7 Tips for Introvert Church Planters

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Church planters come in all shapes, sizes, and personality types. In the early days of planting our church, I read books upon books on the subject. A few of them attempted to describe the type of person who plants churches. The emphasis was upon their personality which leaned hard toward extrovert.

One of the books listed four basic types of church planters and intimated that the introverted person would be “least likely to succeed”. In similar fashion, some have tried to pigeon-hole certain strengths on the Strength Finders scale as “church planter” material. Personally, I am a strong I on the introvert scale and I possess none of the so-called church planter strengths.

As an introvert, sometimes I do wish I had the energy of my extrovert colleagues, but that is not how God created me. However, He did call me and equip me for such a task as this. My guess is God has called other introverts to plant churches as well. Here are seven tips I have found helpful in planting a church.

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Schedule your people time

The introvert/extrovert personality trait is not about liking or disliking people. It is about how you spend your energy. Introverts spend energy when they are with people. Extroverts acquire energy when they are with people. Therefore, schedule your time with people in a way that you can afford to spend your energy. If you know you are going to spend a few hours with a group of people, then you need to take extra time alone to acquire the energy you need to spend.

I try very hard not to spend Saturday evenings out late with people. I know I will need that energy for Sunday morning. On the occasions when I need to be with people on Saturday evenings, I plan some alone or study time before hand.

Do tag-team outreach

Be intentional about your outreach teams. When we plan outreach events, I try to pair myself up with an extrovert. An extrovert helps me when I run out of small talk topics. They also enjoy talking which gives me a break and allows me to do what introverts do best: listen.

Create a list of conversation starters

One of the fastest ways to drain your energy is with small talk. Most of us introverts cannot talk trivia for very long. We do well with deep conversations and often find those energizing. I have created a list of conversation starters for different situations.

I have written out things I might say in common situations. For example, I have a list of different ways to introduce myself to new guests on Sunday morning. These are limited to 3-4 sentences/questions which I use repeatedly. These are new guests. They have no idea I use the same conversation starters with everyone.

I also have a list of questions to open up discussion. I use open-ended questions, rather than yes or no. If I can get them talking about themselves, then I am succeeding.

Establish a pattern

I hate talking to strangers. Most introverts do. I was recently at a conference with one of our church leaders who happens to be an extrovert (see tag-team above). We were there maybe five minutes and she was in a full blown conversation with someone she had never met. I think they had exchanged phone numbers within ten minutes of the conversation. Dear introvert, it’s not going to happen for us!

Instead, I have established patterns and routines that put me in places where people will approach me instead of me approaching them. All I have to do is smile and be approachable. Once I have established a pattern, I begin to feel more comfortable approaching them as well.

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Utilize social media

If you’re an introvert and you’re not using social media…what is wrong with you? Social media is an introvert’s dream come true! You can connect with multiple people while actually accruing energy. Social media, email, and texting should be your top priority for communicating.

I also utilize sending notes and cards. People don’t send notes and cards anymore. Here you have an opportunity to touch someone in a unique way and it doesn’t require the energy level of a face-to-face conversation. Also, you can do it when you are thinking about the person. It lets them know they were on your mind.

Prayer

As an introvert church planter, prayer has been a great resource. All church planters should be pray-ers. But more specifically, it’s what I pray for. When I spend time praying for specific people, God prepares their hearts for deeper conversation and introverts thrive on deep conversation.

In addition, I pray for God to bring people to me. I continually ask God to put people in my path who have a desire to know more about Him. One time I had been praying specifically for God to put a person in my path that day. In the afternoon, I went to the chiropractor. It was a new doctor and he knew very little about me. But, after the adjustment, he sat down and started asking me questions about God and faith.

Be patient and persistent 

Extroverted church planters do typically have quicker results in reaching others. They like to talk and the more they are around people, the more energy they have to spend with people. Dear introvert, you have gifts and grace too. You have something to offer your community. You have faith, persistence, and a listening ear. Be patient with yourself and patient with the call. God has a plan to reach this world and it includes introverted church planters.

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How to Pray the Lord’s Prayer

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We recently started a new sermon series on the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6). We are taking each verse of the prayer and breaking it down. Jesus gave us this prayer as a model. In the section preceding this prayer, Jesus tells His disciples that if they want to experience the Kingdom of Heaven in their lives, then their righteousness needs to surpass that of the Pharisees. Then He says, “pray like this…”

Our Father, who is in heaven; hallowed be Your Name

Sermon summary? We talked about how God is both familiar and holy Other. We want to find the balance in our prayers and recognize this about God.

Your Kingdom come: Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven

Sermon summary? We said to pray “Your Kingdom come” is a dangerous prayer. Be ready for what God has planned next.

This week:

Give us this day our daily bread

We understand that when we pray for our “daily bread” we are really asking for God’s provision. It’s going to be about more than food.

We hope you will join us Sunday at 11am. In the meantime, you can listen to podcasts here.

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A Little Encouragement Goes a Long Way

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The idea came to us four years ago during the recession. Michigan was hit hard and we were stranded in the Top Ten states for unemployment. The State kept cutting the education budget, laying off teachers, and privatizing multiple segments of the education system. It was rough. It was discouraging. It was affecting our kids.

As a small church, there wasn’t much we could do other than pray for God to put an end to the recession. People in our congregation and our community were complaining about the decisions government were making. The public schools had their hands tied, and teachers were the most discouraged of all.

Then we had a thought. A divinely inspired moment. What if we could lift the morale of even one school? What if we could encourage teachers in our community? We could express our concern in a tangible way. We could help teachers help their students.

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There are many non-profits and churches who hold school supply drives each year. We commend them and we see the need. However, in our community, we saw a need behind the need. We saw teachers who needed to be empowered. They were beaten up and run down, and no one was telling them they were important. No one reminded them they were making a difference.  They were preparing to start the school year with a budget deficit as well as a deficit of resolve. So we resolved to establish a school supply closet just for them.

We had a nominal relationship with a local upper elementary school. So we contacted the social worker there and told her of our idea. The first year we delivered several boxes of school supplies, tissues,and hand sanitizer. I sat down to write each teacher a note telling them how much they were appreciated and committed to pray for them throughout the year. We also included a $5 coffee gift card for their first day of school.

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The social worker, who was a Christian, greeted us and thanked us profusely. She was so precious! We had hoped to meet the teachers and talk with them. Nothing. No response…until 5 months into the school year. I received a thank you note from one of the teachers with a request to come and read to her class.

The following year we contacted the school again. Now they were excited. I think perhaps they wondered if we were serious; if we were trustworthy. If you want people to trust you, then you have to be trustworthy. And trust requires two things: time and consistency.

So the second year they gave us a list of their ten most needed items. We delivered several boxes of those ten items along with 25 handwritten notes and $5 coffee gift cards. One month later I received a thank you note and a request to come read to a class.

The third year they gave us a list of their ten most need items. But they emphasized how much they needed backpacks. So we delivered 30 backpacks along with several boxes of school supplies and 25 handwritten notes with $5 coffee gift cards. A week later the social worker called me. One of their families had lost a parent over the summer. Our school supplies provided everything they needed for the entire year for that family. It was the best thank you note ever!

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We are getting ready for our fourth school supply drive for Cooper Elementary. I am writing notes and buying coffee gift cards. And our bin in the church lobby is filling up. One of our families called to tell me their place of business wants to participate. They are donating a case of backpacks and school supplies. We are praying for so much stuff that it overflows! We want to bless an additional school in our community. We want to encourage more teachers and students. We want to be a church who is relevant in their neighborhood. And, most importantly, we want to be a church who is trustworthy!

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