introverts in weird places (& similar implications of backwards college ministry)

“Sell me on that.”

That was the encouraging reply from a college minister, during a recent “consultation” / evaluation I was conducting for his ministry. He wasn’t sure about a statement I had just made, but he was very willing to hear why I would hold such a surprising notion.

The notion? A college ministry should have introverts on its Greeting Team.

(And while that’s pretty specific, just wait – the principle can apply throughout your student leadership.)

I understand why that idea may be surprising. Indeed, if the Greeting Team is only focused on the act of greeting, then extroverts and other “naturally good greeters” are a logical choice.

But what if a Ministry Team isn’t primarily about
doing a task
but instead is about
getting purposes accomplished

In Backwards College Ministry, a Greeting Team isn’t only about the act of greeting. It’s about helping people feel welcomed, along with perhaps other outcomes: helping visitors know “next steps,” getting contact info from visitors, helping connect visitors with others in the ministry, or whatever you’ve determined.

And when a Team isn’t just for “doing” but is for accomplishing, then establishing teams with various sorts of people simply makes sense. Varied opinions, talents, and approaches are a major asset, as students work together in planning AND doing.

In the Greeting Team example, a diverse team helps

  • details and important actions not get overlooked
  • introverted visitors not be overlooked, and be greeted in ways that fit them
  • the team better evaluate its own effectiveness (from all angles)
  • balance and deepen the spiritual understanding of this specific ministry

Sure, the team may still assign the extroverts to do most of the actual greeting on Tuesday nights. But everyone has a hand in accomplishing the purposes …by praying through the needs, planning based on the purposes, and following through on the plan.

If a Ministry Team isn’t primarily about doing a task but is instead about getting purposes accomplished, then who might you need on the Team? Imagine:

  • a Recruitment Team with those who do the recruiting AND those who help the recruiting be extra-effective
  • a Social Events Team with skilled partiers AND students who have trouble fitting in
  • a Men’s Ministry Team with solid guys… who regularly consult the Ladies’ Team about how the ministry’s guys need to grow (and vice versa)
  • a Prayer Team with all kinds of individuals – not just those who have a natural inclination towards or love of prayer (as with any spiritual affinity, having diversity helps maintain health)

Yes, there’s wisdom needed as this all comes together. Not every possible personality, gifting, or skill-set will be a fit on every possible team. The point is to understand ministry teams as more about accomplishing outcomes than doing methods – or at least that’s the way Backwards College Ministry approaches this key area.

To catch up on the concept of Backwards College Ministry, see the series here.


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  1. PC

    have you read the book “Introverts in the Church” by McHugh?

    It is on my “to read” list, and this post has reminded me it just may need to be my NEXT book to read.

  2. I haven’t, though I’ve seen it and heard some initial good things. I’d like to – though I’m not sure when it will fit in. But as an introvert myself, I certainly am encouraged by the attempt, and hope people will pay attention to our plight in the church!

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