How Extroverts Die

ADHD

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.

Now…

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?

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FIVE LIES – Church Leadership Is Only For The Super-Spiritual

If Ministries Were Siblings

if ministries were siblings

So the Bible has a lot to say about the motif of family in the New Testament church.

  • “Love one another with brotherly affection (Rom. 12:10)”
  • See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God (1 John 3:1)”
  • “Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity (1 Tim. 5:1-2),” etc.

What happens if we extend that motif into the specific areas where churches seek to do ministry?

Ministry to Adults // The Firstborn

The firstborn child gets all the attention, care, and concern…until they are no longer the only child.  Think about it (if you have more than one kid): first child drops a pacifier on the ground.  We grab it before the five-second rule expires, plunk it in a sink filled with 50% bleach and 50% scalding hot water.  THEN we microwave it in a sterilizing pouch.  Then we rinse it off with cold water.  Then we give it back, with an eagle-eyed focus for the rest of the day.  If the second kid drops it at the playground we wipe it on our shirt and go about our merry way.

Churches can be overly cautious around their ministry to adults because the firstborn, though privileged, has a perception of being neglected.  These are the givers (privileged) in the church, but we are “always” changing things on them.  Try switching from coffee pots to Keurigs and the angst of the firstborn’s neglect is palpable.

We try to give them what they want but they complain that they never get what they want.  Once there’s a perception that we don’t care (because we renamed the newsletter or started texting instead of emailing), churches may try to make up for it, but then we’re stuck in the “I want you to want to” sentiment and the firstborn turns on the TV in the basement for the rest of the afternoon.

Young Adults/College Ministry // The Middle Child

The young adult is often overlooked: no special treatment like the firstborn because “hey, we’re good at this now, you’ll be fine if I don’t sterilize your binky” and they got no special attention like the baby because “been there done that.”

A friend of mine had this to say about the idea of young adult ministry as the middle child:

“Typically, middle children have less of a connection with their families because of a lack of attention; they’re used to just doing their own thing.  So the relationships they value most are typically friendships, the relationships they can choose.  Similarly, young adults, particularly post-grads, are usually in a new town where the church they attend is entirely their choice.  Their choice isn’t particularly influenced by family association but rather on the church alone, and because of this, they usually have no problem moving somewhere they like better.”

So while churches are focused on keeping the firstborn and the baby happy, the middle child is forgotten and becomes generally disgruntled.  They don’t give (much) but they can contribute (much).  We can’t wait around for them to mature, because then we’ve lost influence, both ours and theirs.  The middle child is the one that wants to go to school out of state (read: try churches they like better) because they want to be seen and seen as important.

Children’s Ministry // The Baby

I’m the baby of my family.  The babies get LOTS of attention, in theory and in reality.  How many dollars and man hours go into a week of VBS?  If a church plants a new campus/site, who are they primarily going after?  Families (the firstborn) with young children (the baby).  I wish we could see more targeting the middle child, but this about the baby.  Let’s not get distracted.

The baby gets whatever they want.  I’ve been accused of this by one of my two older siblings…who shall remain nameless.  But there’s so much promise with the baby of the family!  Just look at the stats!  How many people can trace their salvation back to their time in children’s ministry?  I can.

Children’s ministries often have the nicest facilities in the church, the most volunteers, and the easiest budget proposal meetings. I was recently at a church in Dallas where the focus is definitely on the baby of the family.  When you walk in *bam* there’s a huge salt water fish tank, check in computers, a multi-level plastic playground with nets, and slides, and tubes, all enclosed in glass.  There was a mall quality, squishy floor play space with turtles and bunnies to climb on.  The rooms were immaculate, the art was modern, the paint colors were spot on, the signage was great.  Everything was awesome.

Turn the corner.

Everything’s brown.  The furniture is neutral.  The carpet is neutral.

Walk down a blank hall.

The lights are dimmer.  The paint is cheaper.  The equipment is from craigslist.  The carpet is tearing.  The signage pops up.  You’re at the youth area in the farthest corner of the building from the door.

BONUS: Youth Ministry // The Cousin From Out-Of-State

The cousin from out-of-state has some of the cool, new, stuff, is a little “off” from the rest of the family, and still has to sit at the kids’ table.

The Third Verse

Sheet_Music___Photography_by_Starlight_Deathwish
Churches skip the third verse in hymns.

The first verse is famous.  It draws people in.   A-ma-zing grace! how sweet the sound…
The second verse is familiar to the dedicated.  It has a following (which means they can still keep their eyes closed)  ‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear…
The fourth verse is the crescendo.  It leaves an impact; makes a statement; draws everyone back in.  When we’ve been there ten thousand years…

But the third verse gets skipped.  Sometimes they just don’t have time for the third verse.  Sometimes it’s because the third verse isn’t well known.  Maybe nobody’s comfortable with the third verse because they’ve never heard it sung.  Maybe they didn’t even know it was there.

Most of us feel like this at one point or another.

“what good amid these, O me, O life?” Answer. That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?

We have to be OK if we are the third verse.

Because there’s still poetry in the third.
There’s still truth.
There’s still revelation.
There’s still beauty, honor, purpose.

3. Thro’ man-y dan-gers, toils and snares, I have al-read-y come; ‘Tis grace hath bro’t me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home.

 

If Pop Culture Was A Young Church…

pop-art

The Pastor would be: John Stewart
The Associate Pastor would be: Stephen Colbert
The Youth Pastor would be: Family Guy
The Worship Pastor would be: Macklemore
The Children’s Pastor would be:  Michelle Obama

5 Questions Your Church MUST Ask

Our Senior Pastor had the staff ask and discuss these 5 questions in our last meeting (adapted from Gary McIntosh’s book “There is Hope for Your Church”):

1. How does God want to express Himself through our church in this community at this time?
2. If our church building burned down, would we rebuild it the same?  If not, what would we change?
3. If we were starting from scratch what would we do differently?
4. If we knew our church was going to close in the next year what would we do differently?
5. What is God doing in our community and how can we get on board?

You Are A Pharisee (You Just Don’t Know It)

you are a pharisee

The world population at the time of Christ is estimated at around 300,000,000 people (+/- 50,000,000).  He had 12 disciples.

Can we blame the Pharisees for not getting it?

After watching “The Bible” series I can understand with more clarity why the Pharisees were upset with Jesus.  It just makes sense that they would feel threatened by Him, especially with Him coming out of nowhere, challenging what they’ve always taught and what they’ve always known to be true.

That’s threatening.

We can deride the Pharisees easily and say, “How could they miss it?  How could they not know?  How could they not see?

But… I mean… would you?  If you were back in that time would you see it?  Would you be one of the twelve?  Or would you be one of the masses that felt threatened?

We still act this way in church.  Our church is better because we keep it simple.  Our church is better because we are relevant.  Contemporary music is godless.  Traditional music is lame.  Don’t watch rated R movies.  Don’t run in the Lord’s house.  Don’t wear shorts to church.

Anytime our norms and traditions are threatened we respond with a version of fear that looks a lot like defensiveness.  If I lived at the time of Jesus, I’m pretty sure I’d be one of the masses that felt threatened.