Church Burnout Poll Results

January 27, 2009 by

2009_01_27churchburnoutpollresults.jpgRecently, we talked with Anne Jackson about her new book Mad Church Disease. She was involved directly in church communications when she found herself in the hospital dealing with stress-related illnesses. Most of you probably haven’t wound up in the hospital, but we wanted to know if you’ve experienced church burnout.

A whopping 12% of you are now former church employees due to burnout. That’s over 25 in our meager little poll; I think that says something about how big this problem is.

45% of you have seen the burn victims, and it’s not pretty. We’ve seen them too, and we agree. But another quarter of you say that these burns are no worse than those you’ve seen in secular offices.

The blessed 7% of you are lucky enough to have an amazing staff culture that hasn’t sent you reeling. And a final 8% of you get burned out just from being stuck at church for an hour or two on Sunday mornings.

We’d love to hear in the comments how your church has successfully fought against burnout or things that have really left you empty. If you want a more professional prescription, make sure to order a copy of Anne’s book.

This week, we want to know how your church would respond to a Hooters moving in next door?

Post By:

Joshua Cody


Josh Cody served as our associate editor for several years before moving on to bigger things. Like Texas. These days he lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, and you can find him online or on Twitter when he's not wrestling code.
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5 Responses to “Church Burnout Poll Results”

  • Kyle McDonald
    January 27, 2009

    At the church I use to work at, burnout happened when the vision of individual people weren’t in-sync. Also, the church dealt with internal drama that didn’t help with work environment.
    For me, I get burned out when my focus come off of the reason for ministry…Jesus and People.
    It’s too easy to get caught up in building size and budget.


  • David Springstead, Sr.
    January 27, 2009

    Where I’m on staff it’s been so bad that I’m currently the 2nd longest serving “office” member (of 7) with only 3 years seniority. And with how it’s currently going I might be the next one, if the other person who’s been there longer than me doesn’t leave first. Modern church ministry isn’t for the faint of heart or wimps. People today will eat you alive if you’re not careful.


  • Keith
    January 28, 2009

    Interesting Statistics. I think though, that some staff members begin to look at their job in the church as just a job. They lose passion.
    If you are building the Kingdom of God and not just a ‘ministry’, you will always be ignited.


  • Rosemary
    January 29, 2009

    My experience tells me that people who think Christians are holy have clearly never worked at a church.
    I’ve worked at this church for 3 years. In that time I’ve seen 3 parish administrators and 3 bookkeeper/accountants. The 2nd parish administrator was a serious burn-out freak-out, who threatened to put a coworker through a window.
    In the first church I worked at as the secretary, both the previous secretary and her accompanying parish administrator had thrown up their hands & walked off the job in the same week. We spent over a year picking up the pieces they left scattered.
    I don’t know what accounts for this, but I know 2 things that could often be improved.
    1) Pastors are often expected to lead or oversee the office, but their training as spiritual leaders does not prepare them to be office managers. They are idea people who try to be detail people, and the detail people who work for them get frustrated and quit.
    2) Churches have a habit of hiring people who are not actually qualified for their jobs. They call it ministry-work, and so they make the mistake of thinking that just because Susie’s heart is in the right place, she’ll eventually figure out how to do payroll correctly. This is not actually a good plan for success in any workplace environment.


  • Bob Sakamano
    February 5, 2009

    I must agree with the prior post on points one and two. MDiv and theology programs should include mandatory successful completion of business classes, communication, and management practices.
    My former employer exclusively hired members for all church functions. Membership wasn’t the only requirement though, they must have been “actively” involved in membership and volunteerism, and must have interviewed with his eighty-something year old mother before being hired. I once waited two weeks for a teenage part-time $7 per hour job applicant to complete his interview with the pastor’s mother before he could be hired.
    Ergo, our accounting department uses outdated paper processes that are egregiously disfunctional; PR’s are routinely repeated two and three times due to loss, there’s no tracking system other than leg work, and, tithe dollars are wasted to the tune of thousands per month. This is a church of three hundred EMPLOYEES, eight hundred volunteers, with claimed membership of fourteen thousand! I regularly went three to four months before hearing from the associate pastor and my direct supervisor, on issues that entry level supervisors are empowered to make elsewhere.
    The pastor’s asset control involves having his, or his mother’s signature, on every PO, personnel requisition, and routine policy statement. He has an MDiv and PHD, but, manages his multi-million dollar organization like a small country church where the church secretary does everything else.
    Burnt out . . . more akin to rolled in batter and deep-fat fried! I can’t imagine a more inefficient structure, barring only the federal government.
    After two-and-a-half years of employment, and almost a year of insomnia, depression, iritable bowel syndrome, hypertension, and exponential frustration, I twisted off one day and told the pastor in a staff meeting no less, that I was done! I went directly to my office and cleaned out my belongings, leaving behind a fifty-plus thousand dollar salary and benefits. Walking out the door the last time, my overwhelming feeling was one of relief.
    More details from a blog, if printed, could involve a reem of paper; so I will spare you!
    Thanks for the venting session.



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