Monday, June 25, 2012

Book Review: Introverts in the Church

Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture, by Adam McHugh

Adam McHugh has become a big name in the "introverted evangelical" world recently, beginning with the release of this book.  He also launched a now-almost-ended blog, called Introverted Church, and in the last couple of years has done a lot to advocate for the "rights of the introverts".

McHugh's thesis is basically that church - and by "church" he most especially means "American evangelicalism" - is designed for and well-suited to the extroverts of the world.  Whether it's expectations about how to "witness" or how excited one should be in worship or how many committees one should belong to, or whatever, the unspoken rule seems to be that "good" Christians are extroverts.

This, of course, denies the experience of many a Christian over hundreds and thousands of years, up to and including Jesus, who often "went off by himself to pray".  (And no, I'm not saying Jesus was a Christian.  Work with me, here.)  It is interesting to notice the near-total-absence in Evangelical circles of anything approaching contemplative spirituality, or even much of a respect for those who are, by nature, just not as loud and excited as everybody else.  As a former pastor of mine once said, "When there's silence in church, all the Catholics pray and all the Protestants wonder who missed their cue."  Now, there's a few of us sacramental Protestants...or, um, Evangelical Catholics, hanging around who would love for a little more reverent, contemplative silence now and again.  But broadly speaking, my pastor is right, and so is McHugh.

This is a really good book, particularly for those who are new to the world of introversion - either having just identified as an introvert, or just learning to understand those who are.  I think if you're fairly well situated in your introversion and know how to "be" in church or advocate for yourself, this maybe comes across as a little basic.  But if you lead a congregation - or just belong to one - that implicitly or explicitly values extroversion over introversion, this might be a good wakeup call to start noticing and supporting the people who have a rock-solid faith but aren't called to the Susie Christian Evangelism Committee.

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My Comments Policy: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23