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Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture
IVP Books / 2009 / Paperback
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What is the place of introverts in the church? It is assumed by many today that church leaders, or for that matter all leaders, must have the intangible quality of charisma and gregariousness. Author and introvert Adam McHugh believes the opposite. In Introverts in the Church: Finding our Place in an Extroverted Culture he argues that these skills are not only not required, they are often an indication of poor leadership skills. While McHugh recognizes the need for community, indeed the biblical command for it, he also recognizes that how community happens, or how Scripture wants it to happen is not exactly the way our extroverted culture says that it should occur. To this end, he explains how introverts approach relationships differently, how introverts can practice Christian spirituality in ways that are conducive to who they are as people, and how they can effectively serve the church. On this basis then, McHugh offers ways introverts can serve, lead, worship, and even evangelize effectively.If you, or another leader in your church is introverted, this book is a must read. Undertaken as a personal apologetic, it developed into an explanation of how introvert operate, how they are spiritual, the challenges they face, and the sensitivities they maintain (we all have them), you need to give this book a read.
Introverts are called and gifted by God. But many churches tend to be extroverted places where introverts are marginalized. Some Christians end up feeling like it's not as faithful to be an introvert. Adam McHugh shows how introverts can live and minister in ways consistent with their personalities. He explains how introverts and extroverts process information and approach relationships differently and how introverts can practice Christian spirituality in ways that fit who they are. With practical illustrations from church and parachurch contexts, McHugh offers ways for introverts to serve, lead, worship and even evangelize effectively. Introverts in the Church is essential reading for any introvert who has ever felt out of place, as well as for church leaders who want to make their churches more welcoming to introverts. Discover God's call and empowering to thrive as an introvert, for the sake of the church and kingdom.
Adam S. McHugh (Th.M., Princeton Theological Seminary) is an ordained Presbyterian minister, a spiritual director and an introvert. He has served at two Presbyterian churches, as a hospice chaplain and as campus staff with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. He and his wife live in California.
"Evangelicals talk a lot," writes Pastor Adam S. McHugh a self-proclaimed introvert in his book Introverts in the Church. Introverts are generally misunderstood in evangelical Christian circles. The culture surrounding the Church today is one that puts a higher value on people interacting with each other at Church functions (after-sermon fellowship, dinners, outreaches, and retreats). For an introvert, these can be overwhelming and not spiritually healthy. Pastor McHugh gives detailed definitions and analyses of introversion in the church to help both introverts and extroverts understand it. Some folks are deep thinkers and like to ponder issues before offering an opinion. Some are gifted listeners and should be appreciated for the way they put the needs and concerns of others before their own needs. Some are easily intimidated; some are shy; some are cautious; and some are wary. There can be many reasons for why people are silent or reserved or hesitant.
McHugh walks the readers through ways that they can participate in their church, as well as bring healing where introverts may be unintentionally discriminated against. The book seems to be designed to be used in a small group situation, as it has discussion questions associated with every chapter. Introverts in the Church provides a very interesting analysis of the current evangelical Christian climate, giving a voice to the quiet introverts in churches of most denominations. Andrew Broersma, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
"For the longest time, I've considered my wiring as an introvert a thorn in my side. After spending time engaging with others, I felt so empty and overwhelmed . . . and lonely. With my calling as an author and pastor requiring me to publicly speak and consult, I wondered if I misunderstood my place in this world. In Introverts in the Church, Adam brings a voice to those of us who often trade ours in for a little bit of respite. This is not only a needed resource for introverts; all leaders need to read Introverts in the Church for a better understanding of how introverts can lead, how they follow and how they refresh."
"As an author and consultant, I have seen firsthand the struggles that introverts face in a society built for extroverts. But I have also seen how powerful introverts can be once they embrace the gifts of a quiet and thoughtful temperament. In this deeply felt and beautifully reasoned guide for introverts in the church, pastor Adam McHugh shows the way for introverted Christians to find peace within themselves and their community."
"As an introvert who has experienced both the strengths and weaknesses of my temperament, I appreciate the way McHugh goes well beyond the facile stereotypes and conclusions of armchair psychologists. If you've ever felt vaguely sinful for not being a gregarious Christian I suggest you spend some quality time alone with a copy of Introverts in the Church."
"As a fellow introvert, I well know the tension, irony and even contradiction of being in vocational ministry where public speaking and being with people are major and vital parts of our roles. This book puts together extremely helpful thinking to better understand who we are and how to navigate and celebrate being introverted and in leadership in an extroverted world."
"Introverts, take heart! As an introvert myself--an off-the-chart 'I' on the Myers-Briggs--I find certain aspects of church life, like speaking to other human beings every Sunday, really taxing. McHugh thoughtfully explores the gifts introverts bring to the church, and he considers both how introverts can live well in the church and how churches can be more hospitable to us."
"At last a book for and about introverts in ministry, and a wonderful book it is! McHugh unpacks the challenges and characteristics of the introvert leader in a ministry world designed for extroverts. He offers practical guidance for developing as a leader, evangelizing, joining a community, preaching and becoming spiritually mature in Christ. The book not only helps introverts, but it can serve as a great resource for extroverts who lead, coach, mentor or relate to introverts."
"This is a book that all leaders in the church should read! It made me realize that I owe an apology to all the introverts whose insights and contributions I have not understood or have overlooked. McHugh's perceptions are crucial for churches in our extremely extroverted society--we are missing some of God's best treasures for Christ's body. I highly recommend this book to everyone who wishes more thoroughly to understand the Holy Spirit's creation of a diversity of personalities and gifts."
"What a timely and badly needed book! Introverts in the Church will encourage thousands of Christians who have felt as if they don't quite fit. It will help them find their rightful place in Christian community, so that their gifts might be well used in the work of the kingdom. This book will also help churches to be a place where all people can flourish as disciples of Jesus. Adam McHugh has given us a precious gift through his openness, theological soundness and godly wisdom."
"Adam is addressing a huge number of folks in the church. Read it and heal."
Read all Questions/Answers for "Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture"
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Author: Adam S. McHugh
Located in: Claremont, CA
Submitted: August 07, 2009
Tell us a little about yourself. I'm an ordained Presbyterian minister, a spiritual director, and an introvert. I've served in Presbyterian churches, as a hospice chaplain, and as campus staff with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. I grew up in Seattle and graduated from Claremont McKenna College and Princeton Theological Seminary, and I live with my lovely and brilliant wife in Claremont, California.
What was your motivation behind this project? To be honest, the book started out as somewhat of a self-apologetic. There were two unmistakable realities in my life 1. I was called to be a leader in the church and 2. I was an introvert. But too often I experienced those two things as contradictory, and the book began as my way of trying to make sense of my call in light of my introverted temperament and vice versa. But as I thought about the topic and started talking with other introverts about it, I realized just how prevalent, and often how crippling, the struggles are for introverts in the church. So I decided to address not only leadership, but also spirituality, community, worship, and evangelism through an introverted lens.
What do you hope folks will gain from this project? My hope is that the book will help introverts both to find peace in their God-given personality preferences, and also to discover their places in their Christian communities, which so badly need their gifts and strengths.
How were you personally impacted by working on this project? It was a very healing process for me, to think deeply about my introversion and how that actually aids me in my life of discipleship. I loved talking with other introverts (one-on-one, of course!) about the topic and sharing struggles and hopes with them. There are a lot more of us out there than people might think and we are much more committed to the Church than people might think too. We are eager to discover our gifts and to use them for the blessing of others, as well as to engage in the Missio Dei. We just want to participate in ways that are authentic to who we are.
Who are your influences, sources of inspiration or favorite authors / artists? In this project, Henri Nouwen, especially his book The Way of the Heart, was highly significant. I also drew quite a bit from Marti Olsen Laney's book The Introvert Advantage. In general, my favorite authors are Eugene Peterson, N.T. Wright, and Henri Nouwen, and I love listening to Rob Bell preach.
Anything else you'd like readers / listeners to know: In case you introverts are running low on energy, but are unable to withdraw at the time, I find that caffeine can be a quite effective stopgap.
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