A few weeks ago Susan Cain was interviewed on one of my favorite podcasts. She recently wrote a book called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. I checked out the book and figured I would get bored with it before I finished. I found it intriguing and a very good read.
Here’s a glimpse of a new perspective I gained regarding introverts in the church.
The author explains the difference between extroverts and introverts rides on the basis of stimuli. Extroverts require lots of stimuli to function at their best. As opposed to introverts that require much less stimuli to function at their best. This is why extroverts love being out socializing on a Friday night while introverts enjoy staying home and reading a book. If the introvert went to the party they would be over stimulated and outside their optimal level. They wouldn’t run out of the party screaming, but they wouldn’t be overly comfortable. If an extrovert stayed at home and read a book they would experience cabin fever and be restless. These two examples are not an attempt to determine if you are an extrovert or an introvert. Everyone has a mixture of each. Nobody is 100% either way.
Are we a church for extroverts?
- We organize activities hoping to encourage talking and socializing
- Two of the three hours of church are spent in a classroom where discussion and interaction are encouraged
- Home teachers and/or visiting teachers expect to be welcomed in your home once a month
- Members are expected to call, schedule, and visit a handful of fellow saints each month.
- Members are asked periodically to stand in front of more than 100 people and speak in sacrament meeting
- We are asked to share our beliefs with family and friends that aren’t members
- Members that are go-getters and socially outgoing are applauded in their efforts
Are we a church for introverts?
- We have a weekly sacrament meeting where we take 10-15 minutes to sit in silence and ponder the sacrifice of our Savior
- Reverence and solitude are seen as ways to show respect for the God we worship
- One of the most important rooms in our temples is for quite pondering and reflection
- We are encouraged to study from the scriptures individually and to pray in secret daily
As I read this book I thought about the methods we use to fellowship others — the biggest one being home/visiting teaching. If we have a family or an individual on our list that is more introverted should we be approaching it differently than calling and demanding a time to come and visit in their home? Could the fact that someone wants to come into their home — their “happy place” — their sanctuary — be so over stimulating that they dread the experience? Maybe the introvert that is strongly encouraged to attend the ward party is so uncomfortable that the act of “felloshipping” is just the thing that drives them to inactivity.
Not only is it hard for Brother Introvert to socialize, but now he is given a list of names he doesn’t know and expected to call them and visit them once a month. For Brother Extrovert this tasks is no problem — for Brother Introvert he feel he is standing on the edge of the high dive. This might give an Elder’s Quorum President pause the next time he is frustrated with someone not completing their home teaching. The difficulty of the task is relative to each individual.
My intention isn’t to suggest we are doing things wrong or to give alternative solutions. I simply want to share a new perspective I gained by reading this book. This post is mainly to see what YOU think.
Are some of our fellowshipping tactics scaring more people away then they are bringing them back to the fold? What are other ways to home teach an introvert?