Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Introverted Questions

Questions of the Day:

How have you, as an introvert, felt excluded or included in your church? Has the church done anything to minister to/encourage introverts? Do you have any stories of feeling particularly included or excluded?

This question issues from a conversation I had a with co-worker last week. She regularly attended a Sunday night emerging-worship type service at a large mainline church. She is on the fence between introvert/extrovert on the Meyers Brigg. She said that the last three rows of the church were taken up by the introverts or shy folks, and they would sit with at least one seat in between. Everyone else, in the front 2/3 of the church, would sit in groups of friends. She said she had a particularly painful experience one night when they tried to do communion in a creative way. They invited people to come up to the front in groups, that the people chose themselves, to take communion together. She didn't know many people, and so rather than facing the awkwardness of introducing herself to strangers, she turned and left! And keep in mind she is an ordained minister!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Do you relate?

In my research on the nature and characteristics of introverts, I have found much that I agree with but also a few things I do not resonate with at all. Here is a description of introversion I found this weekend:

"Introverts fear failure in public and experience deep humiliation because of it. If the teacher grabs you for a demonstration of a new skill or your spouse puts you on the spot to put a bicycle together it can be extremely stressful."

Do you other introverts relate to this? Is this a genuine description of introversion or is this a distortion of it, rooted in insecurity? I can relate to feeling uncomfortable when put on the spot to give my opinion, but only because I prefer to prepare for something like that. But I don't have a big fear of public failure and I certainly don't relate to the example of a "spouse putting you on the spot to put a bicycle together."

Separate Note: I have added labels to this blog. See right column.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Toiling away

I have plans to improve this blog by adding categories and links/resources in the next few days. This weekend I am writing about 8 hours a day on my introverted spirituality chapter. I think this will end up being my favorite chapter, and it certainly is the one I have done the most thinking about over the past few months. A depth in spirituality may be the greatest gift that introverts bring to the church.

My wife is up in Sonoma with her girlfriends, enjoying the cool weather, color in the trees, wine, and great food, and I'm sitting here drinking french press and writing, while looking out my study window on the San Gabriel mountains. Honestly, I don't know who has the better weekend.

Cornball text message exchange:

My wife: The trees up here are red!
Me: So are the ones down here, because they're ON FIRE.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Youth Ministry

Here is a link to what I found to be an insightful, helpful, and well written article about an introverted youth pastor. Youth ministry seems to be a fortress of extroverted leaders, and so it's refreshing to read about an introvert who has learned how to minister to youth as an introvert.

Saturday, October 13, 2007


IVP wants me to work on another title for my book. They think that "Introverted Church" does not convey what my book is actually about. When people asked me this week what my book is about, it was a little bit of a struggle. It's easier to say who it's for than what it's about. I would respond "It's for introverts trying to survive Christian community." I was surprised by how positive people were about my idea. I even met someone, who lives at a camp on an island, who reads my blog, through dial-up internet!

So I'm soliciting your help, gentle introverted readers, for book title suggestions. I would like it to either have introvert in the title or at least in the subtitle, so anyone who searches on introvert on amazon will access it easily.

For a reminder, here are my chapters descriptions:

1. Introduction - personal narrative as an introvert and introverted pastor in the Church
2. The Problem of the Extroverted Church - chapter exposing the extroverted bias of the Church (I'm mostly addressing evangelical churches in this book)
3. What is an introvert? Straightforward.
4. Introverted Healing - finding peace in who God created us to be and talking about the gifts that introverts bring to the Church
5. Introverted Spirituality - how do I experience the spiritual life as an introvert?
6. Introverted Community - how do I fit into Christian community as an introvert?
7. Introverted Leadership - first chapter, exposing the extroverted bias of Christian leadership and demonstrating how introverts are able to swim against this tide; second chapter, practicals about how to lead as an introvert
8. Introverted Evangelism - I think you get it.
9. Suggestions for churches - Ideas for being more welcoming of introverts

Any ideas? I don't need a book title for a few months, so if you can't come up with one now, maybe you can think of one later. Thank you!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


I'm heading to Campus by the Sea, on Catalina Island, this afternoon, for a three day retreat to try and wrap my mind around writing a book this year. On Wednesday night we celebrated my new book deal and my mood was euphoric, at the culmination of three years of proposals. On Thursday I woke up and thought "Oh crap. I have to write a book!" I'm taking Thomas Merton's autobiography, Henri Nouwen's book on desert spirituality, and the Bible. And my IPOD, with lots of Rob Bell sermons on it. I'm hoping to come up with an outline and a game plan, because my deadline is July 31, 2008!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Green Lights

My head is still spinning from the news, but today I received word that InterVarsity Press has agreed to publish my book on introverts in the church!!!

Thanks to all of you who have supported this project and given me feedback. I am going to continue to use this space as a place to bounce ideas off of fellow introverts (and extroverts), so please keep reading and commenting. Some of you I will be emailing to set up interviews with. Please email me with lengthier suggestions and feedback.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Spiritual Direction

On Wednesday I begin my training in spiritual direction, through the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Their website defines spiritual direction as "a contemplative process, carried out in the context of a helping relationship, in which one faith-filled person assists another to pay attention to God's action in the person's life and his/her response to this action."

It's a three year program, beginning with a couple of years of training about various strands of Christian spirituality and then some more practicum type settings in the last year. Last week my spiritual director asked me "What are your deepest longings?" And I responded that words like "spirituality" and "contemplation" speak to deep places of my soul. Spiritual direction training is a step towards satisfying this hunger.

I will talk more about this type of ministry in the months to follow, but I anticipate that spiritual direction will be a great setting for an introvert. Spiritual direction involves depth, listening, silence, and contemplation, all in the format of ongoing one-on-one relationships.