Monday, December 28, 2009

Introverted Missions



Pictured above is a corner of the bookstore at Urbana '09, currently taking place. To have my book sandwiched between Henri Nouwen books is a little surreal. 

Strong introvert that I am, I still find myself wishing I were at Urbana, the colossal international missions conference put on by InterVarsity every 3 years in St. Louis (it used to be in Champagne-Urbana, Illinois).  I had hoped to be invited to lead a seminar on introverts and missions, but it didn't happen this year.   

Urbana '03 was probably the most extroverted conference I have ever been to.  Around 20,000 people flood the convention center - most of them very energetic college students - and the week was absolutely packed with events, seminars, communal meals, Bible studies, and corporate worship with an international flavor. Urbana culminates with 20,000 people celebrating the Lord's Supper at midnight on New Years Eve, which had to be the most incredible worship experience of my life.  I couldn't help thinking that it was a preview of the supper of the Lamb. 

I went as a college pastor, and I found myself begging off a few events to find some introvert time.  Probably the most brutal element of that week was that I had to share a room with a stranger.  He was a great guy, but he was an extrovert and wanted to review the day with me in the evening.  There were very few places of sanctuary for me, and it probably took me a week to recover from the conference. 

But I am deeply grateful for that conference, because it came at a pivotal point in my life and ministry.  I was there to help 20 college students from my church to discern God's call in their lives, but early on in the week, I realized that I too needed to hear from God.  My position at my church was ending and I had absolutely no idea what was coming next.  As I opened myself up to listen during that week, I heard a distinct call - confirmed in several ways - to join InterVarsity Christian Fellowship as a staff member at my alma mater, Claremont McKenna College.  God's hand in that decision has only been confirmed over the years, as through that ministry I was ordained by the PCUSA and I also developed relationships with editors at InterVarsity Press, which led to the eventual publishing of Introverts in the Church.

I really wish I had been asked to lead a seminar at Urbana this year, because I would love to interact with introverts who are considering, or currently participating in, world missions.  While I served for 3 years as a pastor-missionary with InterVarsity, serving a group of Christian college students and partnering with them in reaching out to the seekers around them, my international missions experience is limited to a summer in college, when I spent a few months trekking through Mexico City and Chiapas with a few other Claremont students.  In my book I talk about how draining that time was for me.  This was before I had acknowledged and embraced my introversion, and I couldn't figure out why I was tired pretty much the entire summer.  I thought it was poor diet, the heat, or illness, but I realize now that I had, and took, very little time to recharge on my own during those months.  I found Mexican culture to be tirelessly extroverted, and people often mistook me for being "enojado" (angry) because I wasn't as expressive as the extroverts in our group.

My friend Kent Annan is a missionary in Haiti and just wrote a fantastic book called Following Jesus Through the Eye of a Needle (seriously, this guy can write - Brian McLaren put him in a category with Donald Miller and Lauren Winner). Actually, as a quick aside, Kent and I lived on the same floor in seminary for an entire year, about 75 feet apart, and never once talked.  Can you tell we're both introverts?!  But now we've connected through IVP and exchanged a few emails.  Kent is reading Introverts in the Church right now, and he sent me this email recently:
Haiti is not a place for introverts. I love it here, but it is intensely social from rising to sleeping--and, now that I think of it, also while sleeping since the roosters go all night, apparently never getting the "sunrise" cock-a-doodle-doo memo.
In the book I give all kinds of strategies for helping introverted Christians and leaders to navigate Christian community, and to worship, lead, pray, relate, and evangelize as themselves. But I wonder if those same strategies are effective for introverted missionaries? In cultures that are even more extroverted than the United States - I'm thinking of Latin America, India, Africa, etc - how do introverts survive? Are any of you in missions out there? What are your experiences?

Monday, December 21, 2009

A rare honor

Last week, Introverts in the Church made Scot McKnight's list of the best books of 2009.  Scot McKnight is a New Testament scholar, prolific blogger and author, and an expert on church and culture, so I am deeply honored.  My friend Jim Belcher's book, Deep Church, also made the list.  You can find Scot's list here:

Jesus Creed Best Books of 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Introverted Interviews

Mark Roberts posted the second of a two part interview with me today, and will be reviewing my book tomorrow. Among others questions, he asks me whether introverts can be effective evangelists and what advice I would give to introverted seminarians considering the pastoral ministry. 

Interview with Mark Roberts Parts One and Two
Mark's Book Review Part One and Two

Rhett Smith also posted the second part of a two part interview today.  He asked me very different kinds of questions, like what I think about social media and online church for introverts.  Part One includes his review of the book. 

Interview with Rhett Smith Parts One and Two

Monday, December 14, 2009

Advent for introverts (and extroverts)

The Ooze let me reprint an article I wrote for their December newsletter.

A Counter-Cultural Quiet

For some people, the Advent season on the church calendar is one of the most anticipated times of the year. For some, there is no other time in which their love of God is stronger, there is no other time in which they are more aware of God’s mercy in their lives and in the world, there is no other time in which their hearts go out to others with such affection, and there is no other time in which their joy is more profound.

I am not one of those people.

For me this time of year has always been a spiritually dry time. There is a line in a Counting Crows song that says “You can see a million miles tonight, but you can’t get very far.” That is my experience during this season. Every year I anticipate it with everyone else, hoping that this year will be different. Maybe this year the earth shattering experience of God will take place, and I’ll be able to take in the seismic joy that should result from the knowledge that God entered the course of human history to reclaim it as his own. But by December 26th, I’m left with disappointment, another year of not getting very far.

I experience a deep division within myself during Advent. My inner world stirs with longings for deep experiences of grace, for moments of pregnant silence, for times of candlelit reflections on the fullness of deity wrapped in a child. But my outer world is harassed by the rampant activity, the hurried crowds, and the consumeristic clutter of the season.

I think my personal division reflects a broader cultural division. I’m willing to suspend my cultural cynicism for a moment and speculate that at the root of American consumer Christmas is a deep seated desire for meaning. I may be way off on this, but I suspect the decorations, the music, the saturated social calendars, the capitalistic flurry, and the caloric overload are attempts at finding something true, something significant. Hopes for discovering community and transcendence. There is a neighborhood near my own that puts on an unbelievable show of lights, music, and decorations for the weeks leading up to Christmas. Cars line up for blocks to meander through the illuminated streets and residents sit in their driveways around firepits and chat with the passersby. Aside from laying a carbon footprint likely visible from outer space, it is a powerful display of community spirit.

The problem, I think, is that our culture doesn’t know how to truly celebrate. Overconsumption and overstimulation are the only ways we know how to mark a special occasion. Even though most of implicitly know it doesn’t work and that we’re going to wake up with a hangover, it’s all we know how to do. When there is a significant event, we commemorate it by scurrying around, spending absurd amounts of money, gathering a crowd, and turning up the volume. If we’re not weighed down by anxiety and insomnia, then it must not be a very important occasion. Our holiday “celebrations” therefore seem destined to only get bigger and bigger, because we have built up such a tolerance.

Many of us in the church live in the tension of this religious and cultural ambivalence. Our Christmas eves are often a confusing recipe of ingredients like these: the onslaught of relatives, massive food preparation, stressful and boisterous dinners, hurrying everyone into the car, attending a hot, packed Christmas eve worship service in which we light candles, and sing lyrics like:

Silent night, holy night

All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

Then we rush home, hustle the kids into bed so we can finish wrapping gifts and stuffing stockings, because they’ll be up in 5 hours. Sleep in heavenly peace indeed.

I was asked to write about this topic because I just published a book about Christian introverts, those in the church who prefer a quieter, slower, more contemplative lifestyle and who, for those reasons, often find themselves on the fringes both of the culture and of Christian community. I saw a blog post recently that called January 2nd “Happy Introverts Day” because of the notorious nature of the holiday season for those of us who find social interaction tiring and sometimes stressful. But the truth is that the need for a quieter, less cluttered, more reflective Advent season is not restricted to introverts. The clatter of the holidays has caused people of all temperaments to turn from the inner places of our souls, contributing to the superficiality of our spiritual practice during this season. We need to find a new way to celebrate.

In the early centuries of the Church, celebrating Christmas was a counter-cultural activity. It’s unclear whether the church fathers chose December 25th to co-opt the already entrenched pagan festival of the Unconquered Sun, or whether the pagan holiday was established to rival the Church’s celebration of the birth of Christ. What is clear is that Christmas was a subversive event, providing an alternative to the mainstream culture’s celebration.

In our world, quiet is counter-cultural. I’m not only referring to quiet on the outside, but also quiet on the inside. In fact, it may be easier to shut out the external voices than it is to silence the internal noise. It’s often those inner voices, especially the unacknowledged ones, that compel us to fill our lives with movement and agendas and spending and eating. Our behaviors and hurry are echoes of our inner doubts about our worth. Sadly, in many ways the nature of our holiday celebrations reveal how incompletely we have embraced the actual message of Christmas.

In contrast to the dizzying nature of our cultural celebrations, the biblical narratives about Jesus’ birth speak in hushed tones about simple, unsophisticated scenes. The baby of prophecy, the King of kings, is born in a quiet town in an inconsequential region to unremarkable people and placed in a trough in a barn. Yet by the grace of God this spot becomes the center of the universe, the matrix of hope and redemption and salvation. The quiet, ordinary place becomes the beginning of the dramatic climax of the great Story. The birth of Jesus incarnates the promise that we are not alone and that we are loved beyond measure, recipients of a love that brings peace and stillness to our souls.

The birth of a child is both a time of poignant gratitude and a time of quiet anticipation. I remember how friends of mine described the day they brought their first child home from the hospital. They placed him in his crib, in the room they had been preparing for months, and watched him sleep. For hours they sat in contented silence. My friend said “It was unlike any other moment in my life. It was the greatest moment of love we’d ever experienced, more intimate than even our wedding night. There was nothing else in the world we needed that day - we had everything.” Yet he also said that as he looked into his son’s eyes, he was full of anticipation. Who will my son be? What will he do in his life? Who will he marry? What will be his gifts, his calling? Like Mary the mother of Jesus, my friends stored up these things in their hearts and silently wondered who their child would become.

Advent is not only a season of reflection on events past. It is a season of quiet hope, as we await the second advent of our Lord Jesus, who will come and complete his reclamation project. Our celebration during this time of year is necessarily incomplete. In this season we must prepare small, quiet places in our individual souls and in our communities, still longing and waiting for the fulfillment of Jesus’ work and the rebirth of creation.

I’m still struggling with Advent, still reaching for something that I haven’t found yet. I do know that if there is any chance for deep experiences of God’s grace and love in this season, we need to open spaces for hope and attentiveness in our hearts. We can’t compel God to move, but we can clear away what distracts us from hearing his gentle voice. We can reduce the external clutter of the season by simplifying our celebration. We can slowly savor the biblical prophecies of the coming of the Messiah and the narratives about Jesus’ birth. We can devote time to silence and solitude as well as to corporate celebration. We can learn to say “no” when we find ourselves spinning from all the invitations and seasonal stimuli. We can listen to the voices of people who are not often heard over the cultural shouting – the poor, the hungry, the suffering around the world. We can prepare a quiet place for God to renew his love and rebirth his hope in us.


Adam McHugh is an ordained Presbyterian minister and the author of the newly published Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture (IVP Books, 2009).

Thursday, December 10, 2009

More links

Scot McKnight is leading a discussion of Introverts in the Church on his blog Jesus Creed today: Introverts in a Church for Extroverts

I wrote the feature article for the December newsletter of The Ooze. It's on a quieter kind of Advent and it's called "A Counter-Cultural Quiet."

Are you everywhere but really nowhere? Rhett Smith posts an excerpt of Introverts in the Church about personal technology and identity.

Monday, December 7, 2009

I couldn't resist

This review comes from Byron Borger at Hearts and Minds Books

Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture  Adam McHugh (IVP) $17.00  Just when I thought that there really couldn't be much else written about the local congregation and doing church, along comes--rather quietly, and belatedly, since he's an introvert---this spectacular new book by an ordained Presbyterian minister who is a spiritual director and introvert.  This isn't a gag or a light-hearted spoof, but a very serious study of community, graciousness, hospitality, and how some among us find it very challanging to be active in a noisy, outgoing, active congregation.  Who knew?  Marva Dawn insists on the back that "this is a book that every church leader should read!"  McHugh explains how we overlook or misunderstand the contributions of many introverted church members.  This is a book for all congregational folks who want to be more hospitable to the Meyers Bringgs T-types [sic - pretty sure he means "Myers Briggs I-types"], and for all introverts who find human interactions each Sunday to be tense and taxing.  A great resource for anyone interested in relationships, parish life, or Christian community.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Is it better to be insecure than introverted?

I'm going to pick the 10 winners of the book giveaway on FlowerDust tomorrow, and I have learned a lot through reading the commments on Anne's post.  Here are the two things that most stand out to me:

1. There is a lot of confusion about what introversion is.  I think a lot of people assume that if they are comfortable socializing or feel the need to be around people then they must be extroverts or else riding the line between introversion and extroversion.  Of course, they may be extroverts or somewhere in the middle, BUT it's important to keep coming back to this: introversion/extroversion is primarily determined by energy source. Do you find it primarily in solitude (or in good conversation with a close friend) or in community?  Introverts can be very effective communicators and at ease among people, just as extroverts also need time alone.  But crowds will drain introverts after a while and solitude will drain extroverts after a while.  The farther you are on one side of the scale, the less need/desire you will have for the opposite.  But if introverts are loners or antisocial people, it's not because of their introversion!

2. It almost seems that people are more comfortable defining themselves as "insecure" or "shy" extroverts than they are with the label "introverts."  Anne Jackson realized that she is probably more of an "insecure extrovert" than an introvert, and I'm sure she's right about that.  But I would also guess that some of the commenters who also want to call themselves insecure extroverts actually fall on the introverted side of the scale.  But my question is, is the cultural bias such that people would rather call themselves "insecure" than "introverts"?!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Book Giveaway!!

This a fantastic opportunity.  My friend Anne Jackson is giving away 10 copies of Introverts in the Church this week on her blog, FlowerDust.  Answer her question and maybe you'll get a free book! 

FlowerDust Book Giveaway: Introvert or Extrovert?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Holiday Tradition

I've posted this link the last two years, so I guess it's becoming a tradition.  With the holiday season upon us, I know a lot of introverts are hoping for some strategies for surviving all the extroverted onslaught.  Families descend upon us, office parties inundate us, and shopping malls taunt us.  So first is a link that promises this too will pass:

Happy Introvert Day (January 2nd)

Second, here are a few suggestions for navigating the holiday season:

1. Take time for your inner life.  The holiday season in the US is notoriously outward focused, which may be one of the reasons a lot of people lament the loss of meaning.  I find Advent liturgies, candles, and the prophecies foretelling the advent of the Messiah, and the birth narratives of Jesus, to be particularly poignant.  Take time to read, pray, and reflect.

2. Learn how to say "no."  Some of us are naturally "yes" people - our default response when given an invitation - but that can be particularly damaging to us when the invitations are furious and constant.  When we learn how to say no we say yes to God who created us as introverts and to our true selves.  I usually say "no" to parties that are loaded with strangers, unless I have a real purpose for being there. When my closest friends call, though, I'm there. 

3. When you attend a party, find one or two people that you know or want to know, and see if you can engage them in conversation.  Listen.  Ask questions.  Try to concentrate your energies there instead of being distracted by all the other action in the room (I read recently that introverts actually take in too much of their environment, whereas extroverts let most of it wash over them). 

4. When you need a break, try one or more of these ideas: Peruse a person's bookshelf. Take a walk outside. Wander the house like you're just taking a tour. Hang out in the bathroom for a while.  Sit on the side and watch.

Here's a link to the Psychology Today website with more ideas:

Party Survival Tactics for Introverts


Other ideas for holiday survival?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Can introverts lead?


Can introverts lead?  That's the question posed on the cover of the current issue of Christian Century, the leading magazine of mainline Protestantism.  They reprint 2500 words of my leadership discussion in chapter 6 of Introverts in the Church.  You can read it by clicking the link below:

Can introverts lead?  Breaking Down Stereotypes.  By Adam McHugh

(And no, that's not me on the cover!)

Friday, November 13, 2009

My first radio interview

I did a 45 minute radio interview on Wednesday, with Rich Buhler, host of Talk from the Heart, KBRT740 in Los Angeles.  They're going to be rebroadcasting it at 7AM (Pacific) on both Saturday and Sunday mornings this weekend.  You can listen to it online by following the link below.

KBRT 740  http://www.kbrt740.com/

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

In Stock

Introverts in the Church is now in stock and shipping out from Amazon!!!  The picture on the sidebar will take you there.

It's also on the cover of the latest issue of Christian Century (!!!); it's available in print but not yet online.  I will link to it as soon as it is.  

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Autographed Copies

I received my first batch of books in the mail yesterday.  It's hard to describe the feeling of opening that box.  I had a staring contest with the box for 6 hours before I finally opened it.  5 years in the making.  And it was one of the highlights of my life.

If you want a signed copy, there is now a link on the far right sidebar, where you can buy a copy through PayPal.  It's $18 ($15 for signed copy, $3 for shipping)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Help for weary travelers

I occasionally do topical searches on Twitter, and recently when I searched on "introverts" the topic that most frequently appeared is "self-promotion for introverts." There is also a new book out, called, not surprisingly, Self-Promotion for Introverts. I haven't read the book yet, but it is selling extremely well. Apparently, this is a hot topic, as introverts are trying to figure out how it is that they can get ahead and get what they want in a world so often slanted towards extroverts.

I myself am heavily engaged in promoting my own book, and I have commented before on the deep ironies of publishing a book. You spend months or years in the privacy of your study, in libraries, in quiet coffee shops, and in the solitude of your thoughts writing and rewriting and preparing your manuscript. At the end of that arduous, soul-satisfying, introverted process, do you get a nice needed rest while your publicists do all the work of putting the book out there for others to discover? Not so much. You are thrust in the limelight and into the work of promoting your book. From what I understand the world of book promotion has changed considerably in the last few years, as the publicity budgets have shrunk and publishers have had to scale back due to the recession. No matter who publishes your book, it is now expected that authors will be the lead publicists for their work. If you want your book to do well, you must seek out radio interviews, speaking engagements, and other kinds of platforms.

I'm only a couple of months into promoting the book, and the hard work hasn't even begun yet, but I already feel a tiredness seeping into my mind and body. I have some promotional game - I can talk about the topic with some expertise, I have social skills, much promotion can be done online and via the written word, and my undergraduate experience taught me some valuable networking tools (thank you Claremont McKenna College), but if I'm honest, promoting is an extroverted job. And no matter how well I can work the angles, it's draining.

The more I meet fellow introverts (and this book has afforded me plenty of opportunities to do so - a tremendous gift), the more I meet fellow weary travelers. No matter what arenas we find ourselves in, what career paths we're taking, what social circles we're walking in, what steps we're taking to grow and progress in our lives, a lot of us are just tired. We masquerade as extroverts out of necessity, but it takes its toll.

It's not really in my nature to provide really practical suggestions, but I'm going to take a stab at it here, because tiredness, if it persists for long periods of time, is dangerous to the soul.

1. Seek out the proper motivations. Not only does self-promotion not fit us temperamentally, but I just don't think it's good theology. We're in the business of God-promotion, not self-promotion. That doesn't mean we can't quietly talk about our strengths and our gifts, but it does mean the objects of our promotion should be in line with our beliefs. I do not think that money, fame, or personal glory should be our goals. Our goals should be in finding those places and situations in which we can best serve the individual purposes and callings that God has given each one of us. Those contexts in which we can be obedient to God and the best servants of other people. Each morning I pray that God would use my book not for my own aggrandizement or personal success but for the sake of other introverts who long to find their homes in God and in their communities, and to be faithful as who they are.

2. Zealously guard your solitude. If you are not carving out niches of solitude on a regular basis - daily, weekly, monthly - then you are in danger of a tiredness that can tamper with your soul and your joy in God. Find your own rhythms of engagement and retreat. Deepen your spirituality and your prayer practices. Find opportunities for intellectual engagement and develop hobbies that spark your imagination and creativity. If you have a hard time saying no to social invitations, look at that tendency in yourself and discern what void you are trying to fill. Consider how your inability to say no may actually be preventing you from what you truly need.

3. Develop 2-3 intimate friendships. We may not require the quantities of social interaction that extroverts do, but we need a couple of people that we can safely share our vulnerabilities with. You just may discover that you are not alone.

4. Sleep, sleep, sleep. Several neurological studies have demonstrated that introverts require more sleep than extroverts, to restore our brain chemicals and to help prevent quick feelings of overwhelm. 8-9 hours of sleep is standard for many introverts. Sleep is good, and God given.

What other suggestions do you have for combating the onset of a dangerous tiredness?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Internet Monk on Silence

Here's a post and a comment section I know you'll like. It's part of Internet Monk's reflections on an "Evangelical Liturgy."

The Evangelical Liturgy 20: Silence

My favorite line: "Many evangelicals have little idea how noisy their services are."

Booya.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Introverts Corner

Psychology Today has recently started a column called The Introverts Corner, which I'm really enjoying. There is a very helpful article discussing the distinction between introversion and shyness, that differentiates between motivation for socializing versus behaviors expressed in social situations. Introverts who are not shy may have low motivation for socializing but can be skilled in social situations when it's required. Those who are shy may have a high motivation for socializing (especially if they're extroverts) but their social skills and behaviors may be inhibited, marked by fear or anxiety.

Monday, October 26, 2009

New book, new blog

I thought the launch of Introverts in the Church ought to be commemorated by the launch of a newly formatted Introverted Church. Those of you who are subscribers ought to click over to see the new template. I'll probably be tweaking for a while, so let me know if you have any suggestions.

Friday, October 23, 2009

At long last

Introverts in the Church is in stock!!!!

Order it directly from InterVarsity Press and get it late next week.

Order it from Amazon and get it in 2-3 weeks.

Please spread the word!

Addition 10/27 - The book is taking a little while to process, so IVP probably won't ship it out until early November. Amazon will ship depending on where you live and when you pre-ordered. Forgive me, the publishing process is all so new to me!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Critical questions

So here's the all-important question of the weekend:

How does an introvert celebrate the release of his book?

1. Big blow-out party. Not so much.
2. Gathering of a few close friends.
3. On the floor in his room, rolled up into the fetal position
4. Drive to Alaska and live in an abandoned school bus. Later, die from eating poisonous berries.
5. Silent Reading party
6. Hold a sit-IN (get it?) at church on Sunday - during the passing of the peace/greeting time, have all the introverts remain in their seats, staring forward. Possibly sing "we shall overcome."
7. Gather a bunch of introverts to go to a public place, sit in one long row, and look at people. Just to freak them out.


What are some other options?

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Brief Book Review of Living Introverted

My friend Lee Ann Lambert published a book a few months ago called Living Introverted. She is also the host of the blog by the same name, which is an excellent resource. She reviewed my book last week and I wanted to return the favor by posting a review on Amazon. I also want to share it with my blog readers:

----A Nice Addition to the Introverted Family

I should say at the outset that the author and I are friends (since we are both introverts, all this means is that we have exchanged a few emails). But as someone who has written my own book on introverts and facets of the larger culture, I am knowledgeable on the topic and am committed to thinking and writing about it with excellence and with as much objectivity as possible.

When I read a book, I assess it on two criteria: 1. Does the book accomplish what it sets out to accomplish? and 2. Is what it accomplishes meaningful? After reading Living Introverted, I think the answer to both questions is yes, which is why I rate it with 5 stars.

While there are outstanding books on the topic (my favorites are The Introvert Advantage and Introvert Power), most of them are lengthy and detailed. What we didn't have prior to Living Introverted is a primer on introversion, an accessible, practical introduction for those people who don't want to start with a long, research-heavy book written by a Ph.d. The author does not purport to be a psychologist or a scholar or an expert (though I think she sells herself short, as she interviewed around 100 people and does have perhaps the best blog on the topic). She uses words like "tool" and "overview" to describe her book, and that is what it is. It gives all kinds of practical descriptions and suggestions for how to live as an introvert in a world that heralds extroversion. After helpfully explaining what introversion is and what it isn't, she helps introverts with socializing, relationships, work, raising children, public speaking, saying no, and surviving the holidays (!). My favorite chapter is "What Extroverts Need to Know," an exceptionally helpful and practical guide for how introverts and extroverts can live together and learn to compromise.

Not every introvert will relate to all of it, which is something the author readily admits in the introduction. I think the SJ part of her personality creeps into the pages; not all of us will relate to her description of introverts as "analytical" or "having strong organizational skills." But anyone reading my book will surely see the intuitive part of my nature shining through as well.

I think this book will be helpful for introverts looking for a practical, short introduction that they can immediately apply, and probably even more specifically for those introverts who are pretty deep into introversion and struggle with many social occasions.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Survival Guide

Here's a thorough and very thoughtful post, which may prove especially helpful for those introverts who fit into the "highly sensitive" category:

Survival Guide for the Quieter Species

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Temperamental Geography

I'm working on a theory. The farther north you go from the equator, the more introverts you get by percentage. What do you think?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The very first book review

I am committed to not making Introverted Church into a mere shill for Introverts in the Church, but occasionally I do want to share some publicity. Here is the very first book review of Introverts in the Church, courtesy of Lee Ann Lambert, author of Living Introverted. (I've also written a review of her book on Amazon)

You'll notice the box on the far right sidebar entitled "About Introverts in the Church." I'll be updating that over the next few months without necessarily posting about updates. Previews: Christian Century will be printing an excerpt of chapter 6 - "The Ability to Lead" - sometime in October or November, and Christianity Today will be printing a book review sometime in the next 3 months. Check out that box regularly if you're interested! Just added to it: an interview with Christian Retailing, including my answers to the questions 1. How have introverts been overlooked in the church? and 2. Is there assumption that people who are alone are lonely and sad? (Bonus: there is a giant picture of my head there too - I'm working on getting a smaller picture).

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Available book excerpts

You can now read the introduction and chapter one of Introverts in the Church on the InterVarsity Press website. Chapter 1 is titled "The Extroverted Church."

Introverts in the Church - IVP

Monday, October 5, 2009

Advice from a fellow writer

As the release of Introverts in the Church draws near, I have asked some veteran writers for any advice they have in how to prepare for your first book to be published. My friend Andy Crouch, writer at Christianity Today and the author of the absolutely phenomenal book Culture Making (which won a Christianity Today book of the year award - a really big deal), sent me a fantastic response. He and I thought it would be good to make available for other writers or those interested in the book publishing process. He posted it on his website and you can read it by following this link:

Letter to a soon-to-be-published author

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Dreams

October 2009. I've been waiting for this month for 5 years. The public release of Introverts in the Church.

On another level, I've been waiting for this month ever since I discovered a knack for writing when I was 10 years old. Thanks to all of you for helping this dream come true for me. I am grateful for your support, encouragement, and input over the past 2 1/2 years that this blog has been in existence. I know I'm not the best at posting and responding to comments, but I relish the opportunity to hear your thoughts and interact with you. Even if I haven't directly responded to your comment, I assure you that I have reflected on it, and many of them have greatly improved and balanced the content of the book.

As a first time author, I want to ask for your help. There were over 520,000 books published in the United States last year (!) and it is exceedingly difficult for a newcomer to gain a hearing in the white noise of the publishing world. Here are some ways you can help:

1. Pre-order the book:
Amazon.com (lowest price)
InterVarsity Press (will ship soonest)
Barnes and Noble
CBD
Amazon.com Canada
(the highest number of pre-orders so far - I'm thinking about moving there)

2. Tell others about it - especially pastors and other leaders.

3. Read it when it arrives and review it online. Blog reviews and Amazon reviews are greatly helpful. If you review it on your blog or GoodReads, would you also copy and paste it to Amazon? You can now do video reviews on Amazon.

4.
Link to it on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and other social media. Here's the mini link to its Amazon page: http://bit.ly/bmcTC

5. Join the Facebook fan page for Introverts in the Church.

6. Link to my online interview with Jamie Arpin-Ricci:

7. Point people to this blog

If you have other ideas, please let us all know! Thanks so much, everyone. Even the most introverted author can't do this alone! :)

Oh, and you can now "search inside" the book on Amazon. You can see the cover, table of contents, and if you click "surprise me" it will take you to an excerpt.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

All of this waiting is making me a little weird

Top 10 Rejected Titles for Introverts in the Church

10. The Purpose Driven Introvert
9. Introverts in the Shack
8. Girl Meets Introvert, and Keeps Looking
7. Eat Pray Introvert
6. I Kissed Introverts Goodbye
5. Good to Introvert
4. Blue Like Introverts
3. Three Cups of Tea...By Myself
2. The Life You've Never Wanted
1. We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow You Will be Killed with the Rest of the Introverts


Some Alternates:
The Secret of Introverts
If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Step on an Introvert

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Transitions

Over the summer I read a book called Transitions, by William Bridges, which has to go down as one of my favorite, most influential books I've read in 2009. Bridges looks at the internal shifts (transitions) that happen in a time of change (which he defines as the external shifts).

He says that each transition doesn't actually start with a beginning, but actually an ending. We spend too much time focusing on the new beginning, but ignore the implications of what has ended. We get married and we focus all our energy on the beginning of the new relationship, but we don't acknowledge the significance of the end of our single lives. We change jobs and we devote our thoughts to the new job and not to the loss of the old job and the old support system there. We turn 30 and think about the new phase of our lives but do not think of what has passed us by (by the way, the author says that 30 is one of, if not THE most important, transition in our lives!! What. Adam from 3 years ago just called and says "Can I please have that information?!!!")

I picked the book up at the encouragement of my spiritual director, as I explore this big change of becoming a published author and the transition (i.e. internal changes) that is occurring.

So transitions have been on my mind a lot, and it seems that many people actually become more introverted (defined broadly here as "inwardly oriented") during times of transition. I have a good friend who moved recently and started a new job, and though she is an extrovert, she found herself with much less relational energy for the first couple of months, and she relished solitude much more than usual.

Since introversion and extroversion is actually a continuum (not a dichotomy) that totally makes sense. There are times when we slide on the scale, though most of us have a pretty consistent preference (though we may not discover our preference until we really meet ourselves, in our 20s and 30s). Of course, the shift in my friend on the scale could be attributed to other factors - a shyness that developed in a new context, or a grieving process that acknowledged the end of her old life. But introversion and extroversion is more fluid than some people think. It seems fairly common that as people get older, they may discover a more introverted bent. Younger people just have more social and physical energy (and let's be honest, hormones which propel them more frequently into social situations), and as that youthful passion starts to fade, they may discover they're more introverted than they realized.

There was one section in Transitions that leaped off the page at me:

"The truth is that, although ours is a youth-oriented culture, many of us do not come into our own until our lives are half or three quarters over. Schopenhauer noted this more than a century ago, writing that each person's "character seems best suited to one particular stage of life, so that he appears at his best in that stage of life."

The author goes on to ask "What would you say is your own natural stage of life? Were you born to be seventeen or seventy? Are you a perennial twenty-five-year-old, or are you still waiting for your entrance cue at fifty?"

The reason this section was so significant for me was that people told me all through my childhood, all the way through my 20s, that I seemed a lot older than I am. I always found that comment a little offensive, but I'm wondering how much of that had to do with my introversion. How many of you introverts out there have been told that? In my childhood, I tended to observe in group settings more, enjoyed time to myself, didn't jump into the action very often, and didn't outwardly express much excitement or passion. Characteristics that are all typical of much older people. What do you think? Was this your experience?

I was actually very happy to turn 30, because I feel like it gives me permission to be a little more reserved and thoughtful, a little less impetuous and enthusiastic, which is a good look for me. What do you think? Are introverts better as they get older? Are we more suited for a later stage of life than extroverts?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Online church

My friend and mentor Mark Roberts (and fellow introvert) is beginning a series on online church, a growing movement that holds interactive church services on the internet. Mark is always thoughtful, balanced, and biblical, and I'm eager to read what he has to say about this phenomenon. It occurs to me that many introverts will be attracted to online church, and I'm curious to hear your thoughts. He approaches it from the perspective of one who is just learning about it, so if it's new to you, you'll resonate with his viewpoint.

Is Online Church Really Church? Introduction

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Interview with IVP

I've been thinking about personality preferences and transitions, and I'm going to post on that soon. But for now I'll give you a link to another interview I did about Introverts in the Church, this time with InterVarsity Press. I discuss my motivations for writing the book, the gifts that introverts have, as well as evangelism and leadership for introverts.

Interview with IVP (this is a PDF file, with cool pictures and what not)

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Milestone

My editor at InterVarsity Press sent Introverts in the Church to the printers today!!

We don't know for sure when they will receive the finished product back, but it will be sometime in October. It will start shipping from Amazon a week or two after that, and it will also be in bookstores around that time as well. The pre-sales have been very good and I'm anticipating a wide circulation.

More good news: the pre-order price for Introverts in the Church on Amazon has gone down 9 cents, so you can finally live your dream of upgrading your tall coffee to a grande one morning. (If you already pre-ordered you'll be guaranteed the lowest price, so you don't need to change your order.) It's now $11.47.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Nines

For those of you who haven't heard about it, there is a live event taking place right now called The Nines. It's a conversation sponsored by Leadership Network and Catalyst, and it features nine minute blurbs from some top leaders and thinkers in the evangelical emerging movement. It's happening today, on 9/9/09. It's a really creative event, with some really amazing speakers. It was the #1 trending topic on Twitter for a while this morning, and all the extroverts are out in force, "processing" through typing.

But I just can't watch it. Rapid fire bursts of disparate information, with no time to process in between, just destroys my introverted brain. I think if I watched 3 in a row my head would implode. And I can't help but think that this event is really representative of a bias towards extroverted ways of thinking and acting that pervades much of evangelicalism today.

The good news is that you will be able to watch it later, one at a time, at your leisure. That is what I will be doing.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tuesday Q&A part 7

Here's a little interview I did with Christian Book Distributors (CBD) last month:

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.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A preference, not a fallback plan

I love Laurie Helgoe's, author of Introvert Power, response to this question on the Psychology Today website:

SD: What do you think is the most troubling general misconception about introverts?

LH: Wow -- it's hard to choose. I am very troubled by the tendency to define introverts by what they lack. Introversion is a preference, not a fallback plan. Introverts like being introverts. We are drawn to ideas, we are passionate observers, and for us, solitude is rich and generative. Think of all that goes on in the playground of solitude: daydreaming, reading, composing, meditating -- and just being, writing, calculating, fantasizing, thinking, praying, theorizing, imagining, drawing/painting/sculpting, inventing, researching, reflecting. You get the idea.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Quick book updates

First, IVP just told me that chapter 6 of my book on introverts in leadership will be adapted into a feature article in the Christian Century, in either October or November!!!! I am incredibly excited about this.

Second, I'm told that Amazon has almost filled its first shipment of pre-ordered copies of Introverts in the Church. (Don't ask me why they have a set number of books they order before it comes out.) So if you want a copy when they first ship, buy now and you should have it around the middle of October. Otherwise it will be another couple of weeks, probably closer to the beginning of November.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tuesday Q&A, part 6

(A day early, as I prepare to go on vacation)

The last part of my interview about Introverts in the Church, with Jamie Arpin-Ricci:

JAR:
What does it mean for introverts to be missional? To engage in evangelism? Do you have any examples to illustrate?

AM: I saw a blog post a while back that called introverts “sugar in the missional gas tank.” I was surprised by the lack of nuance and thoughtfulness in that post, but even more so I was startled that many commentors actually agreed with the author. Clearly, in many circles introverts are trying to dig themselves out of a deep hole, and maybe my book, if nothing else, will make a good shovel. It is a false dichotomy to say that extroverts do the work of evangelism and outreach, and introverts do the work of spirituality and prayer. It’s not a matter of different activities; it’s a matter of different ways of doing many of the same activities. Introverts can do evangelism, introverts can engage in the missio Dei, and if we are not, we are missing out a key and vital part of our discipleship. For introverts, the most important aspect of mission is context. We will likely to be better in one-on-one contexts than we will be in large groups, and we will likely be better with the same people over time than we will be with encountering strangers. If we center our strategies for evangelism and mission around our personal interests, then we will have more to say and we will find more energy from it. If we find ways to use our natural skills – listening, behind-the-scenes service, compassion, creativity and imagination – in our outreach, then we will be more successful.

I have an introverted friend who is an amazing sculptor, and she told me that she views her art as a wordless way of communicating the gospel. It’s not just that she hopes her art will become a conversation starter, but she prays what she sculpts will actually be a vehicle for mediating the presence of a creative, tender God. She knows that evangelism requires words as well but that God transcends and is more mysterious than any of our verbal formulas and homilies we so often us to try to bring someone to faith.

JAR: Tell us something about yourself that is completely odd and random.

AM: I have this weird thing for cats. I have 4 of them and I experience this odd resonance with them because cats are introverts. Sometimes when the doorbell rings I fantasize about running and hiding under the bed with them.

JAR: Thanks Adam.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tuesday Q&A, part 5

Part 5 of my interview about Introverts in the Church with Jamie Arpin-Ricci:

JAR: Your book is a prophetic call to the Church to wholeness. In that process, what do introverts need to be most careful of in respect to honouring and understanding extroverts?

AM: I love that you spelled “honouring” with a “u.” <JAR: I am Canadian, after all> One of my greatest fears surrounding this topic is that introverts, as they read the book and appraise their religious communities and traditions, will adopt a victim mentality. Already I have run into a number of introverts who are angry and resentful and who have many grievances against extroverts. What I want for them is to deal with their pain appropriately and constructively. I do not want my book to be a springboard for greater division and conflict among the church, because the reality is, there are a LOT of introverts out there who haven’t often been advocated for. Love must be our guide, and lashing out or vindictiveness is clearly not the way of Jesus. Nor is blaming others for our issues in a way that allows us to remain exactly as we are. We’re always called to growth in love, forgiveness, and compassion for others, regardless if we receive the same from the hands of others. I want introverts to read my book and take positive steps towards resolving conflict with extroverts, initiate constructive dialogue in their communities, and demonstrate the profound gifts they have to offer others. My hope is not that the scales will now be tipped in favor of introverts and introverted ways of thinking and acting, but that we can find a balance between introversion and extroversion so that our communities will show both the depth and breadth of God’s love.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Contemplative Youth Ministry

As a member of the Committee on Preparation for Ministry (CPM) in my presbytery, I have the privilege of interacting with people who are considering a call to ordained ministry in the PCUSA. I was talking with one of my charges last week who is a youth minister, and he introduced me to a movement in youth circles called Contemplative Youth Ministry. This movement was pioneered by people like Mark Yaconelli at Youth Specialties, who has a written a book called Contemplative Youth Ministry: Practicing the Presence of Jesus As soon as my friend told me about this, I had one of those cartoon lightbulb over your head moments.

All the stereotypes of youth ministry are that they are heavily programmatic, centered around an uber-charismatic, dynamic, extroverted rock-star youth pastor, bolstered by loud music and overall coolness. But that essentially excludes most introverts, who might feel a passion and call for youth ministry, not to mention discourages all those introverted students who want to grow in their faith and participate in community, but feel totally abnormal in such a setting. Contemplative youth ministry, instead, focuses on helping youth cultivate the awareness of God's presence and brings in spiritual disciplines like silence and different sorts of prayer, recognizing that these things may be more transformative than a high production/high entertainment program.

Here's a good article that introduces this type of youth ministry, saying that it impacts students of all different personality preferences:

Contemplative Youth Ministry

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tuesday Q&A, part 4

The fourth installment of my Introverts in the Church interview with Jamie Arpin-Ricci:

JAR: You are clear that introverts are not exempt from the call to leadership. How might introverts lead differently? How can they be encouraged to step out in these ways?

AM: Not only do I think that introverts are not exempt from leadership, I think that those introverts who are called into leadership can be tremendously effective leaders. Much of our understanding of leadership is shaped by those people we have seen in leadership and the ways they have led. Many of us are accustomed to extroverted leaders and so we think we could never do what they do. Some of us, though, are fortunate enough to have seen introverted models of leadership. The most effective introverted leaders I know all know how to lead out of their strengths and to minimize their weaknesses. They are all experts in self-care and know how to save and restore their energy for ministry and relationships. Many of them follow the model of Jesus in focusing on the “few” – they can walk in larger circles but they relish opportunities to invest deeply in a small group of people and to pour into them their love and wisdom. They become a contemplative presence in whatever setting they are in – they listen carefully not only to the words that are said but to what is unsaid and the assumptions that lie underneath them. Many introverts find that spiritual direction is a ministry that suits them particularly well, or that the disciplines involved in spiritual direction – listening, prayerful silence, giving space to others - shape much of their ministry.

As far as how introverts can be encouraged to step out into leadership, I think they need to be convinced that they do have leadership qualities and gifts and their temperament does not automatically exclude them from leadership. That’s what chapter 6 in my book is about – dispelling the leadership myths and “ideals” that our culture subscribes to. And then secondly, they need to learn how to lead in ways that are genuine and life-giving, which is what chapter 7 is about. Nothing will kill an introverts’ sense of call like trying to lead like an extrovert. We just don’t have the energy or social capacity to do so, and thus we need to find the most effective, fruitful channels for our relational energy.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Another MP3 based on Introverts in the Church

A couple of weeks ago I told you about Donna Katagi's sermon series at Cerritos Baptist Church that is based on an advanced reader copy of Introverts in the Church. Below is the second audio file in that series. It's really interesting to hear her apply the ideas of my book to her particular community. Her sense was that God is calling the introverts in her church to have courage to participate in community. My sermon on the topic (in the upper right corner of my blog) is different and other pastors and other communities will apply these things differently, because of course every church is unique. She actually quotes my book a few times, which was a new experience for me!

How We Grow in the Body of Christ MP3

Left click to open in your default media player, right click to save your computer. (or do whatever Mac users do, no idea what that is)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Amazon Listmania

I threw this in at the bottom of my last post, but I thought I would create a separate entry. I've created an Amazon list called "Books that inspired me to write Introverts in the Church." Of particular significance were The Way of the Heart, by Henri Nouwen, The Introvert Advantage, by Marti Olsen Laney, The Search to Belong, by Joseph Myers, The Shattered Lantern, by Ronald Rollheiser, Good to Great, by Jim Collins, and Reimagining Evangelism, by Rick Richardson. And every book Eugene Peterson ever wrote, though I only list The Contemplative Pastor.

I know you introverts out there like to read, and I highly recommend all of the books listed there.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tuesday Q&A

The third installment of my conversation with Jamie Arpin-Ricci:

JAR: I have sometimes seen introverts use their temperament as an excuse, as though their choices are inevitable results of their introversion. What responsibilities do we have to develop our temperament?

AM: Introversion is never an excuse for sin, fear, lack of love, or an enduring victimization. We must always remember that our fundamental identity is in relationship to Jesus, not in our introversion. If we say that we don’t practice evangelism or don’t participate in Christian community because we are introverts, then our version of introversion is out of step with the abundant life Jesus came to give us. Too many times I have seen introverts define themselves by what they are not, rather than what they are and what they have to offer others. In the book I say that we must move both deeper and wider in our discipleship. We must go inwards and discover who we are and the gifts we have to offer others, but we must always move outwards into arenas of relationships, actions, and mission. A healthy introvert will both engage with others and retreat into solitude to rediscover ourselves and to hear the whispers of God.


Separate note: I've created a list on Amazon.com of books that inspired me to write Introverts in the Church. You can find it here.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Conversation for introverts

In case you haven't checked it out yet, Michelle George's blog is fantastic. I've linked to her series "Into Introversion" in my Favorite Introverted Articles on the sidebar. She has a new post in that collection called "Making Conversation - I didn't know how!" This is great for those shy introverts (no that's not redundant) who struggle to make conversation - she lists some open-ended questions to ask that will start and prolong a conversation. One thing to always remember - people like to talk about themselves! Questions get people talking and also take some of the burden off of us to do most of the talking.

Friday, August 7, 2009

140 characters

Twitter is not good for my introverted brain. Short bursts of disparate information makes Adam feel disoriented.


For another perspective, here's a popular article called "Social Media for Introverts."

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tuesday Q&A

Part 2 of my interview with Jamie Arpin-Ricci

JAR: This book is clearly not just for introverts, but for the whole Church. What do you most want extroverts to gain from reading it?

AM: I actually did write the book first and foremost for introverted Christians, because I felt my introverted brothers and sisters were long overdue for a resource like this. I have much love and hope for them. That being said, I definitely want extroverts to read it as well! My hope is that the book will serve as a mediator between them and the introverts in their lives and communities. I hope that it helps them understand introverts better and also reveals to them how they have conceptualized the Christian life and Christian community according to an extroverted mold. I want them to understand that there are different, and equally viable and valuable, ways of following Jesus.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Rubber on the road

I'm quite excited about this. A couple of months ago Donna Katagi at Cerritos Baptist Church asked for an advance copy of my book, because she wanted to preach a sermon series on introverts and extroverts in the church. She realized that there are a lot of introverts in her community when they showed a movie a while back and gave people opportunities to process immediately afterwards in small groups and also in an ongoing class. Even though people were moved by the film, very few people processed in those small groups and no one signed up for the class!

So in this sermon, she describes introversion in great detail - using this book called Introverts in the Church (I've heard it's awesome) and discusses the implications for the community and individuals within the community.

The first sermon she preached is now up on their website and I've posted a direct link below to the MP3 file (left-clicking will open it directly, right-clicking will enable you to save it to your computer and play it on your audio player).

"Who Are We?" (p.s. This is an excellent sermon!)

Friday, July 31, 2009

A few random things

I'm on Twitter. I know, I said I'd never do it, but it's such a good networking and marketing tool. Follow me here

I'm going to be donating 10% of my book royalties for as long as it's in print to Opportunity International, which is an amazing organization that "provides small business loans, savings, insurance and training to over a million people working their way out of poverty in the developing world. Clients in almost 30 countries use these financial services to start or expand a business, provide for their families, create jobs for their neighbors and build a safety net for the future." Here is Opportunity's website.

Hypothetical Questioner: "Adam, why Opportunity International?"
Adam: "I thought that 10% of my book royalties would be consistent with Opportunity's emphasis on MICROfinance."
Hypothetical Questioner: [rolls eyes]

My book should be available to ship from Amazon in mid-October. Pre-order it here: Introverts in the Church And while you're there, scroll down and check the boxes for the relevant "tags" - the more tags a book has, the higher it will land when someone does a search. Especially important tags are "introverts," "introvert," "introverted," and for good measure, "shy."

Thanks for all your support and for spreading the word! I'm starting to get excited and a little nervous! I'll post another segment of my recent online interview soon.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tuesday Q&A

My friend Jamie Arpin-Ricci and I recently did an online interview about Introverts in the Church and its implications both for introverts and extroverts. Jamie was particularly interested in how introverts can engage in community, leadership, and mission. For the next several Tuesdays I will post one of those interactions, and I would love your reactions and input. They are really just teasers for what I hope will become a much larger dialogue in Christian communities everywhere.

Jamie Arpin-Ricci: One of the early chapters in your book is called “Finding Healing”. Why was that so important so early in the book?

Adam McHugh: Over the course of 3 years, I talked with and interviewed my fellow introverts, and I was saddened by how wounded many of us are from our experiences in Christian community and from life in our extroverted society in general. Our wounds have been inflicted both from without and within. Others misunderstand us or mislabel us as antisocial, loners, arrogant, unloving, or passive. Many of us have absorbed those criticisms and we are convinced that something is deeply wrong with us. Many introverts feel confused and ashamed of who they are, and with alarming frequency, struggle with despair and depression. I am convinced that until we find some level of healing and self-acceptance, as we pursue our identity as introverts in Christ, we won’t be able to live authentically in Christian community and to practice our faith as ourselves.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Pre-Order on Amazon.com!!

I'm very excited to announce that Introverts in the Church is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com!!

As I said in a previous post, Amazon pre-orders are very important for wide distribution of the book, as other booksellers will use the number of pre-orders there to determine how many copies to order initially. The more Amazon pre-orders, the more likely it is the book will appear in your local Barnes and Noble and Christian bookstore.

So please consider pre-ordering and telling others to do the same! It's been fun to see people linking to the book on their blogs and on Twitter and Facebook. There are SO many people out there who resonate with the topic.

(Note: If you pre-order, Amazon will bill your credit card right before they ship it, in October.)

About the Book

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.

Reviews & Endorsements

"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."
—Dr. Mark D. Roberts, senior director and scholar-in-residence, Laity Lodge

"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."
—Marva J. Dawn, teaching fellow in spiritual theology, Regent College, Vancouver, British Columbia, and author of My Soul Waits, Keeping the Sabbath Wholly and In the Beginning, GOD

"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."
—MaryKate Morse, author of Making Room for Leadership, and an introvert

"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."
—Lauren F. Winner, Duke Divinity School, author of Girl Meets God

"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."
—Dan Kimball, author of They Like Jesus but Not the Church

"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."
—Don Everts, minister of outreach, Bonhomme Presbyterian Church, Chesterfield, Missouri, and author of I Once Was Lost

"Adam is addressing a huge number of folks in the church. Read it and heal."
—John Ortberg, author, senior pastor, Menlo Park Presbyterian Church

"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."
—Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

"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."
—Anne Jackson, pastor, blogger and author of Mad Church Disease: Overcoming the Burnout Epidemic

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Religious Activity as a Drug

I really like Anne Jackson's post today - "Are you hooked? The Christian Designer Drug."

I think Anne's description of Christian culture is accurate, that we often treat religious activity as something that will inoculate us from the pain of loneliness or spiritual emptiness. It's one of the reasons I think church culture can be so extroverted.

Anne is the author of Mad Church Disease, a book I've linked to in my recommended reading sidebar. She recently endorsed my book too.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Evangelism

Here's an introvert wrestling with how he can engage in mission and evangelism: Introverts and the Mission of God

I agree with the post that building relationships with strangers is probably the most daunting part of evangelism, but I wonder if perhaps that is the wrong strategy for us. One suggestion I give in the chapter on introverted evangelism in Introverts in the Church is to first look for the people who are ALREADY in your life and to ask how God is currently working in their lives and how you can come alongside your friend in his or her spiritual journey.

Friday, July 17, 2009

President Introvert?

Here's a post that speculates that President Obama might just be an introvert. What do you think?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Next stop: Paperback

My manuscript is winging its way back to Chicago, with my full seal of approval. Now several editors will do final edits, proofread it multiple times, and then send it to the printers late next month!!! It's gonna be a book, introverts.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Twittering I's

I've wondered for a while what the personality demographics are of people on twitter.

Here's an unscientific, but very interesting survey of the MBTI personality temperaments of people on twitter.

A quick preview: introverts far exceed extroverts in twittering, and the most common profile is INFP.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Introverts in church

Ever since I set a Google alert for "Christian introverts" I'm discovering just how many people are posting about the topic of introverts in the church. I find these conversations very exciting and hopeful. I am noticing, unfortunately, that most of the people blogging about introversion and Christianity are reporting negative experiences. I really hope that some day soon people will start having POSITIVE experiences in church as introverts! I want us to discover the gifts that we have to bring others, and for others to welcome us, and our gifts, with open arms. That's why I wrote the book.

Here's a great post from a woman living in Russia: Introverts in Church

My favorite section is her comments on the horrors of "ice breaker" games.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The latest (and probably last) endorsements

"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. 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."

--Anne Jackson, pastor, blogger and author of Mad Church Disease - Overcoming the Burnout Epidemic.

"As an author and consultant, I have seen firsthand the struggles that introverts face in a society built for extraverts. 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."

--Susan Cain, author of "QUIET: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking" (Crown Publishing, 2011).

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

One last crack

I received my typeset manuscript back today, which means I have one last crack at making minor revisions to my book. I was thinking today that it's been 4 1/2 years since I came up with this idea, in a moment of listening prayer during Christmas '04. The paradox in my mind is that it seems like a ridiculously long time since I began this project, but I still can't believe that I've reached this point. They will be printing my book late next month. Stunning.

I've got a couple of weeks to fix any glaring errors, to add a few brief ideas, and to convince my editors to make the changes I want.

Pray for me!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Be who you are

Here's another great post about the significance of discovering who you are in Christ, from the perspective of an introvert.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

An Old Story

I don't really know why, but I find this fascinating. This is an editorial from the Boca Raton News (it's somewhere in Florida) from 1994, talking about the struggles of introverts in churches.

What's still amazing to me is that no one has ever written a book about this topic, until well, October 2009.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Extending the Conversation

Michelle George has written a series of posts about introverts, relationships and the Church. They're very well written and make up a nice introduction to the topic. Plus, she's from Australia, which is cool. The posts are:

1. Do you know an introvert?
2. Introvert...extrovert...shy?
3. Can introverts and extroverts coexist?
4. What can God do with an introvert?
5. Churches and introverts.

This post will take you to the introduction of the series and Michelle's personal narrative.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Pre-ordering

I've received several questions about pre-ordering Introverts in the Church. According to the marketing folks at InterVarsity Press, my book will likely be available for pre-order on Amazon sometime in August. Amazon pre-orders are important, because many other book sellers and distributors use Amazon as a bellwether for how the book will do. If the book has a high number of pre-orders, then other bookstores and online retailers will place higher initial orders, and your average introverted Christian will be more likely to find the book at Barnes and Noble or their local Christian bookstore.

I'll let you know when Introverts in the Church is on Amazon - you'll get updates most directly and quickly on the Facebook page.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Humor

I'm laughing that someone googled "introverted sucks" to get to my blog yesterday.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Cognitive Dissonance

Hmm, I didn't expect this one. What do you think?

"Before I learned that I was an introvert, I thought I was at least shy and possibly antisocial. At other people’s parties, I stayed in the kitchen with the help. At my own parties, I was the help. When the story of Martha and Mary came up in church, no one had to tell me why Martha stayed in the kitchen while her sister Mary sat at Jesus’s feet. Martha was an introvert. She found chopping potatoes far less exhausting than talking to people, and besides, she could hear everything they were saying right where she was without having to come up with something to say herself."

Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World

Monday, June 22, 2009

And one more

We're nearing the end of the endorsements phase of the process, with one or two more on the way. I love the writing style in Don's endorsement:

“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 arm-chair 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.”

--Don Everts, Minister of Outreach at Bonhomme Presbyterian Church in Chesterfield, MO, and author of several books including I Once Was Lost: what postmodern skeptics taught us about their path to Jesus.

Friday, June 19, 2009

More Endorsement Fun

Receiving endorsements may be the most fun part of publishing a book. Here's the latest:

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 is a major and vital part 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.

-Dan Kimball, author of They Like Jesus But Not The Church

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Endorsement from Lauren Winner

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.

-Lauren F. Winner, Duke Divinity School, author of Girl Meets God

Sunday, June 14, 2009

An introverted church planter, part 2

Here's another post from Chris Brown, who is part of a church plant in the Pittsburgh area. Really great stuff for introverted leaders about finding personal rhythms, practicing Sabbath, avoiding triangulation, and maintaining intellectual life.

Can Introverts Plant Churches? Part 2

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Facebook

I've created a page on Facebook for Introverts in the Church. It will be a place for news and updates about the book and other related events. IVP and I are starting to get serious about promoting the book, as we move towards release in October. Help the introverted cause by becoming a fan!

Barbara Brown Taylor

"It can be difficult to be an introvert in church, especially if you happen to be the pastor. Liking to be alone can be interpreted as a judgment on other people's company. Liking to be quiet can be construed as aloofness. There is so much emphasis on community in most congregations that anyone who does not participate risks being labeled a loner."

Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World, p. 88.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

New endorsement

"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."

MaryKate Morse, author of Making Room for Leadership and an introvert

Monday, June 8, 2009

Final thoughts

Yes, for those of you who stumble upon my blog by googling "Kobe Bryant introvert," Kobe is an introvert. And now, let us never speak of him again.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Introverts and Extroverts

Here is a link to a little article written by Father Ronald Rollheiser, entitled "Introverts and Extroverts Both Struggle Spiritually." If you're not familiar with Rollheiser I can't recommend him highly enough. His books The Shattered Lantern and The Holy Longing have been highly instrumental in my life of faith and in helping me become more contemplative.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The offer of a free book, with great responsibility

Hello friends,

I am finalizing my list of "influencers," those people who will help spread the word about Introverts in the Church through reviewing it, blogging about it, or recommending it to others. Each influencer will receive a free copy from my publisher within 10 days of its release in October.

I have a good list thus far, but I have room for 3-5 people who are motivated to read it, spread the word, and help the introverted cause. Perhaps you are one of those people. I'm looking for people who have a wide influence - perhaps a pastor or professor, someone with a highly trafficked blog, or someone with a strong network of people who would be interested in the topic.

If you are interested, please send me an email no later than June 30th and let me know about how you would help publicize the book. Thank you!

New endorsement for Introverts in the Church

"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."

-Marva J. Dawn, teaching fellow in spiritual theology, Regent College,
Vancouver, BC, and author of In the Beginning GOD, My Soul Waits
and Keeping the Sabbath Wholly

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Words, actions, and evangelism

Yesterday I posted a link to Mark Galli's article at christianitytoday.com about the phrase that is usually attributed to Saint Francis: "Preach the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words." It is true that that epigram is not actually found in Saint Francis' writing or in the early biographies about him, and while that is an interesting historical tidbit, it is not my concern. I found myself rather uncharacteristically stirred up by Galli's article, and was particularly stunned by his last line: "Preach the gospel—use actions when necessary; use words always."

Use words always. Actions, when necessary.

I am not only confused by this line, and cannot square it with my reading of Jesus and the entire New Testament, but as an introvert who is deeply invested in the discipleship of other introverts, I am concerned that 1) This article demonstrates and supports an evangelical over-emphasis on words and 2) The article will confirm the feeling many introverts have that evangelism is for extroverts only and that we are either exempt from it, or worse, spiritually inadequate to practice it. If "use words always" is the watchword of evangelism, then frankly, I don't want to be a part of it, and I know a lot of introverts who will be with me on that.

I want to give Galli the benefit of the doubt about his last line. I'm hoping that he was being extreme with a purpose, that he wanted to stir the pot for those people who have found protection in the famous phrase from being uncomfortable or taking risks. Undoubtedly many Christians have hid behind that line as a reason they are not required to speak of Jesus. The line attributed to St. Francis, if understood as a justification to shrink back from preaching the gospel, is injurious to the Great Commission.

However, I am also utterly convinced that evangelism involves every part of us, not just our mouths. I am worried that Galli's article communicates that our actions are mere props for our words, simply the garnish for the main course. That somehow in our actions we're just drawing a crowd for the "real" experience of preaching of the gospel. Perhaps there are some people who are unimpressed by our rhetoric and need a little push, which we can effect through our actions. Yet true evangelism, as every part of our lives as Christians, ought to proceed from who we are. And we are more than words; to be human is to participate in every layer of reality - word and deed, flesh and spirit, noise and silence, speaking and acting.

True, effective evangelism must address every aspect of humanness, and our words alone will simply not suffice for that. We're not merely calling people to intellectual assent, we're calling people to a life and our evangelism must be life-oriented more than word-oriented. Psychologists have shown that 80% of communication is non-verbal, which means the vast majority of our relationships do not involve the content of our speech. If that is true, then shouldn't our evangelism actually major on our actions, and other forms of non-verbal communication, rather than on words? Given that probably the most effective evangelism in our day happens in process, in the course of longer term relationships, the reality is that much of our relationships will not center around words. Thus, we must learn to view evangelism as involving so much more. To repeat myself, our words are significant, central, and necessary, but still only one part of the puzzle and perhaps, just perhaps, LESS important than our non-verbal expressions of our faith.

To me this opens the door to all kinds of different sorts of evangelism, that have often been viewed as inferior or pseudo-evangelism. Acts of service that help people see the servant heart of Jesus. Genuine, attentive listening that abandons our own agendas and places the other person ahead of ourselves in love. Silent prayer that envisions a specific person in the embrace of God. Music and art as vehicles for helping people experience the God of the gospel. I have a friend who is a sculptor who has seen people receive God's grace and tenderness through her art, without her ever uttering a word about what inspired it. Now obviously for people to really grasp the nature of the gospel, words at some point are required. But I've often wondered if the reason that evangelicals are so wordy is because we're lacking in the actions that will truly communicate the life-transforming power of the gospel.

There have been other times in the history of the church when either words or deeds were featured at the expense of the other. The time before the second Great Awakening seemed to emphasize doctrine and intellect at the cost of a tender experience of God's grace and holiness of life. The social gospel of the 1920s asked What would Jesus do? but rarely asked What would Jesus say? My sense of the period in which we live, from an evangelical standpoint, is that our words have overshadowed our acts of faith. I am hopeful that this is changing, as evangelicals are rediscovering pivotal biblical, missional issues such as stewardship of the earth, social justice, and caring for the sick and suffering. We pursue these things not as props for getting people's attention, but because we, above all else, are called to love. When we act in love, we introduce others to the God who is love.

To draw a hard line between actions and words is a false dichotomy. The two must go hand in hand, both in our individual and communal lives of faith and in our evangelism. The One we worship and follow was revealed as Word made flesh, the message wrapped in the medium, forever marrying words and actions. To be truly human and to serve as faithful agents of his mission on earth, we must follow his pattern.