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Connecting Introverts in Your Youth Ministry - Part 2

Mon, 22 Jul 2013 - 1:46 PM CST

For student ministers, it's tempting to judge discipleship through the lens of extroversion. The more teenagers emotionally respond to our services, the more effective we feel those services are. I think that's why pastors seem to exalt extroversion so much. It gives us the instant gratification we often desire.

If we are wholeheartedly committed to ministering to every student in our youth group, however, we must make a way to connect introverts as well. It's important to understand that spiritual maturity doesn't always equate outward sociability or exterior excitement. In reality, it is much deeper than that.

While it's crucial that youth pastors challenge their students to step outside of their spiritual comfort zones, we have to do this within the bounds of their God-give personalities. In Part 1, I focused on a few tips for reaching introverts socially. For Part 2, I'm extending this topic by discussing how student ministers can help introverts connect to God without trying to turn them into something they are naturally not, outgoing.

  1. Focus on content, not just hype. Let's face it, sometimes youth ministry can be about the hype. FREE PIZZA. GAMES. A DJ ON THE ROOF. Okay, that last one is just a dream of mine. Those things aren't bad, but we have to remember that introverts are programmed to think deeper about life's big issues (not to say that many extroverts aren't). It's important that pastors find a way to capture their intellect. Don't neglect the meat of discipleship by spending all of your time trying to figure out how a DJ could spin it up next to the steeple. The best place to focus on first is the sermon. Chart out all of your messages from the last year. Critically assess your content. Do you preach from multiple passages in each of your sermons or do you take time to really dig into one? What can you do to deepen your communication skills?
  2. Don't judge spiritual maturity by emotion. Your introvert might not run to the altar and throw their hands in the air like they just don't care. That doesn't mean God isn't working in their life. Some of the best sermons I've heard weren't talks that made me ball my eyes out, but messages that caused me to quietly contemplate how I could apply the Bible to my life. Let the students know that. Teach the importance of consistent spiritual disciplines, not just Wednesday night emotion. The key here is having a larger, biblical understanding of discipleship. This can help your extroverts too.
  3. Don't be afraid to put introverts in leadership. Contrary to popular belief, introverts can make great leaders. Look at me! Bad example. Just because someone isn't outgoing, doesn't mean they can't lead others. It also goes without saying that as youth pastors, we should always strive to elevate character over personality. In our world, some of the greatest leaders and performers were/are introverts. Abraham Lincoln. Bill Gates. David Lettermen. Wade Bearden. All introverts. Don't think that just because a student is quiet that they won't make a good leader or preacher one day. Help them make that one day begin now.

When we understand that introverts and extroverts are different, it helps us to reexamine our definition of discipleship. This then allows us utilize the strengths of both groups of people while simultaneously teaching them that God cherishes their uniqueness.


Follow Wade on Twitter (@WadeHance) and check out his blog at wadebearden.com.

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