Being a pastor in these times is demanding. Not complaining, just stating facts. The burden is only carried through the power of the Holy Spirit. But, the truth of the matter is that being a pastor has never been easy.

These things I have learned.

1.The challenge of being a pastor is not the same in every generation. Laila and I assumed a pastorate in 1973. The social and economic issues were quite different than 1995 or today.

2.The challenges are different based upon the individual. The talents and skills of a pastor and spouse greatly impact strategy and effectiveness. The nature of a congregation over time takes on characteristics of the pastor. The church body comes to ministry in the zone of the pastor's heart and vision.

3.The challenges of a pastor are different over time. Education, health, experience, spouse/children, marriage, economics, etc., define the personal life and help to develop the scope and depth of a pastor's leadership. What a pastor experiences with tenure of years molds the character of pastoral ministry and defines the character of the congregation.

4.The challenges are in context of the congregation.  Congregational size, age of parishioners, accommodations for worship, history, etc., are inherited by a pastor. How the congregation is blended with the heart and skills of the pastor becomes a unique story. A volunteer pastor will certainly have a different experience than a pastor with a full-time staff.

5.The challenges are in context of community. The variables that define a community are varied. A congregation in the country is naturally different from a church in a city, desert, island or on the Amazon River. A congregation in a Muslim or Hindu community would be different than a congregation in a Christian culture, e.g., a congregation in Malaysia vs. a congregation in Southeastern U.S.

6.The challenges are in context of the societal circumstances. Imagine pastoring a church during World War II, compared to the Vietnam War, compared to the Sexual Revolution of the 1960's, or during the time of the Supreme Court decision of Roe vs. Wade. Challenges of being a pastor in 2018 include real-time global communications and economics, governmental regulations unprecedented, etc.

The life of a pastor is always about people. Other variables impinge. But always, always the heart of a pastor is to see the souls of men and women. The work is spiritual. The hope is to point people to God.

Yes, being a pastor has its challenges. For those in 2018 we have to grapple with high technology, open and carnal pleasures made as available as a cell phone or computer. Ours is a world that makes people feel like they deserve. Ours is a world of wars and rumors of wars with weapons too frightful to be thought about. Ours is a world that has discarded the word "modesty" and put "virtue" in the archives.

Yet, God still calls pastors. He still calls men and women who are willing to be shepherds and serve. He has thousands upon thousands and tens of thousands of faithful pastors fulfilling the Great Commission. To the Andes of Peru, the deserts of Africa, the jungles of the Amazon, the cities, the islands, to jails, hospitals, homeless shelters, ghettos and war zones they go.

Most go without riches or hope of fame. They go in faith, trusting God and others for support. They suffer, they sacrifice, they give their lives freely.

At Covenant we count many blessings. Love for the Bible. Mission heart to community and world. We are a gentle blend of colors, countries and cultures. Our history since 1952 has afforded four senior pastors, with two of them serving a total of 59 of the 66 years.

Our location is excellent. Our facilities are a blessing, even as we complete this phase of joining our complex into one.

We know that to whom much is given much is required. We are blessed. We hold our blessing in sacred trust with determination to serve with all of our heart, soul, strength and mind.

It is our day in the sun. We intend to please Our Lord Jesus and to establish a firm foundation for the work of the Lord until Jesus returns.

We understand that precious members of our Body who have gone on to be with Jesus dreamed of the current construction. They labored, tithed and gave generously believing that one day our buildings would be joined together.

Thank you for being a wonderful congregation. It is a pleasure for Laila and me, the pastoral team and elders to serve you.

Much love

Pastor Bare