Mad Church Disease by Anne Jackson
The church that I went to during high school had 5 staff pastors. Sadly, 4 of those are no longer in ministry. I also had a total of 4 youth pastors during jr. high and high school. Two of them ended up out of ministry because of inappropriate relationships. That’s just my bubble and my world, and it gets much worse once you travel outside of your own world and see the epidemic that’s been happening in churches across the nation, and one main cause of all this is simply, burnout.
In her book, Mad Church Disease: Overcoming the Burnout Epidemic, Anne Jackson confronts the topic of burnout that is happening with church leaders. I really related with her perspective. As I did, she grew up as a PK (pastor’s kid) and saw the pressures that church attendees rarely see. I very much appreciated her observation of the difference of being a PK and then actually being in ministry as an adult. Even though you may have grown up in ministry, you still don’t see the “ugly” side of the church, until you’re ministering yourself, especially as a staff pastor. Not only did her father suffer burnout, but she went through it as well in her own ministry.
At the beginning of the book, she points out, “Burnout is a disease nobody talks about until it’s too late.” She cleverly compares mad cow disease to the burnout epidemic in churches. Anne feels that there are four areas that should be focused on to overcome the disease: 1. Spiritual Health, 2. Physical Health, 3. Emotional Health, and 4. Relational Health. I really loved how she laid out the book. It had the readability of Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell. In other words, it was really easy to read and hard to put down. Another unique aspect was the “Second Opinion” sections. I have never seen this in a book and I really appreciated it. It showed humility and the true desire to help the reader. Props to Anne for that innovation!
A very defining line from the book was, “Since I had allowed spending time with God to be replaced by spending time doing things for God, my spiritual tank had been sucked dry.” It is so easy to get sucked into the busyness of ministry and forget about God…crazy, but true. I, personally, have not suffered any kind of severe burnout, and I will credit that to the pastor I have worked for the last seven and a half years. We are striving to have the simplest ministry we can and keep the main things central. But, I have been exhausted and have been burnt from time to time by the church, and even by fellow staff members, which Anne went through as well. The only one we have, sometimes, is God, and if we are spiritually unhealthy, we are rolling the dice as pastors and as Christians. I recently read in another book that an ounce of prevention is worth way more than a ton of cures. That’s what this book was for me, and I really think anyone who works at a church or in a ministry would benefit greatly from this book. Thanks Anne.
p.s. Anne is also a well-known blogger at Flowerdust.net…check it out!