Tuesday, July 22, 2008

For the introverted christians

The great thing about the body of Christ is that it's diverse. People have different talents, abilities, convictions, etc but we all share that one common trait which is we are believers in Christ redeemed by his sacrifice on the cross.

But there is always two groups in the church and this even extends out into the world. The introverted and the extroverted. I'm an introvert, and seeing as only 25% of the general population is introverted, it can be pretty hard sometimes, and this is true even in the church. Whereas the extroverted get all their energy and thrill from the spotlight or being around people all the time, introverts get their energy from being alone (not to say that we don't like hanging around people). I also notice that many Christians would think that being an introvert is some kind of sin, or demonic oppression because you're not wailing and flailing about all the time in church service. People express their excitement in very different ways (and no I don't even get that excited and football and basketball games...people who can shout at football games but be quiet at praise and worship is a problem...but that's for another post ;)

Especially in my beginnings in my walk with God, this was very difficult for me. I'm all for preaching the gospel and sharing Christ, but I'm not the type to go for all out street preaching on the corner/ramming the bible down people's throat approach. There's nothing wrong with this method of course, but I more so chose to share Christ through deep relationship with people (which is an introvert's nature anyways). At times I would feel that I'm not as good a Christian as they are. I mean look at how easy they can just shout at the top of their lungs. Also a few times when I told someone this, it made me feel that I was a "bad" Christian when they said well it's not about you, it's about Jesus, which is totally true, but is that saying that God cannot use the introverted as well? Is there one standard form of evangelism that everyone has to follow?

I have gone out many times witnessing and I guess you could say that is really was a sacrifice because I really don't feel comfortable with the "hit and run" type of evangelism. I mean you get to talk to a lot of people walking by and I ask them if they know Jesus, but of course many may say no, and you never get a chance to speak to that person again.

Here is a good writeup from Joanne Brokaw about "Evangelism for the Rest of Us" at her website:

It’s unusual to find me writing a book review. My “to read” pile of novels and self-help tomes is a mile high, but if I had my way I’d be making a list of books to avoid wasting your money on rather than reviewing something you should read.

Ironically, the book that’s got me writing this month is one that I actually plopped down hard earned cash to read.

Evangelism For The Rest of Us (Baker Books), by Mike Bechtle is worth the cover price, if only to remind Christians that not everyone is cut out for the in-your-face, win ‘em to the Lord, street witnessing pushed onto us by more vocal, extroverted Christians.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not afraid to talk about Christ or share the gospel. And as Bechtle emphasizes, God uses both introverts and extroverts to further His kingdom. It’s just that He uses them in different ways.

According to Bechtle’s personality quiz, I’m probably an introvert with short bursts of extrovert-ness. Rather than trying to ram the Bible down some stranger’s throat, I’m more suited to long term relationship building.

On my last mission trip, for example, when half the team was falling over themselves to go stand on a Mexican street corner and share the gospel with total strangers, I was much happier hanging out at the campus with the construction workers, trying to converse in my limited Spanish about what we were having for lunch.

And some people looked down on that. Oh, they don’t say it out loud. But you introverts know what I’m talking about. The folks who lead dozens of people to the Lord in an hour brag about their numbers and tell you what a blessing you missed while you, who stayed back to peel potatoes or clean paintbrushes, believe the lie that they accomplished more for the kingdom of God than you did.

“God never asks us to be successful,” Bechtle writes. “He only asks us to be faithful.”

Amen, friends. Finally a book that doesn’t outline a ten-step program guaranteed to win the world for Jesus and cause guilt in the hearts of Christians who have a panic attack just thinking about approaching a stranger to outline the five spiritual laws.

“The biblical model for evangelism is primarily a process, not an event,” Bechtle writes. “The pattern involves meeting people at their level, developing a relationship, and moving them along a notch or two in their spiritual journey.”

If you’re not comfortable with street witnessing, or if the thought of drive-by evangelism makes you sweat, this is the book for you. You’ll learn that while you need to sometimes step out of your comfort zone, God gave you that comfort zone for a reason - and He loves and uses you just the way you are.

Another good blog that I like to read is The Introverted Church

Check it out.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Can't tell you how many times these precise ideas/thoughts have crossed my mind. As a teenager I went out with groups to witness on the streets to strangers. Today it's a different world. I have considered that at the time I probably did that more to fit in with the exuberant people I hung around with more than because I was comfortable doing it.
My most fruitful witnessing experiences have been defending the faith and/or sharing the gospel with a person one-on-one whom I was sure really wanted some answers. To inflict someone on the street with something I believe they need to hear is not my style. Maybe I'm trying too hard to be polite?