First, a question. Do you think Jesus was an introvert or an extrovert?
Here's an interesting little item with HUGE implications. I was in the Cokesbury store the other day (there are some distinct advantages to living in the buckle of the bible belt), a dangerous place for me to be allowed any kind of time for browsing, and this book jumped off the shelf and stared me down: Introverts in the Church, Finding our Place in an Extroverted Culture (Adam S. McHugh). Being an introvert I thought that it was written for me, of course. Somehow or other it found its way into my bag.
Heading off to give blood yesterday I grabbed the book to tuck into my pack. I only got to page 25 (I'm a slow reader), but already my mind is jumping, and the "a-HAs!" can't keep up with each other. There is a presumptive bias in the book that the author makes clear from the get-go. He paints evangelical churches as distinctly extroverted (said author also acknowledges that he does some broad stroke generalizing). As such they (read "the membership") are chatty and casual, and the preaching conversational. Since the place and authority of scripture is central to their faith it is one of the things about which they are chatty. Evangelizing, then, comes as naturally as breathing. I'm oversimplifying. He went on to make some other observations that led me to wonder off on my own. Hence:
In more catholic traditions there is this thing called The Mystery. The Mystery is mediated through sacraments, and by its very nature invites reflection and meditation. (I might go so far as to suggest that it is intuitive, but that's another conversation.) In the Episcopal Church we struggle with our identity as evangelists. By in large we shun the notion of taking the word out to the world--not in theory (we are 'piscies, after all!), but in practice. We're uncomfortable talking about our faith (that is a corporate we, not an individual "we").
I used to contend that a principle reason we weren't good evangelists is due to our ecclesial DNA: our roots are in a State Church, which did not need to evangelize. I still maintain that there is something to that theory, but now I add the introvert/extrovert argument. As a Mystery church we are an introverted church. We thrive on drinking it in, literally and figuratively, and mulling it all over. Wonder why newcomers don't want to come to coffee hour? Hello! Introverts in a crowd of strangers--lemme outta here!
I have already been given so much food for thought here I can hardly stand it, and this is just up to page 25. This book is a must read for anyone involved in evangelism, welcoming and incorporating people into the church. It is also extremely helpful in understanding how the church might use the gifts of its people more thoughtfully and with greater impact. At a church I once served the vestry took the Meyer's-Briggs test each year so that they could understand and appreciate the particular dispositions that each member brought to the table. Not a bad idea at all when dealing with a leadership team. It is also a reminder that in any corporate setting the same issues manifest themselves.
There is so much more that could be said on this topic, but already I've rambled enough this morning. As for Jesus, I don't know if he was and introvert or an extrovert, but to me he seems to be a healthy balance that reflects both. But of course!