No Country (in Church) for Introverts

Prayer

Image credit: babasteve, CC license.

@MoreAndagain sparked a great conversation on Twitter last night about an issue I’ve talked a lot with friends, but haven’t seen addressed much on church-related blogs and media: namely, the way many U.S. evangelical churches (among others) isolate and shame introverts. Her initial question was specific to the Black Church, but as the discussion shows, many of us have similar experiences in other traditions. As an introvert who grew up in predominantly white evangelical churches, I can definitely relate to what MoreAndAgain describes of how extroverted personalities and behaviors were conflated with “godly” behavior, and how alienating that was.

More curated our conversation into a nice Storify. I wanted to share on the blog as I think it’ll resonate with a lot of folks who read here. Check out the discussion below (keep scrolling to update).

Discussing the hostility of the Church experience, as an introvert.

6 Comments

  1. Pingback: Friday Link Encyclopedia and Self-Promotion | Clarissa's Blog

  2. I experienced this. I’m evenly extrovert/introvert. I’m very social, outspoken, energetic, like being around people, parties. But I can only do all of that in limited doses and regardless of how ho-hum my days are, I need time alone to recharge.

    Anyway! Growing up I mostly attended Nazarene churches full of old White people. We sang hymns & when we wanted to get REALLY crazy we’d invite a Gaither-ish trio or quartet to perform.

    After marriage & moving to Chicago, we spent almost 2 years at a tiny, non-denom, charismatic church where I experienced the whole “If you’re not shouting/speaking in tongues/falling out/etc then you’re not really saved/sanctified/worshiping” thing. I argued against it repeatedly and had to rescue my kids a few times when all the kids in the church were being marched down front to perform various manifestations of the Holy Ghost. I was coached on what I should do to MAKE the Holy Spirit manifest via tongues . . . all while asking for Biblical references (to no avail).

    My last church was a Vineyard church & they were big on declaring that all forms of expression were accepted. I went there for a year & didn’t know anyone, wasn’t approached by anyone.

    Years before I went to a large (2K+ members) United Methodist church & was a member there for about 3 years before I decided to join a bible study. One day at the study I happened to mention that I knew no one there & was glad to finally meet some people. I said that for a while I’d felt bad about it but then decided it was my responsibility to get involved, and that’s why I joined the study. The pastor’s wife was in the class & seemed horrified that in 3 years no one had approached me, ever, for any reason. And also shocked that I continued to attend having no personal connection like that.

    If I’d had any social anxiety that church would have been hard to attend because there were SO many people and before/after services, you had to push your way through hundreds of people to get from the sanctuary to the parking lot.

  3. *Love* this.

    But I can pretty much guarantee you that growing up in the Catholic, Lutheran , Anglican (Episcopalian here, not the breakaways in the US) and Orthodox traditions is a whole ‘nother ballgame.

    Thank God I was raised Lutheran…. there was space for quiet, contemplation and silence, though I didn’t come to appreciate that until much, much later.

    • In my corner of Christianity churches that prized quiet and contemplation were “dead” churches >.>

      • I became deeply immersed in charismatic/evangelical-land when I was a teenager, and stayed in it for many decades.

        so I heard that a lot. But kept my opinions to myself (mostly).

  4. This! This is why I often have a hard time fitting in an Evangelical environment before reverting back to my Catholic spiritual roots of my ancestors and I am not even a heavy introvert by any means (I attended an interdenominational Christian college that has an Evangelical ethos with roots in the Wesleyan/Holiness tradition).