Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Moment of Silence

Introverted Church opened its doors on March 5, 2007 and hosted 5 total visitors that day. It was an intimate dinner party, perfect for introverts. We knew each others' names, talked at a normal volume, passed the salt, clinked our glasses, and lingered late at the table. It was a charming and rustic little spot.

Last month there was one day when Introverted Church hosted over 7,000 people. It was introverted Disneyland. There was no shoving or yelling, just a steady buzz of people talking quietly, usually one-on-one. Few walked down Main Street, instead choosing to tuck themselves away in the corners of the park. One guy rode the train around the park, by himself, all day long.

Truth be told, I started this blog because I wanted a book deal. In the summer of 2005 I submitted a proposal to InterVarsity Press that was about introverts in church leadership. They were intrigued, but ultimately unpersuaded. I was crushed, and I didn't touch the manuscript again for a year and a half.

In January 2007 an idea woke me up in the morning. What if I expand the book to include not just the experience of introverts in leadership, but the overall experience of introverts in the church? What if, along with leadership, I also discuss spirituality, community, evangelism and church participation?

But I needed that mythical "platform" in order to share my quiet ideas. Really, what introvert wants a platform? But it was at that time that Introverted Church was born. I posted the first two chapters of my manuscript, a few paragraphs at a time, and my few readers at the time gave me excellent feedback. I even included some of their comments in my revised book proposal to demonstrate the felt need for such a book. 2 years later, Introverts in the Church was released.

My convictions about the importance of this issue have not wavered in the last 5 years. From my interactions with literally thousands of people, I continue to believe that introverts have great struggles in the church, and great gifts to bring the church. I am amazed at how widespread this discussion has become.

When I sent in my proposal for what became Introverts in the Church, InterVarsity Press said, "Well, it's not a very sexy topic, but we see the need for such a discussion." But when, last year, I sent in the proposal for my second book, which I am calling The Listening Life (2013), people said "Well, it's not as sexy as your first book."

Somewhere along the way, introverts got sexy. That quiet, awkward kid you knew in school grew up, got himself some confidence, and now is the cover boy for Strong & Silent Magazine. And for so many reasons, he's not taking your call.

We have Susan Cain, in large part, to thank for the new sexiness of introversion, and I am grateful that I and my book have a prominent place in her tour de force. She has given me a higher platform than I could have ever built on my own.

I leave this blog today, not because my convictions have faded, but because I know that the message is out there now. Believe it or not, last month tallied the highest number of visitors in Introverted Church history, coming in at almost 25,000 people. Some people will think I am crazy to step off this platform now, but in my mind, last month gave me the permission that I needed to stop. People are talking about introverts and church, and I have accomplished what I set out to do.  It was never my intention to become The Voice for introverts. It was always my intention to help my fellow introverts find their voices.

The archives of Introverted Church will live on, and all my contact information will remain the same. If you want to continue to hear from me, then I suggest you follow me on Twitter and become a fan of my Facebook author page. The rest of the the year will be a quiet time for me, as I finish the manuscript for my new book. You will not be surprised to learn that I relish life in the underground, and though I will resurface again, that is where you will find me for the next season. If I do it right, I will not re-emerge as the same person, because the inner journey always brings transformation.

And now, I hope that those of you with fresh energy and creativity will take up the torch of introverts in the church. My book and this blog are certainly not the last word on the subject, and I hope this is just the beginning.