>Book Review: Mad Church Disease

Posted: 10/01/2010 in book review

>Book Review: Mad Church Disease

Does Working at this church interfere with your communion with Christ?

In a previous blog, I mentioned that one of the perils of preaching is the pressure on the preachers. This can easily be extended to all Christian leadership. This problem is one that is not easily addressed. Thankfully, Anne Jackson has provided Mad Church Disease: Overcoming the Burnout Epidemic for the perplexed.

If you even consider getting your feet wet in ministry, even at the lay level, this is a book worth reading.

Spend time with any group of Christians who have done ministry, especially those in the mid-twenties, and you will hear tales of burnout. Feelings of lack of fulfillment, depression and betrayal abound. Bad church politics can chew up the most idealistic and caring minister. People fall into sin and hide it from others. Other times, so much moral judgment is passed around that no one measures up. Too much can be demanded by a few people. Family health can go by the way side. All of this happens as ministers and lay people attempt to fulfill the God’s mission through their work in the churches.

Anne Jackson’s own story is unique, but her experience is no doubt familiar to many. The closed door church meetings are often the sanctuary of the hypocrites, and she knew this as a pastor’s kid. In one episode, her father voluntarily stepped down after a vicious fight about what “evangelism” meant for his church. The verbal and emotional abuse eventually infected him and his family. Not surprisingly, Anne Jackson spent a period of her life that could be described as a “secular sabbatical.”

Yes, we’ve all been there. If you haven’t yet, you probably will be soon.

This book in no way pretends that we can avoid all the trouble that comes with being in church, but there are nonetheless ways to protect ourselves and even endure in the task of ministry. Her recommendations begin with common prescription: spend time with God and spend time in prayer. I have admit, when I first read that chapter I was little irate. Why would you prescribe to someone burnt by the church to go do more “church” things?

Fortunately, her prescription begins, but does not stop there. Rather, Jackson expands to other sections. Physical health, for instance includes obeying a reasonable sleep schedule and exercising. Emotional health means avoiding bad outlets of emotional escapism –like dodging our feelings through work or substance abuse. Relational health cautions us to keep relationships a priority over our ministry. Also, there is the need for those in the ministry world to create practical and firm boundaries. It is saying ”no” when we asked to do too much even if other people will not understand or insist that they “depend” on us. All of this comes from meticulous research that only a popular blogger can provide.

But what else I think is really great about this book its presentation. The subject matter could easily go on and on and fill academic journals, but it is presented in a short and concise way. Also, the end of each section Anne Jackson offers a personal checklist for her readers. It is done so in order to demand that the reader check up. It helps catch the hidden problems before they fester into something worse. It also provides second opinions in the forms of interviews with other pastors. The is also meant to be used in groups, so that ministry teams can prayerfully consider how to avoid burn out.

Mad Church Disease is a good resource. The sad part is many people might only read it on the other side of burn out. Because of that, anyone who is entering ministry –or even considering it- stands to benefit from this book the most.

So all you ministry n00bs, go check it out.

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  1. Q says:

    >This doesn't directly pertain to your post (but kind of). I just wanted to put it here because this post references your previous one.My friend, Caleb, recently wrote a post on preaching. Interested in what you think. Might add some perspective to your last two posts.http://anewregress.blogspot.com/2010/01/thoughts-on-preaching.html

  2. Anne Jackson says:

    >Thanks so much for posting this review! I really appreciate it. And I won't stop you one bit from posting it on Amazon either if you feel so compelled (ahem, cough cough). 🙂 Seriously, I think your perspective on it is great and could be what somebody needs to read before deciding to purchase it! Thanks for reading!!!

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