Mar 25, 2010

Being an Introvert in the Church

Some of you know that I am an Introvert.  For people who knew me a long time ago, this may be a surprise because I talked way too much.  But, as my mom will tell you, sometime in Junior High I started talking less and answering questions with no more than 5 words.  This wasn't something I really understood until I was on my internship.  When I was faced with full time ministry, I realized how I function and somethings that might stand in my way.  My energy level is drained after spending time with people and it is replenished after quiet times spent reading and reflecting.  I'm still learning how to balance that so that I can be in ministry.  I learned very quickly on my internship that ministry involves relationships, but I didn't know how I was supposed to live in the balance of personal time and people time.

I also took an online test that I was directed to by my internship mentor and it told me that I was an INTJ.  It's not the real myers-briggs test, but it's pretty good.  Last semester, I took the Myers-briggs test and it confirmed the online test results.  After all this, I was still left with the question of what does that mean for me in ministry.  How does an introvert function in the highly relational world of ministry?  And that's when Lindsay and I saw an add in an IVP magazine for a book.  And I like books.

The book is called Introverts in the Church and it was written by Adam S. McHugh.  And as soon as I could get it from the library I did and I read it. It's a fantastic book.  It raises a lot of good questions for the church and gives hope to all of us who want to be involved in Church and don't know how to do it.  He legitimizes the introverted concerns I have, but also pushes introverts to step out of their comfort zones enough to grow and be stretched.

The fact of the matter is that churches and ministries are often led by and made for extroverts.  Often ministry positions are built for extroverts.  They are made for people who love people and spend all of their time working crowds, talking to strangers, and evangelizing on street corners (ok, so maybe not that last one).  Adam covers all of these topics and works through how introverts can be involved, lead, and even evangelize.  I was highly encouraged by this book and now feel like I do have a place in a society that praises extroverted qualities and thinks introverts to be very strange. I would certainly recommend this for any Christian who finds it hard to be an introvert in an extroverted culture.  Also, extroverted leaders may want to read this to figure out why some people seem so weird.

So, are you an introvert? What have you found to be hard about being an introvert in the church?

Mar 13, 2010

Learning from the past

Like I said in a previous blog, I've been teaching a class with a friend on the "History of Christian Spiritual Practices" which is a long way to say how spiritual disciplines where practiced in different parts of history. It was fun to explore history, and this week, I taught my last class on historical matters (I'm teaching one more, but it's on present day).

I have gained a deeper appreciation for those who have gone before in the faith.  I had the chance to study the time of the early church and the reformation.  Although I was unable to completely due justice to the amount of history I had to cover in one hour, I thoroughly enjoyed teaching and was most moved by what people have done to keep the faith alive and to keep the church pure.

In the early church, men and women risked their lives just to be Christians.  They had to give up a whole way of living just to follow Jesus.  They were not accepted and most of time persecuted by those who did not understand or even hated Christianity.

Oddly enough, the reformation cause Christians to undergo some of the same persecution, but this time it was from the church.  People like Martin Luther tried their hardest to help the church be better.  Luther never intended to leave the church, but help it be what Jesus intended it to be. The church leadership of the day did things that were not moral, and Luther (amongst others) tried to reform the church, eventually he started another church based on the beliefs of scripture.

Although, they were not perfect people, the sought to make the church the best possible.  I am certainly thankful for everyone who has tried to make the church better, because I certainly hope to do the same.

If this interests you, I suggest you go rent (or buy because it's worth it) the movie Luther.  It's a fantastic movie, mostly historical, and very enjoyable.

Mar 9, 2010

Weekend Getaway

It wasn't really a weekend getaway, but the weather was great. Linds and I set out for Louisville, KY with 4 others to check out Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Sunday after church, we left Lincoln, and Dr. Estep drove us to Louisville. The best part was stepping out of the van in Kentucky and it was 61ยบ. We ate at a local restaurant, and then hung out some of Lindsay's friends who attend Southern.

We got up early the next morning, had breakfast,
and wandered around campus for a while. It was a beautiful day. We met at admissions, and they took us to the cafeteria for lunch and then gave us a tour. It was a very beautiful campus and would be a wonderful place to attend. Their library has hundreds of thousands of books. While it is still a ways off. It was a nice look into what might be the future of my education. Like I said previously, I hope to continue my education with in some sort of doctoral program. It might be at Southern, it might not. It was a nice place to visit, and I had a good time.

On the way back, we swung by Southeast Christian Church. It's a really nice church, and we were able to get a quick tour of the church. The have a lot of good things going on their. They are a very successful church and it was a cool to have a sneak peak into some of what goes on during a typical Sunday morning.

That was my adventurous weekend. I hope that your weekend was adventurous as well (or restful, if you needed that).

Mar 2, 2010

February is over.

February always seems like the longest month in the year. Thankfully, it's over. I am thankful because hopefully it will get warmer. This is one of the first winters where I have actively been wanting warmer weather since the end of December. I think it's because this is the first winter where I am paying for my own heating bill.

This has been a short and busy month. Great things are happening however. I'm almost halfway through my second semester of February. I love seminary and love continuing my education which is good because soon I'll switch to a longer degree. Currently I'm only getting a M.A. in Christian Education, but I'm switching to a Masters of Religious Education. In name it sounds the same, but it has twelve more hours added to the degree. Why am I switching? Because I like school. Also, because the longer degree gives me a better set up for continuing my education. I'm looking around, and have nothing even vaguely set in stone, but I would like to pursue a doctoral degree after seminary.

Other than school, I've started teaching. My friend David and I are teaching a class at Jefferson Street Christian Church. We are teaching History of Christian Spiritual Practices. I know, exciting name. We are looking back into history and seeing what Christians in history did to grow closer to God. It started with Jesus as the example of an everyday relationship with God. The we looked at the apostles and church fathers and their emphasis on baptism, communion, and the word of God. It's been exciting, I'll share more about it later, I'm teaching about the reformation a week from tomorrow. I'm learning to appreciate church history and just started reading Church History in Plain Language. I'd recommend this book to just about anyone curious in learning more about church history.

Hope this finds you well. Happy March!