Let’s start off with a fact. You can’t change introversion. If you get exhausted being around a group of people (every group of people, not just certain ones), then you’re probably introverted. And introverted is “who” you are – it’s a personality trait that you can’t change on a whim.
However, according to lots of research, shy is a choice. Yes, it’s related, aided, and abetted by introversion, but you can “cure” shy by choice and accountability. Choice because you decide you’re going to overcome it. Accountability because it’s not likely you’ll overcome it without outside help.
What that means is that if you’re a church leader who’s committed to growing your church, then here’s a sample assignment. (Remember, simple≠easy!)
When I coach full-time church planters, I put them on a Five-A-Day plan. For every work day, they must make five new contacts before they can go home for the day.
A contact is defined as someone they have not previously met that they’ve had a conversation with, AND they exchanged contact information with them.
The planter MUST come away with the name and email/text information – otherwise it doesn’t count. If the planter does this, s/he will meet about 100 new people every month. Of those, the planter will make a personal connection (chemistry) with probably ten to fifteen people. If they follow-up and build some level of relationship with those folks, about two will be interested enough in the church to attend. That two a week or 104 in a year. Of those 104, about half will stick … but those fifty people will be excited enough about the church to invite their friends and family so that by the end of the year, if they church’s hospitality and relevance matches these folks, the church will have grown by over 100 people – and perhaps as much as 200.
Of course, if you’re in an established church, Five-A-Day is probably out of reach (full time church planters struggle to meet this assignment every single week). So, halve that number (and round up or down depending on the amount of time you’re out of the office to begin with … but once you’re rolling, round up!).
Then there’s that accountability piece. If you’re going to do this, you’ve GOT to have a coach or an accountability partner (outside of the church). Make your commitment to them and make sure they understand that accountability partners MAKE THE CALL. You’ll need them to reach out to you every week to check on your progress.
Yes, introverts, this is hard. But to be fair, it’s not easy for extroverts either … it’s just easier if they’re doing this in a crowd. There’s a lot of personal pressure (and perhaps external pressure, depending on your theology) to not get out there and meet new people for the sake of the Kingdom. But there it is … it’s a Kingdom Issue. So, make your decision, make your plans, get an accountability partner, and grow your church.