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Monday, January 4, 2010

Do Introverts Make Good Church Planters? Well Yeah . . .

Yesterday I half-jokingly posted a "Happy Introverts Day" on my Facebook page. I really mean "half-jokingly" because those of you who know me well know I am a card-carrying introvert. I recharge alone rather than in a crowd. I hole up in my "cave" and spend time just being. If I don't, I will become irritable, overwhelmed and distracted (my ADD kicks into overdrive and I spend all kinds of time chasing my tail). Not pretty at all  . . . and frustrating.

So why does this old man think he can help plant a church? Aren't church planters by definition extroverts out and about with the people all the time, getting jazzed from multiple and frequent contact, and never tiring of hanging out? Well yeah that's the model, and it makes sense because much of church planting is building relationships with strangers. If you shy away from doing so the entire enterprise will likely be painful.

So what business have I in trying to do this? Well, some days I really wonder. I have those days when the dissonance inside me from having to go out and meet people, or introduce myself to strangers is deafening. I want to avoid going out there like the plague. Procrastination becomes a trusted ally: I just need to get this last thing done before I head out. That last thing takes the rest of the day. Well played, cowboy.

I know I have to come to grips with the reality of my introversion. It is part of the "factory-installed" equipment, not merely an accessory. Truth be told, I will church plant the way an introvert has to church plant. God understood that when he called me to the task. God sees what isn't as though it were.

So what does an introverted old man planting churches require to have a ghost of a chance of actually planting one?

1. The necessity of balance: I will need the alone times. On the other hand, I will need to balance them with frequent people times. My personality has to have both for me to get done any fruitful planting. So balance can mean spending an entire day or weekend "holed up," followed by spending an entire day or weekend engaged with others. Or it can mean days sprinkled with both. Balance is required no matter its configuration.

2. A penchant for flexibility: I can't be rigid in how I spend my time. I need to be able to react when an opportunity presents itself to connect with someone new. I also need to have the freedom to let it all go when I have to recharge for a day. It is not selfish to do so.

3. Obeying the priority of getting out there no matter how I feel: Obedience to the call should never be ruled by how I feel from one day to the next. I have been sent here to plant a church, and I best be getting after to it one way or the other. Feelings can overwhelm me so I have keep the "prime directive" ever before me when the feelings intrude. Obeying God makes things of worth happen.

4. Grace finds and makes the way:  Even though I am an introvert in a role most attuned to extroverts, I have to rely on grace to make the way ahead right and fruitful. Without grace I will be neutered and impotent no matter how hard I work or clever I am. God's grace creates the opportunity, gives the ability to explore it, and produces any Kingdom result lying hidden within. Grace is an exquisite lubricant and ice cutter.

5. The Holy Spirit guides and enables: Working by the rich means of grace, the Holy Spirit makes alive what is merely latent. The Spirit can take any introvert and make him or her efficacious for the task. It is the Spirit who ultimately makes a way where there appears no way forward, or I am just up to my eyeballs in me and can't do anything.

6. God will use my interiority to his advantage: Introverts tend to think about stuff, even ponder continually the essentials of what he or she is doing. God takes thought and turns it to his use when a person's true heart desires his glory first and foremost. Such desire demands action. While it may be a challenge to leave the place of thought and dreams, the power of God trumps my penchant for living there. He has done so since the beginning of the imagine/Northampton adventure.

Lastly, I realize my introversion will remain in tact until I breathe my last breath. I will need frequent and substantial times-out for the duration. I also understand I have been called to plant this wild-hair dream called imagine/Northampton. There will be all sorts of new people still to engage and draw in. I will feel the dissonance of my introversion often, but I will also feel the Spirit's promptings to go anyway and be of use to the reason I was sent.

My introverted nature "is what it is," as they say. But God is the Master at taking  it" and turning it into" it has become what no one would have imagined."

Introverts get to be a part of such wonders too.

I know because I am a witness.
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