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The Introvert Charismatic

Mark Tanner

Mark Tanner

For many introverts, the charismatic church can seem off-putting and even intimidating. There can sometimes seem to be an unwritten assumption that we need to make a to of noise to experience God. In ‘The Introvert Charismatic’ Mark Tanner argues that Introversion is a gift from God.

Buy ‘The Introvert Charismatic’ for just £6.99 (RRP £8.99)

What was your aim in writing this book?

This book is all about the deep truth that God loves His children more than we can begin to imagine and longs to be involved in our lives more deeply and powerfully than we have begun to comprehend. This is true for each of us, whoever we are.

The trouble is that we perceive this truth through the lens of our experience, and that leads us to some strange assumptions. Often today, one of these ‘strange assumptions’ is that God responds more actively if we behave in an extrovert way as worshippers. Oddly this is the opposite of what has often been assumed, but in reality neither introverts or extroverts are automatically better Christians. Biblically, historically, and logically, we need to challenge such stereotypes, and that’s what I am doing in this book…

… or in simpler terms I am aiming to help introverts benefit from the riches of the charismatic movement and extroverts understand and receive the riches and depth of introverts among them.

Buy 'The Introvert Charismatic' for just £6.99 (RRP £8.99)

Buy ‘The Introvert Charismatic’ for just £6.99 (RRP £8.99)

Would you say there is a correlation between an introvert and what is commonly termed a ‘highly sensitive’ person?

I don’t think that is a very helpful correlation to suggest, if I may be so bold! I guess ‘highly sensitive’ people tend to be introvert as introverts generally have a lower stimulation threshold, but the vast majority of introverts are not ‘highly sensitive’. It is a bit like observing that most cats have four legs, but that does not make my four-legged table a cat!

You can know someone well and not be aware that they are an introvert. Introverts are often sociable, engaged and networked people; it is just that they need to recharge their batteries in the quiet place, and they will engage in a more careful way than many extroverts.

I challenge the question because I am conscious that one of the things we do, even as Christians, is stereotype people and then unconsciously write them off. In the book I introduce you to seven specific introvert charismatics in order to highlight that we are all different!

How can the church provide space and facilitate community for those who are less comfortable in the usual sort of Church social setting?

This is a really important question on so many levels. I discuss it in the book at some length with regard to introverts, however the question is bigger than just personality typing: many people feel uncomfortable when they come into church.

I think the problem is that we assume that we know what people want, and think we know what they need. This is an assumption that relies on people challenging us if we are wrong, and often they can only challenge us if they work their way into a position of trust. If people behave in a more introvert fashion, either because they are actually introvert or because the social setting pushes them towards a more internal response, they will simply vote with their feet.

The church ‘provides space and facilitates community’ by shaping itself as a gracious community centred on the good news of Jesus, and then giving individual and caring attention to all who engage with that community. This can be a tricky balance, but it is shaped by Jesus’ central command to love one another.

Do you think that ’flavours’ of church and personality type tend to go together?

There is a tendency for this to be the case, but it is not a fixed arrangement, and it is not actually helpful. In the book I describe how ‘charismatic’ experience has often been introvert, but charismatic culture today is largely extrovert.

The truth is that Jesus calls all types of people, and we are far richer together than we are in our silos.

Is it possible for the Church to be all things to all people – is it better to accept that certain people are more at home in different sorts of churches?

I don’t think it is about ‘the church being all things’: it is about Jesus pulling together authentic communities of grace within the wider communities of society. Families naturally contain introverts and extroverts, and need to learn to live well together. Businesses, colleges, sports clubs, and most other communities do the same. We do this by allowing a shared culture to evolve, which will often have a ‘feel’ of its own, and then allowing each to engage with the shared culture in a constructive and affirming way.

Every church is a community of those who are responding to Jesus’ extraordinary offer of ‘life in all its fullness’. Each church will feel slightly different, but how can such a community deliberately exclude anyone that Jesus calls?

What should the Church be doing to accommodate introverted people?

I know a good book that addresses exactly this subject!

It is not really a question of accommodating introverts, though, any more than we accommodate women, men, ethnic minorities, or children. It is about nurturing other human beings as children of God, whether or not ‘they are like us’. Introverts are integral members of most churches with great gifts to bring.

What should introverted people be doing to adapt themselves to their Church community?

Absolutely nothing at all! Why would an introvert want to ‘adapt themselves’?

Introverts, like everyone else, will continue to grow in their engagement with God, with community, and with others. I explore ways for introverts to engage with more extrovert communities in the book, but this is about growth that enables people to fully inhabit the gift of the way they are created, not about compensating for some kind of disadvantage.

What do you hope people will take away from this book?

I hope that people will be encouraged into a deeper and more authentic faith in Christ, and the freedom of knowing that He calls them just as they are to be more than they ever imagined they could be. I hope that this is a book about freedom, grace, life, hope, and the coming Kingdom of Jesus. I hope that it is a springboard into trust, and that in reading it ideas will be sparked that lead to people reaching out and transforming the world around them one person at a time. That seems to me to be the mark of Jesus at work, and that’s really what this book is about.

Buy ‘The Introvert Charismatic’ for just £6.99 (RRP £8.99)

This week’s bestselling books

Buy 'A Grief Observed' for just £7.99 (RRP £9.99)

Buy ‘A Grief Observed’ for just £7.99 (RRP £9.99)

Something of a change in the bestsellers this week (updated 16th January 2015). The release of a new ‘Readers’ Edition’ of A Grief Observed by C S Lewis has created quite a stir. As well as the raw honesty of Lewis’ thoughts following the death of his wife, this new edition contains short pieces from a wide range of people discussing the impact of the book on their own lives and their own experiences of grief. Former Archbishop Rowan Williams sums up the book,

If the anguish of loss can be lived in (not ‘through’), it must be with a clear recognition of the impossibility of possessing or absorbing the one we love. And for the believer, the deepest ground of such recognition is that they are life-givingly connected with God before and after they are ‘ours’. That there may be a reality and joy which do not depend on my personal joy and truthfulness here and now is a hard doctrine. But if our love is more than self-serving, this is what we are asked to learn. And this is one of the things that Lewis, in this unsparing book, hopes to teach.

You can read more about the book here.

1 A Grief Observed ‘Readers’ Edition’ by C S Lewis (Faber & Faber)
2 In God’s Hands The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book 2015 by Desmond Tutu (Bloomsbury)
3 Cry of Wonder by Gerard W. Hughes (Continuum)
4 Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer by Max Lucado (Thomas Nelson) 
5 Fathomless Riches: Or How I Went from Pop to Pulpit by Richard Coles (W&N) 
6 Cactus Stabbers by Jeff Lucas (CWR) 
7 Vanishing Grace by Philip Yancey (Hodder & Stoughton) 
8
Billy Graham: Candid conversations with a public man
by Sir David Frost (David C Cook)
9 We Make The Road By Walking by Brian D. McLaren (Hodder & Stoughton) 
10 Hilda of Whitby by Ray Simpson (BRF) 

 

 

Approaching Jesus in Lent

Cathy Madavan

Cathy Madavan

Lent has been making a comeback in the Church, and not just in the traditional denominations. To help people navigate this period Cathy Madavan invites the readers of her new book, ‘Approaching Jesus’, to explore many of the people depicted in the Gospel of Matthew and their encounters with Jesus.

Buy ‘Approaching Jesus’ for just £4.49 (RRP £4.99)

Was writing a Lent book different to the other writing you have done?

Writing a Lent guide has been a wonderful and new experience for me. When you are creating a seasonal journey that you know culminates in the events of Easter it naturally shapes everything you write. I loved the fact that I had ample opportunity in this study guide to really explore the subject, to tell stories, to share experiences and to learn something new. I really enjoyed thinking about the creative responses and personal reflections too – I am sure it is these application moments that really root the truth into our life.

Buy 'Approaching Jesus' for just £4.49 (RRP £4.99)

Buy ‘Approaching Jesus’ for just £4.49 (RRP £4.99)

Do you see this book as being used in groups or individually?

When I began writing ‘Approaching Jesus’ I envisaged it as primarily a resource for small groups. But as I explored the individual stories of people who approached Jesus and searched my own heart about my own rather varied, and sometimes messy, attempts at approaching my Saviour, I realised it had the potential to be a very powerful personal reflection as well. Actually, I think the best small group discussions happen when people really engage deeply with the material in their own life and then share out of that – we’ve all had those meetings where people become obsessed with their digestives as they avoid confessing that they have skipped their ‘homework’ again! But it isn’t supposed to be a chore – Lent is an opportunity to prioritise our faith for a particular period of time, both alone and with the people we walk along the road of faith with.

How important is the idea of ‘approaching Jesus’ that you talk about in the book to the Christian life?

It is so important that we identify how and why we approach Jesus in the way that we do. We can learn about him, we can sing about him and we can talk about him but the most important thing we can do is approach him for ourselves. The gospels are full of heart wrenching, inspiring, awkward and challenging situations where people approach Jesus with their own needs and agendas and respond to him in a fascinating array of ways. I learned so much as I explored these accounts  – about myself, but more importantly about Jesus, who continues to surprise and surpass my expectations.

Which of the characters in St Matthew’s Gospel did you most identify with when writing the book?

When I focused on St Matthew’s gospel for this study, I already had certain characters in my mind that I might want to include, but it was Judas that stopped me in my tracks. As I considered more carefully than ever before how somebody so close to Jesus could approach him with a kiss of betrayal, I had to reflect on my own mixed motives and my hidden agendas. We often try to fit Jesus around our own needs, making ourselves the star of the show don’t we? But Jesus’ response was a grace filled enigma. I couldn’t fail to be impacted by all I discovered in this session and I hope others will be too.

Lent seems to made something of a comeback in recent years outside of the Church traditions where you would normally find it. Why do you think this is?

Being a Baptist girl, I have to say that Lent has never been much of a thing for me! But something is definitely changing. Perhaps it is that we are increasingly feeling the need to de-clutter our souls and refocus our spirits as we navigate our busy, colour-coded, diary driven and technology surrounded lives. I know I feel the need more than ever to carve out time to pursue more depth in my life as well as breadth, and Lent is perhaps the most natural and timely part of the year for us to do that. It is wonderful that we can move beyond Christmas and approach Easter with a sense of personal pilgrimage rather than simply focusing on external activity as usual.

What do you hope people take away at the end of using this resource?

I hope and pray that as we reflect together on the variety of people who approached Jesus over 2000 years ago, we will be reminded about how uniquely he cares for each of us. Jesus sees right past our good impressions, our desperate pleas and our clever questions – he knows exactly what is driving us as we come into his presence.  If nothing else at all sinks in, I hope we will each approach Jesus again with more gratitude, love and devotion than ever before knowing that he sees us clearly, loves us completely is always ready to welcome us into his presence.

Buy ‘Approaching Jesus’ for just £4.49 (RRP £4.99)

“God loves everyone, not just the apparently respectable and worthy people”

Una Kroll

Una Kroll

Una Kroll – medical doctor, missionary nun, pioneer of gender equality, Anglican priest, and now a contemplative Catholic – is one of the most outspoken campaigners for the ordination of women. In ‘Bread not Stones’ she reflects on her life and her part in the struggle for the full inclusion of women in the Church’s ministries and mission, with profound reflections revealing an evolving understanding of God as both creative and unconditionally loving.

Buy ‘Bread not Stones’ for £7.99 (RRP £9.99)

How does it feel looking back on such an eventful life here in 2014?

It feels as if all the hard work we had to put in to help change sexist attitudes towards women in Christian Churches and society, and to change negative attitudes to Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people was, and still is, worthwhile.

Do you think they way that the Church deals with failings and sin has changed over the course of your life and ministry?

Yes. They talk less about hell for those who die without repentance for deliberate grave sin and more about God ‘s merciful love and forgiveness

Buy 'Bread not Stones' for just £7.99 (RRP £9.99)

Buy ‘Bread not Stones’ for just £7.99 (RRP £9.99)

It seems the religious vocational life is a shrinking part of the Anglican Church ­ what can be done to revitalise it (if anything should be done)?

No it’s not shrinking, but it is changing. There are now many groups of religious disciples with a common purpose and a life in permanent, temporary or dispersed communities but they include married people as well as those who remain single to the advantage of the whole group. Rules are less formal and many such groups live in small family type homes for most of the time while gathering together at intervals for important policy decisions.

Do you see orthodoxy and being part of the wider catholic church as an essential element of Anglicanism?

I see unity between people of differing beliefs and practices to be an essential feature of Anglicanism, but it is a unity that embraces difference rather than strict conformity. I also hope that we can learn from the spiritual riches of Catholics, Orthodox groups and Nonconformist churches and use them in our Anglican Communion. We seem to be losing our unity in diversity in the Anglican Churches and I deeply regret that.

What work do you see is left to do in the cause of gender equality in the Church?

There is still a lot to be done to educate people about what it means to be a human being and what we all have in common rather than emphasising the differences between people’s sexual identity and gender inclinations.

What do you hope people take away from this book?

I have tried to be honest and open in Bread Not Stones, the book I have written, about the many mistakes and changes of direction I have made in my eventful life, as many people do, but I want to show that God, in whom I believe, loves everyone, not just the apparently respectable and worthy people. God can use us to share that gift of the Love that brought us into being.

Buy ‘Bread not Stones’ for £7.99 (RRP £9.99)