January 13, 2009 Tony Morgan

What are the Symptoms of Mad Church Disease?

Anne Jackson wrote a book called Mad Church Disease that will release on February 1. My concern is that we may have a case of the mad church disease, and we don’t even know it. With that in mind, I asked Anne about the symptoms. Here’s what she had to share:

Tony: Mad Church Disease presents itself in many areas of health…what were your symptoms like when you burned out and what did you do about them?

Anne: In 2005, I was in my second year of full-time ministry serving as a Director of Communication & Media at a large church.   I was young and thought I was completely invincible.  I worked crazy hours, never rested, never recharged…only went 100 mph 100% of the time.  Part of the problem was I had no idea what healthy boundaries were or how to establish them.  But the biggest issue is I was relying completely on my strength and not the overflow of my relationship with Christ.  I had allowed that to waste away as…

I was too busy doing things for God instead of spending time being with Him.

I went to the doctor for a check up and within a few days was admitted to a hospital because they discovered my abdominal cavity was inflamed.  At first, they thought it was appendicitis but after some tests, learned it wasn’t.  After a week of being poked and prodded and probed and…well, just imagine…the doctors finally determined my stressful lifestyle was making me sick.

Physically, my symptoms were obvious and I’d recover easily if I just slowed down a bit.  But the rest of my health (emotional, spiritual, and relational health) was wrecked.  Aside from the constant headaches and heartburn, I was having panic attacks and was so depressed that some days, I didn’t even make it out of bed.  I withdrew from my relationships with my friends and family because I was too afraid to let them see me breaking down.  And spiritually, although I desperately prayed…I was so confused in my faith I was completely ready to throw in the towel.

I ended up taking a short leave of absence to sort through some of these issues…getting on medication where I needed to.  I went to counseling (outside of my church where I felt I could be completely honest without fear of losing my job) two to three times a week for a month, and then weekly for another year.  I started exercising and eating healthy.  I intentionally asked for help from friends.  But the biggest thing was (even though I didn’t feel like it) pouring my heart out to God and responding to Scripture.

Ministry can ONLY be an overflow of that relationship.  John 15:5 says apart from Christ we can do NOTHING.  Sure “we” can “do” things…but it isn’t the life God intended for us.  He wants us to have an abundant life resting in Him…not freaking ourselves out “doing stuff” for him.

Pre-order your copy of Mad Church Disease today!

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Tony Morgan

Tony Morgan

Tony is the Chief Strategic Officer and founder of The Unstuck Group, theunstuckgroup.com. For 14 years, Tony served on the senior leadership teams at West Ridge Church (Dallas, GA), NewSpring Church (Anderson, SC) and Granger Community Church (Granger, IN). He's written several books and articles that have been featured with the Willow Creek Association, Catalyst and Pastors.com.
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