Ministry burnout is rising to epidemic levels in the Church today. The Schaeffer Institute’s [http://www.intothyword.org/apps/articles/default.asp?articleid=36562] research paints a disturbing picture: 50 percent of the ministers starting out will not last 5 years. Over 1,700 pastors leave the ministry every month. 70 percent of pastors constantly fight depression. 80 percent of pastors believe that pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families. Ministry burnout is an epidemic. This is why we should rejoice when books that address ministry burnout like On The Brink Grace For The Burned-Out Pastor by seasoned Pastor Clay Werner come on the scene.
On the Brink, like The Dangerous Calling by Paul David Tripp, seeks to address the problem of pastoral burnout through the gospel. Clay writes from his experience with burning out and healing from it, and draws from what others have written on the subject. Chapter one looks at how to live by faith, chapter two on external pressures, chapter three the kingdom of God, and chapter four explores the gift of disillusionment. Chapter five explores the practical benefits of the resurrection of Christ. Part one of the book transitions to moving past the problem of burnout to look at the work of the Cross. In part two the author challenges ministry leaders to live by the resurrection power, to face difficulty head on, to serve others in the power of the Holy Spirit, deal with conflict in a healthy way and to press on because of the grace of God.
So why we need books like On the Brink? We need them because ministry burnout is a very serious issue. As noted at the beginning of this review, many ministry leaders are leaving the ministry every month and even more churches are closing every month. One of the best ways I’ve learned to fight against burnout is to take care of myself physically, watch what I eat, regularly practice the spiritual disciplines, preach the gospel to myself and take a regularly scheduled day off. This has helped me all around because it’s so easy to get so inundated by the work of ministry that one can literally be so busy for God that they never make any room for God. I’ve seen this happen over and over again sadly. This is why we need books like On The Brink that help diagnose the issue of pastoral burnout and point pastors to the sovereign work of God’s grace. Every single pastor is still a Christian which means they never outgrow their need for the gospel.
Whether you are preparing for pastoral ministry or a ministry role of any kind I encourage you to read On The Brink from Clay Werner. This book will help you to see the problem of pastoral burnout and the cure in the gospel. I also encourage seasoned pastors, Sunday school teachers and those in ministry to read this book. Ministry is hard work but it is gospel-work. I highly recommend this book and pray the Lord would use it to help those who are burned out or in ministry understand that we never outgrow our need for Jesus, but are to grow deep and wide in the gospel.
Author: Clay Werner
Publisher: P&R (2014)
I received this book for free from P&R for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”