Book Review: Introverts in the Church

Review by Doug Moorhead

Introverts in the Church is a great refresher on human nature, with spot-on observations about how the evangelical church can be extrovert-friendly and less understanding in regards to those of the introverted ilk.

Evangelicals may indeed have a tendency to elevate the “Peters and Pauls” while less likely to validate the “Johns” of our congregations. McHugh thoughtfully paints insightful word pictures, helping pastors expand their understanding of their local body and how introverts strengthen and complement the body specifically. This is a missing piece in many books on gifting and evangelism.

However, McHugh tends to paint with a broad brush stroke, at times using the descriptor of “extroverts” to apply to a small slice of those who also happen to be dynamic Type-A leaders. He forgets that being an extrovert does not translate into always wanting to be upfront and the center of attention.

The book also looks at how introverts can “make peace with oneself,” a process “of healing” that others simply call sanctification. Sanctification is a universal call to all believers, not just a process for those who get recharged by quiet time. In the same way, “God-esteem” and self-acceptance is a wrestling match all believers must enter into, not solely introverts.

McHugh writes from a perspective that will challenge many pastors to expand their understanding of the body of Christ. His book is a call to remember that God created us all uniquely with the same calling: to become disciples on a journey to Christ-likeness.

Doug Moorhead is pastor of marriage and family at Spring Lake Church in Green Bay, Wis.

Review by Rebecca Olson

Most introverts could easily tell you aspects of the North American church that, from time to time, make them think, What is wrong with me?

Consider: coffee hour, greeting time and altar calls (or “with all heads bowed and eyes closed, raise your hand if you feel God is calling you to a more committed life as a result of this sermon”).

If you’re wondering, What’s wrong with those? then you might be an extrovert and should take time to read Introverts in the Church. About half the people in your congregation will thank you. Likewise, introverts who haven’t thought about how their introversion affects their faith walk will appreciate Adam McHugh’s work.

One excellent point McHugh makes is that the North American church needs to more obviously welcome the gifts unique to introverted Christians, and introverts need to know they don’t have to become extroverts to follow Jesus. This might help to address the trend of young people raised in evangelical churches moving toward more liturgical traditions or choosing to abandon the faith they were raised in altogether.

Yet for me, who has always scored as strongly introverted on any personality profile, Introverts in the Church doesn’t satisfy. In attempting to address the lopsidedness of North American Christian culture toward extroversion, McHugh falls into solutions too narrow for most. The “success” stories he shares involve artists painting during the worship service or introverted leaders becoming spiritual directors. Other suggestions for churches to be more introvert-friendly go directly opposite to what I would recommend.

Still, McHugh’s work starts a long overdue discussion worth bringing to my church and yours.

Rebecca Olson is a member of Moorpark (Calif.) EFC, where she served for a time as ministry head for missions.

Review by Dan Benson

The author argues that extroversion dominates today’s church, emulating patterns of the world more than of Scripture. Extroversion equates intimacy with constant togetherness, increased activity with spiritual growth, mental quickness with intelligence, a desire for solitude with lack of faith, and a resistance to sharing intimate details of one’s life as a sign of a heart resistant to God.

Consequently, introverts often are made to feel deficient by this louder, higher-energy culture-leadership model. As a result, McHugh says, introverts often “are masquerading as extroverts in order to find acceptance.”

While McHugh sometimes writes as though introversion is superior to extroversion, he makes clear that both introverts and extroverts are of value to the church and its mission. As one of McHugh’s subjects says, “I’d like to think that the work of God might be displayed through my introversion, and not in spite of it.”

Dan Benson is a member of Friedens EFC in Port Washington, Wis., where he serves on the missions committee and in the small-group ministry.

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