Church Burnout


If you’ve ever experienced a broken bone or thrown-out back, or left your glasses at home, then you understand the challenges that come when part of the body is out of commission. Things just don’t go smoothly. Everything takes extra effort, and sometimes other parts of your body get sore or are overworked to compensate for the part that is unable to be utilized. When this happens in our church body, it can lead to burnout. Baylor instructor Phil VanAuken writes that burnout “makes us feel tired and lethargic, even after prolonged rest. More psychological/emotional than physical, burnout results from prolonged stress, overextension, and hurriedness. The nervous system gets stretched until it loses its resiliency and renewal capacity. The burnout victim finds it more and more difficult to snap back from hard work, to ‘get up’ for challenges, and to adequately rest” (Phil VanAuken, “A Plan for Beating Burnout” [blog], XPastor, April 17, 2013, There are likely many people who are currently feeling this sense of burnout in church right now. Perhaps they wonder why they even come to church at all, because it has become another part-time job in their lives. For this segment of the church body, VanAuken gives the practical advice to rest, learn to say no, and listen to your physical body, among other things. The Spirit empowers each person to build up the body. It’s okay to not be all things to all people in your church community.