Recently I read a great post from Tim Challies about how he (an introvert) learned to embrace the “stand and greet time” at church. And it inspired this post, so allow me to paraphrase his for a second:
In Challies’ post, he posed the question of why do you go to church? It’s either for yourself or for others. If it’s for yourself, it’s easy to hide on the back rows and in the corners and justify that it’s because “I’m an introvert.” But Challies challenges us in this way: we are called to die to ourselves as followers of Christ. That means, from his post, introverts need to die to what makes them shy for the good of the church.
What about extroverts? How do they die? Probably from high blood pressure, but how do they die theologically? How does someone that talks loud, moves fast, and always sweats die to themselves during the church “stand and greet time?”
Like this: stay with one person. It is SO easy for us to try and shake as many hands as possible in the 150 seconds we’re given. We blow right past people, look through people, strategize our “route” as soon as announcements start. We do all the talking and rarely listen (and then say, “Oh, I’m just bad with names.”) Spoiler alert – you won’t be bad with names if you stay with one person. Slow down (seriously – I almost knocked over one of our oldest founding members last week because I was on a mission). Talk. Plan your “route” but make sure it’s just from point A to person A (and not B, C, D, E, e, F, F#, F#m, G, 11, squirrel, you know?)
Also: not everyone likes a bear-hug. Remember, there are introverts in the room. You can OVERWHELM them with your enthusiasm and this can be unloving. Be aware that not everyone wants to be picked up and swung around. Be aware that a hearty slap on the back could just as easily be a boot out the door. Be aware that some people do have a hard time making eye-contact. Die to yourself and tone it down a notch. Greeting is not about you. It’s about connection.
So if you’re an extrovert, I’m proud of you. Love the church enough to be mellow for Jesus…but just for a moment. If you’re an introvert, I’m proud of you. Love the church enough to give extroverts someone to talk to; let them in so you can be known.
It’s not about handshakes, high-fives, or ha-ha’s! It’s about connecting. Who will you connect with this Sunday? Who will you die for?