Welcoming for introverts

Welcoming for introverts

I am an introvert. That doesn’t mean that I don’t like people; I love people, and love talking to people. It does mean that I get drained by too much time with people and I much prefer quiet and calm environments to loud, noisy places.

If you’re an introvert, the morning tea time at church can seem overwhelming. Our church meets in a hall where the sound bounces around, and after growth in recent years, there are a lot of people there. Imagine 150 people all talking at once, with small children running around and music practice happening in one corner. No-one at church knows everyone, so many of the people you see are people you have never spoken to before.

The extroverts reading this probably think this sounds perfect. Noise, lots of people to talk to, what’s not to like? If that’s you, you need to understand that not everyone is like you. I know some people who leave quickly because the idea of the unstructured talking with people they don’t know is too much for them. I sometimes feel that urge too! Over time, I have become better at this unstructured people time, but I crash with exhaustion in response later in the afternoon.

If you struggle with this unstructured meet and greet time, however your church runs it, let me give you some tips:

  • You don’t need to talk to everyone. In fact, you will have a more productive time if you have a real conversation with a handful of people than a few minutes each with a dozen people. Sitting and talking to a small group of people and deepening your relationship with them is a good use of the time.
  • When it comes to new people, limit yourself to one per week. Sure, the extroverts around you will warmly greet all the newcomers. I am glad we have people like that in our church. But God made everyone a little different, and there is nothing inferior about being an introvert. You are not excused from making an effort to welcome new people though; just do it in a way that is not quite so overwhelming.
  • Consider moving the conversation somewhere quieter. If you have a morning church service, invite someone out for lunch. A conversation over lunch with 5 or 6 people will be more comfortable for everyone.

God made some of us to be energised by people, and some of us to be drained by people. If you get easily overwhelmed by noise and large numbers of people, you can still be a real blessing to others. Don’t force yourself to be an extrovert. You can still be effective in welcoming others.