How does your personality affect the way you worship? Part 2: Extroverts
God made us all uniquely, yet amazingly there are other people who identify with us in certain areas!
Last time I shared about how whether we identify more with being introverts or extroverts can influence the way we worship God. If you missed it, you may like to read that article first, especially if you are unclear by what I mean by being an introvert or extrovert.
Let me just start by saying I am not an extrovert. I am married to an extrovert, I have family members who are extroverts and close friends who are extroverts. Understanding the differences between them and me on the introvert / extrovert spectrum has been really helpful in understanding, supporting and loving one another, as well as understanding why I am not weird to prefer the idea of spending an evening in by myself reading a book rather than going to a big party!
This post is not about trying to box people in, or create two camps of people, or suggest that we set up introvert and extrovert churches (although you probably will find more of either extroverts or introverts in churches which cater more an introvert/extrovert style of worship), rather it is to look at how we are different in order to understand one another and then encourage one another to fullness in Christ. Please take what is helpful and leave what is not!
Gathered worship and the extrovert:
Extroverts love connecting with other people to worship God, so gathered worship is often the easiest place for an extrovert to worship God. Extroverts are happiest in settings where people are obviously worshipping God together. They often enjoy times of worship that are louder and have an external sense of movement in them (that is, the music propels them forward with others.) They are often enthusiastic and passionate in worship and readily desiring to participate.
Struggles for the extrovert in gathered worship:
Because the extrovert lives in an external world, they like to externally experience worship. Whether it be physically getting involved in worship by dancing, kneeling, raising hands, singing loudly or just enjoying worshipping in the presence of other people, extroverts want to feel connected with the body of Christ in their worship of God. If an extrovert is in the presence of many introverted people who are reluctant to participate externally, then it can be hard for an extrovert to feel that gathered corporate worship is actually taking place. Forms of worship which encourage internal reflection or periods of silence are more difficult for an extrovert, who may struggle to internally process their thoughts. They may also struggle with holding back or not contributing to any open opportunities to participate, feeling a need to share their testimony, start that song or pray as quickly as possible. They often struggle with silence and feel a need to fill those gaps with other things.
What can extroverts teach introverts in gathered worship times?
Extroverts are usually more comfortable in public gatherings than introverts and thrive in interaction with others. They have many things they can bring to gathered worship and to encourage introverts:
- They are often more spontaneous and feel freer to worship and can bring a childlikeness to worship times.
- Extroverts often think things through by talking instead of processing ideas internally before they express themselves. Consequently their worship can be more unprocessed and uncensored. They can teach introverts to be less fearful about it being ‘right’ before something is expressed.
- They are often great encouragers and celebrators and can encourage introverts to participate and be more exuberant and open in their worship, bringing a sense of community and unity to worship.
Considering extroverts in times of corporate worship:
Being aware that people engage with God in worship in different ways is healthy and helpful. Extroverts may find it hard to dive straight into times of reflection. Starting worship times with expressive worship and praise (see the article on the importance of praise for everyone, not just extroverts here), and even asking people to move around the worship space can be helpful - whether, that be, for example, in expressive forms of worship like dance, kneeling, raising of hands; by greeting others or moving around for a specific purpose like laying down a burden at the cross or lighting a candle.
During times of quiet reflection extroverts may find external stimuli really helpful, for example slides of God's creation, the names of God or another relevant theme. Music can also be helpful. Allowing them the freedom to journal or draw during times of reflection by either creating a culture where that is normal or providing materials as part of the worship preparation can help extroverts engage more fully with times of silence and reflection.
Defining sections in worship times for sharing thoughts, scriptures and testimonies is very important for extroverts to have times to process and to give them a sense of the body's shared experience. Hearing from introverts about their experiences of times of reflection and what they are experiencing when sat down quietly during sung worship can help promote a sense of connectedness and shared experience and will add a richness to their own experience as they understand their introverted brothers and sisters more.
Struggles and preferences are not excuses to remain stuck in our ways. Worship by definition should be Jesus-centred and a laying down of ourselves. Whilst we all have preferences in worship and things which naturally help us engage in worship, it is by understanding and engaging with different ways of worship that we grow and become more fully like Christ.
What do you think? Are you an introvert or an extrovert? How do you think that influences the way you engage with worship? How have people who worship differently from you helped you engage more fully with worshipping Christ?
This pair of blogposts on introverts and extroverts in worship was based on a conversation I had with Myers-Briggs personality consultants Sharon Earl and Jacolien Van der Steenhoven. They work with individuals, couples and teams in church and non-church contexts to help them understand themselves and others better and to facilitate communication. They are available for online as well as in person consultation. To find out more or contact them please check out their websites (they offer free online taster sessions!):
or find them on Facebook.
Make sure you check out the blog section too for some interesting articles.