The 9 Letter Dirty Word in the Church

Introvert.

Yes, if you don’t know that that has often been/and is a dirty word in the Evangelical and faith communities, then you are probably an extrovert. I didn’t realize it was a dirty word until I read Adam McHugh’s insightful and powerful book, Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture. After I finished Adam’s book almost two years ago I began to wonder if I was really an introvert, but always trying to fit in and act like an extrovert. I slowly began to own the introverted side of me and see it as a unique gift from God.

I would tell you that this was just my experience, but the countless people that sit across from me in therapy, work with in ministry, and hang out with in coffee shops tell me a different story. They paint a picture of struggling with their introversion because it has for so long been seen as an inadequacy in them. Maybe a minister told them they needed to get up front and share their testimony because “good Christians do that.” Or maybe a missions pastor pulled them aside to say that they needed to be more bold in their door to door evangelism. Or maybe a parent continually called them shy as if it was a bad word. These experiences and many others are real, and they are repeated day in and day out, leaving many introverts feeling like the asset that they have been given is somehow…not an asset at all in the Church, or in life.

I want to say to you, what I tell the introverts who come and see me in therapy.

Introversion is the unique way that God wired you, and it is a gift. You have insight and skills that others do not have. So I encourage you to come out of hiding and take full ownership of, and live into the introverted nature that God created in you from the beginning.

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Rhett Smith
I'm a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate (MDiv, MSMFT, LMFT-A) and pastor to youth and families. I write about the relationships between psychology, theology and technology.