By Melanie Cave
How does our Myers Briggs personality type (MBTI) affect how we engage with worship, particularly corporate worship?
How does my personality type guide or limit what energy I bring to worship? How does MBTI type impact how I choose to engage with worship, my expectations of the use of art, prophecy or scripture? Or how I hope to be led by the worship leader?
As a worship leader, how can I effectively lead others in worship who are totally different personality types to me?
I have been reading an excellent book on Myers Briggs Type Indicator in relation to family life. Most couples have not married their identical type, so in successful marriages, there is a working through and appreciating difference in the marriage. And it’s likely that any children in that family will have different personality types to the parents as well. The combination of all these types in one family creates a dynamic- a culture. For example our family is known for throwing parties. That’s the predominantly E Culture at work! The family I was brought up in had some excellent debates over the dinner table. That’s a predominantly T culture in action. How your family operates and relates, and the choices you make will form a family type. The book argues that in determining the family type, the parents’ type has a greater weighting than the children’s, because parents generally have greater decision-making power. However the children add a very dynamic part of the family personality.
If we take this concept and apply it to church, could it be said that our local church has a dominant personality type? I’m not saying that everyone in a church is the same type! People often choose to attend a church as a family or as a couple, so its highly unlikely that they would all be the same MBTI type. However, there have been numerous studies that show that certain personality types do gravitate towards certain styles of church. I’ve read a study which indicated that Anglican churches had a preference for SFJ types.
Perhaps liturgy appeals slightly more to ISJ’s? Perhaps Charismatic Churches appeal slightly more to ENFPs? Do hymns appeal more to T’s? (I’m sure there are as many exceptions to the rule as there are patterns!)
But it’s also probably true that the personality types of the key leaders in a church are a strong influence on a church’s personality type.
What is the personality of your church?
I would say Open Heaven church is an ENFJ church. We are generally enthusiastic activists, creative, relational, and pretty organized! Some of that is down to the personalities of the main leaders, and also as we have, over time, set culture and made decisions, we have created a context that reinforces those preferences, and where perhaps ENFJ's might feel more comfortable?
What impact does this personality type have on our corporate worship culture?
Our ENFJ church worship tends to be expressive (movement, hands raised, dancing, expressive song choice), creative (lots of originality, art and new ideas, creative response), there is a relational, feel–good factor (families engaging together, we generally expect people to emotionally respond to worship), and we tend to be quite structured (we know what songs and creative aspects will happen and how long worship will last, and we’re pretty punctual!).
So what happens when a worship leader in a church has a different MBTI type than the dominant church type?
Does this create frustration, misunderstanding or potential conflict between worship leaders and church leaders? If a worship leader is an FP, that will shape how she leads, and without intentional leadership perhaps the TJs in our congregation will feel more lost or disconnected during worship.
Is it generally true that church leaders tend to be more J (that often goes with leadership) and worship leaders more likely to be P? Does this mean that worship tends to “flow” and be flexible, and have an incredible presence about it, however it may have a less clearly articulated plan than the church leader who is hosting the gathering?
As worship leaders , would some self awareness of our type and our church’s type equip us to be understand some of the possible frustrations (Worship Leaders feeling there is not enough time for worship, feeling the meeting is too structured for their liking). Would this awareness equip us to be more assertive or explain more to the congregation or other leaders- so we can effectively lead different types of people into the presence of God.
Ultimately, I don’t think God has a preference for a “type” or worship.
Jesus says the Father desires worshipers who worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). That seems to be both N and S. We have examples of worship in scripture of both intimate personal worship (Mt 6:6) and expressive demonstrative corporate worship (Ps 35:18). We know we must love the Lord with all our heart, all our mind and all our strength (Mk 12:30-31). That’s both T and F. We know that God loves order (1 Cor 14:40) but we also know we shouldn’t lean on our own understanding, but trust God (Pr 3:5-6), so we need to be both J and P in our worship. The God who created us in our personality type diversity, loves enjoying the diversity of our worship.
As worship leaders, we can create access points for people of all personality types to engage with worship in our church.
This might mean:
For Extroverts: Permissioning Expression (dance, bring a prophetic word, art)
For Introverts: Creating Time and Space for Reflection
For iNtuitives: Sparking Creativity and originality
For Sensers: Grounding Worship in Nature, Current Events, Kinesthetic acts.
For Feelers: Building relational rapport with the congregation, & permissioning people to express their emotions.
For Thinkers: Giving frameworks and ideas for Thinkers to grapple with and understand their worship
For Perceivers: Giving space to journey and enjoy a moment
For Judgers: Explaining our plan/ hopes for worship so they can relax and come on the journey with us.