Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Mad Church Disease

Anne Jackson's book, Mad Church Disease: Overcoming the Burnout Epidemic, is a personal and practical guide to dealing with burnout in the church. Anne shares her own story of experiencing burnout while growing up as a pastor's kid and working in full-time ministry as an adult. The church can really suck sometimes at loving people; I don't know how church leadership gets to the place where destroying people's emotions and relationships is somehow okay and seen as Godly, but even in my youthful inexperience in leadership I've seen some of the worst of it.

If you're in church leadership, you need to read this book. If you're part of a church, you probably should read it too. Even if you're not burned out, just read it. At this particular season in my life, I don't feel particularly burned out. This is likely due to the fact that I'm relatively new to the church leadership scene--under the age of 25, married less than 3 years, first kid on the way, etc.--and haven't had the extended years of unhealthy habits and painful experiences to lead to total burnout. But I'm also recognizing that I could end up there if I'm not building healthy habits and boundaries right now. I think that finding balance and striving for health now in my life could lead to long-term health as a leader. Instead of being a match that lights up quickly, only to burn out within moments, I'd rather be a torch that can sustain a fire and passion for ministry for the long-run.

The entire last half of the book is a holistic guide to evaluating one's life and striving for health before burnout occurs. Anne tackles the emotional, the physical, the social, and the spiritual. I was particularly startled by the chapter on physical habits of pastors and some of the statistics Anne shared. It turns out that we can be a physically unhealthy group of people. There are also interviews with various church leaders scattered between chapters; some of these were incredibly insightful and offered a different voice giving the same message as Anne--be a healthy church leader.

Like I said, if you're in church leadership in any capacity, it's worth taking the time to read through Anne's book and evaluate your own life. My only critique: I wish it was longer! I finished it and wished I had some more stories and resources to ponder. Thankfully Anne has an awesome blog here and a great online discussion for the book here, so the stories and dialogue about overcoming Mad Church Disease can continue.


  1. Thank you so much for taking the time to read MCD & post your thoughts about it. SO very wise of you to begin to be aware of and implement those healthy habits now (and in doing so, lead those around you!) Love it.

    Shameless: If you want to copy/paste your thoughts on Amazon, that'd be great. You have some awesome insights for younger pastors that I think could be useful if they're considering the book.

    Peace --

  2. Anne, I'll Amazon it up! Thanks for the comment (and the book!)

  3. This just came up in my Google alerts so I wanted to say thanks again :)