Mad Church Disease

mad_church_disease.jpgHow is it that a place that is supposed to be safe, a place that brings healing, can cause so much pain for so many?

Mad Church Disease: Overcoming the Burnout Epidemic by Anne Jackson seeks to not only answer that question but to deliver the healing that can be lacking from many churches.

My short review is simply ‘buy this book’ but I suppose I should say a little more than that.

I was thrilled when I got my copy of Mad Church Disease in the mail a few weeks back. I’d read so much about the book at Anne’s blog and finally I could find out for myself whether it would live up to all the ‘hype’. After spending some time over my recent holiday reading the book my answer is an emphatic YES!

Mad Church Disease is aimed at those who work in churches, not just pastors, but all those involved in church work as a paid employee or volunteer worker, however, I would suggest that the target audience is too small. This isn’t just a book for those working in a church but for anyone who works or has worked in any kind of ministry position. It may help you understand what you’ve been through or what you’re currently experiencing. Even better, it’ll help you to move on and become healthier spiritually, physically and relationally.

I’d also suggest that it’s a book that shouldn’t only be read by those who feel that circumstances are getting on top of them but by all those who work in a church or ministry. If you’re battling burnout or you want to be aware of the early warning signs of burnout before they get the chance do some serious damage, read this book and make sure you sit down with a pen and paper for the evaluation sections at the end of each chapter.

Mad Church Disease isn’t a ‘heavy read’ and you should be able to read through it fairly quickly. However, if you want the full benefit of reading the book, you’ll need to take your time over each chapter to absorb what Anne has written and more importantly to answer the sometimes tough questions she asks. It’s also helpful to read the short interviews that Anne carried out with various pastors and church workers. The interviews help to provide clear examples of what the book is all about and to add extra, often well known, voices to the actions that Anne suggests will help in conquering Mad Church Disease.

One of the themes that Anne returns to a number of times is the act of owning up to the part we’ve played in bringing us to where we are today. We can’t allow ourselves to only lay blame at the feet of others who have hurt us. If we’re totally honest we know that we need to confess our part in the madness before we can move on.

I’ll admit that some of the behind the scenes savagery Anne reveals from some churches boggled my mind. How can people treat one another like that? Though from what she has to say in the book, the kind of issues she highlights won’t come as any surprise to many readers.

Why does it seem as though when another believer hurts us, the pain we experience is exponentially greater than if we are hurt by someone who doesn’t share the same faith?

I wish I had the answer to that question, but I don’t. All I know is that it’s true, and the pain can be paralyzing. – Anne Jackson – Mad Church Disease

You’ll find the clear message that comes through the book is it doesn’t have to be like this. You can work in Christian ministry and not only survive but thrive. You can fulfil the calling that God has put on your life and stay healthy.

I’m glad to say that I’m not exhibiting any of the symptoms of Mad Church Disease but I still found the book valuable in calling me back to a greater focus on the place of faith, spirituality and God in my life. Jesus is wanting to draw closer to me. I need reminders like the ones in Mad Church Disease that I need to draw closer to him and to rely on his strength if I’m to avoid the traps that have tripped up so many.



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About the author

Rodney Olsen

Rodney is a husband, father, cyclist, blogger and podcaster from Perth Western Australia.

He previously worked in radio for about 25 years but these days he spends his time at Compassion Australia, working towards releasing children from poverty in Jesus' name.

The views he expresses here are his own.

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