Friday, August 10, 2007

Emerging churches and introverts

Two topics that never stray too far from my brain are, of course, introversion, and also the changing nature of the church in the western world, the so-called "emerging church." It has occurred to me recently that the direction of the church could potentially be advantageous for introverts trying to survive Christian culture. Here are some positive movements:

1) The movement towards ritual, symbolism, and art in Protestant churches. Typically, Protestant churches, especially in the reformed tradition, have shied away from these "Catholic" liturgical accouterments, for fear of idolatry and confining God. The new openness to these things in the emerging movement enables the expression of worship and devotion in wordless ways. Another liturgical element that has become more prominent is the role of silence in a worship service, and introverts everywhere can breathe sighs of relief in those moments not filled with endless chatter.

2) The emphasis on team leadership. It is becoming increasingly common for pastors/congregations to be united together in teams, each bringing his or her gifts and outlooks to the rest, and people working together to do far more than one person ever could. The old paradigm of pastor being at the center of the community and playing every conceivable leadership role - pastor, teacher, administrator, cheerleader, visionary - is slowly fading. The new paradigm frees up introverts to focus in and not to try to fill every role and please everyone. This enables us to conserve our energies and to give ourselves wholeheartedly to those things that God has called us to do.