Mad Church Disease (book review)

Read this book and save your life.


I have seen far too many good people get burned-out in the most unlikely place. The one place where you would expect wholeness and vitality and safety and health: Church! In Mad Church Disease Anne Jackson draws the comparison to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (better known as mad cow disease) to confront mad church disease head-on.

Here’s the insidious thing about the way mad cow disease spreads: after infected cows die, they are ground up and fed to healthy cows. So unwittingly the disease is perpetuated because no one recognizes it’s there. Sadly that’s what happens far too often in the church. We have developed cultures that continue to burn-out people, and then we let those burned-out people feed (develop) new people

Anne shines the light of truth on this ugly disease. She confronts the symptoms head-on, and offers practical steps for helping people get healthy.

As someone who came very close to getting burned-out by mad church disease, I can attest how right-on-the-mark Anne’s book is. And to bolster her diagnosis, Anne interviews several leading pastors whose “second opinion” confirm the original diagnosis. I liked this observation from Bill Hybels:

“Especially as leaders in the church, we consistently need to be filled up and buoyed in our spirits because everybody takes their cue from the leader. If the leader is exhausted, then the people following that leader will feel exhausted. If the leader is wearing thin on hope, then people start losing hope too. If the leader gets pessimistic, everybody gets pessimistic.”

So who should read Mad Church Disease?

  • Pastors
  • Paid church staff
  • Volunteer church ministers
  • Counselors
  • Church board members

Whether you have been infected by mad church disease or not, you need to read this book. It will either be a source of healing for you, or an eye-opener to help protect yourself and others around you from this deadly disease.

The first step to eliminating mad church disease is recognizing its symptoms. Mad Church Disease does just that, and then goes further to talk about the steps for healing. Thanks, Anne, for a straightforward look at this serious disease.

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