… or “charismatic introvert” I suppose. Alongside Susan Cain’s work (“Quiet” – see here for my review) Mark Tanner challenges some of the assumptions and prejudices, that society in general and parts of the Christian church hold, in his book, “The Introvert Charismatic: the gift of introversion in a noisy church” (published by Monarch, 2015). His context is the “Charismatic” church which is generally understood to be where the work and person of the Holy Spirit is given more prominence and there is more emphasis on special, “supernatural” gifts. Worship tends to be busy, loud and overtly joyful and large gatherings are the norm. The settings and activities are ones where extroverts thrive and where introverts struggle – though perhaps not obviously so at first.

Incidentally, I put the word “supernatural” in inverted commas because I would say that any gift from God is arguably ‘supernatural” and that includes gifts and talents which we regard as ‘natural’. I am not making any particular judgement about speaking in tongues or healing or words of knowledge or preaching or administration – all of which are gifts from God, all of which are intended for the benefit of the whole Christian community and all of which need to be exercised and practised with humility and care.

Helpfully Mark Tanner’s book is written for the benefit of both those who would regard themselves as extrovert and those who are introvert. Drawing on Susan Cain’s book he dispels some myths: introverts do like people, they do go to parties, they do speak to large groups of people, they do lead. Where they are different from extroverts is that they find those social encounters draining, whereas  extroverts thrive on them and are energised by them. You may not be able to tell who is an extrovert or introvert at a party but in the car on the way home the one is still talking and the other has gone quiet. He usefully points out that in the Bible there is both extroversion and introversion among God’s leaders – the point is not that one is better than the other but that both are needed if a church is to be healthy.

I was intrigued that he suggested that liturgy, such as Anglican liturgy, can be regarded and used as charismatic worship for introverts. He makes other observations and suggestions too as well as reminding introverts that they need their extrovert brothers and sisters as much as they need them.

Among the resources for introvert charismatics is a website www.introvertcharismatics.org which is a work in progress. I will be interested in seeing how it develops.

Overall four stars or 8 out of 10. This is not a book I expect to re-read or to keep – but there are a few people I would do well to lend it to!

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