Last night I had the privilege to share the Gospel with someone. This person is living with me for the summer. Something I like about opening my home is that it can present natural opportunities to share my faith. (My spouse and I have international students live with us for weeks and months at a time.) Street evangelism or sharing Jesus with “strangers” or acquaintances in public does not work well for me. For one, I’m terrible at getting a conversation going in a spiritual direction. If I try to push a conversation that way, it typically ends up contrived, awkward, and nerve wracking! But when someone lives with you in your home, a whole variety of topics can naturally (and more comfortably) arise – spiritual and otherwise.
I envy believers who seem to successfully present the Gospel (or at least have a spiritual discussion) with their seat mate every time they fly on an airplane! The last few times I flew, I decided to attempt conversation with my seat mate but only about everyday things and not Christianity. I thought I needed to practice general conversation, and then perhaps at a future time the practice would help me get a conversation going about Christ. But no, I can’t even get a general conversation going. I’ve tried, and my seat mate makes it clear they want to be left alone and don’t want to chit-chat about anything! (Neither do I actually…)
I’m an introvert so I think that is part of my problem. Although I say problem, I actually don’t see it as a problem anymore! It seems like so many “evangelism methods” are geared towards extroverts, and as an introvert you can feel like a total failure. But I think introverts can be better at other types of evangelism, and our gifts can be overlooked and undervalued.
Introverts tend to be exceptional listeners, and simply being a listening ear for someone can open up doors. Introverts are usually careful and thoughtful thinkers. We don’t like superficial chit-chat (we detest it actually), and are better at in-depth discussion. We can be better at working with people who have deeper concerns. Maybe we have less Gospel sharing opportunities than the average extrovert, but God sends people our way who need more time spent with them and who are pondering serious issues in regards to faith.
I also have the old-fashioned hobby of postal letter writing and write “penpals” (such a juvenile term) from around the USA and world. I’ve had many opportunities to share my Christian faith over the years. This usually happens surprisingly naturally – as letters are exchanged back and forth. Postal communication is wonderful for an introvert as we can carefully and without pressure consider what we want to communicate. (Introverts need more time to think and process things, and can feel terribly pressured by spontaneous conversation.) I think introverts can excel at more indirect communication methods.
Perhaps some would say I am cowardly. I need to have more courage, get out of my comfort zone, trust God, and approach more people directly. Yes, there is some truth in that! We do need to stretch ourselves sometimes. Yet, it seems like only the introverts are expected to do this! How about pressuring extroverts to get involved in introverted evangelism styles?
Stop the superficial chit-chat extroverts! Will you please shut up? Instead of talking with everyone about everything, look for more intimate one-on-one conversational opportunities. Spend several hours in deep conversation with someone. Talk less and listen more. How about picking up a pen and developing a friendship through letter writing? You can do it! Step out of your comfort zone! Don’t you trust God?
(Disclaimer: I’m speaking in generalities to make a point. I realize not all extroverts and introverts are the same. I’m not insinuating that extroverts never have deeper conversations. Etc. But can’t we try to value the gifts of others, instead of making them feel defective and forcing them to try things that are against their natural inclinations?)