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Churches 'need an extrovert' to attract the men

Churches that want to expand and attract men to their congregations should attract clergy who are extrovert, according to a report published in the UK on Monday.

Correspondingly, the report suggests that those which emphasise a "sacramental" ministry should look for candidates with an introverted personality. Research into personality profiles of clergy across the denominations shows that most are introverts, but are doing a job designed for an extrovert, according to the report by researchers at the University of Wales in association with the Evangelical Alliance.

The report says: "Much of the work which Anglican clergy, Catholic priests and Methodist ministers are expected to do is work shaped for extroverts. It is extroverts who are energised by standing up in front of people, by taking a high profile on public occasions, by going out knocking on doors to meet new people and by being publicly recognised by others.

"Introverts are drained and worn down by such experiences. The obvious incompatibility between the nature of the job and the personality of the personnel may help to explain why so many clergy burn out in mid-life and fail to deliver the promise of their vocation."

The report argues that personality tests should be used when recruiting and training clergy. Such tests might even help to identify paedophile priests, pastors who abuse their authority over women and ministers liable to plunder church funds.

More than 1000 pastors, ministers and clergy from Baptist, Church of England, Methodist, Pentecostal and other churches were surveyed, mostly men and most in their forties and fifties. Half had been with their congregations for at least seven years.

The report notes that churches are "puzzled" by the lack of men in the pews, but suggests that many men feel out of place in churches today and are "puzzled" by the role models presented by male clergy.

The Times (London)