Introverts: The Churches Unspoken Second Class Citizens

There is a problem.
The typical thought is that in order to be successful in ministry you must be an extrovert.
When hiring for “leadership” positions extroverts usually get the nod.
Introverts have suddenly become second class citizens in the church leadership world.
Loud, brash, and sometimes obnoxious get the nod.
Quiet, shy, and sensitive are often placed in rooms where they can council people and not lead masses.
I think it is important to have extroverts in places where they need to be but sometimes I think we confuse where those places are.
Susan Cain in her book QUIET says this, “Introversion — along with its cousins sensitivity, seriousness, and shyness — is now a second-class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology.”
I think this is true in the church as well.
Mother Teresa created a movement of love not through her words but through her actions.
Rosa Parks was not a loud, bold, brash woman who stood up for injustice with a iron will.
Her obituaries said he was “soft spoken, small in stature, timid and shy but with the courage of a lion”.

I think we need to hear from the timid and courageous ones.
I think we need to follow in the steps of the quiet yet bold ones.

Is being an introvert looked down upon in the church?
Are you an introvert being forced to exist as an extrovert in the church?
Who are some great examples of introverts who have led well in the church?
Speak up ragamuffins.
Yes…even you introverts…



Author loswhit

More posts by loswhit
  • I’ve been called out many times by church leaders for being introverted as if it’s almost a sin to be an introvert. I had to do what I called “faking the happy” or I was basically shunned many times. I think your post is dead on Los.

    • Thanks Jason. How are you existing now in this extroverted world?

      • I feel lost in a lot of ways. But I just try to do what God puts in front of me and trust Him things will work out.

  • Amen! This is a book I will read! Thank you!

  • Love this. I’m an introverted-extrovert. Totally possible and doable in life, but sometimes get’s me into trouble where leadership comes in. People don’t really know how to take me if I’m in the “transition” stage and I ruffle feathers – not in the “awesome” way. So I have had to learn to apologize a lot, or “transition” in a way that an apology isn’t required.

    My former small group leader, who now is one of the group coaches, would most definitely fall into the introverted leader category. She is very quiet and shy. You would think you could walk all over her. But nope. She is thoughtful and bold with her words and actions. She is firm and loving, and she does it in a very quiet, timid way. Love that girl!

  • Such an important message. I have finally {now that I’m closer to 50 than 40} made peace w being an introvert. I write. I paint. I paint what I write. And it is all a part of my spiritual practice. It’s nice to know that I am just as fearfully and wonderfully made as all of the sparkly, shiny rock star pastors. For my ministry, I prefer words & contemplation. Or a cup of coffee with a young woman, Titus-style. I hope that my obit will say something like, “soft spoken, small in stature, timid and shy but with the courage of a lion” {Putting that up on the wall in my prayer closet.}

  • Our lead pastor and his wife are both introverts. All the interns have to take the Myers-Briggs personality type test when they start. I’m a leader and an introvert, although I’ve learned how to operate as an extrovert when I need to. One thing that I appreciate is using a co-leader to help balance each other’s weaknesses. I love when my co-leader is better at the logistics, allowing me to be the person leading my team in community.

    I do think that in general people seem to appreciate an extrovert personality more than an introvert. It can be harder to appreciate the qualities of an introvert, and it can be harder to outwardly measure the value they add to a team, especially if they’re behind the scenes more often than not.

  • michelle

    I definitely believe the church and humanity in general pressures leaders to be extroverts…

    One thing that was helpful to me, was taking the Strengthfinders test. My top 5 strengths are strategic, intellection, analytical, learner, and focus. There isn’t a single relational strength in my top 5… I am a hardwired nerd. This gave me some permission and freedom to start being okay with not being a “people person”. Now I am in a process of learning to love well as a worship leader, even though people, especially groups, are generally draining to me.

  • Totally agree. I like to think that it is unconsciously done but the “segregation” is everywhere. As introverts we are taught from a young age “FAKE IT ‘TIL YOU MAKE IT”. Is that really what we want to be – FAKE?

    As the quieter of the species, we also have to be okay with being that way. We need to understand the important roles we can play in ministry and how our testimony – while maybe not as loud – is just as powerful.

  • An absolute must read blog on this subject is written by Adam McHugh…

    And be sure to check out his book “Introverts in the Church” as well.

    As for the question…yes absolutely, especially in large church settings, I think introverts are looked down upon as not being relational enough. It’s a difficult thing for me to balance, being an on stage worship leader and an introvert. I know I’m called to love and care for people but I also have to take care of myself. I’m constantly examining myself and my heart to know when to engage and when to pull back. Great conversation Los.

    • terrence

      I agree with your comments. Introverts really have to live a life of examination because people seem to be offended by the “shyness” or the fact that introverts usually seek out moments of solitude to recharge(being around a lot of people is a drain on energy for introverts but a source of energy for extroverts). But God has helped me to see the beauty of community and fellowship and i definitely embrace the calling to be relational,especially to those who need to see me be a light. I’m a nerd and I fine with that. i’m an introvert and that useful to God too. I’d rather be myself and put in the work it takes to live as I was designed than try insult God by being someone else.

  • I’m an introvert and know from personal experience that most extroverts just don’t understand how it feels to need that quiet. This article from 2003 gave me a bit of validation:

    In the church setting, I find I value those leaders who are introverts and lead through quiet example. Maybe I identify with them more or maybe we’re just on the same wavelength.

  • I don’t think the problem is an “introvert/extrovert” thing, but more of a “church is too lazy to put the right people in the right places” thing.

    If we would take time to learn people’s strengths and place them in an appropriate position, problems would be minimal…or at least less.

    ALSO…it’s a problem of people wanting to do something outside of their gifts…i.e.: the tone deaf person who wants to sing lead on the music team.

    The church has a great way of putting people in places where they have no gifting just to fill a “need”.

    I think that in order to be effective, some positions require extroverts and some positions require introverts.

    Neither are bad…but they both have their strengths and weaknesses.

    • Robin

      Seems your comments would make a great object lesson: I’m a horrible singer…tone deaf doesn’t begin to describe me. As my church is preparing to introduce a discipleship program that includes identifying and using spiritual gifts, this is what popped into my mind. During the service, I go up to do ‘special music’. It’s presented seriously, with the band doing an intro and me holding a mike. Then I make a joyful noise! After (no more than) the first chorus, we explain the importance of operating within your area of giftedness, and how the whole body (ears especially!) is hurt when we try to do what we’re not wired to do, even if our heart’s in it. Then we invite our worship leader to operate in his true area of giftedness and finish the song…

  • I often say I am an introvert trapped in an extrovert’s body. As a leader, I’ve learned to function with in the assumptions people have of me. I think one of the issues is how we define true leadership. The guy preaching isn’t always the leader, but we naturally gravitate to him as if he is. I have absolutely no idea how to change that paradigm, though. :-/

  • Jeff

    I can think of maybe 3 extroverts in my church leadership. The rest are introverts and exhibit a restrained strength that make them men and women with a deep, and courageous heart.

    I think it depends on which churches you are talking about. But your description doesn’t fit the last 8 years of experience that I’ve had.

  • First and foremost, that is a wonderful book and I sincerely enjoyed reading it. But, to the question at hand: are introverts second-class citizens in the church?

    Not always, I think, but we *are* easily overlooked, and as such can be “planned out” of some activities if leaders aren’t careful. A good example would be a series of special events my church it doing, titled “The Truth About…”. They’re designed to go along with the Real Marriage series we’re doing, but be focused on the singles in our congregation. Generally, they run as a two hour talk on a subject (Like the science of dating), followed by a mixer at a local bar or hangout spot.

    The events were tightly packed, but the ‘mixers’ afterward far less so, and the distinctly lacking population was introverts. It’s not hard to see why: a two hour lecture would appeal to many of both personality types, but a mixer at a loud location with no agenda or goal other than meeting people you don’t know and having a “good time?” Ehh, no. In my case, I fled to the local library instead.

    Yes, I am a total nerd.

    Please, don’t think I’m saying things like singles events with some social time or a meet and greet at the begging of a service are bad – they aren’t, and honestly can be a good thing. But I think it’s important for churches to make sure they have spaces and events that allow for all sorts of different people to be open. Spaces where people feel safe and comfortable about opening up, which in my mind is a key part of enabling a culture centered around the Gospel (you can’t encourage others with the Gospel if they never open up).

    So, big & loud events are generally out (or at least uncomfortable and sparsely attended by the more introverted), but thankfully there’s another aspect of many churches that I think fits introverts quite well, one that is often more easily overlooked and is generally less immediately visible – community groups (or small groups, or house churches, or…whatever the name of the week is).

    I won’t go to a mixer with a bunch of strangers – it’s just too much to handle (it’s worth noting here that I’m not just a strong introvert [INTP], but also one of those ‘highly sensitive’ types you hear about. Anyhow…), but I eagerly look forward every Tuesday night when I can have dinner with my community group (insert ‘single dudes can’t cook’ joke here), go over the sermon from the last week, and in general hear the Gospel and get to speak it into the lives of others. It’s wonderful.

    So, are we second class citizens? Depends on the church – depends on the culture, too – but I think it’s less “second class” and more “a different class that fits into the puzzle of Jesus’s Bride in a different way.”

    …but that’s just me.

  • Heath

    A few years ago, a church down the road was looking to hire a youth ministry intern from a Christian college. I have known Tim, the internship placement director, for several years and he invited me to sit in on the meeting. When Tim asked the leadership from the church “Would your church benefit more from an introvert or an extrovert?”, a lady on the leadership team responded without hesitation “WHY would you even consider sending anyone out who is not an extrovert?! That is ridiculous. You HAVE to be an extrovert if you are going to succeed in ministry.”

    Tim and I looked at each other, and he replied “You know, I think Jesus uses us introverts just fine.”

    I am an introvert who has trained myself to act like an extrovert…and that’s difficult. As leaders in the Church, we have to stop equating an outgoing, extroverted personality with leadership. When we connect the two–whether it is intentional or subconscious–it has the potential to rob people of the chance to use their gifts the way God intended for them to be used. Just my two cents…

  • Totally. As an introvert, this discussion empowers.

    It has been and probably will continue to be a struggle to accept and live into this reality. Thankfully, though I am a part of a community that is helping me to embrace who I really am (as well as who others really are). And in this community, I have found my voice. I have begun to discover the gift that is introvertedness. I am thankfully for those friends and mentors, who have also embrace this in me. From this community, Jesus’ message of belonging (no matter what) springs forth to life. The call of the church then is to teach and live out a message of belonging.

    I wonder though how we better equip people to embrace differing personality types like this? I wonder how different my life would be if I would have begun to embrace this sooner?

  • I really appreciate you bringing attention to this issue Carlos. It’s so important for church leaders to speak out on this subject. As for me, I almost resigned from the ordination process during seminary because of lingering questions about my ability to lead in the church as an introvert. I just didn’t think I had the requisite charisma and energy to be a pastor. I liked people and I was passionate about the mission of the church but I found myself slipping away often to read or think in silence. I compared myself negatively to extroverted pastors who seemed to have the ability to change the energy of a room when they walked into it.

    Well, I didn’t give up but instead devoted myself to finding ways to lead as an introvert, which eventually culminated in a blog on the subject – and then a book, Introverts in the Church. I have found many kindred souls along the way, some of whom are church leaders and some of whom are trying to find their place.

    You may have also seen that I show up in Susan’s book Quiet. She’s a good friend and I am grateful that her work is getting such widespread attention.

  • Kristin

    I’m a 100% introverted worship leader. How’s that for being bold? I once posted one of Adam’s blog posts on my facebook, and a fellow worship team musician replied:

    “Thank God Jesus was not introverted can you imagine him not greeting people and looking like he hates them. We might not have Christianity.”

    How’s that for summing up the problem? Where do I begin? *sigh*

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  • I don’t think its consciously looked down upon, but it definitely is – especially where leadership roles are concerned. An introvert is often assumed to have a lack of confidence or a buildup of fear. The loudest, most charismatic, outgoing person is often looked at first as leadership potential.

    I’m a leader and an introvert, in a position at a church that I would say is typically a spot for an extreme extrovert. I’ve learned to work as an extrovert when I need to, but its not comfortable. It’s a challenge to not “fake it” in certain circumstance to live up to people’s expectations…but I know God has called & equipped me for where I am and i’m serving him, not them. God and the leaders around me know my personality and heart and have placed me in this position. I would like to describe myself as timid, yet courageous…quiet, yet bold.

  • I am an introvert-extrovert too, in that I am introverted around big groups, or when I feel there is a clear “leader” of the group. I don’t like to compete, so I often hang back if I feel there are others that are more dominating in a group.

    As the wife of a youth pastor, I often feel the pressure to be extremely extroverted – chatting with newcomers, inviting people I barely know to my home, etc. I find this difficult, but also stretching. I have had alot of awesome conversations as a result of these situations I would have normally avoided. Sometimes it’s good to try both. Force yourself to try being the other if you have to and see what you learn 🙂

  • eric

    I am a proud introvert. I’m not sure where I stand on this topic though. First, I can say that in all my years in ministry, I can only name one pastor that I’ve worked with who was an extrovert.

    But in my experience, I’d say that being an introvert or extrovert has little to do with my success in various professional or social roles and more to do with how I’m wired for connecting to my “power source”… in other words, how I go about powering up.

    I’m an introvert, yes, but I wouldn’t consider myself to be ‘shy’. I simply need more ME time than extroverted people. I can hold my own in social situations and it has really never affected how I lead. In fact, it really only affects what I do when I’m not leading. However, if I neglect my personal time then I am more likely to shut down and keep to myself in social situations. I think it has more to do with emotional and spiritual health than anything else.

    For example, my wife is an extrovert and her idea of relaxing and re-energizing is to surround herself with her best friends, talking, laughing, etc. Meanwhile, I’m the one who goes off on retreats, requires time in nature, withdraws from the crowds, and recollects myself. In fact, Michael Hyatt is a very successful self-proclaimed introvert. He has a lot to say on this… go check out his blog by the same name.

    I’m rambling, but I guess my point is… when it comes down to it, my leadership style and who I am in public leadership roles doesn’t differ from my extroverted friends and colleague who also lead.

  • I actually am not sure if I’m an introvert or an extrovert. Can anybody relate to that?

    Either way…I agree ONE HUNDRED PERCENT. Great post. I’ve talked about this with my wife and other friends.

  • Thanks for this, Los. I’m an introvert. I generally prefer e-mail to phone calls. I hate ‘networking events’. I have to make myself go out into the foyer between services at church because I’d rather be in the ‘green room’ – not to be aloof or special but because I always feel most alone in a crowd.

    I think there’s times to make an effort to counter our natural leanings, e.g. the example above of going and speaking to people between services. Or forcing my eyes open when singing. There’s also times to accept who we are and not force ourselves into a place of insincerity. I probably seem most extrovert when I’m on stage, throwing my guitar or bass around and belting out songs with no fear or hesitation. But when it comes to speaking… if I manage five words without stumbling, it’s because I’ve ben practicing them all week. It’s taken me a long time to realise that while I can lead worship, there are other more extrovert people who have the ability to connect with a crowd that I’ll never have. That realisation is why I’m happy to step away from the direct worship leading role and into a more team-focussed position. It’s about accepting who I am, celebrating it, being me and creating space for others to be themselves.

    I think we have a great mix of introverts and extroverts in all the teams I’m involved in within the church. We need that mix.

  • It’s become obvious to me as I’m at a Christian College whose mission is to “educate, equip, and enrich Christian leaders” that when they say “Christian leaders,” they mean loud, obnoxious, mostly bossy extroverts. Some of them are nice, though. But all of them are extroverts. And being an introvert, I’m looked down on because I don’t like to participate in huge social endeavors that our school puts on. I also haven’t once learned to be a better introverted leader; it’s all about socializing, networking, and leading large groups of people (all things I’m not interested in).

  • Marssia

    I hate being an introvert. But I have learned to love it. I have learned that I have time to observe people around me that are put into my life. I slow down and enjoy my introvertedness and learn to love others and pray for the struggles I observe others having. I pray a lot. I pray for anyone and everyone that crosses my path. I dont know what other people think of my introvertedness. I know it must annoy many. But I cannot change it. It’s just how God made me. And I’m cool with it. 🙂

  • at the end of the day i am introvert & have been in church leadership positions as one. is it always comfortable? no. is it always “accepted”? no. but then i think extroverts oftentimes get bashed by those on the other side for being “arrogant” or “outspoken.” introverted doesn’t have to mean “cold” or “unfriendly.” at the end of the day, we have a choice on how we act in spite of our personality being introverted or extroverted. while i feel for my fellow introverts, at some point i think we have to stop using our personalities as a crutch for not wanting to do what’s uncomfortable for us or might not come naturally. what’s that verse ” i can do all things through Him who gives me strength?” if God calls you to leadership as an introvert He will also equip you to lead well even when it’s uncomfortable.

  • While introverts may not speak up a lot, when they do, it’s usually the most powerful thing said.

    • MJT


      • I like to think so 🙂

    • Kim

      I agree!!! Less words that have more “power”!

  • TC

    I think this animation sums up the churches view of introverts:

  • I once interviewed for a youth ministry director position at church and someone on the commitee made a statement about how I wasn’t what he expected. I asked what he expected and he replied with “loud.” I said I am more of a listener and he smiled. Being an introvert, I believe we have too many talkers and not enough listeners.

  • As always, great post. There are a number of introverts that have been quite an inspiration to me — 2 of which are my pastor/boss/friend at CC Pacific Hills, Dave Rolph ( & author/mentor/friend Gerald Rainey — two of the smartest (and most reserved) dudes I know.

    God bless ya bro!

  • Great post. This is the second time in a week the Catalyst folks have featured a discussion related to folks in the church with anxiety or introversion. Hmmm.

    In my day job, I’m a physician (child psychiatrist) who researches (among other things) treatments for kids with social anxiety. I volunteer with a ministry that works with churches to help them develop inclusive ministry environments for families of kids with disabilities. I’d take your post two steps further… I’d question whether folks at the far end of the “introvert spectrum” manage to connect in the first place in many of our larger churches because of ministry environments that are designed by extroverts for extroverts. Do the processes through which visitors connect with small groups or volunteer to serve within ministries effectively screen out introverts? How do folks who are more shy or contemplative attract the attention of senior leaders so that their gifts and talents are noticed?

    Unfortunately, I fear the way many of us “do church” results in barriers to the folks you describe ever attaining citizenship in our churches, and mitigates against the type of activity that leads to influence once they’re involved in leadership positions.

  • Jo A

    I was interviewed last year for a lay unpaid ministry in the Anglican church, I was not accepted. One of the comments on my feedback form read ‘J recognises she is an introvert but is working on this.’ as if it is a handicap to be overcome. Now the Anglican church isn’t the noisiest expression of church around so I was surprised, to say the least, to come across this attitude.

  • Good observations and it is true that introverted potential leaders may be overlooked by good leaders but GREAT leaders understand the personality types well enough to look for the other qualities of leadership and creativity. Recognition of the personality types can easily be taught.

  • I am the introvert forced to act as an extrovert in church. If I don’t, no one hears me. But that’s not limited to church. It’s in social circles, parties, family gatherings and elsewhere. I don’t find the church hostile to who I am, I find it similar to most places I exist. If I want to succeed there or anywhere, I nut up and get out of my shell. Nothing has served me better. I’m glad I did it.

    All this to say- I don’t feel like a second class citizen, as long as I don’t let anyone treat me like one. Is that a problem? Should I be offended?! Ha! I think there was a time this stuff bothered me but I’ve found ways around it and am not OK w/ it.

  • I am so glad to hear someone in a leadership position say this. As an introvert I was often “encouraged” to avoid leadership positions. For years I wanted to be part of a high school parachurch ministry but I just didn’t fit their leadership mould. It fed into years of me questioning my desire to lead others in vocational ministry.

    Also, if I had a dollar each time I’ve heard people say “You have to watch out for the quiet ones,” I’d be a millionaire…or at least a ‘thousandaire.’

  • I am an introverted junior high leader.
    It sounds like an oxymoron, and it took years for me to find that junior high ministry was the right fit for me because it sounds so backwards. In fact, my mentor at the time said something equivalent to “out of all the places in ministry, junior high was not where I would have seen you at your best” because I am not only introverted, but incredibly shy, both things that stereotypical junior high leaders are not. Often, they are extremely extroverted, loud, unabashed at themselves, and a bit obnoxious.
    But for some reason, it works. I love my role and the kids seem to tolerate me well enough 😉

    • I should fix that quote to read “not where I would have EXPECTED TO see you at your best” commenting after I got involved and began to see that I was doing exceptionally well.

  • Wow. I can’t believe someone is finally talking about this. Thanks Carlos. I am an introvert worship leader. This is the biggest struggle I face in my job. I am often labeled negative and arrogant. Negative – because I am not outgoing and bubbly. Arrogant – because I’m quiet and it takes all the energy I have to walk across the room and say hi. Its a struggle for me to believe in God and to see things in a “business/leadership” mentality. I do feel that the introverts get a bad rap. I think “we” have valuable things to say and contribute to the church. Personally, I wish I was outgoing and social. It would be a whole lot easier than to always have to feel weird. For us introverts we struggle greatly with understanding the extrovert world. John Maxwell doesn’t really make sense to us. We struggle to trust the extrovert because we perceive them as fake or shallow. What is the best spoken and the loudest gets rewarded in the church world. Luckily for me…I have fellow staff that are patient with me and I am learning to be patient with them as we fall forward in learning how to work together as intros and extros. Thanks a ton for bringing this up.

  • Definitely an Introvert.

  • Steve

    Nice observation. But it won’t change.

  • Shannon Price

    I’m an extrovert. Whew! There, I said it. I’ve come across this introvert vs. extrovert subject many times in relating to church and its ministries. It’s a tough subject to disect. I once had a woman tell me that she was an introvert therefore she was released from ever doing anything in the church. Not just upfront leading, but anything that related to activity. She moved to a much larger church from her small one so that she could just blend in and not have to do anything because in her words, “I’m an introvert.” We must be careful in labeling ourselves in a way that will make us not useful for the glorification of God’s will in our lives and the lives of our churches. I agree that there are both, but I also agree that both are essential to the kingdom in action. Reading the posts so far I felt a little guilty for being an extrovert, but then I realized that its as misunderstood as the introverts. As one follower said it, “loud, obnoxious, mostly bossy extroverts” and that pretty much draws the line in the sand for churches, work environments, school, etc. We must as church leaders recognize our abilities ourselves and somehow make them known to each other and embrace them, even letting it spill out into a congregation that is trying to understand how to fit in and how to communicate that to the leaders that they even want to fit in. As hard as it is to be an introvert who is forced to speak, it is hard to be an extrovert who is forced not to speak. We try to make it so that we’re all the same and that’s just insanity. Look at Moses and Aaron. Moses pleaded with God to let Aaron do it because he was more of an eloquent speaker. We must as introverts and extroverts be following what God has in store for us and for some we must learn to shout and for me I might need to learn to shut up.

    • Avelyn

      I’m right with you sister (: well said! Labels are stifling at best, dangerous at worst! Introverts tend to be more misunderstood, but that’s not to say that extroverts don’t get that from time to time too!

  • L.

    I find this whole introvert/extrovert thing a bit puzzling. An introvert is not necessarily shy and quiet, while an extrovert is not necessarily loud and talkative. I’m an introvert, which means that I recharge my emotional batteries by being alone – but I still need lots of interaction with people. In my job as a corporate trainer, I have to interact with people quite a bit, and I do it because it’s my job and I’m good at it. I know an extrovert who is very quiet, but emotionally needs to be with people. As I read the other comments about people’s interactions with churches, I couldn’t help but wonder if the introvert/extrovert issue is a false restriction that churches are putting on people.

  • Ha! I love this. I wrote a post a couple months ago called Introvert is Not a Dirty Word.

    My husband, an extreme extrovert, would always whisper in shared company, “Oh, Nicole, she’s an introvert.”

    My biggest gripe is that people think introvert is synonymous with not liking people. We love people, just not everyone all at once, all of the time.

    We can lead in more intimate, personal, and connected ways. We are sensitive to circumstances and individuals that extroverts sometimes aren’t.

    In short, we are just another aspect of Christ’s Body–albeit the quieter, less noticable part.

  • My pastor in Chicago was incredible and I learned so much under him. He is an introspective introvert and when he moved states he couldn’t get a job. Not dynamic and powerful enough… in other words, not an extrovert.

    Overseas introverts are MUCH more highly valued. I went back to Asia a year and a half ago and it was such a revolutionary feeling to find myself fully valued and respected as a leader despite being quiet.

    • Interesting that you mention how your introverted highly capable pastor in the West(Chicago) was de valued because of his lack of Charisma (not an extrovert) and how you were highly valued in Asia, and that you’re an introvert.

      It goes to show how backwards we, in the West. View things. We are a “Cowboy” culture. Our heroes on screen and in literature, are often endowed with tough, assertive, brash, in your face, take no prisoners” personalities, and the introverts in these dramas are portrayed as the nerdy, inept bumbling sidekicks. (if they’re even lucky to get that role!)

      In the East, introspection, cooperation, and team effort seem to be the order of the day, and this mindset shows up in their visual art, their storytelling, the way they do business, and their worship.

      When I was in college, there existed our Christian Fellowship Group which was open to everyone, and also a Chinese Christian Fellowship .

      One day we had a joint meeting, where I asked the question, ‘what’s the difference our two groups? We are both Christians, right?”

      One of the members replied, “yes, but American Christians TALK TOO MUCH!”

  • love this – I’m an introvert so I so appreciate this!

  • There are times when I’m not really sure how an introvert like myself fits into the vision of the Kingdom of God. Even more times when I wonder if God really knew what He was doing when He called me to lead. I have aspirations (and a calling) toward professional (vocational? professional just sounds like such an odd adjective for it if we’re all called to minister in some way…) ministry. I’m a performer so it’s not getting up in front of people that drains me, actually I get quite a charge from it, it’s interacting with people that saps me. I have what I call a relational quota, a number of relationships I have the energy to maintain at a given point in my life. When I am maxed out on that, the idea of meeting new people or having to have anything more than a surface level sort of relationship with people becomes incredibly unappealing to me, which feels like a rather selfish thing when I compare it to the life and work of Jesus who was all about meeting and relating to new people all the time. The same Jesus whose image I’m supposed to be being conformed to. Sometimes I wonder if introversion like this can be (though isn’t necessarily always) a thorn in the flesh to be borne and repeatedly overcome throughout my life…

    I won’t ramble any further but just add my thanks to Los for bringing up what I believe to be an incredibly relevant issue to the church at large.

  • shayne

    I’m not 100% positive what the word ‘introvert’ means but if it means “slow to speak and slow to anger” then sign me up.

    I will say that I think our definition of “leadership” needs to change.

    Stage presence does not equal leader. It could just simply be a great performer.

    I think to be a leader, you must be a servant. If you’re serving in the capacity that you know God has called you to, then you’re a leader whether you’re recognized for it or not. I think one thing also that needs to be said is that none of the people used in the examples were desiring to be leaders. They weren’t looking for titles. They just did what was right. If you find yourself desiring and grasping for a title because you think it will bring you respect…check yourself.

  • terrence

    I am happy to see all the introverts speaking up loudly(or tapping the keys on the computer loudly!)! As an person who tends to be more of an introvert, I relate to so many of the comments. I think we need extroverts and introverts and everything between the two categories. It even seems like Jesus had moments where He displayed both qualities. That’s comforting to know. The more we learn to balance each other out,the more we’ll function like a well-designed body.

  • Carlos,

    This is a great topic to bring up.

    I’ve always heard people talk about extroverts/introverts….but I think that the first time that I really grasped it was after reading Adam McHugh’s book, Introverts in the Church. In my opinion, that is the best book written on the topic. It opened my eyes to so many things, and made me re-think my own leadership in church….how we organize church in many Evangelical circles around extroversion, at the exclusion of so many introverts.

    I agree with Tyler’s comment further up in the comments that Introverted Church ( ) is the best resource on this topic, especially from a theological perspective. And his book is a must read.

    I continue to encourage all my ministry leader friends to read the book, because I so strongly believe, that until they do, they are missing a huge understanding of the characteristics of people that populate half of our churches.

    I will leave you with this. In my experience as a therapist, I work with many pastors and ministry leaders. The issue that you raise about introversion/extroversion and how this plays out in our evangelical celebrity culture is an important one. There are few voices out there speaking on this topic. I encourage any leaders out there to not only read Susan Cain’s book Quiet, but also read Adam McHugh’s book….I think these are important discussions. And I have not looked at ministry the same since I first read the book…..I only wish I had read it when I started my ministry.

    Rhett Smith

  • Art

    Living this every day. My pastor keeps trying to get me to “come out of my shell” and be loud and funny (I’m a youth pastor).

    The unspoken expectations is if I’m loud and funny then the teens will come to youth group. If I’m not loud and funny they won’t and I’ll be out of a job.

    I am who I am. I’m 38. I’m an introvert. I hate the cold-call visitation aspect of ministry. I hate calling people on the phone. If I can’t reach you on Twitter or Facebook (unless you are a close friend), I don’t want to have to communicate with you. I like being by myself, or with my family. I can drum up the emotional energy for church services and youth events, but don’t want or need much other social interaction beyond the office camaraderie.

    • Tim Dahl

      I don’t guess I can get you to come to Fort Worth and be our youth minister?

      Granted, we can’t pay anything. Small church and all that. But, I wish I could find someone who could be more empathetic and connect deeply with the kids.


  • Tim Dahl

    I was a ministry major in college. In our pastoral application classes they talked about the “need” to become “professional introverts.” I heard the same thing in seminary, and even in my hospital training. So, yes; I do believe that there is the perceived need to be extroverted in ministry.

    However, there is a flip side as well. Many of the classical spiritual disciplines are geared toward introverts. It was torture for my extroverted friends to sit meditating upon scripture, or even reading large amounts for their studies. Asking them to sit in quiet contemplation, practicing silence, solitude, and other things associated with prayer was very difficult.

    So, in my opinion; we have an idealized idea of what a “minister” or even “Christian” is that doesn’t stem from who God actually made the person to be.


    • Tim Dahl

      Ok, just realized I put the wrong words in there… Should have been “professional extroverts,” not “introverts.”



  • This is great, Los. There was an article in Time magazine not long back discussing this book. Very interesting.

  • Wow, I think I just had my eyes opened. I have been a pastor’s wife. My husband is now Vice President of a Bible College. Everyone loves him. So do I. He is assertive, out going and very compassionate. That’s great. I am quiet. Well, I do have a personality but I just don’t make much noise in a crowd.
    Do you know how many times people have prayed for me that I would be “freed”?
    I just needed confidence that God could use me just the way he made me.
    Carlos, thanks again for sharing. Your insight really blessed me.!

    Thank you for sharing this insight.

    • I hear you. It’s very annoying to have people think, ir even have the audacity to ask you, “what’s wrong” just because you aren’t chatty.

  • bluelunar

    I find the opposite. I’m an extrovert, but people are so busy trying to encourage the introverts, I get ignored or actively discouraged. It’s better now, but when I was in the youth it was a massive thing. Big issues stemmed from it 🙁

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  • PC

    Hey bro, I know I’m late to this party. I keep making it as “unread” in my google reader, but thank you so much for writing this.

    I wrote a post a while ago called “5 Reasons Your Introverted Pastor Does Not Hate You”. If you are interested, here is the long link:

  • Wait, what? You mean Evangelicals have discarded the benefits and devotion and spirituality of contemplation? No contemplative prayer, no contemplative communities, no contemplative life?

    My Church has a place of high honor for quiet, introverted, contemplative people, that suits well their God-given proclivities: abbeys, convents, and monasteries. These are where civilization was saved when secular authority collapsed.

    @Shayne: you are absolutely correct about service to others being the primary prerequisite for leadership in the Body of Christ (it is not for nothing that il Papa’s titles include, “Servant of the Servants of God”). Christ was careful to tell his disciples that the first would be last, and the last would be first.

    • You’re one of the lucky ones, like me to have a church body where contemplation, introspection, and deep prayer are highly coveted and practiced. I’m pretty vocal nowadays, but it came as a result f yeeeeeears of quiet introspection, prayer ad walking humbly before God.

  • Avelyn

    Read through a good few comments, and one remarkable thing I noted was how civil the discussion went, not to mention the good amount of insights and personal experiences shared in balanced tones (ie. without ranting or attacking). It’s the first that I’ve come across online, honestly, where the thread of replies is just as worth reading as the actual post! I’m fairly certain it has something to do with the fact that most respondents are introverts or extrovert-introverts (: then again, maybe I’m just biased.

    I happen to fall under the second category, and from experience, I concur with many of my brothers and sisters here – we CAN learn how to manage ourselves in environments that are more favorable toward extroverts that levels the playing field for us a bit more without compromising on authenticity. While introverts can be disadvantaged by the culture of society (and sometimes the culture of certain churches too), I don’t think there’s really much of condescension or ‘second-class rating’ so to speak.

    It helps if we are secure about who we are and are comfortable playing the roles we were made to play. None of us really have our lives all figured out from the start – most (and probably all) of us are in the process of making discoveries about ourselves and figuring where we fit in as a piece in the whole jigsaw puzzle, extroverts and introverts alike.

    If there really is an intentional bias being practiced (as mentioned in a post where the lady doing the interview made an outrageous statement about how introverts should not even be considered), the gross misconception needs to be righted! Often these bias attitudes are held purely out of ignorance, so on that note, let’s speak up!

    I think we can start by letting fellow introverts know that they are not alone, that we can and should learn how to present ourselves better, and simply to stand our ground about who we need to be without imposing on anyone else! On top of that, we can help non-introverts discover the wonderful world of introverts and learn how to see things from our perspective, or at least learn how to accept our wonderful differences!

    Certainly, we introverts were wonderfully and fearfully made too!

  • I’m standing on my keyboard applauding this article. It’s looking overdue.

    I’m an introvert turned extrovert. I HAD to become this, simply because no one seems to listen to introverts much regardless of the fact that the fruit of the spirit, love joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, etc. Are ALL attributes that show up in that personality.

    It was the introvert, John, NOT the extrovert, Peter who was at the foot of Jesus’ cross on Calvary.

    As believers we are told in sacred scripture that man judges by the outer appearance, but God judges the heart…. Apparently in most churches a strong outer appearance is all one needs to be chosen to lead…often with disastrous results.

  • I haven’t read all of the comments, but Jason’s (at the top) hit home for me. It was very hard to accept being introverted but also freeing to finally be me. I also read Introverts in the Church by Adam Mchugh and loved it.

    I’ve learned that with God I can take a creative stance on my life. I don’t have to just react to life or go with everything, I can make it my own. I can be me, set my boundaries and choose to live as I am. God made us this way and we were meant to live differently. So I started to build my life around who I am. I found that I was made this way for a reason and it suited the things I was put here to do. That confidence is enough to get by but it still can be really hard, especially when people don’t get it.

    Just be you and who God created you to be. In trying to be what you’re not, you might miss out on the wonderful work you were uniquely put here to do. Pray for each other, being a Christian swims against many tides, and then to add introversion to the mix can make it seem worse. It’s not.

  • B James Perry

    I have a few close Christian friends, I know a ton of Servant Leaders, and they keep me away, Church is not for introverts, I don’t feel welcome, I am just don’t go. I want to worship God, not fit in to social norms of people who think if you’re not like me your wrong.

  • Chris

    Los this hits home with me big time. I am an introvert. Once you get to know me and I know you’re real I can have extroverted tendencies. Honestly in the past few years my introversion has been attacked and I’ve been told that I’m not a good leader. I was told I had no passion because of my introversion. They said they weren’t making these comments because of me being an introvert but every time they said, “You’re not outgoing.” “Your strength is your quietness.” “You need to speak more.” It was against my introversion because I would often hear, from the same people, you’re doing great. Yo’ve got great insight and wisdom, you lead well on this project.

    It got to the place where I resigned a few months ago because I was tired of being torn apart by the very people who said they supported me. I let all of that get to me and they were right…my passion wasn’t there but it’s because I didn’t feel appreciated. It always felt like I was always in the wrong and could never defend myself when they were in the wrong. I hated that. I completely understand why people get hurt by churches.

    Will I let that one experience define me? No. God’s Word is my ultimate source of definition and identity. I have been grateful over the past few years to have my first EP come out and continue to get requests to lead worship at events or concerts here and there. It’s proof to me that God is using me and isn’t done with me yet, even though I have felt like God was done with me over the past couple of years.

    Thanks for this post. It’s what I needed today.

  • Love it! I just got “QUIET” for Christmas. 🙂 I’m an introvert who can act, but still need to totally retreat to get focus, energy, and direction. Thanks for sharing, Los!

  • HanRhy

    Thank you for posting. I’m an introvert, but I pretend to be an extrovert whenever I have to. I tend to follow the “adapt or die” mantra… many people didn’t notice me as an introvert, so I stepped out of my shell so I could move forward. I think it’s important for introverts to learn how to adapt (because we tend to want to be coddled), but introverts can be better suited to some tasks than extroverts. And vice versa, of course.

  • amen.

  • Pietas

    I haven’t really liked social gatherings, never did, and while I can pretend to psyche myself up to be the one who breaks the ice and works the room eventually it runs dry and my true self comes out where I am more quiet and laid back. But since I started reading Frank Viola’s book Pagan Christianity on page 68 he wrote that Christianity is a social religion and without sociability it is dead, so that made me think I cannot communicate with God unless I am I a group.

    I think he despises people who are introverted too like most pastors do and he claims not to be a pastor but anyone who runs a ministry is a pastor.
    I always been introverted and never thought it was sin because God always used the oddest people to do the tasks, but then there’s the argument that this is the post resurrection world and we are supposed to be extroverted and part of a church body but I never joined any church because I can’t find any who resonate and believe the things I believe. So I am all alone. What about the people who could not speak in front of others at all in the first century? If they still cant do it, why is not God’s Holy Ghost empowering them? Did they sin so much that God is judging them not to empower them? I was thinking the Holy Ghost would just take over when necessary, but many times I cowered out of starting up conversations in the last year I was Christian. The last time I was sort of sociable was 4 years ago in school.