Mark Hurst has been conducting most of his work via virtual gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo provided.

By Mark Hurst
Monday, November 1, 2021

​Mary, my spouse, and I were asked to lead a two-day online retreat for pastors in the middle of the COVID-19 outbreak, with the theme, "Pastoring In A Pandemic." Churches were experiencing lockdown conditions, and pastors were finding their way as leaders of congregations that were struggling with the changes.  

We began the retreat by saying that we are all living in a time of chaos and raised questions, such as: How do we do church during such a time? And for leaders, how do we lead? Major change is under way and all pastors are now "Transitional Ministers," whether they like it or not. 

A key part of the retreat was when pastors shared their experiences, while in breakout rooms during each session. There were the expected complaints about the extra stress they were experiencing, but a surprise came from one older pastor.  

He said that, before the pandemic, he was ready to give up. The way church was "being done" wasn't working for him any longer, and he was thinking of retiring early. But now that his church was forced out of its old routines, there was new life in the congregation. They were getting out of their building and doing things in the community. As a pastor, he felt renewed and challenged to lead in a new way. He and his church were experiencing transformation.  


Mark and Mary Hurst served as Mission Network associates for 19 years, as resource people and pastors with the Anabaptist Association of Australia and New Zealand. 



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