Follow Up Questions For Mike Gammill

The best jokes are the ones that are rooted in truth. This is why I laughed hysterically when I saw the following cartoon.

All the introverts are still laughing while all the extroverts are probably scratching their heads wondering what is so funny. However, that is not the point. The point is that I like anyone who is willing to make such a sarcastic yet truthful statement. I found this cartoon on Mike Gammill’s blog in his post, “Culture of Personality.” Gammill argues that evangelicalism has adopted an extroverted mindset that shapes our theology and practice based upon that which extroverts see as important. In other words, loving Jesus “out loud” has become far more important than living an obedient life behind closed doors.

I have to agree with Gammill’s conclusion. A quiet person who fulfills his biblical responsibilities at home and at work rarely receives recognition. Even our church services are designed for the extrovert. At the church I attended last week, I had to greet people before the service started. I had to pray and sing with people during the service. I had to greet people when the service concluded. I had to drink tea and coffee with people after the service. Then, I had to tell everyone goodbye before I left. If I were to simply show up, sit in the back, not sing and pray loudly, and leave without socializing, people would wonder about my spiritual condition. It ought not be this way. Spiritual maturity is measured by obedience to the word of God, not by how many people we socialize with at church.

So, I agree with Gammill’s conclusion. Yet, he makes a point on which I would like to follow up. He says, “When I speak to groups about the Great Commission, their first reflex is to assume I am talking about evangelism. Further, evangelism is usually visualized as door-to-door sales or street-corner doomsday annunciation. Bad strategies or not, these are extroverted activities that are an anathema to any introvert. Consequently this reticence to shout the gospel from a street corner could unnecessarily cause the introvert to question his own love for Christ and neighbor.” Mr. Gammill, you imply that you see evangelism as something separate from the Great Commission. Can you explain how these groups are incorrect when they assume you are talking about evangelism when you speak about the Great Commission? Also, I agree that pushing every saint to do evangelism can lead some to question their love for Christ and neighbor. However, it seems to me that the solution is to have evangelists do the work of evangelism (Eph 4:11–12) and let the rest of the saints live obedient lives in whatever way they see fit. Why do we have to come up with introverted ways of doing evangelism? If an introvert does not want to do evangelism, then he probably isn’t an evangelist and probably shouldn’t do evangelism.

It seems to me that God has given us a model in Ephesians 4 to follow, a model that has room for all kinds of people with different gifts and abilities. We should have evangelists who preach the gospel. We should have pastors and teachers who prescribe doctrine and godly living, and we should let everyone else serve the body of Christ through their tithes and in whatever other capacity they are able. Should we even be talking about whether we operate on extroverted or introverted ideals? Maybe we should start with the biblical ideal and then go from there. That is my solution to this culture of personality problem. Mr. Gammill, you do an excellent job of outlining the problem, but I am interested to hear what you might see as a potential solution.

–J.N. Bolt

4 thoughts on “Follow Up Questions For Mike Gammill

  1. Mike Gammill

    Jason-It’s nice to hear your thoughts and I hope and trust Sara and the kids are have a great Christmas season.

    First, let me say that I was really thinking about how the extroverted ideal had reduced our view of the Great Commission to be about little more than evangelism. A full composite picture of the Great Commission texts in the four gospels focusses in on four interrelated concepts/concepts: proclamation, disciple-making, being a witness, and forgiveness. The other two common factors in those four texts are “going” and the “Holy Spirit.” My global point here is that the Great Commission engages the full spectrum of human personality. Every part of us is needed.

    Perhaps I was not focussed enough in my blog post on this issue, but if we reduce the Great Commission to Evangelism we miss 3/4 of the Great Commission.

    To your point in Ephesians. I agree with some of what you are saying but have some but some reservations based upon my reading of the text.

    First, I would differentiate between postion and action. Just as an evangelist can teach, so to can a teacher evangelize. My reading of the Ephesians text is that the Holy Spirit poured out these five ecclesial offices upon the saints as gifts for the church to help her to fulfill the work of God.

    This authority should be lived into with profound responsibility, but this does not mean that a teacher can and only will “teach” or that an “apostle” will never “pastor,” etc. If your point is that teachers should focus on teaching, I wholeheartedly agree. However, the Holy Spirit can and will bring Great Commission opportunities our way that will plumb the depths of who God created us to be.

    This is where embracing the fullness of our personalities comes into play. Yes, I am a dominant introvert, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have any extroverted energy, or that the Holy Spirit won’t use me in that way from time to time. The extroverted ideal has already taught me this…to excess.

    I think its time that extroverts start getting in touch with some of the more classic “introverted” activities such as the classic spiritual disciplines. I think this could make a profound impact on how well our churches made disciples.

    Reply
    1. boltjason

      Mike,

      Thanks for the clarification. I agree that the Great Commission should not be reduced to merely evangelism. Evangelism is only one component. Just as important, though, is teaching the nations to obey all that Christ has commanded. Most people refer to this as “discipleship,” so I think you and I are on the same page.

      As for Ephesians 4, I agree that there is some crossover between the offices listed. Actually, my position is that the four offices listed were the four functions of the elders at the time and that the two remaining functions are that of the evangelist and the pastor/teacher. Both the evangelist and the pastor/teacher are elders in the church who perform all the elder functions. They simply have a different focus in their ministry. One focuses on preaching the gospel message, and one focuses on preaching the whole counsel of God’s word. This goes against the common notion within evangelicalism that says each individual believer is responsible for evangelism, but I think this division of labor is crucial for understanding our various roles within the body of Christ.

      You mention “the classic spiritual disciplines.” What exactly do you mean when you use this phrase? I ask because there are numerous groups who use the same terminology to describe completely different ideas. For instance, I believe that we are to live disciplined lives, but I believe the likes of Dallas Willard and Richard Foster have drifted from orthodoxy.

      This site was designed for the purpose of fostering this kind of discussion. So, I hope we can continue to discuss these and other issues. I have enjoyed reading your articles. They always force me to ask questions, which is a good thing.

      –Jason

      Reply
    2. Mike Gammill

      Its always nice to dialogue. I meant “classic spiritual disciplines” most generically and without any one model in mind. While I am familiar with the works of Willard and Foster (and am generally comfortable with their positions), I had Jesus’ ministry in mind. His practice included both times to teaching to the multitudes and solitude in prayer. Thanks for asking me to be a part of your churches forum!

      Reply
    3. boltjason

      Again, thanks for the clarification. I too think there is much more to spiritual discipline than what is propagated by Willard and Foster. Jesus flawlessly incorporated both public and private ministry in his life. Everything he did had value, and it would behoove us to emulate his behavior.

      –Jason

      Reply

Leave a Reply