mad-church-disease1I literally just finished Mad Church Disease by Anne Jackson. I bought it a year ago. It was a new book and I recognized that I had some unhealthy habits concerning work, time off, balancing time with family and exercise. At the time of the purchase I had made significant strides toward healthy living, but I knew this book would confront things that I’d possibly just put a band-aid on things I hadn’t entirely considered. It was well worth the read. Although every aspect won’t relate to every church employee, the issues Anne Jackson confronts are seldom talked about in our churches yet affect so many. I do believe that anyone in ministry should give this book a read, it will speak to some area in your life.

What I appreciate most about this book is the candidness Anne had about letting us into her life. It’s one thing to read a self-help book about what we need to do, but something completely different to peek into what Anne went through and the healing she’s experienced and continues to experience. You easily get the idea that she’s still a work in progress and not communicating as any kind of expert, but someone who’s sharing her painful experiences and inviting you along for the ride. That’s refreshing.

I think you’re going to get out of this book what you want. I think there are multiple types of people who pick up this book. Some are those who know they are burned out and they drink it in. I think others are on the edge of burnout or heading that way and they’re living in denial. They’ll read this book with a guarded heart letting some words penetrate and others bounce off. I’d encourage anyone wanting to read this book to do a little heart prep before opening the pages, asking God to reveal wounds or dysfunctions so they can read with their defenses down.

So, what about me personally? Part four spoke to me on several levels and on several different fronts. Part four deals with the path to health and recovery specifically for areas like spiritual health, physical health, emotional health and relational health. Over the last 18 months or so, I’ve come to grips with areas of dysfunction. Some of these areas I’ve made changes. In other areas I’m stalling (I know I need to make changes, I just haven’t flipped the switch yet). This book confirmed and reminded me to move forward in some the changes I still need to make.

My biggest surprise came from the last chapter that dealt with processing through pain. I’ll be honest, I’ve had a great life. God has been VERY good to Kenny Conley. I had a pretty normal childhood. I’ve had some pretty incredible experiences in various ministries and at college. The experiences I’ve had at the churches I’ve been at have been overwhelmingly good. So in a lot of ways, I can’t relate to some of the things that happened to Anne or others. However, when I think of betrayal or hurt from someone else, three or four names come to mind. I don’t think the hurt they caused has crippled me. I’ve forgiven them and for the most part I’ve moved on. However, any time they come to mind, I have to resist thoughts that I shouldn’t entertain. I don’t get angry or anything, I just genuinely don’t like them and get frustrated that I’m wasting my thoughts on them. After reading this book, I feel God leading me to pray for these 3-4 men, to pray for their success. I’m pretty confident that this is God speaking as it’s about the total opposite of what I’d like to do. I’ve forgiven then and have put it in the past, but I think that attempting to love them as God loves them will bring the healing I really need.

There you go. Mad Church Disease. Pick up a copy for yourself. If you have staff, get a copy for them as well. Hopefully it will generate some conversations that need to be had and as a result you and others can experience the health you deserve.