Who are the 2nd class citizens within our churches? I’d argue they are the introverts who don’t have enough of a flamboyant personality, enough energy to win over a crowd, or enough relationships to be considered leaders.
Introverts make up anywhere from 40 to 50% of our society and yet so much of church life seems focused around creating frenetic environments of noise, busyness, and talking.
If you haven’t read Introverts in the Church by Adam McHugh add it to your must read list. If you’re an introvert you’ll feel like he understands all your frustrations. If you’re extroverted you’ll begin to think about how your church can create better environments that value people of all personality dispositions. Here’s a favorite quote of mine from his book that gets at the heart of this 2nd class citizen idea:
“People who enjoy reflection and solitude, and listen more than they speak, are often viewed as enigmatic, antisocial and passive.”
A great challenge for our churches, and society in general, is to create space for introverts and extroverts to both be welcomed and given the freedom to be themselves.
A few weeks ago Susan Cain (fresh off releasing her new book on introversion) gave a TED talk on introversion that meets well with this 2nd class citizen idea Adam McHugh speaks of in his book. It’s 19 minutes long, but highly valuable for all of us to consider when it comes to how we interact with others and how different personalities operate best.
I love so much about this video and the line of thinking Cain is presenting toward how we view introverts. Probably what I love best though is that she doesn’t shy away from her introversion. It comes across as she struggles to think of her next line or as she leaves longer pauses than is typical for most TED talks. She embraces this part of who she is instead of apologizing for it.
Here’s a great line from Cain’s book which dives into how Christians often view personality dispositions:
Evangelicalism has taken the Extrovert Ideal to its logical extreme…If you don’t love Jesus out loud, then it must not be real love. It’s not enough to forge your own spiritual connection to the divine; it must be displayed publicly.