Mad Church Disease: A Book Review

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“Does working at this church interfere with your communion with Christ?”

This question was posed to Anne Jackson following her hospitalization due to stress and burn-out. As a full-time ministry leader she identified with Bill Hybel’s statement:

“the way I was doing the work of God was destroying the work of God in my life.”

“Burnout is a disease nobody talks about until it’s too late. Statistics and stories prove that the health of those serving in ministry is declining – spiritually, physically, emotionally and relationally.” (Mad Church Disease, Anne Jackson)

I’ve been following Anne Jackson (flowerdust) on Twitter for a while now. I didn’t even know she’d written a book. Then I heard about Mad Church Disease and wanted to read it, even though I had no idea what the book was about. The title intrigued me. I added it to my “to read” list for my 2010 Book Reading Challenge and hoped I’d get to buy it soon. Imagine my joy a few days later when Anne posted on her blog that they were offering the Kindle edition for free, one day only. I jumped over to Amazon and downloaded it to my iPhone.

{How much?} $12.23 $10.19

Anne Jackson offers a preview of a free chapter on Forgiveness at her website.

{What’s included}

Anne Jackson shares not only her experiences in full-time ministry, but utilizes the experiences of other Christian leaders to emphasis her point. Additionally, at the end of certain chapters there is a section called “Exam Room.” Here Jackson presents questions which are great for doing a self-exam on your well-being. She encourages her readers to write down their answers to these questions and discuss them with others.

{What I Liked}

  • Anne Jackson has a way of presenting a topic where you feel like it’s fully covered, but you’re not bogged down in the details. She writes with humor, but it’s obvious this is a serious topic to her.
  • The interview portions of the book provide a “second opinion” on the topic. Through Anne’s discussions with prominent church leaders you gain an insight into how they deal with burn-out.
  • The “Exam Room” questions aren’t fluff. If used properly, they can provide insight into where you are on the road to burn-out.

{What I Didn’t Like}

  • Umm…honestly, I can’t think of anything. I really enjoyed this book!


“The fear of letting people down, especially in spiritual matters, can often cause us to feel obligated or pressured into meeting unrealistic expectations, or worse, spending more time doing things for God instead of being what God wants us to be. That can lead to serious stress.” (Mad Church Disease, Anne Jackson)

I would recommend this book to anyone who serves in ministry in any capacity: full-time paid staff to occasional lay volunteer. Actually, I find that this correlates to non-ministry situations as well.

In one of her interviews, Anne Jackson presents this quote from Mike Foster (founder of

“If I find myself losing my patience with people quickly and my thoughts become negative toward friends and family, or I find myself withdrawing from relationships, this means I’ve entered a danger zone.”

As I person who’s served in ministry, I identify with this. As a stay-at-home mom, as a wife, as a student…I identify with this. Burn-out is something that can happen in a person’s life regardless of what vocation they assume. I recommend that you read this book to identify the specific decisions that you have already made in life where Satan could step in and derail the plan God has for you.

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