Mad Church Disease

Anne Jackson is a twenty-seven year old writer who lives in the Dallas area with her husband, Chris. Chris and Anne both are on staff at Lake Pointe Church in Rockwall, Texas. You may have read some of her writings in Relevant Magazine including one of the most discussed articles on their site: Dirty Girls: The New Porn Addicts (
A little longer bio you can pick through:

—About Mad Church Disease—
Mad Church Disease is a book which will discuss the epidemic of ministry burnout in today’s contemporary church. Currently, anonymous surveys are being conducted at for those who are on church staff, those who are family of church staff, and those who are volunteers.
By analyzing these surveys, as well as conducting interviews with pastors, families, and volunteers world-wide, Anne hopes to bring this touchy subject to light using real-life stories of not only tragedy, but redemption and healing for those who have been affected by this disease.
—About the Surveys— (also found at
If you are (or have been) a PAID pastor, ministry leader, or church staff employee, please take the first survey.
If you are (or have been) a spouse/family member of a PAID pastor, ministry leader, or church staff employee, please take the second survey.
If you are (or have been) serving in a volunteer capacity at a church or ministry, please take the third survey.
Although you are asked identifying information such as your name, your church name, and contact information, as soon as you press that the “SUBMIT” button, all of that information becomes instantly encrypted into an ID number.
That means nobody will ever see any identifying information. EVER.
If I need to contact you for further information or clarification, I will send an email to that ID number (never seeing your information at all) and YOU will have the choice to respond.
I have hired a third party database manager and only this person holds the key to un-encrypting your information. This person has signed a confidentiality agreement. YOUR INFORMATION IS SAFE.
Why even ask for that information? In order to make this survey as verifiable and legit as possible, we do need to collect it. Rest assured we will not use or reveal your private information.
Also, know your information will not be picked up by a third party as this is an SSL Secured website.
Yes, I said nosy. I want to get in your dirty laundry. After speaking with literally hundreds of church staff members, everybody has some. And everybody is afraid to talk about it. Let’s tell the world that we are humans, saved by grace, and that yes, we have issues. Drop the professional Christian front and get real with what’s going on!
Feel a bit uncomfortable? That’s the point. But please don’t worry…I am not going to chase you down or turn you in if you responded that you’ve had an affair. I will not tell your senior pastor (or your spouse!) you look at porn.
For one thing, I CAN’T! I won’t know who you are. Remember? All your identifying information is encrypted and I’ll never see it. You can reveal your skeletons in a safe and confidential way.
So I reiterate, PLEASE BE HONEST. All fields are required for the most accurate data analysis.
It should only take you 5-10 minutes to complete the survey. Once the survey portion is complete, the data will be strategically analyzed and used in a general method of support in the book. If you have any questions or concerns about taking the survey, please do not hesitate to email Anne.
—About the Name Mad Church Disease—
A few months ago, I was watching a documentary on a BBC channel about Mad Cow Disease. Although typically only found in the United Kingdom, several distinct things stood out to me about this problem.
1. The disease lies dormant for a given amount of time, going unnoticed. It can be a period of months to a few years.
2. It’s caused by a rouge protein that attaches itself to the cow’s central nervous system, thus affecting the cow’s brain and responses (hence the name, Mad Cow Disease).
3. It is transmitted through eating the suspect protein. However, some cattle are more susceptible to infection than others.
4. It ultimately leads to the infected cow’s death.
During the time I have been praying about this project, several ideas about what to call it (at least tentatively) came to mind. On one particular day, I was going crazy over a certain issue my computer was having and said aloud, “This computer is driving me mad!” and long story short, suddenly I was struck with the similarities between those who burnout in ministry and these poor cows.
Sounds terrible, doesn’t it? But it’s true. Let’s think about this:
1. Ministry burnout isn’t always obvious. In fact, most of us tend to stuff it down. We feel the pressure to love our work because it’s “for God” and we shouldn’t have anything to complain about, right? Eventually though, we notice it, and soon do those close to us.
2. Ministry burnout affects us emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically. Much like our four-legged bovine comparison. It can partially attribute to behavior which isn’t in character. If we were honest with ourselves, I think we can admit that at many times we have gone crazy because of decisions we have made that have impacted us while in ministry.
3. Ministry burnout is contagious. It can be a culture in which we work or volunteer, it can be transmitted through ministries through leaders or attitudes. Sadly, the fall out can even be passed through an entire church, or family. We can, however, take precautions to not be as susceptible to ministry burnout.
4. Although there’s a small chance someone would actually pass away physically due to ministry burnout, how many marriages have been killed? How many relationships with children, family members, or friends have fallen victim? How many dreams dashed or purposes left hanging because we just can’t go on?


1 thought on “Mad Church Disease

  1. the survey is admirable for the purpose of finding out secrets, but the information is only gotten by keeping confidentiality. my point is, the way belief is practiced in this country tends to promote a basic dishonesty, an obsession with perfect performances and appearances. believe me, i know it all quite well having been brought up in a religious home. so. . .good luck. but i am not optimistic about your call for “dropping the professional Christian” thing.

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