The Introvert Charasmatic

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The Introvert Charasmatic

Post by Aslan_HQ on Tue Feb 17, 2015 11:41 am

The Introvert Charismatic
Aslan speaks with author Mark Tanner about his new book.
Buy ‘The Introvert Charismatic’ on our website for £6.99 (inc. p+p) RRP £8.99

For many introverts, the charismatic church can seem off-putting and even intimidating. There can sometimes seem to be an unwritten assumption that we need to make a to of noise to experience God. In ‘The Introvert Charismatic’ Mark Tanner argues that Introversion is a gift from God.

What was your aim in writing this book?

This book is all about the deep truth that God loves His children more than we can begin to imagine and longs to be involved in our lives more deeply and powerfully than we have begun to comprehend. This is true for each of us, whoever we are.

The trouble is that we perceive this truth through the lens of our experience, and that leads us to some strange assumptions. Often today, one of these ‘strange assumptions’ is that God responds more actively if we behave in an extrovert way as worshippers. Oddly this is the opposite of what has often been assumed, but in reality neither introverts or extroverts are automatically better Christians. Biblically, historically, and logically, we need to challenge such stereotypes, and that’s what I am doing in this book…

… or in simpler terms I am aiming to help introverts benefit from the riches of the charismatic movement and extroverts understand and receive the riches and depth of introverts among them

Would you say there is a correlation between an introvert and what is commonly termed a ‘highly sensitive’ person?

I don’t think that is a very helpful correlation to suggest, if I may be so bold! I guess ‘highly sensitive’ people tend to be introvert as introverts generally have a lower stimulation threshold, but the vast majority of introverts are not ‘highly sensitive’. It is a bit like observing that most cats have four legs, but that does not make my four-legged table a cat!

You can know someone well and not be aware that they are an introvert. Introverts are often sociable, engaged and networked people; it is just that they need to recharge their batteries in the quiet place, and they will engage in a more careful way than many extroverts.

I challenge the question because I am conscious that one of the things we do, even as Christians, is stereotype people and then unconsciously write them off. In the book I introduce you to seven specific introvert charismatics in order to highlight that we are all different!

How can the church provide space and facilitate community for those who are less comfortable in the usual sort of Church social setting?

This is a really important question on so many levels. I discuss it in the book at some length with regard to introverts, however the question is bigger than just personality typing: many people feel uncomfortable when they come into church.

I think the problem is that we assume that we know what people want, and think we know what they need. This is an assumption that relies on people challenging us if we are wrong, and often they can only challenge us if they work their way into a position of trust. If people behave in a more introvert fashion, either because they are actually introvert or because the social setting pushes them towards a more internal response, they will simply vote with their feet.

The church ‘provides space and facilitates community’ by shaping itself as a gracious community centred on the good news of Jesus, and then giving individual and caring attention to all who engage with that community. This can be a tricky balance, but it is shaped by Jesus’ central command to love one another.

Do you think that ’flavours’ of church and personality type tend to go together?

There is a tendency for this to be the case, but it is not a fixed arrangement, and it is not actually helpful. In the book I describe how ‘charismatic’ experience has often been introvert, but charismatic culture today is largely extrovert.
The truth is that Jesus calls all types of people, and we are far richer together than we are in our silos.

Is it possible for the Church to be all things to all people – is it better to accept that certain people are more at home in different sorts of churches?

I don’t think it is about ‘the church being all things’: it is about Jesus pulling together authentic communities of grace within the wider communities of society. Families naturally contain introverts and extroverts, and need to learn to live well together. Businesses, colleges, sports clubs, and most other communities do the same. We do this by allowing a shared culture to evolve, which will often have a ‘feel’ of its own, and then allowing each to engage with the shared culture in a constructive and affirming way.

Every church is a community of those who are responding to Jesus’ extraordinary offer of ‘life in all its fullness’. Each church will feel slightly different, but how can such a community deliberately exclude anyone that Jesus calls? What should the Church be doing to accommodate introverted people?

I know a good book that addresses exactly this subject!

It is not really a question of accommodating introverts, though, any more than we accommodate women, men, ethnic minorities, or children. It is about nurturing other human beings as children of God, whether or not ‘they are like us’. Introverts are integral members of most churches with great gifts to bring.

What should introverted people be doing to adapt themselves to their Church community?

Absolutely nothing at all! Why would an introvert want to ‘adapt themselves’?

Introverts, like everyone else, will continue to grow in their engagement with God, with community, and with others. I explore ways for introverts to engage with more extrovert communities in the book, but this is about growth that enables people to fully inhabit the gift of the way they are created, not about compensating for some kind of disadvantage.

What do you hope people will take away from this book?

I hope that people will be encouraged into a deeper and more authentic faith in Christ, and the freedom of knowing that He calls them just as they are to be more than they ever imagined they could be. I hope that this is a book about freedom, grace, life, hope, and the coming Kingdom of Jesus. I hope that it is a springboard into trust, and that in reading it ideas will be sparked that lead to people reaching out and transforming the world around them one person at a time. That seems to me to be the mark of Jesus at work, and that’s really what this book is about.

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