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Church Strategy

Tools and Trends for Strategic Planning

Extroverted Pastors.  Harvard Business Review reports that 60% of top-level executives show high level of extroversion.  Compare this to just 50% of the general population.  Barna found that the situation is more extreme at church: 75% of pastors are extroverts.  My hunch is that the numbers in the pews are not too different.  Why?

SNL occasionally includes "Shy Ronnie." How is your church including the fifty percent of the population who are introverts? (Image from: knotoryus.com)

Who But an Extrovert Would Show Up for Church?  Our churches all focus on reaching the unchurched – often by encouraging them to show up at church.  Think about what that asks of an introvert.  Psychology Today notes that they prefer to be reading, or writing, or thinking

But – at church – we asking them to show up, shake hands, and – if they want fellowship – they need to stay after church to make small talk and try to get to know people.  Or – even worse – we encourage them to sign up for a small group that requires that they show up at a stranger’s house and spend two hours talking and praying with strangers.

That’s hard enough for an extrovert.  For an introvert?  Forget it.

The Opportunity.  Your church has probably been missing the introverts in your area.  Look around in your Fellowship Hall: extroverts.  Your elder board?  Extroverts.   Your staff?  Extroverts.  Paying money to go on your church retreat?  Extroverts.

Where are the introverts?  If they’re there, they are the ones sliding out quickly after church.  They are more well read than the rest of us.  They are thinking deeply, listening carefully, and living more contemplatively.

Resources for Reaching Introverts.  Since introverts are more given to reading, it is a savvy man indeed who writes a book targeting them.  Adam McHugh is that savvy man.  Introverts in the Church is his book.  McHugh says that “introverts often end up feeling spiritually inadequate and marginalized.”  He suggests that churches should encourage introverts to be themselves, rather than trying to become extroverts.

Getting Practical.  A few ideas to help encourage the introverts in your church and reach those outside:

  1. Partner with an Introvert.  If you are more extroverted, consider partnering with an introvert, to bounce your concepts and sermons off of him or her.  The applications in your sermons may be geared toward extroverts.  Send your sermon notes or transcripts to an introvert (don’t schedule a meeting) to get their perspective.
  2. Share the Books You Read to Prepare Your Sermon.  Not everyone is going to “process” best in a small group setting.  Consider posting some suggested “Further Reading” on your website.  Introverts will process best on their own, with the help of some materials.
  3. Send Out Prayer Requests.  Prayer is a deeply personal and individual activity – particularly for introverts.  Don’t expect them at prayer meetings, but they are likely the real prayer warriors in your church.  Just send them lists and let them take them to God.
  4. Create Online Discussion Forums.  Early social media research suggests that extroverts are more into Facebook and Twitter, but that longer-form Amazon reviews and discussion boards are the province of introverts.  Create space for introverts to write and participate in your community without being face to face.

This is an area that deserves more attention.  Keep your eye on it, watch for introverts, and pray that God will show you how to make your church a safer place for the quieter half of the population.

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