15 Minute Thoughts – A new series of thoughts that I write about within a 15 minute time limit
A friend of mine has been searching for a new church home. She is a self described introvert. She commented on Facebook: “Words guaranteed to strike fear into my heart: “Everyone stand up, turn around and shake hands with someone you don’t know!” *stares at shoes and fervently wishes for an invisibility cloak*”
Later on she said that she wished there was an introvert entrance, one with no enthusiastic greeters, and a section where you don’t have to talk to strangers.
But perhaps her most profound quote, “God doesn’t make us all extroverts when we convert.”
So what are the best ways to minister to introverts?
- Don’t collect e-mail addresses, phone numbers, and addresses as people are entering. While I understand that you want your church to grow, and you want to be able to keep people informed, even possible new members, this shouldn’t be done as they are walking in. It reminds me of an episode of “The Drew Carey Show” where Drew asks for a second date even before the appetizer comes. His date’s wariness ruins the first date before it has even started. If you want to be able to get that information, do so after the service, that way they can make decision if you are worth a second date.
- You are not THE church for everyone. This has taken me a long time to understand. I was raised in a small foot-washing Baptist church. It took me well into adulthood, and after meeting my wife, to understand that churches are like restaurants. Just because someone doesn’t like Barbeque, doesn’t mean that they don’t want, or need, to eat. If you are a pastor, be welcoming and loving, but understand that those that do not come back do not represent failure. They just have a difference in appetite. So in that spirit, don’t try to lasso and white knuckle a possible new member. Be yourself, and let them see what you have to offer.
- I was once in a church for the first time. The pastor asked all the visitors to remain seated while the congregation could welcome them. The congregation stood and applauded. Okay, I don’t like being singled out, but this is quick and polite and OH MY WHY ARE THEY BRINGING ME A FLOWER? Why do I need to carry a flower around the rest of the day? A simple “Welcome, we hope you come back” would have been sufficient.
- The “hand-shake sing-a-long”. Stop this. Again, do not ask people you don’t even know to shake hands during the service while everyone is singing. I prefer at the end the classic “shake hands and you are at liberty to go” at dismissal.
I’m sure there are more, if you are an introvert, how would you like to be welcomed? If you’re not, what do you think could be done differently?