Saturday, February 22, 2014

The polarized church part 7: expanding the extrovert spectrum

Extroverts have room to stretch themselves as well. One of those places has to do with learning. As I have already blogged about, the apostles teaching is one of those things believers should be dedicated to. Yet extroverts may have a distinct disadvantage in that area.  Their short comings in patience and listening doesn’t always mesh well in many common teaching methods. I plan on doing a whole set of entries based upon the learning dynamic and how in varies depending on where you land on the introvert extrovert spectrum. So I won't get to wrapped up in that now. I feel it is important enough and big enough a subject that I can't sum it up in a sentence. But, there is one other area I will say something about, and that is purpose. To explain what I mean let me quote an expert on the introvert/extrovert spectrum.

"Teens who are too gregarious to spend time alone often fail to cultivate their talents, because it requires a solitude they dread." - Susan Cain

While she specifically addresses teens, I have found that this often extends into adulthood as well. I am sure that is why we find so many second career adults among extroverts. I have met many an adult much older than myself who seemed to not be self-aware at all. It just took them that long to find where their heart is at. So if you are an extrovert lacking a purpose to direct all your passion at, you are definitely going to have to stretch yourself to engage in some deep prayer and meditation where take time to listen in utter solitude to find it. Nobody but God himself can give you that answer, or send you in the right direction to find that answer. However, it may take an introvert to teach you to not be afraid of the quiet it takes to hear God's whispers. It will take an introvert to teach you the subtleties of Christian doctrine and theology it takes to acquire the spiritual maturity to live out said purpose.

I hope you get what I have been driving at here, for it's a simple human failing of church leaders to try to recreate the church in their image and temperament. They always use the same argument when people resist too. If you were faithful, you would do what I'm suggesting. Yet never recognizing it takes little or any faith to just be true to your own temperament as they are. A bird might as well take credit for being able to fly. The true unity in diversity of the ideal church cannot be found by skewing things either way. The inherent diversity in mankind can be the biggest strength we have, if we embrace and honor it. However, it can be our greatest liability if we try to defy and fight against it, which we often do. 

an extrovert making church all about him to the delight of the devil, but to Jesus disapointment
All eyes on ME (18x24 live drawing)

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The polarized church part 6: expanding the introvert spectrum

How and where do we as believers expand our scope as a church to be a truly unified and diverse body of Christ? Well you need to look to self first. You have no business asking others to do what you won't. 

If you are highly introverted, you may be coming up short in the fellowship area of church. Many introverts don't particularly like small talk or chit chat. But true Christian fellowship is more than just visiting, it's about giving of yourself, and there are lots of ways to do that. Look to your particular skill sets and offer them to your church where they may be needed or benefit from.

Introverts often lack in outreach as well. Some would even argue that the phrase introvert evangelism is an oxymoron, and even use the idea of evangelism as an excuse to dismiss and criticize introverts in the church. Granted, introverts will unlikely go out and strike up unsolicited conversations with strangers. However, true evangelism should go much deeper than that. While extroverts can be good at getting people in the door, and making people feel welcome once they are in the door. They often lack the depth, or delicacy to answer the hard questions a newly churched person inevitably has in a non confrontational way. For many extroverts see it as their duty to challenge and disprove conflicting viewpoints as a way of demonstrating a superior worldview, which can come off as too aggressive and unloving. That's something Jesus never did, at least not with the lost. (just religious people) Many an outreach effort has fallen flat due to being unable to get new people to stick around. This is where the introverts can and should be allowed to step in to offer their particular skill set of sensitivity and thoughtfulness. Let me put it this way, it takes an extrovert to get them in the door, but it takes an introvert to nurture them once they are there.  

However, introverts will often need the help of extroverts to do any of this.
Not your criticism, not your judgement, not your pressure, but your help. Introverts need help to not be afraid of the noise of expressive praise, to not be afraid to stand up for the great ideas that they come up with, to not be afraid to do and experience things in a real world way, not just an internal mental one.

Don’t think the extroverts get off scott free. More on that next time. 

someone who is unable to connect with the masses.
Bad connection

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The polarized church part 5: the cost of a 180 degree turn

As indicated earlier, when you say introverted church vs extroverted church, it is the same as saying traditional vs contemporary church. Traditional being introvert skewed, and contemporary being extrovert skewed. While this shift from traditional to contemporary that occurred over the centuries could have led to a more balanced ambivert church, it really hasn't happened that way. In the end, we have just gone from one extreme to the other, and neither is absolutely right, for in worship there is a time to be reflective, as well as a time to offer praise. Still, you have many arguing otherwise in order to skew things to their liking. 

Often, what we see is a long time traditional church getting shaken up by someone who wants to change it to contemporary. While that person may mean well, what they fail to recognize is that a long established traditional church will likely have a high amount of introverts in it. It is what such a church would naturally attract, since it gives them the peaceful state of mind they crave after all. So insisting that a bunch of introvert’s act extroverted via contemporary worship is going to be far more of an uphill battle than they realize. Even if contemporary wins out, many of the introverts will feel as if they have been rejected.

It can go the other way too. For example, a long established contemporary church will naturally have many extroverts in it,  for it gives them the emotional charge they enjoy. Then a leader comes along and says we need to be more seeker sensitive in order to reach out to the lost and unchurched. So they eliminate a lot of the worship elements that fire up the extrovert’s emotions, but possibly scare off new people. This can leave the extroverts feeling alienated.

Either way, many will fight such an action, thinking only of their comfort. Such internal conflicts in a church rarely turns out well, especially if both sides are insistent on winning rather than resolving and seeking balance, so if one side wins, the other side loses, and the losers tend to leave rather than accept said change.

But, if we are truly unified body of Christ, things as this should not happen. In a balanced church, extroverts should be allowed to be their dynamic selves without being accused of being a crazy weirdo. In a healthy church, introverts should be allowed to be their quiet reflective selves without being accused of being a lazy dispassionate stick in the mud. Most importantly they need to help each other to be more balanced in their spirituality without judgement or shame. As well as be happy for others when their spiritual needs are being met. Even if it does nothing for you.  Like I said before we have two hands, or two sides to our personality, and so does the body of Christ. Individuals and the church  alike are most efficient when we use both hands together. Not just one, even if it is the dominant one. While it may take an introvert to come up with the next big idea, it will take an extrovert to make the idea happen. Well, what does that mean in practical terms? More on that next time.

a lose lose battle with swords
If only we could understand each other, then we wouldn't need to fight

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The polarized church part 4: expanding our spectrum

Like I said before, where we land on the introvert/extrovert spectrum is like being left or right handed. However, we need to remember we have two hands, just as we have two sides to our personality.  Our personalities, just like our hands are most efficient when we use both sides together. Not just the one, even if it is the dominant one. While it's good to be true to ourselves, it's also good to stretch our horizons beyond our comfort zone and utilize both sides of ourselves on important tasks. Keeping in mind, and I repeat, as rewarding as switch hitting may be, there is still that price to pay. We can't maintain living outside our side of the spectrum all the time. We need to allow ourselves time to recharge after a depleting task. 

We see an example of this in the Bible as well. If we go back to the story of Jacob the introvert, specifically Genesis 32, we see Jacob's horizons being broadened by one of the more perplexing stories in the Bible.  Here Jacob must reunite with his brother Esau. Jacob is obviously scared that Esau will want to get revenge for the theft of his birthright. So Jacob utilizes introvert strategy just in case Esau does attack. The first thing he does is break up his people into two camps, so half can easily escape if needed. He also sends ahead a gift of livestock to appease his brother. Yet even with these precautions we see Jacob dragging his feet in a vain attempt to avoid facing this potential confrontation.  Introverts tend to be non-confrontational that way. Then a man who is eventually identified as God brings a conflict to Jacob. God does not face him on a mental introvert level either, but in a very physical extrovert way; a wrestling match. In essence telling him, it's time to man up and face up to this problem you created. You have an extrovert side, and you need to use it in this situation that you are avoiding. Once God proves to Jacob that he is capable of embracing this side of himself, What does God do? As the passage itself says "When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man." Now think about that. While we see God pushing Jacob beyond his introvert safe zone, would crippling his hip make him more of an extroverted man of action like his brother Esau. Hardly, If anything just the opposite. Perhaps in a way God is saying I accept you as the introvert you are, but still, I need you to know there is more to you than you think there is. We even see Jacob continue being more of an aggressive extrovert by demanding a blessing from God. God rewards this boldness by essentially making him the father of the nation of Israel. As we all know, Jacob's twelve sons would end up becoming the twelve tribes that made up that nation.  All because he answered when God called him out. Then in verse 31 we see an implied passage of time, so obviously Jacob didn’t run out and face his brother like a hasty extrovert. That would have been hard with his newly acquired limp. However, that limp afforded him the time to recharge after this aggressive experience. So that, when he did arrive home, he could face his fears fresh; and he did.

To sum it up, be true to yourself, but don't be afraid to step outside yourself imposed boundaries occasionally either. There is likely more to you than you realize, if you trust, and put your faith in the Lord.  

The Visual PARABLEist
a one legged may be encouraged to move on
It does not matter when we get there, as long as we get there together