Eureka! Burnout Relief for Church People


Why do most stories of “successful people” seem full of struggle, despair and burnout?

Why do churches and church people, become so inwardly focused that they don’t know how to interact with outsiders?

The Myth and the Journey

The myth of the successful person is that they made stunning sacrifices for their dream. They did a staggering amount of work. Eventually, they were rewarded with a modicum of success and become a minor celebrity.

Then the reckoning.

Divorce. Despair. Addiction. Depression. They spiral into breakdown.

Eventually, they discover some sensational principle, achieve bliss and write a New York Times best-seller about it.  These books will teach you great principles like “get into therapy,” “watch your diet” or “practice Sabbath.” Read them. Do what they say.

These stories are real. Sometimes the books are helpful. But is this nightmare necessary to live the life you want?

Eureka!  I Have Found It!

Because there is one surprisingly simple method to avoid burnout and save you from disaster. If you play your cards right, it could even help you develop the relationships you need to start a fresh expression of church.

It works just like Archimedes dropping the crown into the bathtub. It’s so simple that you may run naked through the streets shouting “Eureka!”

Get a hobby.

It seems that there was a time where everyone had a car in the garage they were tinkering on, or a softball team, or membership in the Elks Club. In today’s world we binge on Netflix, avoid our neighbors and eschew formal membership in institutions.

We’ve made idols out of our careers. We focus on our personal success to the detriment of our families, neighborhoods, and eventually ourselves.

Somewhere along the way, we forgot about hobbies.

I define a hobby as a non-necessary task that energizes you.

Isn’t That A Waste of Time?

No way, especially if you are thinking of starting a Fresh Expression.  Hobbies are quite possibly the best way to develop meaningful relationships outside of your church community.

The specific hobby doesn’t matter. The key is that it is removed from your job, career ambitions or family responsibilities… and your church.

A hobby could be helping with a local service organization, building a widget in your garage, gardening, or writing a novel.

A hobby is something you do for fun. It’s something that is so rewarding you’d spend hard earned money on it. You don’t need to be good at it. You do need to feel better after working on it.

Think about the happiest and healthiest people you know. They work hard so they can play hard.

Or maybe it’s the other way around?

But Wait, There’s More!

When Archimedes dropped the crown in the bathtub, the water was raised and some splashed out. This is good news.

A hobby is like the crown. The water is all the stuff in your life, the necessary tasks you can’t escape but also the ones you probably should.

Hobbies keep you from filling your life with crap.

Make time and money for your hobby a cornerstone that other things are built off, and you will be forced to spend the rest of your life on things that matter.

Chances are, you’ll be just busy enough.  Because doing things that energize you is a safeguard against burnout. But that’s just the beginning.

Fresh Expressions start outside of our existing churches. They start in our neighborhoods, gyms, pubs, and community centers where the Holy Spirit has been preparing that community for an in-breaking of a Fresh Expression.  It becomes a manifestation that connects their own eurekas to what God is doing in them, through them, and in the world at large.

We collect stories of Fresh Expressions here, like the one that started with a bunch of bikers, or the one that started among board game aficionados. These are the “people groups” of modern America: women and men brought together by their hobbies.

Church leaders get burned out, perhaps, because they need a hobby. For the busy church-goer: the constant activities of the church fill up the “hobbysphere” of their lives. Is this bad?  Maybe or maybe not.  Maybe fresh expressions don’t happen enough because the people of God are too busy making church just a hobby.

Not sure how to start a fresh expression?

It starts with relationships. They best way to develop them and take care of yourself at the same time is to get a hobby.


Chris Morton

Chris works across the organization to help get new projects off the ground and into the world. He also helps to manage our email, social media and other digital communications. He helped plant Austin Mustard Seed, where he served for five years as Community Developer. He also works with several other non-profits and businesses to tell their story with content and social media. In 2012, he graduated from Fuller Theological Seminary with a M.A. in Global Leadership. He lives in Austin, Texas with his wife Laura.


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