Quietly Faithful: Three things Introverts Fear

By Stephen R. Clark

by Danielle Dolin

Being an introvert anywhere can be a challenge. Even in church! Every Sunday, those of us who are regular church-goers, experience trials that strain our introverted hearts. Here are three things that introverts in the church tend to dread at least a little.

Please come forward

Growing up in a small Pentecostal church, altar calls were practically the norm. And if you didn’t go forward, then it was assumed your soul was in mortal danger. But any time the pastor asks people to come forward, or up on the stage – or platform, chancel, or whatever your church calls it – this causes an introvert’s heart to palpitate.

Sometimes you’re asked to come forward to be recognized for something. That’s nice, but generally, introverts tend to avoid the spotlight, especially when it means being exposed in front of a lot of people. Sending us a nice card, email, or text is perfectly fine. But feel free to acknowledge us from the front while we remain in our seats. That’s nice, too.

Akin to being asked up front – and just as nerve-wracking – is to be a visitor in a church and asked to stand to be recognized. In a large church you can just remain seated and all is well. In a small church, everyone knows you’re a visitor and there’s no place to hide!

Turn and greet those around you

I like people and appreciate knowing who it is sitting near me. But still, this one is a tad taxing. If it’s just a smile and a quick handshake, great. I’ll stand in place and rotate to reach those immediately nearby. But when the person up front starts instructing us to, “Get out of your row and greet everyone around you and tell them they are loved by God and then share something wonderful that happened to you this week and then….” It’s at times such as these I suddenly feel the need to head to the restroom. Or get a second cup of coffee.

Form a circle of 3 or 4 for prayer

This is the coup de grâce for introverts. It’s especially stressful when you’re a visitor in a church and you don’t know another soul around you. Yes, I know, we’re all brothers and sisters in the Lord, but still, this is a toughie. Just the awkwardness of figuring out who gets included in a group is daunting. But then, holding strangers’ hands, taking the time to hear requests, and then actually praying out loud, can be overwhelming. This is the stuff that makes palms sweaty and minds go blank!

Please be kind!

I’m being just a tad tongue-in-cheek. Still, these examples are more appealing to extroverts than introverts.

To those who are in charge up front, please be sensitive to your quieter fellow believers in the pews. If you feel impressed to call people to the front, make it optional for those who would prefer to stay in their seats. Don’t put them on the spot. Keep the meet-and-greet instructions simple and basic. And leave the spontaneous huddle-up prayer groups for those events when you know everyone present and are certain they’ll be comfortable.


Agree? Disagree? Have a question about this column? Email Stephen at cnjintrovert@gmail.com. Share your thoughts about being a Christian introvert!


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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