Intersection of Life and Faith

10 Ways to Fight Church Burnout

  • Kristen Terrette Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
10 Ways to Fight Church Burnout

“Sunday’s always coming.”

I said those words many times when I was a children’s ministry director. Our staff and volunteers worked tirelessly to prepare for the upcoming Sunday services and weekly activities. The second they finished, we’d have to start all over to prepare for the next ones. Sundays never cease. Anyone who helps pull off a Sunday or midweek church activities knows this full well. There isn’t an “easy” season when it comes to ministry. There’s only full speed ahead, and super speed when the kids return to school, during the holiday season, and Easter.

I found that being on a church staff doesn’t make you immune to burnout. I also witnessed many people in our church body fall prey to the exhaustion from the weekly grind. This experience has given me an observant eye to the pitfalls of Sunday fatigue and how to fight it, or avoid it altogether.

Here are my 10 ways to fight church burnout:

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  • 1. Pray

    1. Pray

    Slide 1 of 10

    Whenever you feel a restlessness or disturbance in your spirit, it’s a call to prayer. The Holy Spirit uses these emotions, these nudges, to get our attention and draw us into communication with Him. Jesus provides the perfect example⎯He always went to the Father in prayer. Scripture provides great illustrations of this when Jesus’ heart was sad, and when His flesh was weak. (Luke 22:44, Mark 14:34, Matthew 26:41) If Jesus was strengthened through prayer, then we will be as well.

    Go to Him and discuss the struggle you feel concerning your church life. You may be surprised by what He tells you to do. He may ask you to forgive an offender, or ask you to step into a role you weren’t expecting, or even wanting. He may want you to find a different church family. He may reveal some sinful attitudes you’ve been harboring. But you’ll never know His answer if you don’t first seek His direction. 

     

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  • 1. Pray

    2. Serve Somewhere New

    Slide 2 of 10

    Every church relies on volunteer participation to function and thrive. Volunteers can make or break a ministry. But having the wrong volunteers in the wrong positions is just as detrimental to your church and the fatigue of the volunteer. 

    If a volunteer position isn’t bringing you joy, God may have a different assignment for you. I loved children’s ministry, but for a time it left me unsatisfied. At first, I considered this as one of Satan’s tricks. I loved the kids, and felt I was good at my job. Even still, my heart grew stale. 

    When I left this role, I felt relief. God revived my tired heart as I went to church services without the stress of worrying how the kids were doing in the next building over. My sweet spot to serve currently is in women’s ministry … for now. To find this, I needed to surrender to God’s leading. Don’t discount God moving you to a different position. You may need to stop serving where you are and allow God to lead you to something new.  

     

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  • 1. Pray

    3. Start Serving

    Slide 3 of 10

    Some regular church attenders never meet anyone. They seem content to sit, listen, sing, and leave without having invested in any friendships. This is a tragedy and not what Jesus intended for His followers. Human relationships nurture and encourage us, so this type of isolation in our walk with God is taxing on our spiritual journey and could cause quite a bit of burnout.

    Considering I scheduled volunteer teams for many years, I’m going to make a bold statement⎯I believe some of your closest friendships can develop with those you serve alongside. People with a common goal become allies. Whether it’s to bring children to Christ, play an instrument on stage, or greet people in the parking lot, these developing friendships make church more enjoyable. It creates a bond. Give it try.

     

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  • 1. Pray

    4. Bring a Friend

    Slide 4 of 10

    A new set of eyes will always see things a pair of tired eyes is missing. Bringing a friend can help you notice things you may be taking for granted when it comes to your church and its activities. A good friend will also tell you truth when they see something unbecoming. 

    What’s more, Jesus has sent us on a Great Commission⎯go into the world, make disciples, baptizing and teaching them to obey God’s Word (Matthew 28:19-20). These were his final words to His friends, and they’re the same ones He gives us today. The church is His body doing works for His Kingdom, living out the Great Commission. By inviting a friend, we are doing what we’ve been sent by God to do, and He will surely bless us with peace and joy, instead of burnout and fatigue.

     

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  • 1. Pray

    5. Try a New Church

    Slide 5 of 10

    Most ministry leaders reading this right now aren’t happy about this one. But the truth is that there are many reasons God may move you to a new church. If you are feeling disillusioned by yours, then you need to discern if God is encouraging you to move elsewhere. 

    God has reasons we may not understand. It could be He’s trying to protect you from something. It’s possible a church has been praying for someone with your skill set, and God is sending you there. Or you could legitimately need a refresh from the place you’ve been on repeat for a while. The church should be unified, so even one disgruntled member could be infectious to the group.

    Either way, much prayer is needed to evaluate God’s will. Get still. Pray. Listen. And try a new church if God tells you to.

     

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  • 1. Pray

    6. Evaluate Your Walk with God

    Slide 6 of 10

    Are you an acquaintance with God or do you have a relationship with Him? Acquaintances and close relationships look very different. We communicate daily to the people we love and cherish; I confide in my husband, mom, and best friend every day. I love my kids so deeply that I can’t put it into words, and I speak to them daily. See the trend? 

    Scripture says we should love God with our whole heart, mind, soul, and strength (Mark 12:30). And guess what? He loves us back even more than we could ever love Him. To love this way means we talk with Him through prayer, study about Him by meditating on His Word, and praise Him by lifting our hands in thanksgiving for being there for us every day

    We’ll eventually burnout wherever we attend if our relationship with Him isn’t thriving. It’s exhausting trying to pretend on a Sunday what you are not living out during the week.

     

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  • 1. Pray

    7. Prepare Your Heart Before Service

    Slide 7 of 10

    Hebrews 12:28 says, “We are receiving a kingdom that can’t be shaken. So let us be thankful. Then we can worship God in a way that pleases him…” In this verse, I always latch onto the word then. This tiny word tells me God is pleased when we are full of thankfulness. 

    A grateful heart praises God all the time. It isn’t bound by life’s circumstances; it’s thankful through them. I love praising God through prayer and music. I always have a favorite worship song on repeat, and I hope my prayer life pleases God as much as my bad singing. 

    If you have gone a week without praying, singing, clapping, dancing, or swaying as you praise God, how do you expect to simply jump right in on a Sunday morning? 

     

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  • 1. Pray

    8. Repent

    Slide 8 of 10

    I think we often leave out repentance as part of our walk with God. I can be guilty of this. Sin hardens our hearts towards God (Ephesians 4:18). When this happens, no amount of church attendance or Sunday skips will reduce your fatigue. We won’t be able to tap into God’s presence and splendor the way He intends. I like the metaphor of sin congesting and clogging up my heart. It’s hard to receive a word from God until I repent and my heart has been rinsed clean. 

    Acts 3:19 says, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord…” Ask God to show you the areas in your life which need repentance. Afterwards, see if your church burnout alleviates as He refreshes you. I’m betting when you enter a service with a cleaned-out heart, ready to worship and hear from Him, you’ll feel some peace during a trying time, not restlessness; you’ll feel invigorated, not wiped out.

     

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  • 1. Pray

    9. Don't Fall into The Enemy's Trap

    Slide 9 of 10

    A church service or ministry activity can be good with a stick and an overturned pan, or in a candlelit cave. I’ve heard many, and I mean many, people say, “the services feel dry”, or “I’m just not getting anything from them”. 

    Granted, this can be true for your situation, but don’t fall into the enemy’s trap. The evil one wants nothing more than for churchgoers to call its activities bland, dry, boring, and lacking the Holy Spirit’s presence. One thing I can promise is that if you are a Believer, then the Holy Spirit is there, which means it’s often us who have the problem. 

    Before vocalizing these feelings, we should pray for revival in us and our church. We must stop ourselves from spreading the enemy’s slang⎯an attack with abusive words to cause disunity. He wants our churches to fail, and we can never contribute to this.

     

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  • 1. Pray

    10. Take the Sabbath Seriously

    Slide 10 of 10

    Even God rested on the seventh day of creation, but not because he was tired⎯He wanted to set an example for us. I love the image of Jesus caring for his followers who were hungry after a long day by telling them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31). Can you imagine your Lord and Savior saying those words to you? 

    He is. His Word is alive and directed to us, His followers, today. Feeling burnout can be a cover for our human bodies and minds simply being tired. Honor the Sabbath. Clear your schedule. Go with Jesus to a quiet place and get some rest.

     

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    Kristen has a Master's degree in Theological Studies and was on staff as a Children's Ministry Director for over five years. She cherishes her Southern roots and currently lives forty-five minutes outside of Atlanta, GA. With the support of her husband and two children, she stays at home writing Christian fiction, making up fantasy places and characters, allowing God to take the story where He needs it to go. She is on the women's leadership team at her church, and writes for Wholly Loved ministry at www.WhollyLoved.com. To see her blog and current novels, check out her website at www.kristenterrette.com.