How a Type 8 on the Enneagram experiences your church and how to connect them

Charles and is son Rainier.

Charles and is son Rainier.

As a Three, people who want to kick the tires once the truck is moving, can just be in my way.

Not Charles Stoicu.

Charles can walk into a room and rally people, silently lead people through others he is raising up to lead, assess an event or a process that needs to improve, and speak up in a meeting to point out the elephant in the room.

I have come to appreciate Charles, value his input, and love he and his family in a special way.

Charles came into my life when he was dating a valuable team member. Phylicia Norris was a dynamo on our Build Community Team and her thinking and hard work as left a mark on us to this day. When she married Charles and had their son Rainier, she left our team to be a full time mom.

I have been mad at Charles ever since!

Charles likes to challenge us. Questions like “Why are we…”, “Why did we…”, and “How will we…” are often asked in a polite but direct and courageous way.

Why does Charles relentlessly ask the hard questions make the tough statements? Because Charles is an Eight.

How a Type Eight sees their world

An Eight sees the world as a wrong that needs to be righted, but not in the same way as a One. Ones are driven to improve situations and systems that are underperforming. Eights see people who are being affected or disenfranchised and are driven to remove what is causing that injustice and boldly replace it with something that will insure it doesn’t happen again.

Charles and his awesome wife, Phylicia.

Charles and his awesome wife, Phylicia.

That’s why Eights are known for these characteristics:

  1. Eights are Challengers. They look around an organization, movement or endeavor and see what is keeping things from happening that would make the most difference for people. They will bring up opposing views, unspoken needs, sacred cows and hidden agendas faster than any other number on the enneagram.

  2. Eights are Bomb droppers. In order for their cause to be served, Eights will often exaggerate a point when they make it, kind of like a cold bucket of water in the face to insure that proper attention is being given to something they see as important. It’s not that they are trying to be deceitful in any way. It is just part of their communication style. They will make statements in church staff meetings like:

    • “I think we did more harm than good yesterday”

    • “People won’t find Jesus in an environment where that is allowed to happen”

    • “There is a disconnect between what we want to accomplish and what we just did”

    • “I think we just took a big step backwards”

  3. Eights have a soft inside. Many are surprised to find a very sensitive person inside the skin of an Eight. They can be unsure of their value and where they stand in a social circle or network and can feel very affected by that insecurity though you would never know it by their bold actions and courageous positions. Only those who have gained their deep trust will ever know about that softer and sensitive interior.

  4. Eights are Defenders of Injustice. It could be easy to see an Eight as a bully. They are not. They defend the ones who are bullied or forgotten. They will take up the cause of an underdog like a super hero does a child sitting on a train track when someone can hear a distant whistle blowing.

  5. Eights are not controlling, they just don’t like to be controlled. This is one of the most profound insights among many that Ian Morgan Cron writes about in his book The Road Back to You. Cron dispels the common notion that the motive of an eight is to always be in control of their environment. It is an Eight’s desire to not be controlled that is behind most of their actions and they will often take charge to avoid that. As a result, Eights would rather lead than follow any day.

All this makes a guest who is an Eight experience your church in an interesting way…

How Eights experience your church

Eights see your church and mine as a tire to be kicked. Again, not like a One who is inspecting the functionality of systems almost like a engineer would. Eights, what to see if you really mean what you say.

For instance, if you say you are a church for everybody and certain groups of people are being alienated by the unintended consequences of your efforts. you will get some questions and bold statements from an Eight in your assimilation environments. Likewise, if you are boldly addressing issues that have left people and results by the wayside, Eights will champion your cause and invite others into it.

As tire-kickers, they may see themselves or others they know as able to address those issues before they even have the clout to be invited into them. For most, these thoughts represent the conversations going on in their heads that await the right moment when they decide an issue is worth their energy.

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Dos and Don’ts for for connecting a Type Eight

Do: Give them a safe place to kick the tires and process their faith.

Challengers challenge. It’s what they do. When they kick the tires on something (sometimes by dropping a “bomb statement”), consider yourself having been kissed by an Eight. They have given you a gift by sharing not only what they see, but their slight exaggeration has exposed an area of their passion and a place of improvement in your ministry.

Rarely will any other number on the Enneagram give you that same gift. So make a safe place for them to share what they see and train Table Hosts and leaders in your church to know how to handle statements that may cause offense, in a non-defensive way.

Don’t: Argue with them, especially in front of other guests.

Taking in their assessments may mean at some point correct wrong information. When that happens, don’t go toe to toe with them, especially in front of others. Especially in front of guests! They are wired to defend a cause and protect someone/something in need so if you are concerned that an incorrect position is energizing their conversations, meet one on one with them and use the Sandwich Technique (Compliment, Critique, Compliment) to honor their secret inner softness. Just don’t spend too long on the opening compliment: they smell a technique coming and to not appreciate mind games. It can potentially make them feel controlled or manipulated.

What is the “Superpower” of an Eight on a volunteer team?

They are advocates. They are the kind you want to take over a ministry for a group of people that have been neglected for some time. They will rally those people, make them believe in themselves as valuable, and will make sure that they are remembered, noticed and embraced by the church at large.

So if you have a segment of your church that needs a ministry “revived” to address their needs (think Young Adults, Seniors, a youth ministry after a difficult transition, etc.), then Eights are your go to at making that happen as they advocate for people, underdogs and causes really well.

However, since we are talking largely about guests and people new to your church, I would caution you about putting them in charge of something under these circumstances:

  • Before they are ready spiritually.

  • Before you are ready to have that area fully addressed and resourced.

  • Before you have won their trust and they have won yours.

  • Before you have assessed their emotional intelligence in dealing with others.

Charles and some of the young adults and Interns he serves.

Charles and some of the young adults and Interns he serves.

Observe their emotional intelligence first because an Eight who hasn’t acquired the EQ to work with and develop other leaders can really upset the apple cart. Try them out in some rolls where you can see them interact with people and when you sense they have the spiritual chops and EQ for leading in your church culture, entrust something important to them and watch it develop into a force to be reckoned with.

I remember Charles volunteering as a greeter when he came to Eastside. Energized by a Seven wing, this Seminary educated and equipped young leader was blowing me away as he interacted with people of every stripe, age, and life stage as they walked through the entrance of our church. Kids looked forward to encountering him at the door. Seniors, loved being welcomed by him. Young families had meaningful conversations with him. But young adults were exceptionally engaged by him.

When the position of Director of Young Adults came open at our church, he was the logical choice and and that ministry has quintupled since he took it on. He is not just their pastor, he is the Advocate for young adults and Young Adult Ministry at my church.

More importantly from my point of view, Charles has been a catalyst for developing young leaders and connect young adults to meaningful areas of ministry. Young adults are table leaders at Next Steps, on the stage leading worship, serving coffee at our cafe, interning in our ministry. The most prolific thing is that from his Young Adult Ministry we call “Ethos” has even come the Campus Pastor of our new Redlands Campus-Matt Feldcamp who I spoke of in the Type One post in this Enneagram series.

It should be no surprise that Charles now leads our Intern Program at Eastside. It has become a well oiled machine for young adults that want to invest in ministry and have others invest in them (something Charles insures we do in a variety of ways).

I am grateful that God led Charles our way and that he is part of our extended family. Look for and out for the Eights who are coming to your church. You will be glad you did.

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  • On a 1 to 5 scale, how well do you work with people who like to challenge you and the status quo? What have you learned about yourself or ministry that caused you to pick that number?

  • In what area could the leadership of your church benefit from someone kicking the tires right now? Name 3 suspected Eights, at least one that is newer to the church, to focus group with over coffee to help you identify issues surrounding an underperforming area of ministry.

  • How would you describe the onboarding journey of an Eight from being a first time guest at your church to becoming a key leader in your church’s ministry? What would it look like now? What should it look like in the future?

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