Home Pastors Articles for Pastors 7 Ways to Reach Shy People in Your Church

7 Ways to Reach Shy People in Your Church

1. Get To Know What Interests Them.

Oftentimes, when we try and find common ground and what may interest them, we start to break their shell. Usually people can’t help but talk about what they are passionate about. Once you find that common interest or subject, keep listening and learning. Soon you will find conversation with them much easier.

2. Learn to Read Their Emotions.

Since they may not say much during the group meetings, it may be a little harder to read them. But, it’s important you learn how they are feeling and how you can help. Always make sure you find time to talk with them and ask them privately how they are feeling. They need you as much as everyone else, but they may just not be able to vocalize it like others. Reading their body language will help you to know how they are doing.

3. Find Ways to Utilize Them in Group Life.

Another common misconception is shy people don’t like to help play a part and help lead. This is not true. Help them find ways in which they can play a part in the function and leadership of the group. This most likely will be more behind-the-scenes roles, but help utilize their spiritual gifts to see changed lives in the group. They may be great at emailing the group, planning food options for group meetings or even opening their home.

4. Make the Effort to Include Them.

Help find a bridge to include them in the conversations and events of the group. Remember, many people who are naturally quiet just like to be present. They don’t have to say much, but just being a part of something is enough. Never exclude them because you feel a conversation or event won’t suit them.

5. Don’t Treat Them Any Differently.

I’m sure one of the things shy people hate is to be treated like a 3-year-old. Just because they are quiet doesn’t mean you should treat them like one. Treat them like you would anyone else in the group. You’ll never gain access into their life if they feel like you think down on them.

6. Be Respectful of Their Boundaries.

As much as you should not treat shy people differently, you should also be respectful of their boundaries. Be mindful they will probably (OK, definitely) not like to be the center of attention. They also will probably not liked to be called on randomly to answer questions. Respect that they might not like to speak up in big groups and it can be their biggest fear. A good idea to including them in the group discussion is by leaving time for others to speak when they want. Let them find the courage to speak up when they are not sure.

7. Encourage Their Efforts.

Anytime you see them making the effort to socialize and step out of their shell, encourage them. Many times it will not come easily to them. When they put themselves out there, it’s a big deal. Acknowledge it publicly and privately that you appreciate their input. The only way you will get them to keep speaking up is by positively reinforcing it.  

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Tom Damante is a small group strategist whose purpose is to resource small group leaders with the best and most practical ways to lead an effective small group. You can follow his thoughts and insights on small groups, discipleship, and leadership at TomDamante.com. Tom currently lives in Gilbert, Arizona with his wife Christen, and their daughter, Braylie. You can usually catch him at any local coffee shop enjoying a latte or sipping a locally-roasted Latin American coffee.