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:

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.