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“Extroverts and Introverts in the Church”: Jo Amey

Will you help Jo Amey by filling in her survey on whether our personality types affect our choice of worship style?

About me

My name is Jo and since 2007 I have been on the Foundation Degree in Ministry offered by Oxford Brookes University through the Diocese of Salisbury’s Learning for Discipleship Programme.

Extroverts and Introverts in church

For my final project I am analysing whether our personality types affect our choice of worship style.  Are charismatic churches full of bubbly extroverts?  Are introverts sitting silently in the back pews at Evensong?   Are these just stereotypes?

There are many things that baffle me about church.  Even after being a Christian for thirty years, or especially after being a Christian for thirty years.  One of them is the different approaches people have to worshipping the same God we all seek to follow faithfully.

Have you ever sat at the back of a charismatic meeting wondering why everyone else is wildly jumping and shouting and keeling over to the glory of God?  Have you ever sat in the third pew from the back in an Anglo-Catholic Eucharist wondering why people are carrying candles about, bowing in odd places and then worrying about the right time to stand, sit and turn around?   I have.

During my time on the Learning for Discipleship course I have met people from many different strands of Anglicanism which differed from my own experience.  I found that one of the deepest areas of mutual non-comprehension was that of worship style.    It started to interest me.

One of my fellow students remarked  ‘I went to a service at the Church of ….  I would never have known I was in an Anglican church at all!’   As I know that the style of this church is close to my own,  I was astounded to discover that there were people, quite normal people apparently, who regarded my own familiar worship experience as something  odd and  not typical.

I also became interested in personality types, especially after reading ‘Introverts in the Church: Finding our Place in an Extroverted Culture’ by Adam S McHugh.   He questions how much of our church experience is based around culture rather than the kingdom of God.  As a minister in the USA his church culture may differ from ours in the UK but he still raises some pertinent questions.

He challenges the assumption that extroversion automatically a valuable characteristic in a minister and that introversion is a handicap to be overcome.

So I thought it would perhaps be a fruitful area of study to see if introverts and extroverts differ in their choice of worship.  After all it could explain a lot … Are those frenetically  exuberant charismatics all expressive extroverts?   Are introverts sneaking into the back pew at Cathedral Evensong and slipping away before the end of the service so they don’t have to socialise? Are these just unhelpful and extreme stereotypes?

I have devised a cunning plan to help me find out in the form of a short survey.  The more people who take part, the more chance I have of finding out if there is a bias or if I’m barking up the wrong tree.  But I’m hoping it will add to our understanding of each other in some small way at least.

After all, one day the wolf will dwell with the lamb, the leopard with the kid, the introvert with the extrovert  …

What I would like you to do

Please complete the survey (powered by Survey Monkey)  here .

Your personal contact details are not collected. You don’t have to download a programme. There are ten questions which you can answer as briefly or expansively as you like.

Your comments may be quoted in the final assignment but I won’t know who said them. If you don’t want this to happen, then add ‘DNQ’ to your comment.

Ways We Worship: online presence

You may also like to have a look at my blog, ‘Ways We Worship’ or my Facebook page Ways We Worship.

8 comments on this post:

Ann said...

Too bad there is no category for those who do not identify as male or female

Wendy said...

Have filled out the survey!

Joyce said...

I filled it in too. I noticed there wasn’t a question about whether one had transport.
Personality is not applicable without the ability to travel to a church where the worship style appeals if the local parish church’s doesn’t.Generally speaking it’s only people with a car – or very generous lift-givers – who have a choice of worship style. One has to be very fortunate to live where the bus service is helpful,especially on a Sunday. I know the questionaire was about preferences rather than availability of choice but if one can’t get around easily on a Sunday there isn’t the opportunity to discover what other worship styles are available. Most places are not as good as Oxford for buses nor for the number of churches.

09 December 2012 22:00
09 December 2012 12:31
08 December 2012 17:59
Jo said...

Thanks to everyone who’s completed the survey. The response has been fantastic!
Ann – thanks for pointing that out. I will bear it in mind for the future.
Joyce – the type of survey I used was limited to ten questions so had to miss out some very valid issues such as accessability. For this survey the idea would be to look at your personal choice, even if current circumstances make it impractical.

Joyce said...

Jo,I guessed it was limited and you couldn’t ask everything. Perhaps when you’re writing it all up,however, you could point out that nobody can like anything,whether it is a food item,a cinema film or a DVD, unless there is the opportunity to discover it exists. And such a discovery requires the ability to explore.
Think of all the people who are taken by surprise when well into adult life they encounter a style of church service they’ve not come across before. There must be many more who’ve not yet had that chance. The questionnaire was about personal preferences rather than availability of choice but the relevance of the transport position is that if one can’t get around easily on a Sunday there isn’t a way to find out what different worship styles are available and then like one. It is not merely an issue of accessibility. I can see you’re somewhat restricted by the ten-question rule which doesn’t let you ask of what worship-styles the responder is aware,nor whether preferences have changed over time, so you needed to assume such awareness,bearing in mind who would be answering,and continuity of preference. Unawareness applies particularly to churches in this country,considering where they tend to be situated and that they’re open once or twice a week if that. In Britain it’s possible to live in a large residential area of a city where not only is there no supermarket,butcher’s or greengrocer’s, but what goes on in the church in the adjoining parish is entirely unknown. We could be of the personality-type that would like ‘happy clappy’ services,for instance, but if we didn’t know such services existed we couldn’t prefer them wherever they went on. As an example of what I mean, I once told a friend I wished the food scientists would invent spreadable butter. I could have torn my hair when she told me it was already available and she’d been buying it for years.I had no way of knowing that fact until I was told.
Good luck with the project. Hope you get an A. Don’t forget to let us know.

Jo said...

Thanks Joyce for raising these points. I guess the impact of modern transport on the church would be worth a whole study in itself.

15 December 2012 21:42
12 December 2012 17:02
10 December 2012 22:37
Julie said...

Hope that I was not too late! Best wishes with your studies.

11 December 2012 16:26
Jo said...

Thanks Julie. I will not start collating until Dec 18th so still time.

11 December 2012 18:38

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