Matt Appling on 3 Things That Make Introverted Guests Nervous About Your Church

I have a confession to make. I have spent my life in church. A preacher’s kid, then a seminary grad. Now, after seven years of house church ministry, my wife and I are embarking on a new chapter. We don’t even know what the chapter is. There is no invitation to another church, no greener pasture that we are making a break for. We have done this thing longer than the average pastor stays at a full-time church ministry.

What we do know is that making a transition, finding a new place, is going to be hard. We both feel like we have some odd angles, some characteristics that make it challenging for us to settle into a new place. She is a raving introvert, while I am an introvert who can act like an extrovert … sort of.

And what we find to be the case is that church is a decidedly extroverted place. A bunch of extroverts usually stand up front. By and large, modern worship, church life and leadership values extrovertism over characteristics such as contemplativeness.

And so, as we prepare to embark on a transition we are both kind of dreading, it makes me think of all of the churches I have visited, all of the places I have worshiped (or at least tried to worship). It makes me think of all the reasons that two pretty introverted people have kind of a tough time with church, even though we love it.

Three Things That Make Me Excessively Nervous in Church (in Order of How Nervous They Make Me)

1. Raising My Hands

This sounds so innocuous, perhaps it even sounds absurd to you, and yes, there are plenty of hand-raisers and many non-hand-raisers. But the gold standard of interactive Christian worship, the “hand raise,” is something that has never come easily to me. Now, I raised my hands thousands of times in school, often with passion and pleading for the teacher’s attention. But raising my hands in front of a group of adults at church still feels hard. I don’t want to draw that kind of attention to myself. But then, who is looking my way, wondering why I’m not raising my hands like everyone else.

I’ve got to be really relaxed to put my hand up for a couple of minutes during a song, so please don’t think I’m being a party pooper. Little social cues like hand-raising make worship really hard for introverts like me. I probably will not do it if I’m a first-time visitor.

2. Praying Aloud

Raising hands during singing is not that big a deal, but this is where the cold sweat starts to break out on my neck. And I know if an aversion to hand raising is odd, then this is anathema. How can a pastor be uncomfortable praying out loud?

The thing is, I have no problem praying when I am supposed to pray, when I am expected to pray, when I am the designated prayer leader. When I am supposed to pray, I can do so on the spot, the only problem being that I have probably been running one or two really good prayer lines through my head beforehand so I can sound good for everyone else, but then that begs the question: Did I already pray in my head, and if so, what am I saying out loud?

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Source: Church Leaders