Why We'll Miss the Waggetts

written by Neal Thornton, Senior Pastor (October 2, 2023)

In a few weeks Coats Baptist will say goodbye to a pair of precious church members: Jonathan and Sarah Waggett. They are responding to God’s call on their lives to Hyde Park Baptist in Lumberton, NC where Jonathan will serve as their worship pastor. Space fails to share our full love for this couple. This much is sure: they will be missed. This is partly because Jonathan was more than a member;  he has served on staff at Coats Baptist since January of 2016 as our worship pastor. I personally have not known a Coats Baptist without him, and many of you have not either. He was here when I arrived, made me feel welcome, and introduced me to what is still my favorite Mexican restaurant! Perhaps you have a similar story!

I will miss him. But we will miss him even more. Allow me to mention a few reasons we all at Coats Baptist will miss Pastor Jonathan.


We’ll miss his platform finesse on Sundays.

Worship leaders have visible leadership roles on Sunday. They speak to the people, for the people. They lead them into a place and time of worship, and they help their hearts and mind prepare for preaching and prayer. They greet the congregation, express a gospel love to all in attendance, set a mood in the room, a tone for the morning, etc. Jonathan does this. He is the thermostat for the worship service, with all the guests in mind. He is a public leader, and he flourishes on Sunday morning, for God’s glory and our good. His smile is contagious. He is the guy you want with a microphone in hand.


We’ll miss his operational awareness.

Ministry demands more than meets the eye, especially a Sunday morning worship service. There is much to prepare and lots of moving parts. And Jonathan made it look easy. He has a mind for Sunday operations. He knows what people are thinking, me included! Which makes him a good leader. He is ahead of the curve, attentive to the details and always ready for a curveball. Sunday morning operations are in good hands with Jonathan at the helm.


We’ll miss his contribution to the staff.

Jonathan is an ideal staff member. Not only can he multitask with grace, he has many skills outside the scope of worship ministry. Throughout the week, one can find Jonathan doing a variety of tasks to support the church. The average attender may never know it, but Jonathan works behind the scenes and under the radar to keep the ministry moving. And that’s the way Jonathan would have it. Does anyone wear a Coats Baptist t-shirt? Has anyone ever received a CBC text message? Does anyone follow us on Facebook? If you say yes, then you’ve benefited from Jonathan’s ministry. His will be big shoes to fill.


We’ll miss his music ministry talents.

Jonathan did more than play a keyboard and sing. He led a band, conducted a choir, and hosted a variety of seasonal worship services throughout the year. Jonathan knows music, he knows ministry, and one that is supported by a robust theology of worship. He is a lifelong learner of music and ministry. Jonathan is also a pastor. He leads worship with a Bible in his hand, theology in his heart, and the people on his mind. The gospel drives Jonathan Sunday after Sunday. He approaches every Sunday before an audience of One.


We will miss his precious wife, Sarah.

It is a special blessing when a man meets his wife in his own church. Such was the case for Jonathan when he met Sarah back in 2018. First friends in ministry, then dating, then long distance dating (Sarah was working in Mexico!), and then engagement and marriage—all while serving at Coats Baptist. We saw those years, how the Lord put this precious couple together. We had a perspective that few others had. In a sense, we have grown up with Jonathan as he has with us. We thank God for the time he has afforded us to spend with the Waggetts and the role we served in their life. We will miss them, wish them well, and pray for them all the more.

A personal word in closing. Every lead preaching pastor knows the impact a worship pastor can have on the ministry of the church. Especially Sunday morning. Though the preaching of the word is central to the Sunday service, the style, order and quality of the music often sets the tone. And though music is but only one expression of worship, how we sing, what we sing, and when we sing matters. Jonathan understands this. He is a pastor with a mind and skill for music. His heart is to lead God’s people to worship Jesus together. For that, Jonathan, I want to be the first to say Thank You.

I praise God for Jonathan. He makes everyone on the Sunday platform better at their ministries and brings out the best in our church. He brings a warm joy into the worship service every Sunday. In my estimation, Jonathan is what a worship pastor ought to be. I wish I could clone him! 

As he departs for another assignment at such a young age, we pray he has many more years of fruitfulness to come. I’m sure many will soon appreciate the Jonathan Waggett we have come to know and love.

We’ll miss you, friend.