Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Interview Compilation

Here is the compiled list of interviews I have done with introverts in different professions.  This is my favorite thing that I have done on this blog.  If you haven't read them, I think you will find them insightful and compelling!

Introverted Therapist - Kristi Cash White

Introverted Recording Artist - Natalie Nicole Gilbert

Introverted Pentecostal Preacher - John Lathrop

Introverted Church Planter, Part I and Part II- Jamie Arpin-Ricci

Introverted Missionary and Writer, Part I and Part II - Kent Annan

Introverted Youth Pastor, Part I and Part II - Lars Rood

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday Links

It's a big day for introverts. Well, it's a a big day for this introvert anyway.

Internet Monk, one of the most popular (and thoughtful) Christian blogs, has written a lengthy review of Introverts in the Church. 

Patheos has my posted my "The Introvert Brand" article, with a couple of new paragraphs that I wrote for them. And there are a two more "working titles" that I added as well.

I'm not on social media during Lent, so I would appreciate any links that you put up on Facebook or Twitter. You can also link to any posts of this blog by clicking on the buttons at the end of each post. Thank you!

I'm preaching four times this weekend. What should I do on Sunday evening to restore my introvert?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Introvert Brand

Introverts in the Church is a serious book.  I didn’t realize I would have to remind people of that when it was published.  But one of the first book reviews I read, written by a dear friend and mentor, started out by saying “Introverts in the Church. No, this isn’t a joke.”  And here I thought the title was significantly less funny than other working titles I was playing with while writing it:

  1. Introverts in the Shack
  2. Three Cups of Tea…By Myself
  3. Blue Like Introverts
  4. Introverts in the Hands of an Extroverted God
  5. Girl Meets Introvert, and Keeps Looking
  6. The Life You’ve Never Wanted
  7. I Kissed Introverts Goodbye
  8. Left Behind, and Happy About It
Surprisingly, my publisher rejected those title options.  (If I were writing it now, I might try Introvert Wins and find a ragingly extroverted pastor to tweet: “Farewell Adam McHugh.”) And here I thought we settled on a boring but descriptively informative option. But apparently my book title also works as a punch line.

As many authors can attest, however, after a few months of talking about your book topic, day after day after day, you get the writer’s equivalent of the late-night giggles. You get so tired that everything becomes funny.  You catch yourself applying the topic of your book to every conceivable situation.  I started seeing introverts the way Haley Joel Osment sees dead people. As I poured the milk on my cereal, I pondered “Hmm, I wonder what type of cereal introverts prefer? Shredded Wheat has a lot of substance and depth, but Lucky Charms has layers of meaning, and the more you eat it, the more you learn about it.”  Then you realize what you’re doing and you consider pouring the weird green-colored milk over your head. Yes, I went with Lucky Charms. I am an Irish introvert, you know. Plus, they’re magically delicious. 

It doesn’t help that people you only encounter in social media tend to reduce you to your book topic.  Once I received a request to write a blog post on how introverts and extroverts can partner together in ending the international orphan crisis.  Now, this is one of the pressing global issues of our time, but is the fact that I need to retreat into solitude after extended social interaction really a significant factor in solving it?    

Another time I tweeted that my book was selling better on Kindle than in paperback, and the first response was “Maybe introverts are just thrifty.”  I’ve received a few Facebook birthday wishes that said “Happy Birthday, introvert.” Or there was the time I confessed that in college we smuggled in a student from another school to be our flag football quarterback (he was the brother of a guy on our team and also just happened to be a Heisman trophy candidate that year) and someone replied “Totally sounds like something an introvert would do.”  

Because of all this, it’s unclear to me whether this introvert thing is a genius piece of branding (in addition to being, you know, my personality type) or else an inescapable straitjacket that will limit me and be a bit of a joke.  In 20 years will people say “that book really changed things in evangelical culture and Adam has become a significant voice in the church” or will they say, in a sexy deep voice: “Adam McHugh: he is the most introverted man in the world.  He doesn’t always go to church, but when he does, he probably won’t talk to you.”  Time will tell.

This article was first printed on Rachel Held Evans’ blog – check out her book Evolving in Monkey Town

Friday, March 18, 2011

Doxologically homeless

Last year, my wife and I changed churches, from a small and traditional Presbyterian church to a large and contemporary Presbyterian church. Our new church is one of those churches that took the denomination out of their name, so now it's just Glenkirk Church.

Moving from a traditional, hymn-singing, liturgical church to a praise song singing, liturgy-lite church that doesn't have a denomination in its title: I know, Bill Hybels from 1985 called and he wants his idea back. But it's been a great move for us, as we have found a community with great people, excellent preaching, and a missional bent. We will be there for a long time, and I am exploring with the staff how I can be more involved in ministry there.

Still, the transition has left me feeling hungry for more liturgy, and I'm left wondering if I will ever find a balance. At the traditional church we left, the worship consisted of old hymns, whose words I love but at times feel overly rational. They engage the mind, but don't always reach the heart; even the way they are laid out in the hymn book requires that your mind is active enough to follow the lines.  But the church also allowed for long silences, and slow, meditative prayer. Our new church has an excellent worship band, but contemporary worship tends to engage the emotions and at times bypasses the mind.  There is almost no silence in the service, and I think that is intentional. If you've read chapter 9 of my book, you know my thoughts about that.

If you look at my bio, you see an eclectic mix of liturgical backgrounds: 1. Evangelical background 2. Mainline seminary 3. Spiritual director training through a Catholic archdiocese. If you read my book, you'll find quotes from Catholics like Rollheiser and Nouwen, Mother Teresa and St. Patrick, mainliners like Barbara Brown Taylor and Will Willimon, and evangelicals like John Stott and J.I. Packer, not to mention classic Reformed figures like Calvin and Edwards.

I love the evangelical emphasis on personal relationship with Jesus and mission, I love the mainline emphasis on justice and citizenship in the world as well as in heaven, and I love the way Catholic spirituality emphasizes mystery and speaks about God in a reverent, circumspect way. (I think evangelicals can be far too glib in their speech about God).

I feel like I have an arm in one tradition, a foot in another, which means I end up feeling divided a lot of the time.  The postmodern/emerging movement is supposed to help people like me integrate these traditions into my spiritual practice, but I haven't actually experienced a church that does this very well.

Does anyone else feel this division, this doxological homelessness?  Will we always have to pick and choose or is there a way to find integration?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Laity Lodge, me, and possibly you

I have been invited to speak at Laity Lodge, in the Texas hill country, from July 21-24, and you may consider this post your official invitation to join me.  I have never been to Laity Lodge but my friend Mark Roberts, the scholar-in-residence there, assures me that it is a unique and beautiful setting for a retreat. Check out this description of the setting. You drive in a river to get there - what else do you need to know?

I will be speaking four times over the course of the weekend, and my topic is "The Sacred Groove" - Finding Our Rhythms.  The introvert/extrovert topic will be my entry point into a broader conversation about our spiritual, relational, and physical rhythms.  I would love it if you would join me!  Here's a registration form for the event.

Also, for those of you in Southern California, I will be preaching at my church, Glenkirk Church in Glendora, next weekend, March 26-27. There is one Saturday service and three Sunday services.

Last, I'm enjoying that at least temporarily, this blog is in the top 100 of Technorati's Religion blogs. Thanks for all the links!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Living the Christian Year: Lent

Happy (Sad?) Ash Wednesday everyone. I am again going through a book called Living the Christian Year, by Bobby Gross, which is an excellent prayer and devotional book that takes you through the seasons of the church calendar. Here are some quotes that stood out to me today:
But the great Orthodox theologian Alexander Shmemann speaks of a "bright sadness" that is the true message and gift of Lent. Yes, during these weeks we become especially mindful of the sinfulness that alienates us from God, indeed, of the human evil that nailed Jesus to those rough beams. And this we lament with sadness. At the same time, we understand that by his Jesus secured for us forgiveness and eternal life. We are like prisoners whose release draws near or refugees on our way back home or patients for whom the cure is working. Lent is sobering, but it leads to Easter!
The word lent comes from a Saxon word that originally meant "length" and was used to denote springtime. So in the northern hemisphere, at least, we observe Lent during a time of year when the days are lengthening and signs of new life are appearing. Even as Lent progresses with its somber themes and ascetic disciplines, the natural world reminds us of the coming resurrection

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Announcing Book #2: The Art of Listening!!

Given that Introverts in the Church has sold pretty well, I thought the second book contract would be a snap. It wasn't. But I'm very happy to announce that InterVarsity Press has agreed to work with me on my second book, with a working title of "The Art of Listening."  It should be released in 2013.

There are a lot of books out there on listening in spirituality, there are a lot of books out there on listening in ministry, and there are a lot of books out there on listening in relationships. I'm trying to bring it all together in one book.

Just like last time, I'll seek your input, questions, and suggestions.  The conversations on this blog made Introverts a much better book, and I will very much value your insights into listening the second time around. In other words, I will commit to listening to you. :) 

Thanks so much for your support and prayers as I went through the contract process. Please continue to pray as I begin the hard work of writing. Book writing is a long, arduous, self-revealing process and I need all the support I can get!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Spiritual Direction is not the same as astrology

Patheos has re-posted my article on spiritual direction, introversion, and evangelicalism. It starts out with an interaction I had with a high school pastor at Catalyst West last year, who wondered whether spiritual direction was the same thing as astrology. If you're unfamiliar with spiritual direction, this article will help introduce you to that ministry. I am a certified spiritual director and I think it is a ministry that is tailor-made for introverts.

The Ancient Art of Listening: Spiritual Direction for Evangelicals and Introverts