Movements need the people skills of introverts
Just because you’re an “introvert” doesn’t mean you’re off the hook or unimportant to God’s work in the world. Introverts have critical skills needed to expand the Kingdom.
I max the Myers-Briggs introversion scale. I’m an introvert.
Being an introvert isn’t the same as being shy. It means:
I’m better with individuals than groups.
I have to manage my energy, since lots of people & noise tends to drain me.
I like people–preferably one-on-one, talking deeply over a subject.
I go deep with people I know, but getting to know someone takes a lot.
I need some quiet, thinking, reflective time every day.
As a missionary who’s an introvert, I’m not an odd occurrence.
ActBeyond, the organization we serve with, has a bunch of introverts (I think we’re the majority), and they’re involved in a bunch of movements. And, we’re not some special organization. A lot of other organizations have a lot of introverts involved in movements, too.
Fact is, movements need introverts.
You might have heard this one:
Idea 1: movements large masses of people.
Idea 2: extroverts are best with large masses of people, introverts don’t do crowds.
Conclusion: movements need extroverts.
“Crowds” – like crusades, every home campaigns, huge churches and the like – are great events. But it’s very difficult to get a thousand people in one place, let alone a hundred thousand or a few million. Getting crowds together costs a lot; the more people, the greater the cost. And, as size goes up, governments get involved.
Because of costs, regulation, and even the effects of response to the “celebrity factor” that gathers the crowd, crowds generally don’t scale to 100% of a population. Some people will go see Jean Michel Jarre or Genesis or Metallica or the like in concert–but not everyone. But just because, say, 3.2 million people come to an event, doesn’t mean the whole population of the nation is reached.
Moreover, getting a crowd together repeatedly is exponentially more difficult. This means most events are one-offs. Their impact doesn’t last into the next generation.
More obvious: you can’t do daily or weekly discipleship or accountability meetings in a large crowd. If there are a tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands in a meeting, it’s not like everyone can ask the questions they have – or the questions they’ll think of as a result of someone else’s question.
Movements are not crowds.
Although they can grow to be viral, relational networks of millions of people – like Facebook, for example – discipling movements are comprised of long-lasting, deep, face-to-face relationships (some one on one, some one to a few).
To build deep relationships requires deep relationships. Go to a concert with some friends, and you’ll see how to go to a concert with friends. Spend time studying the Bible with friends over several weeks, and they’ll know how to do it with others. Raise a child as a parent, and the child will have some sense of how to be a parent themselves.
As an example, in one of the movements I’m familiar with, the early years were spent in deep leadership and character development with early believers. The movement pioneers spent hours and hours with those early believers, helping them work through character issues, building them as leaders, encouraging them, helping them confront sin in their lives, etc. It required those key introvert skills: one-on-one, going deep, listening to questions, thinking about them, reflecting on Scripture with people, spending time, praying.
Introverts may not be the type to stand up on stage and preach to a million people, but they do just fine at these kinds of deep relationships. Yes, extroverts can do just fine at them too; my point is just that introverts aren’t lacking some kind of necessary social skill. In fact, the case can be made introverts do deep better than extroverts, if anything.
So if you’re an introvert, it’s not a failing, or brokenness, or weakness. Realize that God designed you that way to make a difference in the world. If you find your 10 close friends and disciple them to find their 10 close friends and do the same… in 4-5 relational generations, you can change a city, and in 4 or 5 generations the disciples of your disciples can change a nation.