Introverts wanted: There’s a place for you in church planting
By Tohru Inoue | Ethiopia in East Africa
Photos by Steve Bennetsen
In my late teens, when I was new in my faith and didn’t know myself, I thought I would be a preacher among least reached groups in the world. That felt like a reasonable expectation for a young man who had just found Jesus and was excited about serving him.
Christians, I imagined, always had something to say, no matter what the occasion. And I interpreted that as having to be extroverted. So, I spoke in front of people, I talked to strangers at book tables, and kept it all up for a number of years. But it was exhausting. And it was disappointing that I didn’t feel like I quite fitted the mould. Many years of soul-searching and self-reflection later, I can safely and happily say I'm an introvert.
As I became better acquainted with myself over the years, I grew more comfortable leaning into my introverted self. This is how God made me. I don’t need to be the one up front all the time. In fact, being round back suits me just fine. I grew to understand that it wasn’t an abdication of my purpose but a fulfillment of it.
I know that I’m not alone. I’ve met many similar introverts doing mission work. They would rather not present during team meetings, but watch them with a patient in the clinic! They would rather not speak at functions, but you should see how they encourage their peers. Don’t ask them to speak in front of a large audience, but watch them open up a Bible in a small group and give it all they’ve got. They have an intense love of people; they just don’t enjoy being in front of the crowd.
They’d rather be behind the scenes, drawing the curtains for the actors, dimming the lights at the end of a scene, helping with costume changes and set design. Theirs is the pleasure of quietly supporting the work of the actors who, in turn, deliver the important lines.
And that's what the SIM team in Ethiopia is looking for, particularly the Barnabas Equipping ministry. They aim to motivate and equip believers in Ethiopian churches to move beyond fear of Muslims towards love. There are churches in Ethiopia that are surrounded by communities where Christ is not known. People on the church’s doorstep come and go without a meaningful presentation of the gospel. The team in Ethiopia is not only looking for people to be preaching out in the open air to the masses. They are looking for people who will walk the quiet road of discipling within the church. They’re looking for people who will invest their time building up others one-on-one, many of whom may head out into a crowd for evangelism or carry on the cycle of discipleship.
You don’t have to be up front. All that meaningful investment with a few people behind the scenes may not be seen. But that’s never been your concern really. Because in the quiet way in which you function, you too find the fulfillment of your purpose.
There was a place for someone like me. There’s a place for people like you. In fact, we need you. People like you who we’ll never see on stage but who will have spent long hours behind the curtains doing what you were made to do ...
Serve with us
Are you an introvert who's ready to serve off stage? Find out more about the Barnabas Equipping ministry working with churches. Contact us today!
- For more introverts with the skills in discipleship to walk alongside our brothers from Ethiopia.