The Enneagram: A Tool the Church Must Only Use Wisely

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Aaron Burden photo | Unsplash

By Meredith Boggs

The Enneagram has saturated evangelical circles with a powerful resurgence in the past few years.

With its gaining popularity, new books and podcasts on the topic are popping up seemingly everywhere. And it has created quite the buzz in Christian subculture.

There are powerful lessons to be gleaned from the Enneagram in regard to our type and patterns, and ways to understand ourselves as well as those in our care. But are we placing too much stake in this tool?

We have to be careful to not confuse personal growth with spiritual growth. While they aren’t mutually exclusive and can go hand-in-hand for believers, they aren’t the same.

Personal growth places an emphasis on recognition and continual development to reach one’s highest potential. Spiritual growth is ultimately about our sanctification and becoming more Christ-like.

While there’s nothing wrong or sinful with seeking personal growth, as believers we’re stopping woefully short if we aren’t wholeheartedly pursuing our own spiritual growth or the spiritual growth of others.

Christians are called to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18)—not to grow into the healthiest version of our Enneagram type.

While growing in grace and knowledge may pave the pathway for us to grow into a healthier version of our Enneagram type, that isn’t the primary objective.

Placing precedence on personal growth through the Enneagram instead of wholeheartedly seeking spiritual growth can be derailing.

While there are spiritual applications to be made, the Enneagram isn’t the gospel.

And as Christian leaders, we should be intentional in pointing people to the Bible, the inherent Word of God—not an Enneagram book or great new podcast episode on the subject.

In the same way, daily devotionals can be helpful in our spiritual journey by providing lessons and takeaways for reflection but cannot be our primary source of spiritual food, which is Scripture.

The Enneagram can, at best, be a mere supplement to our spiritual growth.

As church and ministry leaders, we desire to engage people—who they are and where they are. But we also carry a responsibility to point them toward the ultimate truth of the gospel.

As you find yourself in conversations with congregation members or fellow brothers and sisters who bring up the Enneagram as they seek spiritual growth, engage them on the topic.

But then be quick to bring them back to what the Bible says about their latest eye-opening moments of understanding or current struggle they’re facing.

Encourage people in what they’re learning and how they’re growing personally. But pull them toward foundational truths found in the Bible and equip them with ways to grow spiritually.

The Enneagram can be a wonderful tool and a catalyst to profound personal and spiritual growth, but we must not substitute it where the ancient text of the Bible rightfully belongs in our lives.

As ministry leaders we are held to a higher standard as James warns in 3:1: “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.”

It’s our responsibility to root ourselves in the practice of soundly teaching what the Bible says instead of offering watered down Christianity to those who have entrusted themselves to our leadership.

We incur on ourselves a stricter judgement and carry a great responsibility to teach the truth of the gospel.

Let us embrace those we lead where they are on their unique spiritual journey, but may we not substitute anything—no idea, book, podcast, or personality typing system like the Enneagram—for the living and breathing Word of God.

MEREDITH BOGGS is the writer & speaker of  The Other Half blog & podcast. She is a critical care nurse and sexual assault forensic nurse examiner, lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband, Justin, and is expecting their first baby in 2021.

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