Burning Out

O Fire of Love, O Flame Divine, Make Thy abode in me; Burn in my heart, burn evermore, Till I burn out for Thee. —

Fundamentalists love those lines by Eugene M. Harrison. After all, it’s better to burn out than rust out, amen?

The Christian soldier is never off duty for it was when David left the battle field that he fell into sin! Keep on the Firing Line! Any vacation that is not disguised as a short-terms missions trip is for liberals and apostates.

Work for the night is coming. Get up early and stay late. Give of your best to your fundamentalists masters. Put your heart and soul and strength into the work without a care for your health or sanity. (It’s not like you’ll have the insurance to cover either of those things anyway.)

Hurry up with painting the church, mowing the 37 acres of grass, cleaning all the bathrooms, and scrubbing the fellowship hall with a toothbrush — because you don’t want to be late for choir practice, visitation, and chaperoning that youth group all-nighter.

There is nothing more glorious than falling in the line of duty by dropping dead of a stress-induced heart attack at 43.

126 thoughts on “Burning Out”

    1. Because we must remember, nowadays is different from the early days…..

      Now we must do the bare minimum when it comes to serving God! It is the only way to be happy and self fufilled!
      All week is your’s to relax in, so should Sunday be YOUR Day, not just the Lord’s!

      Look at all those other religions so busy with their beliefs!
      Not like us, we get burned out if we are required to work hard at a camp for one whole week (oh my!) or do something to help out at the Church (the nerve!)
      We only have 6 or 7 hours to watch TV and surf the Net every day–we don’t have time for other extra activities….especially on our days off!


      1. So there’s no middle ground between “burning out” and “bare minimum”?

        I don’t think I need to even bother taking the time to point out how fallacious that is.

        1. Isn’t that the fundy way though? It’s always “black & white”. If it’s not one, it must be on the extreme opposite end, right? I mean, it’s only logical to forget about any middle ground… 😛

        2. There’s PLENTY of difference Darrell.

          No need to point out the obvious.

          One extreme over exaggaration is as good as the next…yours was on one side, mine the other.


        3. No. I said “fundamentalists think people should burn out”

          and you responded with “the alternative to that is doing as little as possible.”

          There is no doubt that some people do as little as possible but it’s not the only alternative to burning out.

          What you’re doing is known as a false dilemma or the “either-or fallacy” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_dilemma

        4. Darrell

          No, I am not, sorry that you see it that way. I did the same thing you did. You just had a introductory line and I did not, because mine was a response.
          If that is what you think I did, then you did the exact same thing in the original post.

          re: sarcasm


      2. Why do I feel like I just sat through a sermon when I read John’s comment? The only thing missing was the glare or pointed finger.
        Great. Not only can I get judged in church, I can get judged on the internet! Kind of takes away from the fun of surfing the net 6-7 hours a day.

        1. I felt like that too. All that was missing was a “Jesus spent more hours on the cross than most Christians spend in church a week!” comment.

          So easy to point out who the fundies are when they come here.

        2. John is just another data point that further confirms my theory that sarcasm and irony are completely lost on fundies.

      3. “Six or seven hours a day to watch TV and surf the net”. Are you unemployed, John?

        1. LOL quite the opposite-two jobs! It was a humorous comment about those who are unemployed or underemploted though, like most underachievers-re: thosue under 30.

        2. Posting apparently for no other purpose but to attack the blog and regular commenters, refusing to ever meaningfully engage with reasoned arguments against his points, and now claiming to be terribly hard working despite the huge amount of time he spends reading and commenting here. John has now demonstrated at least three of the classic diagnostic signs of an internet troll who is posting solely to get attention and annoy people. He is, therefore, very unlikely to be worth engaging further.

          BTW, John, I’m currently between contracts and I don’t have the time to post as often or as promptly as you do.

        3. 25 years old and working two jobs (one office job + freelance editorial work) – I do appreciate the condescension, though!

        4. 25 years old, been working since I was 17 (mostly 30-40 hour weeks) while going to college, graduate with a 3.9 from graduate school. Now I am working a full-time job, just got a book AND article published and will start book signings in December.
          Just because I refuse to participate in the “busy work” of a church environment does not mean I am not using my gifts and abilities for God. He gave them to me, I’ll use them. It might not look like the rest of the people in my church or the holier-than-thous on the internet but I’m getting to the point that I really don’t give a care.

        5. @Jessica, isolating ourselves in the Christian bunker, while we’re kept busy rearranging the furniture, doesn’t help us shine the light in the world. Don’t let the super-pious discourage you. We answer to God alone for how we use our abilities, and I surely don’t want to be one who buried my talent in the ground out of fear.

        6. @Theo and Uptown

          Thin skinned aren’t we? Who said I was referring to anybody or bragging on myself???

          I was the one accused …..remember?
          Now I am assaulted and insulted?

          I thought you guys were “for” the victim!


          The vitrol and hate on this site is as thick as any fundy site

        7. John please. You just said “I was the one accused …..remember?”

          Look at your original response to Christopher on October 5th at 10:58am. It is the 2nd one from the top. In that comment you said:
          “We only have 6 or 7 hours to watch TV and surf the Net every day–we don’t have time for other extra activities….especially on our days off!”

          I have heard almost the exact same thing yelled at me from an IFB pulpit.

        8. @Pastor’s Wife:

          Thank you so much! You always have such sweet and encouraging things to say.

  1. When I left my Fundy church/school last year, I wrote a letter to all the parents of my students, informing them that I was leaving – I was going to be telling the kids in class anyway, but I’d rather have the parents hear the truth from me than a version of the truth from a 12-year old.

    In this letter, I did explain that I was “burned out.” Eventually this letter got back to my principal, who was concerned, not that I had told the parents I was leaving, but that I had suggested I could possibly be burned out. Oh, brother. Truth hurts sometimes, doesn’t it?

    1. Sad. You can’t ever lower the mask; you can’t ever let people see that you might be hurting. After all, that would be a “bad testimony.” Reminds me of the Casting Crowns’ song “Stained Glass Masquerade”: we’re all happy plastic people!

  2. In many fundamentalist churches, if you say “no” to something that someone asks you to do, you’re contradicting gid. Obviously gid gave special advance revelation to that individual, telling them that you, and you only, are the person for that task. Of course, this problem is not specific to fundamentalism, but it seems to be particularly prevalent there.

    1. Or they’ll pull out the “it’s God’s will for you” card and try to guilt/scare you into it. IMNSHO, if God wants me to do something, he’ll find a way to communicate with me himself.

  3. Ah the alt text on that pic is too funny.

    Yea the vacation thing is a weird one. You almost felt like you couldn’t talk about a vacation you took especially out of the country unless it involved seeing a missionary and at least making a token effort to brighten their spirits. Of course I did get to see Ireland on a mission trip. And while I was working on that trip I did get to see a lot of the country. On the flip side after my wife and I went to Italy I remember one person asking if it was a mission trip. I was almost offended.

    1. One way to remove any guilt is prior to a vacation, ask around (the pastor and the “holier-than-thou” loud mouths) if they know of any “approved” churches where you are going. Of course you will need to do a quick internet search so you can reference something in the area. This will make it appear, that while you are shirking your responsibility in your home church, at least you are making an effort to attend another church(insert Hebrews 10:25).
      Now if you do attend a different church while on vacation, which I always found interesting, you will have a story when you come back. If not you can easily dismiss it that the rental car broke down, got lost etc.

    2. My dad always hated the area we lived in and wanted to move. Sometimes he would joke about being “missionaries to Switzerland,” only it wasn’t really a joke because that could seriously be the only reason he thought he could get away with for leaving the church. Because obviously moving somewhere because you just WANT TO would be carnal and viewed as abandoning your church. 🙄

      1. So many years out, and I wasn’t in that long to begin with, and it’s unnerving to realise how much of this attitude I’ve internalised. I last took a proper vacation over five years ago, and that was to take part in an organised camping event. I still have huge, huge difficulty with the idea that I could go do something just because I want to and it might be fun. And, no, this isn’t a good way to live, stress migraines, panic attacks and aggravated asthma, anyone?

  4. When I worked at the WILDS, they told us counselors that it was all about the campers. This meant that we not only had to burn our tails off from Monday to Friday to ensure that they had the camp games explained 5 times to them, didn’t fall asleep during Rich Tozour’s sermons against Rock-and-Roll and threw their sticks in the fire… but we had to also work on Saturdays cleaning up their cabins, spraying each bed with CD-40, and cleaning up a whole camp building. We were also encouraged not to be selfish with our “free time” (Saturdays from 1pm to midnight), so I’m not sure if doing my laundry counted as non-selfish… On Sundays we were required to attend Sunday school, morning worship and evening worship, and write a letter to our assigned sponsors about our wonderful week 😛 . This gave us counselors ample time to relax and think, while getting paid $100 a week (some of which we were highly encouraged to use at their Kountry Store, and Cool Beans). ❗

    Work for the Night is Coming…

    1. I knew poeple that went to the wilds. The local camp had enough of the crazies to convince me something bigger wasn’t going to be better. 🙂

    2. I’d say doing laundry is a VERY selfless act. 😆

      I never went to the Wilds myself, but my own camp experiences (as a camper and as a staff member) were eerily similar to what I’ve heard about the Wilds.

    3. This hits a little nerve. Having been totally immersed in the BJU/Greenville culture, I felt like I was the only mother with lots of kids who refused to send her children to the Wilds. I am SO thankful that I never received confirmation from the Holy Spirit to send them there. Just too many problems to even get into. Sorry for the OT–but not surprised at all that the Wilds gets mentioned in a burn-out for Jesus post. Known too many casualties of it all.

  5. OMG. This is SO right on. My wife’s parents are like this. Work, work, work, work… at the church, all the time. The youngest is still at home, and when he is not working on school he gets put to work at the church. I once had a pastor who said that it was pleasing to the Lord to sacrifice family time for doing God’s work, and the best family time was doing God’s work together. These are the same people who will find it convenient to “put everything in God’s hands” once they lose their children to the world.

    1. That’s what places like the rolled homes are for: for people serving God in the church who “lose their children” and are too busy serving God to take the time to show their “wayward” ones the love and compassion that they need.

      And to recognize that they’re just being normal teens.

      1. One thing I find with fundies is the lack of personal accountability. No one is reponsible for their life’s decisions, it is either satan leading someone astray or God working in their life.
        Sometimes we make bad decisions, sometimes we make good decisions. As you mature, the good decisions should outnumber the bad decisions.
        But with the fundies, no one is allowed to be “normal” (especially the children). And it is sad because being a teen can be hard enough, the last thing someone needs is a heaping dose of guilt that you are not living right and not right with God.
        The concept that we are all filthy rags incapable of anything good probably drives many young people over the edge who might just be going through normal teenager angst.

  6. I remember being taught at BJU that retirement is a sin and instead of “retiring” old folks ought to instead enter the mission field and work there until their dying day.

    1. Yup. I was in Orientation (I think) when an older faculty/staff member got up and said that the worst thing that ever happened in her work at BJU was the implementation of a 40-hour work week, and that it was a privilege to work 70-80 hours. This also explains why a MAJORITY of the kids from that generation of people that worked like that have either little/no association with the place, or have turned their back on Christianity in general.

    2. Jenn, I’m pretty sure BJU promotes retirement planning, as well as provides retirement housing.

      John Piper (http://goo.gl/zjDv) and RC Sproul (http://goo.gl/Ni3A) are actually the ones who are suspicious of retirees. Just realize, Jenn, that if you’re ready to deride your alma mater’s (supposed) view on retirement, you’re up against Piper and Sproul as well.

      And Brandon, an exodus of youth from Christianity probably goes a tad deeper than a little too much work. Just a guess…

      1. Yes, retirement housing is provided at BJU. BUT — if you want to live elsewhere when you retire, you’re out of luck. Please, someone, correct me if that’s changed. I remember several years back that there was a fundraising effort towards providing retirment funds for faculty/staff. I specifically questioned administrators (publicly and privately) about whether or not those retiring had to stay in campus housing. The answer was always, “Yes”. So, lets say I’ve been on faculty or staff for decades, decide to retire, but want to move to Timbuktu to be near family. Bye-bye, retirement funding.

        1. I’ll take your word for it.

          But saying that BJU’s retirement fund is limited still contradicts Jenn’s claim that “at BJU retirement is a sin.”

          Besides, if you’re family lives in Timbuktu, they’d probably rather come to you 😉

      2. retirement housing

        for which they charge such exorbitant rent that the retirees have had to get paper routes and work as greeters at Wal-mart to pay it.

        I’m not kidding. “The Promise” that we faculty were told existed at BJU for retirees is broken. Badly, unethically broken.

  7. Start with Fundy rule #57 which results in five babies in five years (all single births too 😯 ). Be expected to be at EVERY. SINGLE. SERVICE. despite having five children five and under. Drag those poor babies and their exhausted mama there Sun Morns at 8:30 for choir, until service ends at 12:45-1:00. Awaking all of them from naps to drag them back again at 4:30 for choir practice and staying thru church which never ends before 8:00. Then try being back on Wednesday night for another 2+ hours, Thursday night for REQUIRED soul winning (2+ more hours), and back early again on Saturday morning for soul winning class/soul winning. Thank GID hubby never went to the (almost) required Men’s prayer at 6pm that same evening (REALLY?!?!?! 🙄 )

    To add even more fun, factor in that NO ONE will miss church even once because they might not make perfect attendance for that month and get their name in the drawing for the free dinner, so you constantly have sick kids in the nursery which threaten the health of your own five kids. And as a result, you have kids sick constantly and have to stay home while your faithful hubby goes to all these church activities without you, leaving you home alone, pregnant again, possibly sick yourself, to take care of the masses. Then stir the pot with a little something called postpartum depression to see what happens. But don’t expect any church people to help you, they are too busy winning souls for Gid between bouts of looking down their nose at you and judging you for not being spiritual enough due to your spotty attendance record (which of course, everyone can see because it is hung in the front room and you are required to place a BLACK mark next to your name under each date that you are in church AND ontime. And place a RED mark for those dates that you are late (less than 15 minutes before the sevice begins) and place a RED “A” when you are not there for any reason! That way everyone can see at a glance your spirituality.

    Thank GID hubby finally saw the 💡 and we got off that wheel before something awful happened!

    As a side note, we don’t want to get into the Pastor’s theory on *HIS* days off…nothing was allowed to be scheduled on his precious Monday and Tuesday with his family (outside of the revivals we had a couple times a year) because family time was VERY important to him! 😯

    1. It’s so sad the guilt heaped on people (moms especially). I’m glad your husband saw the light too!

    2. LOL! As if the above rant wasn’t long enough…it also was not enough to just be there but there were rules about how EVERYONE could dress starting with the shoes, so you can’t just throw on any old outfit, boys had to be in suits and ties, all pressed nicely of course, with a belt, dress shoes and socks, and everything neat and tidy. The girls had very specific rules about the type of dress, hose, and even shoes not to mention long hair because it’s a sin to cut it. UGH UGH UGH! It took forever just to get the kids ready. I am tired again just reliving this horror!

      1. oh my, just reading your post stressed me out! 🙂 I thank GOD that you are out and I hope it was in time for you to enjoy your babies with out them being sick and you being exhausted ALL THE TIME.

    3. Boy, does this ever sound like a version of Mormonism (minus Joseph Smith and his golden tablets)!

    4. “place a RED “A” when you are not there for any reason”…like a modern-day scarlet letter…even the same letter “A”…too much

    5. Sadly, we did not see the light. I had 6 children that I piled into a van and drove 25 mins. to church on dark, windy country roads. Ahh….it’s just too painful to even think about it all now…all the innuendos about not doing enough, the sicknesses and the disapproving attitude about how the illnesses must somehow be a punishment. How someone else was doing it all better than me. I worked full-time during some off this horrible time. Wednesday nights were particularly horrific because the preacher preached as long a message as he would on Sun a.m. and they were usually about how bad everyone and the world was. Nothing encouraging to get you through the rest of the week. Nothing was ever good enough..

      Little wonder I don’t even care if my children go to church now. There’s just way more to living a godly life than getting caught up in the oppressive church culture.

  8. I found a page called “What Missionaries Need to Know About Burnout” and under how to prevent it, I found this: “Don’t take things personally,” “Learn to laugh at yourself,” and “Have a support group” which sort of fit this site, at least for some of us who are just learning to step outside the fundy world.

    1. “Have a support group” theoretically a great idea. But, in fundy land if you were a good Christian you wouldn’t need a “support group”. Nothing could possibly be wrong if you were truly walking with God like you should be.

      Then on the other hand if only we had time to be strengthend with God time. In my fundy church, at different times I had both the pastor and his wife essentially tell me I should just quote scripture to myself through out the day if I was too busy to have quiet time. She essentially, undermined the importance of it. *sigh* And we wonder about burn out….if only we were made of metal so we could be better robots. 🙁

      1. That is sad!– “Feeling overwhelmed? You must not be spending enough time reading the Bible and praying? Don’t have time for that either? Well, just quote the Bible to yourself all day long.” Even Jesus took time to remove Himself from the clamoring crowds to pause and refresh. I think a lot of the time He WAS talking to His Father, but sometimes I think He was walking in the hills or hanging out at Mary and Martha and Lazarus’ house. And His ministry was only three years in total.

        And you’re right about the “no support group” in fundy circles. You’re never supposed to show a weakness or admit a struggle. We’ve started small groups in our church and a fundy I love asked, “What book of the Bible are you studying?” I tried to explain that we were discussing the sermon and applying it to our lives and sharing our needs; we weren’t adding ANOTHER Bible study to the week. She didn’t really approve.

        Someone in a comment here on SFL once said something like “Welcome to our internet support group” and I actually felt guilty when I read that, like I wasn’t supposed to be part of a “support group”!! Then I realized how sad it was that I felt I had to be so isolated that I didn’t NEED any help or encouragement. Not healthy. Not biblical.

  9. For some reason, I now have Def Leppard’s “Rock of Ages” running through my head.

    “It’s better to burn out, than fade away”

  10. In a way, I do want to burn out for Christ, but I want it to be because I am passionately following Him not madly trying to live up to man’s rules. Matthew West’s “Motions” sums it up for me. The Christian life should be “The Great Adventure” (oops! another song!) not a drudgery or a treadmill of expectations and guilt.

    1. I agree!!! Two and a half years out and I have to stop myself all of the time and analyze if a decision is guilt based. God’s love makes me passionate but high pressure religon. NO Thanks! 🙁

  11. Yes, my daughter experienced the guilt of working at a Christian camp for low pay and long hours because “it’s a ministry”. The ministry justifies treating employees like serfs, even up to demanding that their free time be spent in Bible study and church. She worked and lived there all summer for $225 per week, with free time between Saturday at 2 pm to Sunday at 3 pm. Barely time to come home and do laundry.

    Why do ministries justify low pay and long hours for their employees, while charging high fees for people to use their facilities? The only thing the employees (usually high school and college age kids ) learn is that Christians will take advantage of other Christians in the name of God.

  12. I used to listen to stories in HAC chapel praising ‘godly’ people who worked their bodies to death and consequently suffered numerous health problems. I used to think to myself that they could do more for God in the long run if they kept themselves in better condition. I had a roommate like that in college and I still feel bad for her because she has such a giving heart and was just trying to do what was expected of her. We’re both 23 and I still call her and wish she wasn’t already suffering with the effects of treating her body like crap.

    1. Exactly! I used to think the same thing every time I heard sermons about the life of David Brainard.

  13. Yup, guilt and shame, it’s the American way. Why is it that “service” is either one extreme or the other? It’s either “peddle to the metal” service or being accused of doing EVERYTHING else that is keeping you from giving your all? Good question Darrell.

    While I was in the Air Force form 1984-87 in Plattsburgh, NY I gave my free time starting and coaching the Christian schools soccer program, helped with the track and field, etc. Naturally, becuase of my shift, I didn’t attend the Wednesday evening service or visitation on Thursday night. Every ONCE in a while, I’d skip church on Sundays because I literally had NO TIME to myself (especially in the winter where -20 was common in December…with NO WIND)but never fear, come Monday morning there was a knock on my dorm room door by the ass.(or ass) Pastor wondering where I was on Sunday! Honestly, after a while, I just didn’t care. After my enlistment was up and after Bible College, I have stepped foot in a Fundie church ONCE with my family I had then and on my second visit, the Pastor “lovingly” admonished me for wearing a polo shirt and asked me to dress better because they were starting a TV ministry. (sigh…I need therapy…. :mrgreen: )

    1. That is SO SAD that a pastor was more concerned with appearances (wanting to look “good” on TV) than with you – especially when the book of James directly talks about how we should treat people who come to our church.

  14. Love your website! My dad was a minister and these topics are all TOO FAMILIAR to me! Come on over and check out my blog sometime about life in New York City (without the fundie stuff!) 😛 😛 😛

  15. My husband is on church staff. The last church we went to expected way too much from him and wouldn’t hire any assistants for him to help even though he proved how he could do it in his budget. He became depressed and tried to talk to the pastor several times about the pressure and how he needed help. He told the pastor he feared he was getting burned out. The Pastor said, “welcome to the club.” and sent him on his way. My husband had to start taking medication for depression and was let go from the church for not doing enough. Didn’t even give us a 2 week notice, turned us and our 4 kids out with no job in a bad economy. So nice. We had no desire to get back in the ministry at all, we were both so burned out and used up.

    Fortunately, a church kept calling us and really wanted my husband. Burned out and damaged as we were. We are very happy now, He has they help he needs and the support he needs. Makes all the difference.

    That church wasn’t a fundy church. But yeah, that’s a sore spot. Burn out for God and ignore your family, that’s the Godly path.

  16. This post rings so many bells for me. Our older fundamentalist pastor passed away at about the age of 65, in the spring of 2009. The morning that he was rushed to the hospital before receiving his diagnosis of cancer, he had tried to go on to church even though he had blacked out in his bathroom and fallen down. His wife, ironically, stopped him from going and was the one to call the ambulance.

    He was a whenever-the-doors-are-open-you’d-better-be-there kinda guy, and he lived what he preached. His widow doesn’t come to church all that much now that he is gone, but she used to be as big on it as he was.

    This guy was one of the absolute hardest workers that ever lived, I am convinced. But it seems much less noble when you realize that the reason he worked so hard was because he never could trust enough people to delegate certain tasks to. He simply had to do them himself. I’m not convinced that he didn’t suffer from some kind of disorder that required him to do certain things.

    I guess when you don’t know someone who has burnt out, it’s funny. When you do, it’s just plain sad. 😐 Lesson learned.

    1. “But it seems much less noble when you realize that the reason he worked so hard was because he never could trust enough people to delegate certain tasks to. He simply had to do them himself.”

      My fundy mom is the same way! I love my mom to death, but she was always exhausted because she was the pianist for services and choir, the children’s Sunday school teacher, a nursery worker, the children’s youth group leader, the VBS organizer and decorator, the teen party planner, the banquet planner, etc. . . . and of course, being her daughter, I had to help. She always complained that no one was willing to help her, but she never asked for help, so people assumed she had it taken care of.

      1. Kim,

        and thats usually the problem. Sadly many workers think “if you want it done right do it yourself” is the only naswr.


        1. Maybe doing it yourself is the answer, after all. The reason we can’t “do it all,” is because so much of what we do is utterly pointless! I try to invest in one thing at a time: something that I feel passionate about, and that I’m gifted for–and I try to find one other person to teach how to do it as well. As long as I say no to the stuff that doesn’t matter, I feel joyful and not overwhelmed.

  17. Side note: I don’t, in any way, look down on those that really do lay their body down on the altar for God and die/wear out serving them (think Apostle Paul). But I do, I DO object to dying or wearing out in the service of man, which is what a lot of the fundamentalists are doing, IMO. Just a clarification.

      1. Yes, how is it that whenever anyone asked you to do anything it had to by the HOLY SPIRIT speaking……whatever…..

    1. I most definitely agree. When a fundy calls you asking to fill a position as bus captain but you decline because you’re already a bus worker on that bus AND a Sunday School teacher, he will try to guilt you into taking the position and state that it’s your “reasonable service” (Rom 12:1 KJV). This is exactly what it means to wear out in the service of man, not God.

  18. The Real Problem is the “Business of Church.”

    I’ll say it again and again the Americanized per-version of Church has left us with this bloated, works focused, junk we have today. When we talk about ministry what do we mean? What do you think of when one says ministry? I dare say most of us think of the work that is done around the brick and mortar edifice we call “Church.”
    The ministry is all the work associated with the programs we offer, the visitation to bring more people in the doors… and get them sinners under the sound of the gospel.

    Ministry is what the preacher does three times a week. Ministry is the lecture series from the hired gun, (often self apointed and self anointed) M-O-g that stands behind the so-called sacred desk and speaks ex cathedra and delivers hard preaching that steps on toes and gets a requisite number of “Amens” and P-I-B’s”. His preaching performance is guaged on the number at the altar.

    So called “Ministry work” is focused on the work that goes on to make the Church a success. And if you are not engaged in the work of the church every free moment you have then you are not right with gid and you are somehow less of a christian. And if you complain then there is always some sanctimonious super saint that will try and shame you by saying things like, “Well, aren’t we special? Oh, waaa, you get a little tired and you’re ready to quit… or… oh you just want to do the least it takes to get by.”

    It is all about the doing, doing so others can see you doing. No matter how you slice it, it still comes out “Works Sanctification.” 🙄

    1. It’s SO HARD to change though! We’ve changed our focus and we’re trying to take our church outside the walls and show Christ by meeting real needs in the community, but how to make this work, especially as a pastor’s family, is really a stretch for me. I know how to show up for church programs all week long, teach children’s church, run VBS, play piano, lead women’s groups, etc., all the churchy stuff that keeps us so busy. But now we want to lay aside a lot of that “churchianity” and it’s really hard to find our new way.

      1. I know sis, I know.

        The preconceptions of “Church” are strong, and it takes a herculean effort to go from preaching at folks to preparing folks for ministry according to Ephesians 4. It is especially hard to quit spoon feeding a congregation and have them think for themselves.(some never will, and it is ok to let them either sink or swim on their own. Love them yes! Encourage them Yes! but in the end they are responsible for themselves.)

        *aside* one of the most liberating moments I have ever experienced in my Christian life is when I realized I am not responsible for the outcome of preaching the gospel, I am only to preach it. The results are in God’s hands and between Him and the hearer. Most liberating.

        There is a wave of guilt associated with the change from busy “Church Work” to actually doing God’s work with the body. It is tough. I have been ther. All my free time was spent at the church, mowing, visitation, camp counslor, teaching, cleaning, special service setup, van driver, usher, security, yada-yada-yada.

        It is hard to change. …and it’s hard to realize how much of what we were doing was not God honoring as we once thought it was, and realize that it was man centric instead. When there is no joy in what we are doing you can guarantee that God is not honored.

        *aside* I want to say that I have been encouraged by your posts here. You have offered insight that has illuninated and wisdom that I have learned from.. and a sense of humor that I find refreshing as well. 🙂

        1. Thank you! 🙂 This site has helped me laugh and vent and stretch and grow.

          You’re right about the joy. We’d sing “There is joy in serving Jesus” but it often wasn’t there.

          It IS liberating to just present the Gospel and leave the results to God, to not have to “prove” oneself by producing results but to just rest in the finished work of Christ.

        2. Don and Pastor’s Wife, you’ve hit the nail in the head. I’m a pastor’s wife also, and “ministry” is our job. It’s so hard to convince people even in our very balanced church that he’s not responsible for their spiritual well-being! All we do is facilitate–he teaches them how to serve, and we provide opportunities like feeding the homeless, volunteering in the community, and taking missions trips, but what they take from it is fully their responsibility. We’re not glorified babysitters, and we have four children of our own, so we’re not interested in raising anyone else’s!
          We dream sometimes about what we would do if money were no object–we’d just GIVE our time, that way, no one could look over our shoulders and complain that they’re not seeing enough return on their investment!

      2. @pastor’s wife
        I know EXACTLY what you’re talking about. The lost feeling of no programs. When your whole life has been aobut running from one program to the next. Sad but true!

    2. @Tp31babe
      You put your finger on it as well. The business of church, especially concerning the “Pastor”-“flock” relationship, often times is based on a business model. The Pastor is required to lecture three times a week otherwise the audience grumbles about not getting what they paid for. This is a Sword of Damocles hanging over the pastor’s head: Perform or lose your source of income.

      So… we build these edifices dedicated to our particular industry and populate them each week with the masses and try and cater to all of their perceived needs, with a one-stop-shop of spiritualized group therapy. There’s one on every corner and they all want your business.

      *Warning: Rabbit Trail…*
      but… If/When the “ministry” gets big enough then you build yourselves a “family Life Center” (so you don’t have to go to the Y or out in the world to have to deal with the culture, you can stay in the safety of the sub-culture), then a college, and if you get really, really big, then you can build a waterpark!

  19. Bears repeating, though I’ve posted it elsewhere. My first church established a “Servanthood Award” in memory of a 37-year-old man whose dedication to his 3 jobs and several ministries left his wife a widowed mother of 3 small boys.

    As the saying goes, rust out or burn out, either way you’re out.

  20. When the zeal of the fundy burns out like a candle (esp. if he’s a young convert), either the fundy departs from the Christian faith, or his children will. My personal observation.

    1. IFB No More,
      I ended up departing the “church” (little “c”) and ended up teaching my family…we have no desire to step foot in an organized assembly.

      1. That is sad.

        Do two wrongs make a right? Please don’t allow the misdeeds of a few taint the will of God for your life.

        The ekklesia model or the Bible is foundational.

        I pray for you and your family’s sake.

        1. I’d wonder what it felt like for John to use the same manipulative tactics and fail over and over here, but he sadly seems to be delusional enough to think he’s winning or has won all the disputes he’s started and lost. It reminds me of a joke about democracy. The French thought universal suffrage would be the end all & be all to right all the wrongs in the world, and are so glum cause they realize it hasn’t. Americans thought the same thing, and are so cheerful cause they still think it has. 🙂

      2. My boyfriend and I feel the same way. We believe in God, not church. The fundy side of my family is horrified that I no longer attend church. I have found that no matter how “liberal” and supposedly non-legalistic a church is, there is always that race to be the better Christian. I don’t want to be around that and I don’t want my children growing up around that.

        1. Can’t have one without the other.

          “I love Bib, but I dont like his bride”

          Well then you arent going to be able to fellowship with Bob.

          (Joh 13:35) By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

          (1Jn 5:2) By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.

        2. To John:

          Jesus commanded us to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and to love your neighbor as yourself.” Those are His commands. No where does he say going to an Americanized church on Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night equate loving. In most cases, churches aren’t that loving. Jesus wants us to love fellow Christians, absolutely. But that doesn’t mean we have to hang out with the ones who consistenly hurt/abuse us. Just my two cents

        3. I understand, but we cannot be obedient to God and forsake fellowship as his body, His Bride the Church

          (1Tim 3:15) ” the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”

        4. @John,

          I’m not saying that we shouldn’t go to church or fellowship with other Christians. But who says that the “fellowshiping” that goes on in American churches is what Jesus/Paul/The Bible was talking about. I truly believe that the “church” that we go to on Sundays is not the “church” that 1 Timothy was talking about. For one thing, there were no church buildings during that time. The thought of going to a building designated specifically for worship was mainly for the pagans (ancient history buffs, correct me if I am wrong.) “The House of God” is found in Christians not a building. Some people might be lead to fellowship outside the four-walls. Some might be lead to fellowship within the four-walls. Does it really matter as long as they are fellowshiping with other Christ-followers. And from what the previous commentors have stated, it doesn’t seem like they are forsaking fellowshiping/gathering with other Christians. Just forsaking the Americanization of Christianity that has limited Christian fellowship to a building.

        5. John-

          Are you equating Bob with God in your little analogy? If so, you don’t have to be in a crowd of believers just to fellowship with Him.

          And before I get the “forsaking of the bretheren” thrown at me, I would like to clarify that I am forsaking the CHURCH not the bretheren. A few of my Christian friends getting together I find is more edifying and worshipful than any ritual.

          Jessica- My sentiments exactly. If you can find those that aren’t hurtful, stick with them!

      3. Michael, I’m sorry that John responded to you with a lack of sympathy and understanding. Please allow me a chance at a more gracious response:

        My main concern with your approach, Michael, is that circling up the wagons denies your family the ability to accept others’ (and use their own) spiritual gifts in a corporate setting. You’re right, the church is not a building – but the idea(s) of fellowship, local assembly, and corporate worship permeates the New Testament. Saying “I was once hurt in an organized assembly, therefore I’ll never involve myself in church” seems to be on the same level as “I once got food poisoning, therefore I’ll never eat again.” Please don’t throw out the baby with the bath water by allowing a bad experience to trump biblical practice.

        fwiw, my siblings and I didn’t really like family devos. Ask your wife and kids about how they feel about your family model replacing the local church. If your wife and kids genuinely do enjoy and appreciate your teaching and leadership, good chance that’s a hint that you’re qualified to pastor/shepherd other families whose fathers and husbands don’t have your gift(s). Either way, I hope the Lord blesses you as you continue to lead your family.

  21. The sad thing is that when someone really does drop dead of a stress-induced heart attack (that comes from working in Fundyism), then the Fundies say that person must not have been trusting God enough to carry them through…. This happened in the last few months to a person I know.

    1. The self-righteous judgmental attitude instead of compassion is so sad. They sound like Job’s “friends.”

    2. Or nervous breakdowns that are never diagnoised (because God forbid, we should have breakdowns). Just sudden onset of physical, emotional and mental symptoms all very life changing. This happened to myself and two other young women that I can think of from my former church of only about 350 people.
      🙁 I recently realized (when I heard someone else talk about their own) that the “flashbacks” that I’ve been having are PTSS. I just thought that I was crazy or something.
      HIS yoke is easy and HIS burden is light. HE gives rest.

  22. @ pastors preaching against burning out.






    P.S. wrote in all caps to make my best a screaming like a fundi pastor.

    1. The church I serve as a pastor is fighting a battle with ourselves. We have a lot of programs that need staffing, but we strongly encourage people to engage with people beyond our walls, even if it keeps them from “church ministry.” More and more, the people we cheer on are those who are engaged with their neighbors out of love for Christ and people, rather than because we started another program! I think we’re headed in the right direction….

      1. We’re trying the same thing. Fewer church programs but more interaction with people in the community. It’s hard on the status quo, but we think it’s what God wants us to focus on.

      2. Right, a quick look at the New Testament will show Jesus spent 90 percent of his time out in the work place and out reaching others. We tend to sit in church and stay stagnant in the name of self righteousness.

        Now I still believe in going to church and church activity. However, most of time people that come to church are already saved. Church is a place for believers to come and worship around one thing, Jesus. But to many times we come to church and hear sermons about dress, going to movies, and how to part our hair to the right. I mean left. I mean what side do you part it on if your not Gay? We have removed the worship of Christ out of the church and started focusing on worshiping the way we self inflict needless rules.

        The point is we have labeled the world bad and therefore have totally removed our self. God forbid.

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