvert, I found myself putting the book down on numerous occasions to say, “That’s why I do that!”
Introverts in the Church is helpful for extroverts because they work and worship with introverts every day. As an extrovert, if you want to understand your friends and help them live faithfully as the people God created them to be, this book can help you.
It’s helpful for the entire church because McHugh makes a compelling case that many of our churches and church programs have an extroverted bias. Whether referring to churches that aren’t missionally minded as “introverted,” or relying on extroverted decision-making processes, many churches tend to favour extroversion.
I found McHugh’s insights about the church incredibly helpful, particularly those related to being a leader in the church. In the past few months, I’ve had the privilege of working with young people who are discerning a call to professional church ministry. All are introverts, and all felt that this excluded them from leadership.
Introverts may lead differently than extroverts, but that doesn’t make us bad leaders. In a time when many people are concerned about developing young leaders, the fact that talented young people would assume they couldn’t serve because of their introversion is something for all who love the church to take note of. I’m grateful that I’ve been able to hand them McHugh’s book and encourage them to continue to consider pursing their call.
Despite the fact that roughly 50 percent of the population are introverts, being an introvert in the church can sometimes feel like being a “lefty” in a right-handed world. As the body of Christ, the church needs to honour God with both hands.