Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)



First Advisor

Dr. Frank Green

Second Advisor

Dr. Steve Delamarter


Burnout among Western church leaders occurs at an alarming rate. Effective responses must go beyond the symptoms of burnout to the theology these leaders chose, which ultimately shapes their visions of life and leadership. This project explores the experience of burnout and its relationship to the prevailing version of the gospel in the Western church, suggesting this epidemic is connected to in an inaccurate version of the gospel that finds fertile soil in the leader’s own unresolved personal identity issues. Part 1 (Chapters 1-3) introduces the burnout epidemic and the prevailing version of the gospel in the West. Chapter 1 establishes the burnout epidemic through statistical and survey evidence. Chapter 2 explores the experience of burnout from both a personal and academic perspective. Chapter 3 considers five shortcomings of the gospel embraced by a majority of Western church leaders and suggests a connection to burnout. Part 2 (Chapters 4-7) provides an alternative theological and hermeneutical model intended to encourage those dealing with burnout towards a health. This section explores the implications of four specific elements of Jesus’ gospel—the story of Israel (Chapter 4), the narrative form it takes (Chapter 5), the Wilderness (Chapter 6), and the Kingdom of God (Chapter 7)—for an effective response to burnout. Part 3 (Chapters 8-10) considers the emotional, physical, and relational aspects of burnout in church leadership in light of Jesus’ gospel. Chapter 8 explores the emotional experience of burnout and the uniquely potent recipe for burnout in church leadership, proposing the practice of self-differentiation. Chapter 9 explores the physical roots of burnout, proposing the practice of self-care. Chapter 10 explores the isolation that accompanies burnout, proposing the practice of a weekly peer group. The concluding chapter considers the changing nature burnout in 21st century church leadership in light of the decline and redefinition of the local church in North America.

Included in

Christianity Commons