You are currently browsing the daily archive for December 4, 2014.

hiding thebreakthroughorgYesterday’s post highlighted aspects of the modern church which put off introverts.

Today’s entry continues the theme and responses to Chelsey Doering’s ‘The Top 5 Things Introverts Dread about Church’, this time featured on retired pastor Adam S. McHugh’s site. McHugh is the author of the 2009 book Introverts in the Church, more about which in another post.

Chelsey Doering is married to a vicar (curate) in the Lutheran church. She is an introvert and active in the life of her congregation. Her list is a must read for everyone. Introverts will appreciate it, whilst extroverts might find a few eye-openers therein.

As my previous entry excerpted three of her top 5, I shall continue with reactions to what she wrote, this time from McHugh’s site. Many people commented as Anonymous. Emphases mine below.

Pastors, lay leaders — please take note. Thank you!

Meet and greet

Petra: … One of the best signs ever to welcome me back to our now home church was the fact that they did not have greeting time, nor did anyone actually greet me during my first few visits. I knew right then and there that it was the perfect church for me …

Anonymous: I have chosen to sit in the back of the church and then skulked out to the restroom when greeting time came around!

Roger Ball: Intrusiveness, overfamiliarity, and presumption, along with other controlling mechanisms, should not be embraced as mere personality distinctions. They are immature traits for any Christian.

The Peace

Debra: I’m a Presbyterian pastor who has learned to “put on” the armor of Christ in the form of extrovert clothes. As a moderately introverted person passing the peace is a nightmare for me. It’s also difficult and sometimes sad for people with limited mobility. I recently learned that for people with rheumatoid and other forms of osteo arthritis as well as people with fibromyalgia, recent bouts of shingles and those who have undergone chemotherapy which makes skin sensitive it is problematic. All of these folks dread handshakes and hugs because they never know how hard the person will squeeze. It is physically painful for them

Chelsey: My only real caveat with this whole tradition is how it makes guests feel, and that is uncomfortable. They’re not likely to come back or begin to embrace relationships with people in the church if they are made to feel uncomfortable from the get-go.

Anonymous: As an extrovert, I have no problem shaking hands, welcoming people and catching up, but if it’s called “passing the peace,” which is what it once was and still is in some places, then we’re talking about two different things.

Sadly, “passing the peace” has been perverted from being a symbolic and/or real ritual of forgiveness and reconciliation: “The peace of Christ be with you” is what the fearful, shameful disciples received from the risen Christ when he appeared to them in the upper room. He said, touch my hands and put your hand in my side. I don’t think he said, hey, let’s shake hands with as many people as possible and “good morning” and ask each other how our week has been

Keith: … the whole “passing of the peace” thing was a relatively new thing for my generation, added in the mid 70s as a way to emulate the model of the church written about in the book of Acts, where all the members “greeted each other with a holy kiss.” Perhaps that fit in better with a Middle Eastern culture that was used to all that stuff anyway, and not to an American culture where people tend to want their space …

Anonymous: I hate shaking hands in church and usually busy myself with my program, head down, and being entirely unapproachable. I especially hate it when the person in front of me has been coughing and sneezing into their hand. Um, no thanks, I don’t want to touch that.

I also spend more time worrying about what I should say when praying publicly instead of listening to where God is leading me.

All in all, I hope some pastors read this and realize that some of us just prefer to sit, listen, and process.

Praying aloud on demand

Anonymous: … I pastor a church in Columbus, Ohio and today during Sunday School, the teacher insinuated (in a rather obvious way) that if a person doesn’t want to pray out loud, he/she would fall under the category of being ashamed of Christ. He said “The Bible says we should pray out loud. . . .” With that I had to stop him and correct him in front of his class. I hated to do that but what he was teaching was a real load of crap. For all you introverts, I really don’t believe there’s anything “wrong with you.” For anyone to tell you that you have to be “healed” of who you are, well, it sounds to me as though what they are really telling you is that “you must become more like me in order to be right.” Maybe there is a healing that needs to take place; THEIRS!

Anonymous: I also felt uncomfortable at a bible study that prayed aloud when I have my prayers in solitude. I did not understand that it was me being an Introvert not my lack of faith.

Chelsey: I think just letting people know before the time of prayer that they are not expected to pray aloud is a good move.

pentamom: … I’m not saying there’s not a time and place for very intimate sharing and prayer, but it’s not at the behest of some speaker with some agenda. That kind of intimacy only belongs between people who have developed that kind of intimacy in a real way, on appropriate occasions

Small groups

Dawn McColm: Our church strongly encourages participation in small groups during the week. I HATE being in a small group. Being thrown together with superficial people, trying to make superficial bonds just leaves me exhausted. I dread it every time. 

Anonymous: … I think calling on people in small groups (to speak or pray) is inconsiderate and invasive at best … 

Angie: One thing I might add is that being a brother or sister in Christ, does NOT qualify one to know things about another brother or sister in Christ that one does not want to share. Christians have personal lives too. I think that we do need to be transparent, however, snooping is just snooping, no matter how you baptize it. 

… I don’t want 20 ladies knowing my deepest struggles. But I do really really well with my husband and one, maybe two ladies, to whom I can turn for advice, encouragement, etc.

We are brothers and sisters in Christ, yes, we love each other and serve each other. But that does not make us automatically BFFs.

Gil: … If I’m “forced” to provide input during a discussion, I can always respond that I’m still thinking about the topic … 

Mike: … Forcing introverts to share is not the best idea and will likely drive them away.

Pat Pope: I grew into adulthood trying to be acceptable to others even up until about a year ago, when I decided enough was enough. I was often not accepted by people and I just decided to be true to myself rather than jumping through hoops to be acceptable to others. I still make efforts to improve and to do the uncomfortable to get out of my comfort zones, but with a different motivation. I exercise healthy boundaries, because it can easily turn into changing for others for acceptance, versus changing for what we feel the greater good is. If we’re not careful, we get into performance anxiety because we’re always trying to get others’ approval when in fact, there is only One whose approval I really should be seeking.

Youth groups

Melissa: … My church, for a little while, had a youth pastor who eschewed the games and started reading Lewis with the kids. The youth group got smaller, but it also got stronger.

I feel like there can and should be a mix of both in youth group – nights where there’s stupid games to bring in the new kids who need an in and nights where things are deep and quiet and challenging for those who want to and are ready to go deeper. Preferably these should be separate. I hated doing ten gazillion silly games as a ‘pass’ into my bible study time.

Kurt: … As an introvert that formerly endured youth group and camp over 20 years ago, I can tell you that those activities made me miserable as well. I didn’t like skits and now I still can’t see the compelling need for them …

Anonymous: Regarding being self-confident enough to decline a request to pray out loud: I tried that back when I was 14. I couldn’t do the flowery prayers that so-and-so could do and I just wasn’t comfortable. So I politely declined.

The Sunday School teacher was very upset and the next Sunday spent the entire lesson lecturing “us” on how our relationship with Jesus Christ should be more important than our insecurities. And how we need to “reach out.” Never mind that the cool people never reached out to me; it was my job to reach out and think of something to say, no matter how blank my mind was.

The lecture had me in tears by the end because I thought I was such a selfish person. In retrospect, what a crappy thing to do to a young teenager. Introverted adults can take care of themselves, but extroverted adults bludgeoning introverted kids into being like them–that’s about as un-Christlike as I can imagine.

Worship in general

Anonymous: … As for the concept of worship, the Church as a whole does not understand worship. Worship is not singing….worship is not meeting with other believers….. Worship can ONLY be accomplished in the heart of the believer. Jesus said “God is a spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” Anything beyond this is self-worship and self-entertainment, and God won’t accept it as worship (He cannot be untrue to His Word.)

Accommodating introverts

bmonk: Catholic introverts have a wonderful vocation just right for them–and one which does call them to serve and love and all the rest AS INTROVERTS. It’s called being a monk or nun. I’m so glad I thought about it and became one.

Chelsey Doering: … Romans 12 defines the spiritual act of worship as offering our lives for the glory of God, and James 1 teaches very clearly that pure and undefiled religion is caring for those who are in need. I believe that having confidence in obeying the will of God in these Scriptures is accomplished in a myriad of ways. For example: my husband (an extrovert) would feel compelled to go and pray with a woman who had lost her husband. I would go with him, but I would feel more compelled to bring her food, clean her house, weed her flower beds, and sit and hold her hand while she mourns.

Which of us – my husband or myself – is obeying the will of God? Which of us is doing the pure, undefiled thing? The answer is yes. Yes, we are. We are doing it differently, true, but we are obeying.

This is true worship: offering ourselves (our time, our passions, our very lives) to the Lord who made us and saved us. So I must say that just because I feel uncomfortable during the 60 seconds of hand-shaking at the beginning of the “worship service” at my church does not mean that I am disobeying God’s commands or unwilling to submit to Him as I hide behind my personality.

Adam S. McHugh: I think the problem that many introverts have is that some churches (usually unintentionally) interpret “dying to self” as “becoming extroverted.” I am convinced that sanctification is not tantamount to becoming gregarious and outgoing. Our steps in love may come one at a time, one person at a time, one small risk at a time. But we affirm that introversion is not a bad or inherently unloving way of being; there are many gifts and strengths that we bring to our communities, and I think that extroverts can love us by allowing us to be ourselves. We will take small steps of sacrificial love, and we ask that extroverts do the same.

Chelsey’s insight on obeying God as an introvert

Chelsey Doering: … Whenever I am out in public, such as a coffee shop or an airport, God places me next to someone who needs to talk. Nearly every single time (this was especially distracting when I worked as a barista!). I never begin the conversation, but by the time it is over, I know that person’s story, and I pray that they know the love of Christ. My husband likes to say that I am a “hurting person magnet.” God knows the deep natural propensity to listen is within me (since He put it there), and He steers people to me so that I am putting it to good use. He doesn’t let me hide. And although I don’t like it sometimes, I’m glad that He puts me out in the open. It gives me confidence to know that at some point, if I see the direction of God, I can be the one to begin a conversation with a hurting stranger. That will never be my natural inclination, but dying to myself and becoming more like Christ will never be natural for a sinful woman like me.

My post was not meant to be about the things that introverts should never be “made” to do; rather, it was meant to poke a little fun at the extroverted nature of the church as a whole, as well as illustrate how, sometimes, introverts feel like outsiders within their own communities. I’m very sorry if it was taken any other way.

God is doing a good work in all of us, no matter our predispositions or preferences. That’s the end point, and the one that I should have written before anything else.

Oh, and also…I’m really, really sorry that I reminded you of “those” people. I know the ones. I work in a church, after all. We had several families stop coming to church when we switched buildings because the new chairs weren’t comfortable enough. If that’s not a consumer mindset, I’m not sure what is.

soli deo gloria

Reading Chelsey’s posts and the exchanges which followed make one realise how far the church has drifted into man-focussed worship and activities. As I said yesterday, there is a reason Catholic and traditional Protestant denominations had structured, conservative liturgies. We gather to give glory to God and His Son, not to each other.

I pray that this be remedied and our traditions restored within the next generation.


© Churchmouse and Churchmouse Campanologist, 2009-2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Churchmouse and Churchmouse Campanologist with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? If you wish to borrow, 1) please use the link from the post, 2) give credit to Churchmouse and Churchmouse Campanologist, 3) copy only selected paragraphs from the post — not all of it.
PLAGIARISERS will be named and shamed.
First case: June 2-3, 2011 — resolved

Creative Commons License
Churchmouse Campanologist by Churchmouse is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,167 other followers


Calendar of posts

December 2014
« Nov   Jan »
28293031 - The internets fastest growing blog directory
Powered by WebRing.
This site is a member of WebRing.
To browse visit Here.

Blog Stats

  • 1,328,247 hits