So, I recently finished the revised and expanded edition of Introverts in the Church by Adam S. McHugh, and found several helpful ideas pertaining to ministry in the church and evangelism.
(Note: The first edition came out in 2009, about three years before the bestselling book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking hit the market…and McHugh references this popular work in his revised book.)
McHugh begins with an introduction asking “Can Introverts Thrive in the Church?” Spoiler: yes, they can!
“When the church is led by introverts and extroverts who partner together, each contributing their strengths and offsetting the others’ weaknesses, it is a testimony that the Holy Spirit is orchestrating the community, that it is not being run by the cult of personality.” (MchHugh, p. 16)
Some of his other chapters discuss topics such as introverted spirituality and introverts in church leadership positions. Chapter 8 specifically deals with “Introverted Evangelism.”
McHugh begins chapter 8 by talking about whether introverted evangelism is an oxymoron: “Even at its best, evangelism summons pictures of brash extroverts armed with quick wit and the gift of gab.” From his perspective, many Americans view evangelism as the job of extroverts…or at least something that only extroverted people are good at.
But McHugh suggests something different: “I do not think that introverts are ill-suited for evangelism; I think that our prevailing evangelistic methods are ill-suited for introverts.”
If we espouse to a model in which we only think of evangelism as selling a product, then most of the time that’s unlikely to work well for introverts and they are unlikely to come across as authentic.
McHugh goes on to discuss what he thinks introverted evangelism looks like and offers 6 practical suggestions.
Here they are: 6 practical steps for “helping introverts thrive in evangelism” taken from pages 190-192 of McHugh’s book:
- Narrow Your Focus. – Start with small steps; focus on one or two people that are interested in spiritual things with whom to build a deeper relationship.
- Ask Questions. – Ask appropriate open-ended questions to cultivate relationships with unbelievers; sometimes counter questions with another question.
- Ask for time. – If you feel put on the spot by a question, ask for time to think about it before responding.
- Don’t accept the premise. – Don’t assume that all questions or premises are valid. If someone asks a question that you don’t think is the right one to be asking, suggest a better one. [His example is how to respond to an accusatory question such as “How could you possibly believe in a God who would condemn people to hell?”]
- Find a comfortable environment – This of course will vary depending on the person, but McHugh suggests participating in or teaching a class for spiritual seekers, or joining an online forum for people with questions about God. Also, be careful not to get into a debate where the purpose is merely to debate for debating’s sake.
- Know your role. – Focus on what you do best and spend most your time focused on that.
Overall, I recommend this book. But, if you don’t have time to read the whole thing, then just read chapter 8 for McHugh’s thoughts on evangelism.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from IVP in exchange for an honest review.)