I am reposting a lightly edited version of my 2010 review because the Kindle Edition is on sale for $2.99. This is the first time the book has been on sale since 2013 according to ereaderiq’s price history.
Summary: A look at how the church needs introverts and how introverts can survive the church.
Some books have important ideas but others books are important for a more personal reason. I do think this is an important book, but it is also one that even early on really is causing me to think about my own Christian life. Hello world, I am an introvert. I have been identifying more and more introverted tendencies in my life over the past few years.
The author starts by showing examples of how United States (and in general western culture) and particularly Evangelical culture is oriented toward extroverts. He gives many examples about how participation oriented US churches are extroverted (and why introverts often resist the strong participatory oriented focus.)
One of the strongest points of the book is how much the author relies on his own story and the stories of a large number of people interviewed for the book. The real stories give the book weight that would not be the case with just statistics. On the negative side, I think that for some extroverts and even some mild introverts the stories will occasionally seem like complaining. But that is at least part of the point. Different people have different tolerances for different activities and they are made by God to be that way.
A lot of time is spent talking directly to introverts about how to be more balanced and how to much introverts need community and particularly the church. So McHugh isn’t trying to say that people should just be in there comfort zone and be left alone. Part of his call is to recognize what is lost in the church when it is so extroverted. He suggests that the deeper thought (Mark Noll, George Marsden and many others have written about), the intentional communities (the New Monasticism movement, Christian Community Development Association are some examples), and the focus on spiritual disciplines (Richard Foster and others) are just some of the roles of the Church (big c) that get lost when the focus is too strongly focused toward the extroverted.
I will say that he seems to over play the case occasionally, and I think many of the traits that he attributes to introverts are not widely held by introverts, but I think this is an important and transformational book, at least for me.
I also think this is a useful book for non-introvert church leaders to read to help understand how their (God created) extroverted nature may be alienating some of their introverted sisters and brothers in Christ.