The Alarming Rate of Burnout Among Church Planters

by | Feb 19, 2024 | Church Leadership, Church Planting, Pastoral Burnout | 1 comment

Burnout among church planters. It’s a real thing, and it’s hitting hard. Think about it: you’ve got passionate people starting new churches, pouring their hearts and souls into it, and sometimes, it just becomes too much.


What’s Going On?


Burnout. It’s like hitting a wall—emotionally, physically, mentally. For church planters, it’s kind of the occupational hazard nobody really talks about. They’re out there trying to grow their churches, be there for everyone, and often working with less-than-ideal resources. It’s a recipe for running on empty.


The Why Behind the Burnout


This is, by no means, an exhaustive list, but it’s a good snapshot:

#1 Sky-High Expectations:

Imagine trying to meet super-ambitious growth targets with your new church. It’s like being in a pressure cooker that never lets up. With this mindset, any growth is never enough. This is most likely an expectation that the leader has placed on themselves rather than an expectation from their denomination or network.


#2 Solo Planting:

A lot of church planters feel like they’re on an island. Not enough mentors, not enough peers to bounce ideas off of, just…loneliness.


#3 Money Woes:

Starting a church isn’t exactly a get-rich-quick scheme. Financial stress is a huge burden and can take its toll in many ways.


#4 Life Balance? What’s That?:

When you’re so deep into church planting that it spills over into every nook and cranny of your life, suddenly, “me time” and family moments are on the endangered list.


The Fallout


When burnout strikes, it’s not just the church planter who feels it—the whole church can feel the vibes. Leadership gets nervous, decisions get questionable, and the whole energy of the place can start to dwindle.


Beating Burnout


#1 Adjust Your Expectations:

First things first, it’s crucial to realign those sky-high expectations. Remember, any growth is positive growth. Start celebrating the small wins and milestones. Understand that it’s okay to set ambitious goals, but they need to be balanced with realistic timelines and the acknowledgment that success doesn’t happen overnight. Remind yourself that these high expectations are often self-imposed and not a mandate from above. Shifting your mindset can significantly reduce pressure.


#2 Bridge the Isolation:

Solo planting can feel like you’re marooned on an island, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Actively seek out mentorship programs, join church planting networks, or find online communities where you can connect with peers who understand the journey. These connections can offer invaluable advice, encouragement, and a sense of belonging. Remember, sharing your experiences and challenges with others who understand can be incredibly therapeutic and empowering.


#3 Navigate Financial Stress:

Addressing the financial strain head-on involves both practical and spiritual strategies. On the practical side, explore fundraising opportunities, consider bi-vocational planting, or seek financial grants designed for church plants. Spiritually, lean into faith, remembering that provision often comes in unexpected ways and times. Open discussions with your congregation about the financial realities can also foster a sense of collective responsibility and support.


#4 Prioritize Life Balance:

This is about drawing boundaries. It’s essential to carve out dedicated time for yourself and your family. This might mean setting specific “off hours” when you’re not available for church-related matters or designating one day a week as a complete rest day. Engage in hobbies or activities that rejuvenate your spirit and connect you with loved ones. Remember, being well-rested and emotionally fulfilled makes you a better leader and role model for your congregation.


Church planting is tough, no doubt. But acknowledging the burnout risk and taking steps to address it can make all the difference. Here’s to keeping the passion alive without burning out!

Read more blog posts by Jeff Hoglen, D.Min.

Books by Jeff Hoglen:

 Jeff Hoglen Book - Basics of the Faith   Church Planting Book by Jeff Hoglen and Ron Myer   

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