Last night my church held its annual Christmas dinner and, as always, we had a good time. At one point one of our members announced that he had been asked to organize an “ice breaker” game for us to play. I chuckled at his comment that “Since we all know each other I’m not sure why we need an ice-breaker.” But I also applauded the way he gamely carried out his assignment with diligence.
I’ve never been a fan of ice-breakers at parties. I’ve always felt that they are essentially a method used by extroverts to force introverts into playing high-intensity interactive games. The premise behind this need of theirs is that they cannot comprehend how we introverts could possibly be happy sitting with a group of friends saying next to nothing. Secure in this belief, they take it on themselves to require our participation in games that they know in their hearts we will enjoy once they force us to get up and join in.
In any event, thanks to the leader of the game, we managed to pull off the ice-breaker without bloodshed or serious complications. The extroverts in our crowd enjoyed it immensely and we introverts knew enough to pretend that we did too. All in all, it went well.
I was thinking about that game later in the evening and it got me to thinking about evangelism. Some might say that I shouldn’t have been lost in thought while we were all having fun with a hilarious white elephant gift exchange. In actuality however, I was having a good time at the gift exchange as, for the most part, all I had to do was sit and watch the action. It gave me enough time to rise the level of introverted enjoyment of the exchange and, at the same time, think of something else. What could be better?
But it occurred to me that evangelism, as it is preached and pushed in evangelical churches, is also an extroverts game. There are dozens of methodologies and formulas on how to initiate a presentation of the Gospel, each one promising that if we follow their sure-fire rules we will be thrilled with the success we have in reaching the lost for Christ. In essence, the rules of evangelism seem to be written for extroverts or people willing to act like extroverts in the name of Jesus.
It leaves me with a puzzle. If those are the rules, why does God keep making so many introverts? Why does He keep cranking out people who would rather have a root canal than approach a total stranger and start a confrontational conversation? Or people who cherish their private relationships and don’t feel comfortable forcing their friends to hear periodic exhortations to repent? Why are there people who are quiet and caring but don’t see quiet care as a tool for the real goal of evangelism?
Is God screwing up by making introverts? Or are introverts a product of the fall? Or does “spiritual growth” for an introvert come down to learning how to be an extrovert? I don’t know. I have this feeling that someday I am going to find a book called “Evangelism for Introverts, a guide to help you overcome your shyness and be a powerhouse for Jesus.” Maybe it is already out there. If you know such a book, let me know.