Connecting Introverts in Your Youth Ministry - Part 1
Thu, 11 Jul 2013 - 2:20 PM CST
In her book Quiet, Susan Cain writes about
a recent visit she made to a California mega church. Within minutes of walking
in the doors, Cain noted that the Sunday worship service, while beaming with
enthusiasm, was largely geared toward extroverts. Almost every item on the run
sheet, from singing to hand-shaking, appeared bred for the extrovert mind. Even
a person's spirituality, Cain writes, seemed to be based on their outward
As an introvert myself, Cain's observations
didn't come as a surprise. In a world where Christian maturity is frequently
defined by passion, I often found myself out of place as a teenager. Does not
doing the Cupid Shuffle when the band plays a fast song mean I'm not as spiritual as those who do? What about my place in the
youth ministry? Can I still connect with others if I'm not the kid who runs
around with our group's logo painted on my chest?
What if we as student pastors are looking
at youth ministry all wrong? Could it be possible that we are hurting what God
is doing in the lives of introverts by setting extrovert standards in our
Maybe you've struggled with connecting
introverts to your ministry. How can you as a youth worker mold an experience
that will appeal not to just the extrovert, but the introvert as well? I'll be
answering this question in the next couple
of articles by sharing with you some tips I try to
implement in my group. In this post, I start with the social aspect of introversion.
a setting comfortable to both extroverts and introverts. Having everyone give
each other bear hugs as you transition out of worship sounds like a good idea,
but it might not be the most comfortable for
introverts. It's possible that calling all of the students down to the
front during "How He Loves" is a little awkward for some. Craft a youth service
where both introverts and extroverts feel their personalities are welcome. You
can do this by making sure there's a balance of intimate as well as large-scale
moments. Mix up group games with partner-style activities. Have small-group or
private prayer along with altar calls. Think close and big.
introverts form relationships with one or two other people. If you drop
introverts into a large group of students, odds are they'll spend most of the
conversation as a quiet observer. Instead, try introducing them to one or two
other teenagers their age. Another idea is to put
them on a small ministry team. This will give these students an opportunity to
serve and form relationships with those around them.
to know introverts in a small group setting. As an introvert, I prefer getting
to know someone at a small coffee shop over a loud noisy youth room. One on one
time is how I build my relationships. If you have a quiet student that just
doesn't seem to connect, try going out with them for a soda.
because an introvert isn't talking, doesn't mean they are uncomfortable. Sometimes introverts like to observe. It's not always
creepy or uncomfortable. Be okay with students who are quiet. It's possible
that they're enjoying the atmosphere and really don't have anything they feel
like saying at the moment. This is where wisdom decides if silence is
self-imposed or a sign of disconnect.
Introverts aren't better or worse than
outgoing individuals, they're just different. By understanding their
uniqueness, youth leaders are better equipped to make both groups feel welcome
in their ministries.
Follow Wade on Twitter (@WadeHance) and
check out his blog at www.wadebearden.com.