There was a time when, after a busy weekend of church activities, I would be so thoroughly over-stimulated that I'd have to go straight to bed when I got home. My extroverted husband would graciously leave me alone and instruct our children to do the same. Those days seem long ago and far away. So little angst remains about my own introverted nature that I wondered if Adam S. McHugh's new book, Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture (InterVarsity Press), was even necessary. After all, I had figured things out for myself.
But then I polled a group of friends—both introverts and extroverts—and heard that differences in temperament are a major source of tension, both at home and in church. The more I thought about my own relationships, the more I realized there remains a good deal of strain because of such differences. I've settled on an attitude of détente when increased awareness could lead to lasting peace. Introverts in the Church is a resource for dissolving the impasse—if it is read by both introverts and extroverts.
The book is founded on the premise that ours is a culture biased toward extroversion, and that churches reflect this bias. Introverts struggle to find their place, especially in evangelical churches, with their emphasis on evangelism, conversational preaching, and group activities. In the introduction, McHugh expresses his hope that God will use his work to "begin or continue a process of healing introverts—helping them find freedom in their identities and confidence to live their faith in ways that feel natural and life-giving." I suspect that for a young pastor like McHugh, introversion presents a more profound challenge than it does for congregants ...1