Almost a year ago, I asked the question Can Introverts Plant Churches? I was curious, mostly because I happened to be an introvert, working with another introvert, about to embark on the journey of the highly extroverted task of church-planting. Eleven months later, here’s what I’ve learned from my own personal experience:
It’s possible if:
- I practice Sabbath. Sabbath for me is solitude. Starting in January of this year, I made every Monday a sabbath from church work. Usually I spend the entire day alone, often at home reading and resting, only leaving the house to exercise. It’s so refreshing! Last fall, before I committed to practicing this, I was much more tired, and had a harder time concentrating. One day a week of pure introvert time does wonders.
- I balance my schedule. I remember one Wednesday back in February that was hell for me: early morning meeting over coffee, followed immediately by “staff” meeting, followed immediately by another lunch meeting, followed immediately by an afternoon of phone calls and emails, followed by a full closing shift at the cafe. I was wiped out. Now I intentionally schedule my time so that I alternate times of people-intensive work with times alone. As a result, my mood is much more stable.
- I keep my intellectual life alive. The times when I’ve been most excited about getting out there and doing ministry have been the times when I’ve been able to nourish my mind with a good book that motivates me for ministry. Give me a day to read about missiology and I’ll have energy for a week of church work.
- I have an “in” for talking to strangers. Like most introverts, I find it intimidating to start a conversation out of nowhere with a random stranger. But give me any sort of structure – such as being the barista making them a latte – and conversation flows much easier.
- We try to minimize triangulation. Triangulation is when Person A tells Person B something they should have told Person C directly. I think being Person B is especially exhausting for introverts. Thankfully, we recognized early on in the church-planting process where this was happening and have tried to avoid it.
It’s difficult if:
- Your spouse is in the church-plant too. It took us a while to figure out that after everyone else leaves, I just don’t have the mental or emotional energy left to keep talking church stuff with Eileen. Usually we can get past this – by talking about other less serious things or just sitting next to each other reading. But it was tough for a while.
- Your tent-making job involves being around other people constantly. I love my job at the cafe, but I have to make sure I have lots of time to myself in the afternoon before I spent a night closing at the cafe. Otherwise I’m too people-tired to relate in any depth with my friends/co-workers/customers there. And after all, that’s what I’m there to do.
There’s my assessment after almost a year. Again, I’m grateful to Introverted Church for helpful insights and book recommendations – Introvert Advantage did wonders for our marriage – and I can’t wait to read Introverts in the Church when it comes out this fall.