Church as we all know is a very social place to be. Whether or not the congregation is big or small, there’s always chit chat to be had, and people of all different ages and backgrounds under one roof.
That said, there’s also going to be people with very diverse personality types as well. Researchers currently estimate that extroverts make up between 50-74 percent of the population, so introverts are mostly the minority in society and in church groups especially.
I, as an introvert myself want to share with you what introverts want their fellow churchgoers to know about them, but first allow me to explain what it means to be an introvert.
The Difference Between Extroverts and Introverts
While I’m no psychology expert, I am fascinated by personality types and traits that people have, and I spend a lot of my free time researching and reading about them.
One of the more simple and basic personality traits people have is either introversion or extroversion, and chances are you’ve heard of both before.
There’s definitely some stereotypes and misconceptions about each, so I’ll explain the main difference between the two which should add a lot of clarity and help you understand the rest of this article a little better.
Essentially, extroverts receive energy from being around other people, and introverts become more energised from alone time. Pretty simple, right?
Of course you can be an introvert and still quite social, or an extrovert who enjoys alone time every now and then, but for the most part you lean to one side, some more than others.
Now that that’s covered, allow me to speak on the behalf of introverted churchgoers and shed some light on what we want others to know and understand about us.
We’re Not Rude, I Promise
Perhaps the main thing I worry about while in church is that people will think I’m rude.
I don’t mean rude as in I don’t use my “please and thank yous” (I am Canadian after all, good manners is our trademark!) but rather that I’ll seem anti-social, or uninterested.
When, truth is, I find being in a crowd of people I don’t know well to be very overwhelming and exhausting. Most of us introverts aren’t stellar at approaching others and reaching out our hands, nor are we at small talk. So, we often find it much more comforting to stay put in a quiet corner, or stick like glue to a friend that we know well (especially if they’re extroverted and can field small-talk on our behalf).
Of course, the longer you stick within a church the easier it gets, but as a whole, the majority of before-and-after church chit-chat can be classified as small talk. Which leads me to my next point...
We Love Deep Conversations
We hate small talk, but we love deep meaningful conversations, even with people we’re just getting to know.
Chances are, extroverts see most introverts as shy and quiet, but just wait until you see us in a deep conversation one on one. You won’t be able to shut us up!
So, don’t be afraid to ask us questions that go beyond surface level! We love hearing about your past, fears, and passions and sharing our own as well.
As much as we love getting to know you on a deeper level, don’t expect to see us all the time because...
We Probably Won’t Be At Every Event
As I mentioned before, in general, introverts will become tired from being around people, especially in a larger group.
So as you can imagine, many introverts are the types who show up late and leave early for church! We also may not be as present as we’d like to be at weeknight events, but hear us out on this one.
Most of our jobs require interacting with others we don’t know well, so when we clock out at 5:00, we’re pretty much exhausted! The thought of going to a prayer meeting straight away and engaging in another hour of small talk is overwhelming at this point. We’re much more likely to be present at small groups or intimate Bible studies.
Also, the majority of our service in the church will most likely take place behind the scenes rather than front and centre. We may not be a familiar face greeting you at the doors, but we’re very likely to be the ones vacuuming the pews on Sunday evenings once everyone’s gone.
God Made Us Different
All of this is to say that God made each of us unique. We all have our different personalities, preferences, love languages, quirks and more.
While introverts may not fit easily into the mould of the modern, perfect church-goer, I know that the Lord still celebrates us in our uniqueness because He made us this way.
So, to my fellow introverts, do not feel condemned or fearful because of your differences, but celebrate them and the strengths that come along with it!
And to the extroverts, thank you for understanding us and being patient with us, even when our actions may be mind boggling! We always appreciate your desire to make us feel welcome and like a member of the family.
Miranda Menelaws is a Canadian freelance writer. During her spare time, she can be found travelling the globe in search of a new story to tell, or writing about her adventures on her blog.
Miranda Menelaws’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/miranda-menelaws.html