Churches today face a deep health crisis. No, I'm not referring to the rising cost of healthcare, or the obesity epidemic (though both are troubling). I have in mind the problem of pastoral burnout, and the congregational cultures that foster this disease.
The symptoms of pastoral burnout have been well-documented over the last 25 years: ministerial dropout rates approaching 50 percent, rising use of antidepressants, obesity, hypertension, and more. While programs like Duke Divinity School's Clergy Health Initiative and the Lily Endowment's National Clergy Renewal Program have emerged over the last 15 years to raise awareness and work to foster healthier clergy, there seems to be less effort focused on addressing the other side of the equation—promoting healthier congregational cultures that do not burn out their clergy, leaders, and members.
Fred Lehr's book Clergy Burnout is a helpful resource for thinking about how the culture of a congregation contributes ...1