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The Enneagram Goes to Church: Wisdom for Leadership, Worship, and Congregational Life

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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.

176 pages, Paperback

First published March 16, 2021

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About the author

Todd A. Wilson

16 books12 followers
Todd Wilson (PhD, Cambridge University) is senior pastor of Calvary Memorial Church in Oak Park, Illinois, and the cofounder and chairman of the Center for Pastor Theologians. He is the author of Real Christian: Bearing the Marks of Authentic Faith and Galatians: Gospel-Rooted Living, the coauthor of The Pastor Theologian: Resurrecting an Ancient Vision and Pastors in the Classics, and the coeditor of Becoming a Pastor Theologian.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 41 reviews
Profile Image for Brian.
61 reviews3 followers
March 14, 2023
Honestly, a lot of Enneagram books are the same. They almost have to be. The author doesn’t know if the reader will be a novice or an expert, so they have to start at the beginning.
This book is the exception. There is one chapter that “starts at the beginning” but even that chapter had new insights for me. And then everything else in the book was about applying the Enneagram to different aspects of church life.
The book isn’t perfect and sometimes it leaves the reader wanting more, as it only superficially touched on a certain topic. But, there are definitely some great moments.
Profile Image for Kyle Szucs.
10 reviews
March 9, 2021
I’ve been a fan of the Enneagram for a while now. Todd does a great job reminding us of the beauty and creativity of God through the different personality types the Enneagram offers us. As a youth pastor, there is often this unspoken (or sometimes spoken!) expectation to have to look, speak, or perform in a certain way. Todd’s reassurance of that falsehood is a great reminder as I continue my ministry.

This is a great book for pastors OR people within the church congregation. Highly recommended!
Profile Image for Dara.
78 reviews23 followers
August 13, 2021
This book is based on the false premise that because the Enneagram helps the author understand people, it's a good thing and God is totally fine with it being taught and used in the church. No.

If you want more in-depth facts about the Enneagram's origins and whether it belongs in the church, check out Marcia Montenegro. She's a former astrologer who converted to Christianity decades ago, and has been warning the church against New Age teachings for over 20 years. As the Enneagram becomes more popular among Christians, her perspective on it is MUCH more valuable than Todd Wilson's. Why? Because Todd relies on his personal experience in saying the Enneagram is a "useful tool" in the church, while Marcia reminds us what Scripture actually says about occult teaching and why Christians need to stay away from it.

And make no mistake. The Enneagram originates in occult practices. The 9 "personality types" were derived via automatic writing in the 1960's; also, it is NOT ancient as its proponents claim, but only developed within the last 100 or so years. The Enneagram may make you think it "understands" you and others so well, but people say the same thing about astrology. Just because you can put a Christian spin on something, or find it useful or helpful, does not mean you should devote hours of your time studying and learning it, applying it to your life and introducing it to others. It is a big distraction from our walk with Christ. The time and effort you spend on the Enneagram is time you could be using to learn Scripture, pray, and be involved in your local church. And don't fool yourself by thinking "God can redeem it." Does God redeem Tarot cards? The horoscope? Ouija boards? This is no different.

Christians, be warned. As this book demonstrates, a pastor can write a book like this, and a so-called Christian publisher will release it, but that doesn't mean it's a reliable Christian resource. Be warned about any New Age belief or teaching that inserts itself into your church. Be careful.
Profile Image for Heather Pocock.
38 reviews6 followers
April 1, 2021
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.
Profile Image for Janna Honeycutt.
15 reviews3 followers
February 7, 2021
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
Profile Image for John Elliott.
149 reviews2 followers
May 30, 2021
When it comes to the Enneagram and people of faith, I often come across two extremes. There are those who make something of an idol out of the tool, expecting it to unlock the mystery if life. And there are those who are weirdly suspicious of it, believing it to be an instrument of the devil. Enter Todd’s book, which offers a helpful, thoughtful bridge between those two perspectives. If you’re a Christian who wants to better understand who you are and what it’s like for others to be in relationship with you, I highly recommend this book.
Profile Image for Ryan Storch.
17 reviews4 followers
August 5, 2022
One of the most beneficial things about this book is that it provides and entry level dive into the enneagram. Wilson does a good job creating a good vision for how it can be a helpful tool. He also avoids the pitfall of many evangelicals who make the enneagram out to be the ultimate key. Instead, he sees it as a beneficial tool!
101 reviews1 follower
June 6, 2021
Excellent Read. Quick Read.

You don't need to know much about enneagram to get a lot of wisdom from this book.

Applicability: although aimed at pastors, it is easily translated to how I can use in coaching and running a small business.
Profile Image for Ali C.
93 reviews1 follower
April 5, 2021
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.
Profile Image for Iola.
Author 1 book2 followers
July 4, 2021
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 failed to convince me that the Enneagram is useful for Christians, 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.
Profile Image for Ethan.
Author 3 books30 followers
May 30, 2021
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
Profile Image for Theodene.
375 reviews1 follower
March 17, 2021
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!
1 review
March 18, 2021
Enneagram Goes to Church by Todd Wilson. I have never paid close attention to the Enneagram before reading this book but as I began to read it, I found myself surprised at how fascinating the whole subject was and how accessible it was to jump into from this book alone. Todd Wilson begins the book with an apologetic for the Enneagram in churches, explaining that “all truth is God’s truth” and that the Enneagram can be transposed into our Christian language. He argues that the Enneagram will help the Christian grow in wisdom. The Enneagram will make us wiser because it will help Christians understand their own personalities and interpersonal relationships. This is where the book came alive for me because, as a follower of Jesus, I want to navigate this life wisely. I want to care for people well and not only people who have the same personality as me but also the people who view the world differently than me. Todd Wilson’s book is not just a good book about the Enneagram, but I think it is one of the most helpful pastoral ministry books I have read. When the Enneagram goes to church it equips people to love and care for one another better.
Profile Image for Esther.
80 reviews3 followers
March 21, 2021
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.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher through NetGalley. I was not required to give a positive review. The thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely my own.
Profile Image for Eric.
212 reviews2 followers
July 14, 2021
The Enneagram Goes to Church is a good resource for ministry leaders, particularly for pastors. While Wilson writes primarily for teaching/preaching pastors in a church context, any Christian leader in any ministry context should be able to clean wisdom and new knowledge from this book.

I liked Wilson's easy-to-understand explanations of the Enneagram types. I have often found other books on this subject a bit convoluted. Wilson does an excellent job making this more accessible.

I did not like that half the book is definitely focused on pastors who have control/decision-making ability over their church organizations. That means about half the book is not as contextually accessible to other readers.

I also did not like that Wilson, the President of the Center for Pastor Theologians, rarely uses Scripture in this text. I counted on one hand the Scripture references, and those were mainly chopped up reference verses. No exegesis here to support the work. When Christian opponents of the Enneagram continually reference it's connection to the occult, a lack of Scripture just does not lend support to the "all truth is God's truth" argument.

Overall, three stars because it is a good resource, just not an outstanding one.
Profile Image for Amy.
41 reviews1 follower
April 9, 2021
I enjoyed reading Todd Wilson's book on taking the Enneagram to church. I thought his ideas about transposing the Enneagram into a Christian key and about all truth finding its source in God were valuable. Parts of the book were easier to engage with than others. At times I felt that the Enneagram was being elevated from a helpful tool to a "magic bullet" to solve all relational problems... despite Wilson's protestations to the contrary. I think pastors will be best served by this book and the average layperson or even ministry leader who isn't in the pastorate may find more transposing will be required. Though well written, the way that the Enneagram is elevated as a filter through which all of life's questions can be answered was sometimes distracting. It is important to know ourselves and to know those with whom we work/serve... however, one could argue that understanding one's cultural backgrounds would serve as well as knowing one's Enneagram type. In short, this is a helpful tool about helpful too and probably it is most helpful and insightful for pastors.
Profile Image for Dennis Ticen.
57 reviews8 followers
March 10, 2021
Having been introduced to the Enneagram in the last couple of years, this is the book I have been waiting for! Most Enneagram books are very focused on the numbers; this book is focused on understanding how to use the Enneagram in a church setting. As a pastor, the most valuable chapter for me was the one on worship and learning to think through the various ways different personalities approach worship, what they need in worship, and how to include everyone in the worship service.

The book is clearly written, easy to understand, and written with a pastor’s heart. But it’s not just for pastors. If you love the church and long to see it grow more like Christ (the fullest expression of all the personalities), this book will be helpful to you. There is great wisdom here, great truth, and (after all) all truth is God’s truth!

FULL DISCLOSURE: I was given an advance copy of the book in order to provide an honest review.
1 review
March 24, 2021
As a pastor, I wanted to read this book to learn more about the enneagram and its potential influence on church leadership. I have enjoyed many of Todd’s previous books so I had high expectations for this one. The Enneagram Goes to Church met and exceeded every expectation I had! This little book taught me that I don’t have to pretend to have a certain type of personality in order to be a successful pastor. I can be a faithful and fruitful leader by leaning into my God-given personality. I also learned how important self-awareness and others-awareness is to Christian community. This book would be extremely helpful not only for every Christian leader, but also for every person who wants to learn how to better love their church family.
Profile Image for Noah Filipiak.
Author 1 book9 followers
March 15, 2021
I've read a lot on the Enneagram and love the uniqueness of The Enneagram Goes to Church. Wilson wrote a book for the local church and it goes deeper and wider than just the Enneagram as well. It hits a lot on healthy leadership cultures within the church–something we desperately need today. I think this would make a fantastic resource for church staffs or leadership teams to read and discuss together. It's also a fun book for anyone who likes the Enneagram and is involved in the life of the local church, giving a lot of unique parallels to the local church experience that other Enneagram books don't hit on.
59 reviews1 follower
March 24, 2021
This book frustrated me. I was hoping for something specific to the enneagram, but I got generic information that could be used for any personality type test and applied to the church.

Yes Todd does go in length about the enneagram but the connections that he makes to how it will help the church, pastors or anyone can be said of the Myers Briggs or spiritual gifts or any other test we take to get to know ourselves and others better.

While the enneagram has benefits so do the other tests. I would encourage all people, like Todd does at the end of the book to get to know yourself and your junk better. It will help you and others and we need more of that today.
Profile Image for Chris Land.
72 reviews10 followers
March 26, 2021
As I am currently going through this book, I can't help but think how many Christians are buying into worldly deceptions such as the Ennegram. Colossians 2:8 says, "See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, and not according to Christ." Following the Ennegram goes against what this passages commands not to do.

The way the author describes this book, he keeps saying it is a useful tool. It is not a Christian concept but can be useful. Wouldn't surprise me if someone recommends the Ennegram as an "analytical tool" one day.

This book is no good.
Profile Image for Ann Gemmel.
158 reviews4 followers
May 23, 2021
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.
25 reviews1 follower
June 1, 2021
“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.
Profile Image for Thomas Kuhn.
73 reviews3 followers
July 30, 2022
Helpful book on the enneagram and the church. Wilson begins with an extended apologetic on why it is appropriate to "take the enneagram to church", that is, to apply the enneagram to the life of the Christian community. I found the book to be really helpful, especially his discussion of the "9 types of preachers" and the "9 types of listeners." This book is more helpful for pastors and ministry leaders than it is for lay people but it's got a little something for everyone.
Profile Image for Cara Spaccarelli.
31 reviews1 follower
May 21, 2021
Very helpful in applying the enneagram to church ministry in clear and accessible way. Not sure it would be of much interest beyond pastors but for this pastor it is very helpful and gives ideas I'd love to explore more.
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