What is an introvert?

An introvert is a person who recharges their energy primarily from spending time alone. This is the opposite of an extrovert, which is someone who primarily recharges their energy by spending time in groups of people. This is not to say that introverts never enter crowds, or that extroverts cannot ever be alone - just that when feeling down or "not themselves", people generally gravitate towards either interaction or solitude.

Those who identify as introverts also often have tendencies towards the following: 1) avoiding large groups of strangers and noisy environments, 2) preferring a small group of very close friends to many acquaintances, 3) preferring thinking through ideas before sharing them rather than talking through “half-baked” ideas and 3) enjoying and feeling most themselves when engaging in activities that are quieter, more reflective, and more thought-provoking.

What is an Introvert Church?

First things first - it is not a church exclusively for introverts, just as “normal” church is not meant to be church exclusively for extroverts.

Introvert Church is a response to the growing trend (experienced most often in the United States perhaps) towards church environments that cater to extroverts to the extent that introverts are (hopefully inadvertently) excluded from participating.

Ok, I can see how some big services might turn off someone who wants to worship in quiet reflection with a smaller size group. So why not just join a small group format Bible study to supplement "normal church service"?

Introverts are often frustrated by the lack of deep connection or overwhelming noise/crowds in a mega-church environment, and to their credit many churches are noticing this - and the response is most often to strongly encourage introverts to join small groups.

It’s true that introvert exclusion can take the form of large and loud Sunday services with scores of strangers, but unfortunately it can also be found in small group environments.

What? I thought small groups were made for introverts!

Small groups, like traditional church services, can be wonderful environments for intro and extrovert alike. However, they can also be terrifying experiences for introverts, generally because they are largely designed by extroverts who simply don’t see things the same way.

The process of joining a small group - do you have to pick a group a join? what do you base that on? are you required to participate in a huge event to find that group? do you just have to already know where the groups are and figure out which one to go to on your own? - is problematic itself, but once in one, the pressure to expose deep thoughts and feelings in front of a group of people the introvert barely knows is often severe. Extraverts may dominate the group and make an introvert feel that they don’t have time to think over answers in Bible study before the group has moved on to the next topic. If the introvert has “done homework” and come prepared with things to say, they may find that no one else in the group has seemingly taken the topic as seriously, and they may end up not sharing as a result in order to not be perceived as a "know it all". And if, by the grace of God, an introvert has managed to find a group of people they love and connect with…most groups have the extremely extraverted goal of “grow and split” in which case the introvert must choose between the people they have come to love. Even worse, some groups have a “time limit” so that the group just dissolves after a certain amount of time “in order to encourage getting to know new people by starting a new group” and “to keep people from having to make too large a commitment” - two things that are the opposite of what most introverts are looking for.

But this is just a site on the internet. How can you claim to be a "church"?

The idea is to present a format for a person to be able to “do church” in their own home or wherever they are most comfortable. An Internet Church provides the resources and essentially “gives permission” for someone who might be struggling with going to a traditional church, for any number of reasons, to still have the needed connection to worshipping God and fellowshipping with believers.

Hang on here. "Fellowship"? Don’t you need people in order to do that?

Yes. We absolutely believe that no Christian should endeavour to live following Jesus without contact with other believers.

But…you can’t do that on this site. There’s no forum, no chat…you don’t even enable comments on posts!

We believe that most internet “communities” give the illusion of fellowship and connection, without any actual accountability, commitment to each other or deep, real, connection. Only face to face relationships can do that. That is why a large part - some might even say the main part - of Introvert Church involves discussing what you’ve learned and heard from God with at least one other person you love, preferably face to face in a relaxed setting. In fact, we ask that you continually look for new people to do exactly this with - those you do not yet love but would like to learn to, those who are older in faith and can mentor you, those younger in faith whom you can mentor, and those whom you consider close peers, who can encourage you at the level that you are at. (see more about this here)

That doesn’t sound very "introvert-y".

And yet it is mandated for followers of Jesus. When asked for the greatest commandment, Jesus famously told us to essentially love God, and love people. Just as Jesus is asking extraverts to spend time alone with God in order to know and love Him more, Jesus also asks introverts to spend time with people, to know and love them more. This requirement is not fulfilled by going to church once a week and sitting in a pew. It happens through serious, committed involvement with people teaching each other what it means to follow Jesus in real life.

So how do we find these "people we love"? Do you have some kind of match up system?

These people should come from those physically around you already (remember the goal is to meet with them face to face). God has placed you where you are for a reason (probably multiple reasons). Don’t have any Christians nearby whom you love? Then your first task is showing your love for God to a person you love who doesn’t know Him. (more details on this here) Are you in a new or isolated area and have no one near you that you love at all? Reaching out to just one person is your first step. This is one of the most difficult tasks for any person, but maybe especially for an introvert. We have tips and encouragement here.

What about a pastor? Don’t you need that for a church?

In an Introvert Church, there is no "head pastor". Well, ok, in a way you are your own pastor - in the sense that all Christians are priests as Paul wrote. In other words, you are responsible for your own spiritual growth.

But…we think this is true even in a traditional church. We’re not suggesting anything new or shocking here.

Besides helping you grow spiritually, there are two other main spiritual duties of a church leader. One, they are an authoritative source to bring questions you generate on your own spiritual journey. This function can also be filled by a mentor, preferably more than one to avoid the trap of following a person rather than God himself. And Two, they are charged with keeping you accountable and on the right path. This is also something a mentor (or any fellow believer, according to Matthew) can do.

It sounds interesting. But this isn’t going to be able to take the place of a “real church” with real people in it. What about works of charity? Meeting other believers? Supporting missionaries or your community? Tithing? Choir? Sunday School? Youth Groups?

It’s true, just as going to traditional church will never be able to fulfill all your need to love God, spending time on your own will never fulfill all your need to love people. There is also something to be said for the power of a group for good in their community. If you have found a church in the traditional sense, we would not suggest leaving it in favor of an Introvert one.

So then…what’s the point? How should I use this?

An Introvert Church is meant to fill in what is missing in traditional church environments, not imitate it. If church programs are important to you, we encourage you to find ones you wish to participate in in your local church.

But there are those who have no local church. Those who have tried to belong and been rebuffed, intentionally or not. Those who work late shifts and can’t make Sunday morning. Those with a language barrier. Those held back by physical needs.

And there are those who go to church but crave something more. A deeper relationship with God. A more reflective worship time. Closer Christian friends.

Introvert Church is meant for these. For those seeking church, and for those seeking a supplement to their traditional church.

And if that’s me? Where do I start?

Start by reading How Do I Do Introvert Church? Then, check out some of the suggested resources or use some of your own.