In Christ Alone - A Farewell Letter

written by Jonathan Waggett, Worship Pastor (October 9, 2023)

If you're reading this, you're likely well familiar with the modern hymn by the Gettys, "In Christ Alone". But do you know the early 90's power ballad of the same title? In 1991 (one year before I was born), Michael English released "In Christ Alone". I hadn't head this song in YEARS... until it was re-released less than a week ago by Natalie Grant. If you didn't know this about me, I love everything that Natalie Grant sings/records. And I love a good power ballad. Combine those two loves with the lyrics of this song and it was a no brainer for me to cover this song for my farewell blog.

In Christ alone will I glory Though I could pride myself in battles won For I've been blessed beyond measure And by His strength alone I overcome Oh, I could stop and count successes Like diamonds in my hand But those trophies could not equal To the grace by which I stand
In Christ alone I place my trust And find my glory in the power of the cross In every victory let it be said of me My source of strength, my source of hope Is Christ alone
In Christ alone will I glory For only by His grace I am redeemed Only His tender mercy Could reach beyond my weakness to my need Now I seek no greater honor Than just to know Him more And to count my gains but losses To the glory of the Lord

This song speaks of worldly successes and reminds us that every blessing comes from the Lord and that our every praise should be for the Lord. Our lives should be marked by praise that points others to our Savior and to the cross. For an artist/musician, this means pointing people to THE Artist. It's often easier to praise the art. Or the earthly artist. But it's good and right to give all the credit to the Creator of all.

As a worship leader, this has always been a tension that I live with. Don't get me wrong - compliments about music and singing brings a smile to my face. But I've been most encouraged over the years by people who tell me that they truly met with their Savior during corporate worship and that the songs I led helped them voice their praise to the Lord. Regardless of what comments you shared with me over the years, I want to say "thank you".

So where do I begin?

On January 10, 2016, I led my first Sunday worship services at Coats Baptist Church. Almost eight years have passed and all I can do is give God praise for what He has done during my time at CBC. I'll admit, when I first began, I was probably somewhat in over my head. I was a single twenty-three year old with my first full-time job - a worship pastor. And I quickly became the only pastor on staff. I was praying harder than ever before. Had I made a mistake? Was I going to make it through this season? But God...

He sustained me. He grew me. He did more than I could ask, think, or imagine. And He used many of you to encourage me through prayer, service, and worship! This is true of the duration of my time at Coats Baptist. Through many victories and failures, ups and downs of life and ministry, unexpected gain and loss, God did a great work. I fall short at the ability to rightly express my gratitude and praise; that makes this ministry transition difficult.

Not only was I blessed to serve as worship pastor at Coats Baptist for almost eight years, CBC has been a part of my journey and story for thirteen years. Please know that I am not running from anything or running to anything. Sarah and I are simply pursuing and following the Lord together. Our first two years of marriage have been marked by an increasing trust and dependence in the Lord's sovereignty and perfect timing. We leave with excitement because the Lord has made it clear to both of us that this is His will. We also leave with sadness knowing that we are leaving a church family who loves us and supports us. But God...

He is good. He is kind. And He provides. Perhaps you find yourself in a season of change or transition. Worship God. Seek after Him. Give Him praise for every moment as He teaches you - sometimes you don't comprehend what He's doing until later. But the outcome and remaining in His will is so worth the wait. He is for you, not against you. Rest in His Truth.

I want you to know that I am praying for you, Coats Baptist. And I'm praying for your next worship pastor. God knows exactly who that will be. I pray that He prepares CBC for the next guy and I pray that He is preparing the next guy for CBC. In the meantime, keep worshiping! Be of great encouragement in your worship to the band and praise team and choir and tech team as they continue the work of worship ministry week after week. It's never been about me. Leading worship has been a collective effort and it's all about Him! As I sing in this cover: "To the glory of the Lord". 

I love you, Coats Baptist Church. And if you're ever heading down I-95 South, visit us in Lumberton, NC! Sarah and I would love to see friendly, familiar faces.

Now, I leave you with this power ballad. And a few bloopers at the end...