Do you need to be extroverted to plant a church? It would appear to be so – you might envision a dynamic, charismatic and outgoing personality who single-handedly meets, charms and recruits new people to the church. Okay, I exaggerate a little. But I’m an introvert, and some people have asked this very question! I read about a church plant in Durham region almost 50 years ago where the planter visited 1200 families, and recruited enough to build a church. Church planting certainly used to be done this way – is it still?
Introverts are often misunderstood. They are not anti-social, but simply find social interaction takes an input of energy, and needs to be balanced with “recharging” time. Extroverts, on the other hand, may find social interaction gives them energy, and allows them to recharge from the draining experience of doing solitary, introspective or otherwise focused work. Those are the definitions I have heard most.
Both types have effective interactions with others, they are simply experiencing the event differently. An extrovert may have many superficial contacts, but struggle to go deeper in friendship, while an introvert may have few contacts, but is able to focus on the depth of that relationship more easily.
I would propose personality style is of limited importance to planting a church, particularly in a post-Christendom culture. If new churches rely on one leader to form relationships through their own giftedness, they will never grow beyond a few dozen people – an extrovert, no matter how charismatic, can only encounter and maintain relationships with so many people, much less form them into a Christian community. That’s hard for everyone – it pushes both introverts and extroverts to rely not on their personality traits, but to rely on God himself to do something bigger, greater and more impactful. And in today’s post-Christendom context, it’s crucial, because this is about people becoming followers of Jesus in the first place, not simply gathering existing disciples together. It takes time, depth of relationship, and life together – something that pushes both introverts and extroverts outside their comfort zones, and into God’s arms.
What a church planter, whether introverted or extroverted, must do is build equip others to be serving needs, forming community and making disciples wherever they are – at home, at work, at school, etc. The aim is to join and participate in a movement, of followers of Jesus around the world, that grows and multiplies beyond the capacities of any one individual.