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!)