Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Preaching link

On my other blog I have posted a couple of mp3s of sermons I have preached recently. They're not introvert related, but they will give you a good taste of my preaching style, which I have been told, "has all the marks of an introvert." What does that mean? I'm not sure. Tell me what you think.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Well played

I received a fantastic reception yesterday for my "introvert sermon." I was nervous going into it, because it felt so remarkably different from your average sermon. Anytime you tell religious people they might need to be involved in FEWER activities in order to best pursue the goals of the kingdom of God, you might be in for a bumpy ride. But a lot of people were grateful for what they said was the "freedom that you have offered us." Here were some of my favorite comments (I could do another post on how exhausting the handshaking time is after the service):

"I am just an old and tired Christian, and I just recently cut down on the activities I was doing because I had wandered from the real reasons we should do things."

"You certainly know how to jolt a congregation! No one nodded off during that one!" (from a little old lady with a walker - hilarious. Worth it just for that comment)

"You are out of the closet now!" (as an introvert? a preacher? a pastor? I really didn't know what he was talking about, but it was awesome)

"I'm an introvert and now my husband understands me better!"

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Saturday, October 18, 2008


I'm preaching tomorrow morning at our church, and even though I have probably preached 200 times in the last 8 years, I find myself feeling nervous. I have determined recently that what I actually enjoy about preaching is the research and writing process. I don't mind the actual preaching act, and I have been told many times that I am a good preacher, even a few times that I am a great preacher. But I find far greater joy in thinking and writing than I do in public speaking. I think what I dread about preaching is not the 20-25 minutes up in front of people, but it's the fact that after tomorrow people will look at me differently. This is my first time preaching at our church, and I don't look forward to the attention I will get after this weekend. I have been an anonymous churchgoer for the past 6 months, and it has been glorious. I love being on the side of the church, functioning as a creative outside voice rather than as an insider.

Tomorrow marks the official public unveiling of my "introvert sermon." This is the sermon, or at least a version of it, I expect to be giving for the next couple of years when invited to speak about introversion, the church, and ministry. It's a miniature version of chapter 5 of my book ("Introverted Community and Relationships"), in which I discuss the misconceptions we have about what spiritual growth and community participation looks like. I don't know if the church records sermons, but I hope to put up an mp3 of it if they do.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Learning styles and participation

Corrections: My friend from the story below said you actually don't get docked points for saying something irrelevant, you just get fewer points, which encourages people to blurt out whatever they can come up with. There are also 90 people in the class!!! It just sounds like extroverted chaos to me.

I'm working on a sermon to give at my church in a couple of weeks that has to do with belonging and participation in a community. It's treating questions like how do we participate in Christian community? How does our particular community define belonging - what are the badges our community expects us to wear in order to truly be considered members? Are those healthy, biblical gauges? More on that later.

On a related note, I have a friend who has recently started grad school and she was describing her first class to me. 40% of her grade in that class is class participation. There is a TA who literally puts checks next to people's names as they make comments - if you make 3 relevant, helpful comments you get full marks for that particular class. If you make a comment that is tangential, you lose points, and if you don't make any comments, you get a zero for the day. My friend is an extrovert, but she struggles to make 3 comments every class, and many people in the class feel a lot of pressure in this system. This sort of thing really frustrates me, because it doesn't take into account different styles of learning and participation, and it is clearly biased towards extroverts. What about the people who prefer to listen and reflect before they speak? I have a friend - Susan Cain- who is writing a book called Quiet! The Importance of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking. In her book she is looking at central institutions in American life - like our educational system, and exposing the bias towards extroversion inherent in that system. This is a prime example.