Introvert Evangelism

It’s hard for an introvert to listen to an evangelical sermon. Though the pastor is doubtless just trying to encourage his people, so often I feel discouraged, guilty, shamed, and sad after listening to a full hour of exhortation on the wonders and duties of evangelism.

Your average evangelism encouragement sermon usually hits the following points: we are a city on a hill and the light of the world (Matthew 5:14), a promise that we will be witnesses to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8), and maybe even a shot of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20).

With our scripture points covered, it then usually launches into exhortation that the people must immediately go seek out all of their friends, relatives, co-workers, etc. and drag them into church where they must remain until the end of their days.

The method of evangelism is often put in terms of church attendance. For some reason the mainstream Christian community believes firmly that no one can be a devoted Christian who is not also a member of a traditional church. Some pastors put it so strongly that they say it outright: no one can be a follower of God outside of the church. God’s real followers can only be found within those sanctified doors.

All of this leaves me wondering whether these sermons are intended to win people over to the truth of Christianity, or whether that is merely window dressing on the main goal: of getting warm bodies (and their wallets) into pews.

Yet this style of ‘evangelism’ seems to make sense from an extroverted viewpoint: for an extrovert, the more people are together in one place, the more energy there is in the room. The more energy, the better and happier they feel. Get a huge crowd of people and you have a Christian party. (I mention this ‘Assembly’ effect in more detail in Introvert Style Church.) The newbie believers are going to have so much fun they’ll want to stay, right?

It seems to makes some sense from a spiritual point of view as well: if each person has a little drop of the Spirit of God, the more people you get together into one place the stronger the Spiritual power can manifest. However, while there are spiritual effects that take place only when people come together, the Spirit is not given in ‘a little drop’ to us, but each of us has the full amount; also He is not limited by how many people are there. Sometimes all it takes is two to have a massive spiritual effect happen, so I don’t buy this one as much.

It definitely make sense from an economic standpoint; and while I’m not against money in itself, since it is merely a tool to be used for good or for evil like anything else in the physical world, I do take exception to any motivation which seems to center around nothing but amassing money. That’s just stupid. If a Pastor is dragging thousands into his Church just to ‘reap’ their wallets, he will instead reap the whirlwind (Hosea 8:7).

The problem with this kind of evangelism comes in when you are no longer dealing with extroverts. Since anywhere from 25 to 50% of our species is composed of introverts (and being introverted does NOT mean shy, hates people, or is afraid; it means you draw spiritual energy primarily from within instead of from outside and has nothing to do with those mean, nasty prejudices), that means 25 to 50% of all Christians are going to be either super uncomfortable trying to ‘evangelize’ in this manner, or they are going to avoid it altogether.

Why would an introvert be adverse to the drag-your-friends-to-Church method? First: since they are very perceptive of what bothers others and often can’t bring themselves to cause discomfort to other people, an introvert is not likely to cold-call anyone, or get their nose into even a friend’s business, much less a mere acquaintance’s or a stranger’s.

Second, going to Church is a punishment rather than a reward for many introverts. While sitting in a large crowd in the dark being ignored is usually tolerable to an introvert, even enjoyable if the crowd’s attention (and energy gathering) is focused somewhere else besides on the introvert, being in a crowded place of any kind is not what any introvert calls fun. Introverts by nature do not draw energy from other people; they only draw energy from their own ‘well,’ their own deep spirit. Being in a crowd usually means having one’s spiritual energy sucked dry, an experience that only another introvert would understand.

(For extroverts: imagine being at a big event with lots of people for six hours, or eight hours, and just getting plain old worn out by it. Eventually you get so exhausted that you just want to fall over… maybe you DO fall over. That’s how it feels for an introvert after only about an hour, maybe half an hour, of being in a crowd… minus any fun feeling you had from the event. Introverts get the opposite: an overwhelmed, confused, unhappy feeling PLUS the crash at the end. Not anyone’s definition of a great time.)

So since the evangelistic introvert is not likely to be pressured by a Pastor into talking to everyone they know (if anyone they knew were receptive to God they’d have done it already, trust me), and since neither the introvert evangelist or his introverted newbie believer recruit wants to get anywhere near a crowd, that means if salvation is equal to Church attendance the Church is going to eventually drive all the introverts away.

This is a bad thing. The Church desperately needs introverts. Maybe the reason it so desperately needs us is because it has run us all off, and it’s become so ridiculously unbalanced that it actually equates extroversion (a personality trait like being right or left handed, not something you choose) with Godliness (Jesus was probably an INFJ introvert, sorry guys).

I could go into a lot of reasons why the Church should want introverts among them, but that’s not the focus of this article (big hint: losing 50% of humanity to Satan because they are introverts is not acceptable to God) so I won’t. I’ll assume the reader can figure that one out for themselves. Let’s just say for the Church to teach that there is only one style of evangelism, or that only extroverted methods of evangelism are good and right, is just plain shortsighted.

There are two methods of evangelism that I have actually seen at work. One can be called the standard ‘Fisherman’ method. This method involves a highly charismatic extroverted type person standing in front of a large crowd and throwing a huge net; a sermon which is very broad in its appeal. This is the style of evangelism the Church is familiar with, and in fact the Church knows no other style. As far as the Church is concerned, this is it.

However there is a second method mentioned in the Bible. I will quote a verse that describes the method better than any other: “Behold, I will send for many fishermen,” says the LORD, “and they shall fish them; and afterward I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain and every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks.” (Jer. 16:16)

Hunters?

Notice here that God is doing this. God-Father-YHVH is sending these people. Now understand that in this context, God is sending warriors to round up bad guys and take care of them — it’s not put into a context of evangelism at all. However, we know that God never changes. If He used certain methods in the past, He will always use those methods.

Here God needs to gather up a bunch of people. It sounds like the Harvest of evangelism; only in this case it is war (gathering for ill rather than for good). Still, the principle is the same: God needs to gather a whole lot of humans together. How does He go about doing it?

First God sends the fishermen. Fishermen go to where there is a large gathering of fish and they cast a big net (sermon to a lot of people with broad appeal). Sometimes they go to where there is a large gathering of fish and cast a single line (specific message to one person). The tools change, but the principle is the same: the fisherman goes to where there is a large gathering of fish (ie: Church). They get the most catches. They get the most acclaim.

Shepherds are the same. They gather their sheep together into a large group. Shepherds, Fishermen, using the same methods. However Shepherding has to do with those who are already believers, so we’ll stick to the gathering of the believers in the first place: Fishing and Hunting.

Hunters on the other hand do not use these methods at all. Hunters do not gather deer together into a large herd, and then shoot one. (Some animals like ducks do move in flocks, but you don’t cast a net over a flock of ducks! Just try it sometime, I’ll stand back laughing.) No. Hunters first disguise themselves; they cover themselves in camouflage so that the wary, solitary deer doesn’t see them as a threat. Then they move quietly, warily through the deer’s own territory. Then they line up a shot, and if they are really good, they take that deer down with a single tap to the head. Precision.

It takes a lot more time to hunt. You get a big payoff, but it’s a more difficult method of gathering food than either fishing or shepherding. Yet God does indeed use all of these methods.

Let us examine the method of Hunting more closely as concerns Evangelism. First, I call Hunting the ‘Introvert Style’ of Evangelism, although it is not specifically for introverts. I just feel that introverts are probably better at this method. Either type could use it, and either type will use it depending on what spiritual gift and power God gives that person.

Introverts don’t hang out in large crowds. That means they probably don’t go to Church often (or irregularly). They wear camouflage; that means they don’t look like a Christian (whatever a Christian is supposed to look like) walking around. They might even wear biker leathers and have a handlebar mustache. They often keep to themselves (the quiet approach) and tend to blend in (camouflage). They don’t draw any attention. They move about through society ignored and usually underestimated.

If my theory is right, introverts also don’t attend Church as regularly — because Church is super uncomfortable for them. If they also don’t look like a Christian, that probability of avoiding Church rises much higher because of the pain of being persecuted for cosmetic reasons. That means their hunting ground is not amongst the pews, but the bars and the workplaces and the restaurants of the world.

Introverts are extremely good at spotting their prey. Most types (except maybe INTP’s, but they have other charms) can read people like a book, and can tell in just one conversation whether that person will be receptive to the Gospel or not. It takes a lot of roaming through the territory to find your deer… sometimes you walk for days through the woods! And sometimes in life an introvert evangelist will move for years through life without a good mark.

Once the Hunter has found his mark, he carefully lines up the shot. This can’t be rushed, and concentration must be 100%. No sloppy work here. You so often only get one chance; it’s so easy to spook the prey. No sudden moves. Since an introvert is so cautious when approaching others, they think through the situation dozens of times before they attempt it. They are careful to weigh every single word, every single thought four or five (or more) times before finally deciding on an angle.

BOOM. The delivery. Introverts do not like small talk. At all. They do not ‘chit-chat’. They do not gossip. They also deliver anything they say gently; it is to the point, efficient, but also as kind as they can make it. Most introverts (except the aforementioned INTP) care deeply what others think of them, and will try not to hurt the mark at all.

If the shot was good, the mark is theirs. With the power of God’s Spirit, insight, and patience a single sentence can change someone’s life.

Note that often while Hunting, the sound of the gunshot will scare prey away for miles. It can be the same way with introvert evangelism; a conversation with someone at a bar about God, and it’s likely nobody else is going to even look your direction for the rest of the night.

Will that introvert drag their newborn Christian to Church right away? Probably not. The introvert himself may not even attend Church on any regular basis. So what does a hunter do once he has his deer? Let’s assume this is the old days before hunters just drove around in pickup trucks — he’d immediately skin it, gather the meat and bundle it into the skin to be carried back, and be as efficient about it as possible. In introvert evangelism, the newbie baby Christian is usually taught right away; the process of discipleship might begin with the very Hunter that caught them.

What will he teach? Probably not “go to Church” (although honestly I myself have, to my own surprise, taught that to a new mark. It depends on what the Spirit gives you for that person.) He will teach the principles that he himself lives by. Probably, since introverts are good at reading people, noticing, and remembering large amounts of facts about others, the introvert evangelist will start with helping that person with their most troubling personal issues like drug abuse or bad relationships.

Will discipleship continue with that Hunter? Usually not. In my experience, like any Evangelist, the new Christian usually passes on to other people to be fully trained. The job of the Evangelist is not to teach and disciple (though they can do some of that), but to find the marks in the first place. Often a ‘Hunter salvation’ happens in a span as short as an hour or two, even ten minutes. It might be a one night event; the Hunter might never see that mark again in his life.

Why would God go through so much trouble as to send Hunters out into the world? Hunting is obviously not as efficient as Fishing. You only get one animal per shot. Each shot takes a long time to set up. But God cares so much for us that He will use every method at His disposal to gather His people.

But here is the main use of Hunting: a Hunter can go where no Fisher can go. A Hunter can go into the dark places, the tangled places, the lonely places and find a mark. The Hunter can go into the cellars of the world, the back-alleys, and the dives. Because the shot is quick and clean, a Hunter can have a single conversation with someone at a bar, get them saved, walk away, and do it again the next night (if the marks are plentiful). God can use Hunting to get the ones that everyone thought were out of reach.

Do you have a loved one who is ‘out of reach’ of the Church? One who would never speak to a Christian (if they knew they were a Christian) for the life of them? Maybe you need to ask God to send a Hunter.

And, since so much of the world is now ‘out of reach’ of the Church, maybe the Church needs to take a serious second look at the power of the introvert.

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