October 29, 2020

Disruption Stories: The Introvert (Part 2)

Introverts prefer to think before they speak; and prefer written communication over face-to-face. The shutdown has given them a rare space to make their voice heard.

This summer, the pastor of Anthony’s church frequently made racial reconciliation, and the church’s role in it, the centerpiece of the Sunday message. 

Since no one was gathering at the church, there was no simple, familiar way for Anthony and other church members to talk and work through the message over coffee after the end of the service. And, actually, for Anthony, the surface-level chit-chat that passes for conversation during after-church coffee hour is simply not his cup of tea.

Anthony is an introvert. He prefers to process his thoughts before speaking them, as opposed to extraverts, who prefer to do their thinking out loud. Also, he would much prefer a meaningful interaction with one or two people in a less boisterous environment. 

Anthony’s men’s small group meets on Thursday evenings. It has always been a forum where he can speak freely. His group members have a variety of perspectives, and on this subject they go well beyond mere lip-service support for Black Lives Matter, nor do they simply dismiss racial issues as a matter outside the scope of the church. They grapple. So many disruptions to grapple with.

As Anthony worked through his fairly nuanced thoughts, he used the group’s online chat app where he posted links to various points in the online sermon, added his commentary, and expanded on it with copy-and-pasted material from other online sources. He did this on Sunday afternoon, four days before the group meets. 

And the men in his group responded in kind. They thoughtfully read each others’ comments, and reflected on their diverse understandings. In fact, it was one of the best “meetings” they had ever had -- a 'meeting' that took place over the course of five days.

Anthony is not often the first to speak among his group. But, in the shutdown, he had more space, and the means, to put his thoughts into writing -- another preference of most introverts. In this environment, he became a frequent initiator of meaningful conversation.

Preachers have always longed for their Sunday message to have impact in the rest of the week and in the lives of their members. Now, in this season of disruption, it is sometimes the introvert whose voice carries that message beyond Sunday.