Here is the thing: both the extrovert and the introvert are necessary. Let me repeat, BOTH ARE NECESSARY.
Each “-version” brings something to the table, but can’t be all things to all people. That is where the other “-version” comes in. When both “-versions” work together under the direction of God, we are more likely to reach more people in more states of need than either “-version” alone.
The role of extroversion in the body of Christ is obvious. From extroverted church activities, we get passion, energy, activity, outreach, group bonding. Extroversion interacts spontaneously with all sorts of people in all sorts of situations. Extroversion is obvious, gregarious, enthusiastic, hearty.
But without introversion in the church, extroversion (not meaning extroverts themselves, I mean extroversion in the church) can become noisy, shallow, wandering. The church can mistake busyness for spirituality. Extroversion can sometimes lose the holy in the energised.
Now, in an extroverted society, including the church, it can be difficult to see the use of the quiet, slower, careful, introspective, few vs many, contemplative, introvert. Let’s explore the usefulness, though, of the introvert in the body of Christ.
We bring Quiet
-The Lord Jesus often retired to lonely places to pray. There is incredible worth in taking time to just be with God. Just the two of you. God and son, Creator and created, in sweet communion. Quiet thought is our natural state.
-There are times when quiet is necessary. The ill patient, the struggling mourner, the autistic child, the subdued elderly worshiper…all of these benefit from someone who understands the value of just sitting still.
-There are blessings that can only be viewed from a place of stillness: the sound of birds, the wordless communion with a friend, the sleeping baby.
-There are talents and gifts from and to the Lord that can only be cultivated in quiet: the composed concerto, the prophetic artist, the faithful scientist discovering another part of the Lord’s work in creation.
We bring the concept of Rest
-The Lord demonstrated the power of rest in the Sabbath. Humans are not God, we need rest even more. The eager, active extrovert can sometimes run themselves into the ground without knowing it, either out of guilt (because if they rest, they are not “doing something”) or enthusiasm. Though introverted minds are often going 99 miles an hour, the outward appearance of a resting introvert is calm.
-Stress is endemic, and in fact, many pastors quit because of stress. While the American ethos is active work (which is good), society has piled on constant judgment and scrutiny. It is no longer enough to merely work hard, now you have to have rock hard abs (or a size 2 dress). Men and women alike have to do the same complicated dance, only now backward and in heels. People. Need. Rest. The introvert’s love of quiet contemplation means that the body is still, can recover.
We bring Carefulness
-The introvert processes things slowly. Time spent thinking and understanding is time well spent. The careful introvert can be a good radar for the body of Christ to prevent mismanagement of time, money, people.
We bring Introspection
-We are all sinners. We have a sinful nature. Without taking time to analyze our failings, we cannot even begin to understand the mercy of God. If our time is spent doing without careful introspection, we can use our calendar and checklists for “I was a good boy today, I got a lot of things done”. We can miss tending the garden of our minds, hearts, spirits. We can miss facing our own poverty because our lists say we have done well, even if our intentions were impure. Introverts are generally fluent in introspection (though they may not always use their powers for good), and the example and teaching of a scriptural introvert can help the extrovert hone their own spirits and hearts.
We can minister to the Few or the One
-While extroverts are often focused on the big picture, there is much ministry, healing, and support that needs to be taken one on one or few on one. It is a beautiful thing to have the extroverted part of the church sweep through like a cloud of brilliant light and song, introducing many to the Lord, then have the introverted part of the church take care of the singular needs, the counseling, the mentoring, the “I need to talk with someone who will give me space to process”. Introverts have the time, space, and differing type of energy that is naturally suited to developing the deep communication needed to help others walk through their own salvation and healing through Jesus.
We bring Contemplation
-As we are to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, minds, strength. Extroverts are amazing at physical, strong, openly passionate worship. The introvert, though, through our constant internal processing and time we enjoy devoting to studying, can help the body of Christ learn how to love the Lord with the mind, how to understand and avoid the thought processes that lead to sin.
It is like this: we might marry a fabulous spouse and love going everywhere and doing everything with them. We enjoy working together to a common goal that is just out of our reach.
That is often the case with extroverted worship. We love the Lord and love doing things with Him and for Him. We love introducing Him to others. That is awesome.
But sometimes we need to focus on our spouse. We need to learn their personality, wants, needs, communication. We need to learn to love THEM not just love others with them.
So we introverts have the specific type of bandwidth to take the time to research Hebrew roots and focus on His hand, sift out erroneous information that flows through society and the internet, and provide the tools for people to worship the Lord more fully with a quiet and contemplative mind.
As you can see, both the extrovert and the introvert have incredible roles in the body of Christ. In fact, if you look at the gifts of the Spirit, there are many that can be drawn along “-version” lines. Of course, it would be in complete error to say “All apostles are to be extroverts, all administrators are to be introverts” (ahem). The Lord, in His mystery and perfection, often calls people to stretch and reach so they must trust in Him.
(Speaking of Jesus, He both taught the masses and sat down with the ones. He attended parties and withdrew to pray. He was not “extrovert” or “introvert”, in my opinion, but rather understood and embodied the best of both.)
However, sometimes He has made people to fill the exact role He has for them. Some more “natural” alignings for the extrovert might be mercy, hospitality, apostle. Some more “natural” alignings for the introvert might be teacher, intercessor, benefactress.
In any case, the concept that the body of Christ has no use for introverts and that introversion is detrimental to the development of the body is false. Just as the fingers need the opposable thumb, just as the general needs the medic, just as the husband needs the wife, so too do the extroverts need the introverts and vice versa. When we pool our differing mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual resources, we make one complete body in Christ.