Quietly Faithful: Oh! Oh! Pick me! Pick me!

By Stephen R. Clark

by Danielle Dolin

A simple way to spot introverts in a group is to pay attention to those who do not raise their hands, don’t make eye contact, or don’t speak up spontaneously. In other words, you’ll likely never see an introvert wave their hand and demand to be called on! Nope.

It can be tough for an introvert in a small group Bible study or fellowship group. We care about people. We love the Lord. We are passionate about our faith. Albeit we are all of these quietly. In a group, things are not so quiet.

Here are a few suggestions to help you, as an introvert, to become an integral part of a small group.

1. Research and make connections ahead of time. Learn as much about the group as possible before you attend. If it’s a church Bible study, check their website to see if there’s a description and maybe a list of group attendees. A lot of churches now have apps where all of this information is located. Try to connect with the leader of the group or one member and ask them how the group operates. Not only does this give you inside info up front, but now you’ll know at least one person in the group when you visit the first time.

2. It’s okay to be quiet. Being the newbie in a group can be intimidating. Not only do you not know most of the people around you, but there’s often a lot of chatter and activity, especially before the group gets going. In other words, you’re getting hit with a lot of stimuli all at once which can be off-putting. Feel free to find a place to sit and then quietly observe. This will allow your mind to settle. Even better if you can sit next to the person you connected with earlier.

3. Know yourself. Understanding your introversion can help you feel comfortable in a new situation. You understand that, just because you’re quiet, that doesn’t mean you have nothing of value to contribute. You understand that it takes time for you to form a clear thought you feel comfortable sharing. In other words, there is nothing wrong with being quiet and observant.

4. Listen and observe. As the group gets rolling and the discussion starts, listen to what’s shared. Assess who the dominant speakers are and note the other quiet ones. It’s rare in a small group for you to be the only introvert! At the next meeting, pick one of the quiet ones to sit next to. You can be allies and support each other.

5. Share when you’re ready. Just because the group has moved on from a topic doesn’t mean that you can’t share later. Often, near the end of the meeting, a leader will ask if anyone has any additional thoughts. This is your cue to speak up. Say something like, “I’d like to go back to a topic we talked about earlier,” and then share your thought. You may be surprised that someone else, as other discussion was occurring, had been mulling a similar thought. Your contribution will be valued. Just remember when you speak to lift your head and project your voice confidently. And if you don’t share, that’s okay, too.

In her article, 5 Myths About Introverts in Small Groups*, Amy Jackson says about introverts that we are “an incredible asset to your group.” And you are! It takes time to feel comfortable in a new situation. While you’re working on settling in those around you are trying to figure you out as well. Let them know you’re an introvert. Educate them gently on what that means. By doing so, you not only help yourself acclimate to the group, but you’re also helping those around you to become more aware and accepting of personality differences.

* Note: This is a great article for group leaders and the website, SmallGroups.com, is an excellent source of helps for small groups.

Agree? Disagree? Love it? Hate it? Have a question about this column? Email Stephen at cnjintrovert@gmail.com. Share your story about being a Christian introvert or let me know a specific topic you’d like to see addressed.

Stephen R. Clark is a writer who lives in Lansdale, PA with his wife, BethAnn, where they are members of Immanuel Church. His website is www.StephenRayClark.com. He is a member of the Evangelical Press Association and managing editor of the Christian Freelance Writers Network blog. He is also a news writer for The Baptist Paper and contributor to the Englewood Review of Books. His writing has appeared in several publications. The content of this column is copyright © by Stephen R. Clark.

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