The Enneagram Goes to Church

Wisdom for Leadership, Worship, and Congregational Life

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Pub Date 16 Mar 2021 | Archive Date 15 Apr 2021

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If I had known the Enneagram earlier in my ministry, I would have been a much better pastor. When this thought came to Todd Wilson, he had already served as a pastor in several churches for the better part of fifteen years and was successfully leading a large, historic, and diverse congregation. He'd started out in ministry with a strong education in everything from biblical exegesis and homiletics to organizational development and Christian education. However, at its root, pastoral ministry is about shepherding, serving, leading, and loving people, and Todd realized that what he lacked was wisdom about how people work. He says, "When it came to empathetically shepherding people and sensitively engaging their manifold personalities and diverse ways of seeing the world, I was an amateur." Whether you are on a church staff or leading a small group, you will find that the insights from the Enneagram that have helped many grow in self-awareness can be applied to life in our faith communities. The Enneagram can help us to become better teachers. It can influence how we develop worship and Christian education. And it can guide us in building and leading teams. It's time to take the Enneagram to church—and to allow it to shape our life together.

If I had known the Enneagram earlier in my ministry, I would have been a much better pastor. When this thought came to Todd Wilson, he had already served as a pastor in several churches for...

Advance Praise

"The Enneagram Goes to Church will help pastors and ministry leaders grow in their preaching and teaching, oversight of worship, pastoral care, leadership, management of staff, understanding of institutional health, and more. For those already sold on the Enneagram, this book will enrich their understanding and help them relate the Enneagram to church life. For those who are new to the Enneagram, this book will be a fascinating journey of discovery. For those who are skeptical but willing to give the Enneagram a chance, this book may surprise them by highlighting just how helpful a tool it can be. A fascinating and useful book! Highly recommended!"

-Gavin Ortlund, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Ojai, California, and author of Retrieving Augustine's Doctrine of Creation 

"When I encountered the Enneagram tool, my response was identical to Todd Wilson's—I wished I'd had this years ago when I led a team at church! These days I use the Enneagram in all my coaching relationships. Todd does an excellent job exploring how the Enneagram can practically make a profound difference in our self-awareness and in our everyday leadership. This book is a tremendous tool to bring the Enneagram to your church!"

-Nancy Beach, leadership coach with the Slingshot Group and author of Gifted to Lead: The Art of Leading as a Woman in the Church 

"As Christians, we can sometimes pursue truth without also pursuing transformation. Without a doubt, the Enneagram has helped me attend to this gap and learn to apply the gospel to my own particular heart. It has become a tool for mortifying besetting sins, for mending broken relationships, and even for discovering my unique giftedness. For those who remain dubious about the Enneagram—its origins, its misuse—Todd Wilson is a theologically reliable guide. His heart is wisely pastoral, helping readers see the value of self-knowledge for the glorious purpose of self-giving."

-Jen Pollock Michel, author of Surprised by Paradox and Teach Us to Want 

"More Christians are aware of and interested in the Enneagram than ever before, so it's time for the church to take notice. Todd Wilson provides a winsome and engaging exploration of how church leaders and church members can use the Enneagram to foster spiritual growth. Todd writes from his robust pastoral experience and is able to help Christians understand how the mysteries and wisdom of the Enneagram align beautifully with a sincere Christian faith."

-Hunter Mobley, Enneagram teacher and author of Forty Days on Being a Two

"The Enneagram Goes to Church will help pastors and ministry leaders grow in their preaching and teaching, oversight of worship, pastoral care, leadership, management of staff, understanding of...

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ISBN 9780830846825
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Featured Reviews

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: 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 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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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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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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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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