I left the house at about 10 am Sunday and returned at 5, having attended a church worship gathering and then a congregational meeting. After the meeting, there was a Session meeting, and then I took some time to talk with concerned parishioners. Like hundreds of other Sundays in my life, I arrived home barely able to speak another word. I was done.
Myers-Briggs introverts, of course, might be able to stand up and speak before a crowd, schmooze throughout coffee hour, shift to focus on a youth project, and then lead lead an adult Bible study, but the way we re-fuel is to be alone. We read. We sleep. We sit and stare into space. We prefer one-on-one conversations.
Some say that clergy tend to be Myers-Briggs introverts. Others say that The Top Three Personality Types for clergy all include extroversion. The truth is that both introverts and extroverts can be church leaders.
One way, I believe, the church is changing and will continue to change is from loud, ringing, aggressive spirituality to a more reflective, devotional, conversational spirituality. That’s not to say that we won’t sing with verve. There will still be moments of noisy exuberance. It just means that the needs are different now. In order to nourish souls, the church needs to focus on meeting people’s spiritual needs.
Yes, we might offer a fabulous coffee hour, flawless worship choreography, and superb youth programs in terms of popularity and programming. But if we aren’t feeding people’s souls, the church will become just another social or community organization. In some cases, the church has already become merely a social, community organization.
But as our world continues to be filled with noise – from sirens and elevator music to talking and more talking – our culture will increasingly need space for quiet.
As I commute into the office on the train every day, I always look for The Quiet Car. Absolutely no talking. People even squirm when somebody sneezes.
Quietude is a treasured commodity, and the church can offer this like no other community.
So, here’s my question: How would you compare the number of “loud ministry offerings” against the number of “quiet ministry offerings” in your church? We in the church have the unique opportunity to offer a space for quiet devotion and reflection in a culture starving for time to process the meaning of our lives in the universe.
Some of our worship services include zero minutes of silence. Perhaps we are so used to constant noise, that we don’t even know what to do during moments of quiet. But we have got to figure out how to offer space for pondering the meaning of our lives and our suffering and our purpose. The church is called to be this kind of community in the 21st Century.
Interesting read: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.