A couple of months ago, I wrote an article on this site on the topic of whether or not it is a sin to be an introvert. Unbeknownst to me, I was joining a pretty big discussion, led, in large part, by Adam McHugh, author of Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture. Along with his now discontinued blog, www.introvertedchurch.com, (which still has lots of great articles in the archives), you can find a lot of great resources and ideas for how use the gifts associated with introversion in positive ways in the church. I’ve found these resources helpful, since recently the topic of introverts and evangelism resurfaced for me, and I’ve found myself trying to come up with some ways that introverts can evangelize within their comfort zones — that is, using their natural gifts. It is, of course, important for all Christians to do things that are not comfortable when the Holy Spirit leads us to, but, as I wrote before (and as McHugh agrees), the American church largely favors extroverted ways of doing things, especially extroverted ways of evangelizing. So, here are five ways that extroverts may be able to join in the evangelism effort without striking up conversations with total strangers:
1. Give a speech, perform a song, act in a play, etc. that presents some aspect of the Gospel. This one will not be for all introverts, of course, because some introverts dislike public speaking or public performance. However, it is a great misconception that all introverts are afraid of public speaking; indeed, the vast majority of people I’ve met who are afraid of public speaking are extroverts, but, of course, that’s only been my experience. What introverts are often afraid of is spontaneous public speaking (or public praying, etc.) Give an introvert some time to prepare, and a little artistic freedom, and they can often provide a quite moving and effective public speech or performance.
2. Make something beautiful that expresses some aspect of the Gospel and share it. Paint a picture, write a poem, take a beautiful photo — and share it! Again, not all introverts are artists, but many artists are introverts, due to the introspective nature of artistic creation, and encouraging artistic contributions to church worship and evangelism efforts could be a good way to help introverts get involved.
3. Listen. Not all sharing of the gospel is about talking. Introverts are often skilled listeners, and the gift of non-judging, attentive listening, can speak volumes about the love of Christ. (note: this probably won’t happen with a random stranger on a first meeting; it will probably require slow steps over time to get to know the person being listened to)
4. Perform acts of service that show Christ’s love. The acts will be as varied as the individuals performing and benefiting from them, and, as with number 3, above, these acts will require time to slowly build relationships and show more explicitly the reason behind the actions.
5. Lead or join a very small group in a discussion of a book, film, album, etc. that expresses spiritual themes. This type of interaction is much more effective for introverts, who value thoughtful, deep discussion of ideas over small talk that requires spontaneous responses. Also, the small size of the group is key, and the subject matter provides direction for the conversation so the introverts aren’t stuck not knowing what to talk about.
My list is, of course, biased toward myself — an artistic type who enjoys performing in front of people. These suggestions wouldn’t work for all introverts, but they could be useful for a few who feel that they have no options that work with their natural temperament when it comes to sharing their faith. More importantly, it would be a good idea for church leaders to make options such as these available to people when encouraging their congregation to evangelize or when forming church outreach programs. In the meantime, I’ve got McHugh’s Introverts in the Church queued up on my Kindle so that I can find out more.
(More articles at www.ThinkingThroughChristianity.com)