On Microwaves and Crock pots: Relationships in the Church

I'd like to elaborate upon something I noted in my last post about the place of introverts in the church. Specifically, I said that introverts were very relational, but not very sociable.

What, exactly, did I mean?

A few things. First, introverts love people and crave relationships. They just don't like socializing with strangers. In this, introverts might (and often do) have deeper and more intimate relationships than an extrovert. Introverts don't collect friends. But they do work really hard on the ones they have. Our time, relationally speaking, is limited. We can spread ourselves thinly across many relationships in the Facebookification of friendship. Or we can spend a lot of time on very few people. Introverts tend to do the latter.

The problem with sociable churches is they they tend to think "deep relationship" can be microwaved in fast, intense "sharing" experiences during church or bible class. But deep relationships tend to need crock pots. And introverts make excellent crock pots.

In short, the relationships at church should be built upon friendships. And these take time. You can't microwave friendships into existence with artificial "sharing" experiences in church. You shouldn't tell people to turn to their neighbor and ask, "How is your spiritual life doing?" These interventions are well-intentioned, but they are the fast-food equivalent of true friendship. The key to Kingdom relationships is crock pot friendship, not socializing or microwaved intimacy.

(My thoughts about friendship were triggered by this wonderful post by Brad East.)

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4 thoughts on “On Microwaves and Crock pots: Relationships in the Church”

  1. I agree totally with your point and love your microwave vs. crockpot analogy.

    One of the gifts of extroversion is to relate to other people quickly. When people come into a church (or any other community) for the first time, they need to feel welcome. So does someone coming to a homeless shelter. That's where we need to exercise extroversion. The challenge to extroverts is to understand that this is not the end but the beginning, just as introverts may need to practice extroversion so that they can plant seeds that grow into full friendships.

  2. Great post. I recognize myself in your introvert description. It's nice to see acknowledgment that we have deep relationships even if we're not as comfortable in groups. My main problem with "microwaved" instant intimacy is that it pays too little attention to safe relational boundaries, which is especially important when you're dealing with something as sensitive and fundamental as a person's spiritual life. Power imbalances go unacknowledged when everyone's supposed to be instant pals. This has left me disillusioned with the "small groups" so beloved by evangelical churches, which can quickly turn into group therapy by amateurs.

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