Cover Image: The Enneagram Goes to Church

The Enneagram Goes to Church

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Member Reviews

The Enneagram Goes to Church is obviously written for people who are already Enneagram users, and who are keen to understand how to use it in a church setting.

"You've tasted and seen the transformative power of the Enneagram and want more."

I am not that person. I wanted to learn more about the Enneagram, and I wanted a reputable Christian to explain the origins and why they are or are not consistent with Christian beliefs (I've read a couple of articles online which got me wondering). And because the book didn't answer the fundamental question—does the Enneagram have a place in the Church?—I was left unconvinced by the rest of the argument.

The author starts by asserting that "all truth is God's truth", as God is creator of everything. I'm happy to go along with that assertion, but that doesn't mean that something is automatically true just because someone says it is.

For example, some people believe the earth is round. Some people believe the earth is flat. Logic says only one of those statements can be true. The other must be false, and believing it to be true doesn't make it true. So while all truth is God's truth, some people (knowingly or unknowingly) state that things are true when they are not.

The author admits the sources of the Enneagram are unknown, but unlikely to be Christian:

"the Enneagram's origins are shrouded in mystery, and its contemporary development is heavily indebted to occultist thinkers."

Is that a problem? I think so. But the author skips over the origins, saying the Enneagram is a wisdom tradition like Job or Proverbs or Aesop's Fables, and that makes it true (going back to the "all truth is God's truth" argument). Again, I'm not convinced.

The author then says:

"By transposing the Enneagram into a Christian key, its valid insights become genuine wisdom in the service of Christ."

Yes, another important statement that isn't backed up with any real critical thinking. What's a "Christian key?" (He attempts to explain using a musical analogy, but either my musical knowledge is lacking, or his analogy is weak). Can we also "transpose" the Koran and Mein Kamf into a "Christian key"? I don't think so.

I'm not disagreeing with what the author says. I'm simply saying he didn't convince me of the fundamental precept in the title: that the Enneagram has a place in our churches.

There were a few ideas that rang true. For example, the Enneagram says there are three dimensions to our personality: thinking, feeling, and doing. These correlate with three broad streams of Christian worship: evangelical, charismatic, and liturgical. This is an interesting observation, and could explain why we often feel more at home in one kind of church than another.

But the impact was dampened by statements of the obvious portrayed as new ideas—like the fact all organisations have different cultures, and distinct personalities. In many cases, the organisation (church) takes on the personality of the leader. You only have to work in more than one workplace to figure that out.

I'm not saying the Enneagram is good or bad: this book didn't provide sufficient information to make that kind of judgement (especially as it was written in the premise that the Enneagram is good, and is the answer to all our interpersonal problems). 

If you're curious about the Enneagram and want to find out more about it, I wouldn't recommend starting with this book. But if you're a pastor who is a keen Enneagram user, you might find this useful.

Thanks to Intervarsity Press and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.
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“There is no one ‘right’ personality for leadership. In fact, each of the nine Enneagram personality types can be effective pastors and excellent leaders.” Can the Enneagram go to church? Absolutely! It’s a tool for examining who you are as a leader and understanding your strengths and weaknesses. Todd Wilson packages a guide that’s great for beginners and experts alike to glean information about their leadership style.  This is one of those rare books that I can’t wait to come back to for a second read.
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The author's application of the Enneagram to ministry and every aspect of congregational life.

The author speaks of his history with the Enneagram and tells stories throughout regarding his ministry and work.  He provides a basic introduction to and defense of the Enneagram.  He considers what church leaders of each type tend to be like; how leaders should approach leading others of various Enneagram types; what leaders need to do to care for themselves; how to work effectively with others of different Enneagram types; and how churches can manifest various Enneagram types.

There are a lot of good ideas here regarding how to apply the Enneagram to the work of ministry and of congregational life.  One would want to take an Enneagram test elsewhere, but one can turn to this to see how their particular type will provide benefits and challenges and to increase awareness of those differences among people.  It can help a person learn how to play toward one's strengths and reinforce their weaknesses, and how to be sensitive to the differences among others.

The work is definitely written in the standard lay Evangelical style: I, personally, could have done without most of the personal "testimony" of the author's narrative and his flexing based on the work he's done.  I found that the whole work lacked appropriate nuance: there's very little mentioned about the phenomenon of wings, and therefore most people are going to find that the descriptions will be slightly off since they're all rooted in the pure types without reference to wings (I as a 1w9 am quite different from a pure 1 or a 1w2, even though there are commonalities).  It might well be that congregations likely take on a lot of the characteristics of the type of the leadership, but ought to be a place where all types and wings are welcome and influence the whole in turn.  

This is definitely an introductory work and should not be taken as the final word on the Enneagram.  Extra reading is highly recommended.  But it has some value in what it is.

**--galley received as part of early review program
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Todd Wilson’s book is a unique contribution to the large enneagram conversation.  I really appreciate his willingness to address some of the questions and concerns about the ancient origins of the enneagram and whether or not Christians should engage in its use and application.  Not every enneagram skeptic will be satisfied with his reasoning but I found it quite helpful and compelling. 

Clearly Wilson has found the enneagram a valuable tool (vs a comprehensive panacea of wisdom and insight that many see it to be) for both his personal and professional life as a church leader/pastor.  I think any in lay or professional Christian ministry leadership  would find his insights and perspectives worth their consideration.    He offers many practical examples of how an awareness of the enneagram can aid ones own relationships as well as those working on ministry teams and church as well as parachurch ministry.

I am grateful for my complimentary copy from NetGalley and the opportunity to share my honest review of this book.
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I selected this book because I had just found out about the Enneagram and was curious to hear a christian perspective on it. I really enjoyed reading this book. Being aware of your personality type is a good thing and this book proves it. Whether that should be the Enneagram or a different one I don’t think necessarily matters. The author, with great honesty, shares from his own life and dispenses so much wisdom that even if the Enneagram is not your thing, there are still valuable lessons to be learned.The book is packed with practical examples written in an easy to read format. I would definitely recommend all leaders to read this, whether they go to church or not because it’s information that, in this book, is applied to a church setting but would work for any organization or company. 

Thank you NetGalley and InterVarsity Press for providing me with an ARC. I was not required to leave a positive review and all opinions are my own.
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Are you a Pastor interested in the Enneagram?
Todd Wilson presents "The Enneagram Goes to Church. Wisdom for Leadership, Worship, and Congregational Life" which was published by InterVarsity Press. In the introduction of the book Wilson talks about his personal experience with the enneagram: "After months of sitting with the Enneagram and sharing in its insights, my mind turned from me, my marriage, and my family to another extremely important part of my life—my work as the pastor of a church. What about the church? I remember thinking. Does the Enneagram have anything helpful to say about pastoring a congregation, working with a staff, or leading people? What about preaching, worship, or congregational care? Could the Enneagram help me think about all these churchly things?" (p. 5). He is convinced "that I would have been a much better pastor if I would have known the Enneagram—for the simple reason that this fascinating personality typing system is filled with insights into who people are and how they work—precisely what pastors need" (p. 7/8). In nine chapters that touch such topics as calling, leadership, preaching, worship, congregational care, or teamwork, he tries to show how the enneagram can be a help to the pastor. I appreciate his approach but I find it also lacking. I would have appreciated if the book would have been written for a broader audience. What about the other part-time and full-time Christian workers, may they be involved in a local church or a ministry that goes beyond the boundaries of a church? Where are the tips and the practical applications for them?
I appreciate the fact that Wilson added notes for the book at the end which help for reference and for further research. It is also important to note that this book is not an introduction to the enneagram but requires that readers have already at least basic knowledge about it, better yet know which is their enneagram number. I recommend the book to pastors who want to learn how the enneagram can help them in their ministry and to other Christian workers who are flexible enough to take the essence of the book and apply it to their own situation and ministry.
The complimentary copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley free of charge. I was under no obligation to offer a positive review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
#TheEnneagramGoesToChurch	#NetGalley
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Let me start off by saying that I fell into the trap of the enneagram for several years.  Several publishers and theologians I trusted pushed the enneagram, and my self-obsessed sin nature loved learning about 'me and my personality'.   Only recently did I learn about the enneagram's origins. I no longer subscribe to the philosophy (or whatever you want to call it) of the enneagram.

I am disappointed in InterVarsity Press for publishing this book, and many other Enneagram books.  I spent 5 years on staff with a campus ministry and regularly came into contact with IVP's materials which I found to be biblical and helpful.  This book is not either of those things.

The author fails to address the history of how the enneagram came about in the 1900's.  While there are many concerning pieces of the history of the enneagram,  one of the authors of this philosophy claimed that he came up with his infomation via "automatic writing."   This is extremely concerning, and the author addresses none of this - simply brushing off those opposed to the enneagram.  He claims that all truth is God's truth, which seems to imply that even if demonic powers are at play, it's totally fine to subscribe to the enneagram. 

In the beginning the author calls himself and "Enneagram convert" despite the fact that he typically does not side with Richard Rohr, Rob Bell, etc.  I think that tells us all we need to know about this book.  I would tread very carefully here.

I received a free digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  I received the book before learning about the origins of the enneagram.  Otherwise, I would not have requested this book.
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Written by a pastor-theologian with a PhD from Cambridge and a preference for conservative evangelicalism, this book gives a helpful theological framework for Enneagram, “transposing” it to a Christian lens.

It is an intermediate Enneagram book as it assumes you know the basics of the personality profiling tool.  The focus of the book is ministry and it applies the Enneagram in such a practical manner to areas such as church leadership, preaching, pastoral care, worship and teams.

I have read 10-12 Enneagram books and this one may be my new favourite! As a theology student and a church leader, I have long appreciated the benefits of Enneagram  in my spiritual formation but have been aware of potential tensions of the enneagram with my theology. This book offered a biblical lense to interpret the Enneagram, new opportunities for me to apply it to ministry and a multitude of ways I can better love my congregation.

I would recommend this book to church leaders and teams who understand the basics of Enneagram, and who want to grow in their self awareness and love for others. Thanks to NetGalley and ARC for the copy of this book.
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I have read blogs and books, I have listened to podcasts, and I have taken tests — this book helped me to understand the Enneagram more than all of those combined! I appreciated this author’s approach to the Enneagram. The way he explained things (especially the centers) made so much sense. My ebook is full of highlights and notes.

I have heard from several different people that Christians should not use the Enneagram. It was for this reason that I was most excited to read this book. I wanted to get a christian’s view on the origins of the Enneagram and how it can be used at/in church. I love the analogy of transposing something and how the author applied that to the Enneagram. This book helped me understand myself better as well as my kids and those I interact with regularly. It will impact how I teach and lead.

I highly recommend this book. It has earned a 5-star rating from me—and I reserve those for books that will impact my daily life as a person, wife, mom, Sunday school teacher, and nurse.
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How do you feel about the enneagram? I had only the barest inkling of an idea what the enneagram even was before I read The Enneagram Goes to Church by Todd A. Wilson. Whether you have embraced it, ignored it, or classed it somewhere between mumbo jumbo and an Ouija board, applying this taxonomy of personalities to the life of the church is a profoundly enlightening experience.

Is the enneagram biblical? Some of it. (I’ve appreciated writers for The Gospel Coalition taking on this question here, here, and here.) A fair bit of it comes across as hokey gnostic nonsense promising limitless potential to its devotees. But Wilson, through some theological alchemy, gives us a biblical framework that rightly says we’re sinners made in the image of God called to put on the “new self” and be humble towards God and others. 

You don’t need the enneagram. It is not essential. The Bible is essential. Scripture is our sufficient guide to the Christian life. But the enneagram is a useful model that attempts to classify many different personality types because there are many different personalities. Some of us are doers. Some are thinkers. Others feelers. Arranging these types around intellect (the head triad), emotion (the heart triad), and will (the body triad) is wise because the Bible says we’re made in the image of God and therefore possess each of these. And experience shows that each of us has tendencies to emphasize one of these over the others. 

And that’s the important message this book has to offer. God has not made us all the same. People, pastors, Christians are different and this is good. No matter how many different personality types we think there are (be it nine or otherwise), we know the answer is not one. And we should embrace these differences. God made us this way. And as the body of Christ, we’re better for it because each of us has our strengths, weaknesses, and blind spots. God is glorified when the parts of the body minister to one another and serve Him. 

And while I still don’t know what “number” I am, I do recommend The Enneagram Goes to Church. This book can teach enneagram converts a more biblical approach to personality. This book can teach the unconvinced and enneagram averse that not everyone in your church (pastor and congregants) has the same personality as you. Recognizing this fact is only the first step. Appreciating this fact is what we should strive to do so we can better minister to one another and serve the Lord together.
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5 stars = Outstanding!

I loved the premise of this - the author says he would have been a better pastor (in previous years) if he had understood the Enneagram sooner. He applies his learning to his preaching, to conflict resolution in the church, to leadership, to congregational personality types, worship, etc. And it's terrific!

This is not a resource for those just learning about the Enneagram. There is a foundations chapter that covers triads and orientation to time and stances, but it's more to give common language and content for the material coming later in the book than it is for someone to understand the system for the first time.

The tone is conversational - although it took me a chapter or two to get the author's style, which comes on pretty strong up front. I will definitely be reading this again. I think this is an exceptional resource for church leaders, but I think it can also apply to teachers and helping professionals who can apply the material to their own contexts. Highly recommend!
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For years now I’ve been fascinated with the enneagram. I have so many books and I still don’t know everything there is to know about it! When I noticed The Enneagram Goes to Church by Todd Wilson, I couldn’t pass it up!!

Each of the nine enneagram types are described in this book in a manner I’ve never found anywhere else. While I understand the basics of the enneagram, many other books dive into wings and triads. This book, however, describes the timeframe and the recessive stances. These totally blew me away!

I also love how it’s explained that the enneagram isn’t just to figure out yourself, but the people you relate with. It describes pastors preaching from each type. It also describes the congregation listening types. And let’s not omit the church culture type!

While I’m not a pastor or even a church staffer, I find it useful to think about these as any team or organization. When a team is in conflict, it’s helpful to get past each persons emotions and lean into what’s actually going on. Many teams fall apart because of their failure to relate to one another. In steps enneagram and it helps to smooth things over.

A digital copy of The Enneagram Goes to Church by Todd Wilson was provided complimentary in exchange for an honest review. I give this book 5 out of 5 tiaras because I was so blown away with a new perspective of understanding the enneagram and how it relates in so many situations. I have a new outlook on how the enneagram could be useful for me to Doug still deeper. Love it!
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I was a latecomer to /skeptic of the enneagram but it has been a useful tool to begin seeing myself in context among others. Todd Wilson’s The Enneagram Goes to Church: Wisdom for Leadership, Worship, and Congregational Life (InterVarsity Press, 2021) tracks where he uses the concepts for church leadership.

The book assumes that you have a basic familiarity with the tool (cf: http://enneagraminstitute.com) and accept its general premise. In other words, there’s not much attention trying to teach you what it is and why, but how to use it in ministry.

Smith is coming from a location that is much more evangelical than mine, so many of his church examples reflect that environment, but there is nothing that prevents applying this into a non-evangelical context. You can tell he’s working to defend the Enneagram by how he establishes his credentials and the “all truth is God’s truth” talk in the introduction. Also, to distance himself from progressive churches who have used the Enneagram for a while (Rohr, Bell, et al).

There’s a chart describing “valid insights from the Enneagram transposed to a Christian key” (20) that is the most explicit way that he shows compatibility with Christian (read, evangelical) maxims. Not necessary for me, but I can see how this would be a helpful tool for others.

It takes off from there though, describing the ways that different personalities respond to the role of pastor but also how congregants and entire communities can reflect distinct patterns. Chapters on Leadership, Preaching, Worship, Congregational Care, and Teamwork describe how different Types express themselves and interact in different ways. The dominant theme is that there is no single WAY to be and that knowing yourself and others is necessary for health.

Ex: a type 7 leader may have a strength of energy and connection, but struggle with grief or lament. That mismatch is seen a lot in church planter types working in a church with primarily aging members.

Ex: a type 2 leader excels at the multiple functions of relating to and caring for people, but struggles with setting a vision and withstanding conflict. That mismatch is seen with pastors who are overextended or listless.

Having the language to describe yourself and your context opens up potential for creating healthier dynamics. Using a tool like the Enneagram allows you to see patterns in your unique experience.

I would especially recommend this book for people beginning in ministry as it can help them see how their fit will determine their overall health and role in a community. Also, mid-career folks doing their own assessment of their situation and calling or mentoring leaders to find their fit in ministry.
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I am quite cautious when it comes to the Enneagram. I find it's always good to try to understand ourselves and our personalities better, yet it is easy to make excuses for our own behaviour because of, for example, our Enneagram type. That is how I approached this book, too -- with interest, but being cautious. There were some good information and examples here that can help pastors and leaders understand themselves and the way their congregation works better. But I found there wasn't anything too amazing in this book.
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I enjoyed the author's work in this book. It was great reading a closer tie between the Enneagram and our churches. 

There are many books out there on the enneagram, this one should be added to your pile
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I can't recommend this book to anyone except for the most hardened Christian Reformed skeptic who prefers Christian legalism over spiritual universal principles that the Enneagram has to offer. Disappointed with this book.
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The enneagram has become an incredible tool for understanding one's motivations. Whether you are new to the enneagram or have read the seminal texts, you will find an interesting application in this book, The Enneagram Goes to Church. Wilson takes previous writings on the enneagram and puts it against preaching styles and church management which offers new insights to how the church functions. It's an accessible book and worth the read for any staff wanting to understand their church community better.
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I am a little skeptical of the enneagram and have been learning about it but not fully embracing it. As someone in church ministry, this book is interesting because it helped me picture different numbers within the church. However, I’m still cautious to fully embrace the enneagram but this did help with some self discovery in ministry.

Thank you Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my opinion.
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Like the author, I'm slightly skeptical when it comes to enneagram. But there is a potential for church leaders to gain some insights about people that may be helpful for shepherding. It may even serve the shepherd well to know how he himself operate better. This can be a blindspot without realising it. I think this would be a helpful tool for doctrinally sound leaders to use without over-elevating it above Scripture.
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