Introverts in the Church by Adam McHugh has been one of the most revealing and helpful books I've read for quite some time. Not only does he take the time to properly define, delineate and demonstrate what it means to be an introvert, but does so in the context of the church that is largely identified by extroversion. His ideas apply not only to those in the pew, but those in leadership positions as well.
Introversion is a personality orientation that is deeply introspective, where a person locates energy and strength from within the self. They find that they are best energized for life and tasks in moments of solitude. While privacy is important to introverts, the ultimate goal is not simply to be alone, but to encounter God afresh in these moments of silence. Every person has extroverted and introverted qualities, but most, if not all, people will tend toward one side of the continuum. For introverts, the goal is to find self-acceptance and to look for ways to contribute to the life of the church and world in ways that reflect your personality characteristics.
In a church (particularly the evangelical church) and world that embraces extroversion, introverts sometimes feel left out and often misunderstood. McHugh tries to shorten the gap by helping both introverts and extroverts better understand each other. Perhaps the most important idea communicated in the book is for both personality types to create space for one another; taking the time to appreciate the gifts and contributions each can make. In the end, interdependence, and not independence, is the key. For introverts, our slower pace of life, thoughtfulness, intellectual and spiritual depth, and listening abilities, McHugh believes, can be the answer to much of what ails contemporary evangelicalism.
McHugh also addresses introverted spirituality, community and relationships, leadership, evangelism and church relations. In these chapters, he provides valuable insight from case studies and personal experience on how to live and participate in each of these areas in an introverted way.
In the end, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It helped to better define my personal tendencies and interests, while at the same time showcase ways in which my gifts as an introvert can help to inform and give shape to the church in which I serve. It helped me to come out of my introverted closest and embrace my personality for all that it is.
I recommend this book to both introverts and extroverts alike. The former as a way to better understand and appreciate your unique personality traits and live within them. And for extroverts, who need to learn of the depth and value that introverts can bring to the church and world through their contributions. This is a well-researched, well-written and thoughtful book. My hope and prayer is that its message is heard loud and clear ' in an extroverted and introverted way.