How a Type 6 on the Enneagram experiences your church and how to connect them
It was a Sunday like any Sunday at my church. It was a nice service, met some new families and had some great conversations.
That’s when I heard the sound.
The crunch was unmistakable. It was the sound of metal against metal, plastics against plastics and it had that deafening collision sound that 2 cars make when they have met the hard way.
What I didn’t know was that one of the cars was mine. Yes mine, and my wife was driving it. But the best part was who owned the parked car she ran into: Cindy and Gerry Demint, the first time visitors I had just met.
Nothing like a free gift to exchange for a guests contact info, especially if your One Place to meet guests has just become the church parking lot, complete with onlookers.
I was fortunate in at least two ways. One was that Rhod Marcil, one of our Overseers at the church, owned a dent repair business so he graciously offered to fix it no cost to either if us. The second was who we hit: we didn’t know it at the time, but this couple who had not yet become followers of Jesus were going to become followers, and cherished life long friends of ours.
Apart from a God who orchestrates such appointments, part of what made all this possible was that Cindy is a Six on the Enneagram.
How a Type Six sees their world
A Six is called most often “The Loyalist”, but sometimes they are listed as “The Skeptic”. They are considered to be the largest demographic on the enneagram, Fours (“The Individualist”) being the most rare.
Sixes see the world as a place fraught with danger. They are rooted deeply in the Fear Triad of the Enneagram and their worse-case scenario thinking and periodic over-vigilance make them known as worriers over those they love. They are hard wired for safety and security and want to know all the details before they commit to something. Their default is suspicion until they know you well and if you ever let them down by choice, lie to them, or do something that put their loved ones in harms way, will then woe be to you. Their North Star is safety and security.
Sixes are sacrificial. If you are in their family, friendship circle or tribe, their is nothing that will keep them from extending their help or offering their best advise to keep you from risks that can be avoided.
My first interaction with Cindy was not at her first worship service at my church, but in the church office when she came in to ask questions about the camp that her youngest son JT had signed up for. He had been invited by friends to our youth group and he wanted to attend summer camp with them so naturally that activated what I call a Six’s “fear gene”. This is the term I use when talking to Cindy (and to my wife who is a 7 wing 6) and I am referring to a natural life long tendency to see the danger in things before almost anything else. Fortunately, our church and camp passed the test and JT and his brother Peter went to camp.
Cindy and Gerry have 4 children who are all adults now: Tim, Mandy, Peter and JT. After becoming part of our church and hosting a small group, a defining moment happened in their family. It was discovered that a degenerative disease of the nervous system called “Ataxia” that is genetically inherited through the unique combining of the parents genes was in fact the new reality for all 3 of their teen sons. Confining them to wheelchairs over time, Ataxia has similar symptoms to Lou Gerhig’s disease. As a Six, Cindy has been not just Mother of the Century in my book, she has become a force to be reckoned with in raising awareness and money for research to fight Ataxia.
Sixes can find alternative ways, safer ways to accomplish tasks. They are fantastic problem solvers when it comes to risk assessment. As a result, Cindy’s home has been redesigned to give comfort and access to her 3 adult sons. Whenever Cindy and Gerry fly on a plane, they take two flights to ensure that nothing will happen to both parents when their sons will need at least one in their lives.
I would also call a Loyalist an Activist in the sense that if someone needs help whom they love, heaven and earth will be moved to see that they will be safe and well. Our church had and continues to have the privilege of supporting her annual Walk and Roll in Long Beach and Yorba Linda, Brothers on a Quest campaign, and even the premier of a movie made about the Demint family. Cindy serves on the National Ataxia Board and this lady and her husband Gerry still find time to go and support the ministries of our church in other countries and to show up at events for my own kids who see them as a spiritual aunt and uncle.
How Sixes experience your church
It should be no surprise that Sixes see your church as a resource. This sounds like they are takers. Nothing could be farther from the truth. They experience a spiritual family as a network of resources that can be used to bless those both inside and outside that network.
Dos and Don’ts for for connecting a Type Six
Do: Be there for their family and friends in need
One of the high honors I’ve had in my life is baptizing Gerry Demint in the Colorado River at a Men’s River Trip. I love telling him that I didn’t hold him under long enough.
Eventually, almost every family member and close friend of the Demints have attended our church. Because of Ataxia, when their sons attend Christmas services along with their grandparents. we invite them to come early and be escorted into the auditorium first along with others who have any special needs. They are seated in an area where there is space for wheelchairs next to seating for their family and friends. There are individual TV screens for the visually impaired and auditorium hosts who check in to see if they need anything from blankets they can keep if they’d like, to coloring books for kids.
When a church takes care of the special needs of a Six’s family and friends, you are speaking the native language of a Loyalist which leads to an obvious Don’t…
Don’t: Make them do something that would make their friends and family uncomfortable
Sixes may ask you to do things that would help their loved ones connect to God, others or resources that might be unprecedented or even against some rules or policies. Find a way to accommodate them. They are not asking for themselves but for those they care about and hoping to help or lead to faith.
When we do things just because its our policy or its the way we’ve always done it, that breaks trust with a Six especially if our inflexibility makes their guests uncomfortable in some real way. Being as creative as they are in problem solving would go a long way a connecting a Six at your church.
What is the “Superpower” of a Six on a volunteer team?
Sixes become brokers when they volunteer. Because they are loyal to their tribe, anyone in that tribe who is in need of anything-encouragement, financial help, expertise, whatever-will be the beneficiary of a Six matching their needs to your church’s resources.
As a leader, another role that I have personally benefitted from that Sixes regularly take on is that of a consultant. Their natural gravitation toward risk assessment, seeking the safest option, and knowing how the people they love will experience something will eliminate missteps that you couldn’t see otherwise in ministry planning.
One example of this is Olivia Woodward who is on the staff team of one of our campuses. She is invaluable in advocating the safety, comfortability and skepticism that the average guest may have. Her insulating our ministry from avoidable mishaps in volunteer onboarding and communication from the stage has been a gift to our team. All this because she is a Six! See Olivia’s photo on my post on How the Enneagram can help you reach a bigger variety of guests at your church.
As time goes by, I realize how my life has been impacted and insulated by the presence of Sixes. My grandmother was a Six. My wife and my son are wing Sixes. Cindy Demint is a Six that affects the lives of people surrounding her in transforming ways.
This year, Cindy’s son JT got married. This is something that we didn’t know would be in the cards for her son but Super Six Cindy made it happen. We had to navigate a lot of conventionality and rules to make it happen, but Cindy has taught me that love does that.
I still get tears in my eyes when I remember the mother/son dance. JT decided to have his sister help lift him out of his wheelchair and stand behind him so he could truly dance with his mom. I know. Killer…
I have known JT since he was in Jr High before Ataxia was a part of his life. I was honored to help officiate at his wedding and his beautiful wife Miriam driven largely by a family who is heavily influenced by the energy of their Six Matriarch. We are all blessed because of her.
What she has done for her sons is astounding and the fact that I get to be a part of that in any way is an honor and a gift as a Christ follower for me.
So connect those Sixes! You will be glad you did.
What concessions or unique opportunities do you have for people with special needs or for elderly guests?
What are the bumpers or guard rails for going off-script when it comes to addressing the unique needs and desires of guests? How do your volunteer teams who serve guests know these boundaries? Are they given permission and even inspired to go off script to wow a guest?
Is there a cautionary Six who you could bring into brainstorming conversations on topics that impact guest experience? Who is it? Email them now!