The enneagram showed up in my pastoral life just at the right time. God used the enneagram to help me understand myself better and expose some emotional and spiritual areas of my life that needed attention. When we planted Greenville Community Church in 2018, we started to use the enneagram as people worked through our assimilation process we call Growth Track. After three years of walking people through the process, I believe that the enneagram can be a great tool for the church.
Before I talk about the enneagram and the church, I better make some qualifying statements about the enneagram. When something gets popular in both the sacred and the secular space, it will be torn down and labeled by Christians in church culture. Here are a few qualifying statements about this personality profile…
The enneagram is a tool just like any other personality profile tool. The enneagram is meant to help people process their personality, not define people. Enneagram super fans can be really annoying talking about it all the time. The enneagram is very, very old, so there are many conspiracy theories that you can read about its beginnings. The enneagram can be used from a spiritual or secular perspective, just like all personality profiles. The enneagram should never be taken more seriously than Scripture and should never be used as a weapon. OK, rant over, but I hope it was a helpful rant.
Here are a few ways I think the enneagram can be helpful for the church…
- Pastoral counseling // It doesn’t matter if you are helping a couple with pre-marital counseling or you are stepping in to help a marriage recover; this profile can help people understand each other better. As pastors, most of us give people Biblical guidance and don’t function as a formal therapist. The enneagram can give you a framework to help the people you are caring for have some personal, private work to do on their own before or after you meet. The enneagram helps build empathy and understanding in a culture that severely lacks it.
- Assimilation // We use the enneagram to get to know our church family on a deeper level. We have people take the enneagram and a spiritual gift test in session three of our assimilation process, leading to many important conversations. The better I know the people in my church, the better I can love and serve them. I can lead people with more empathy when I understand how they are wired.
- Leadership Development // The enneagram can help me empower my staff and volunteers more effectively because I better understand how they are wired. What this profile does best is allow us to talk about both our strengths and weaknesses. It allows everyone on the team to admit they are not good at everything and look around to ask for help. The more teams understand each other, the better they can serve and empower each other. The more we understand each other, the better chance we will get people plugged into roles to help them thrive in ministry.
We use the enneagram as a church, but you can use any personality tool out there. Your church can become more healthy if you leverage a tool that helps connect, engage, and understand the people you serve.