May Ministry & Personal Update

Ministry Journal, Reggie's Journey, Upcoming Events No Comments

Relationships & Worship Matters

The book Worship Matters by Bob Kauflin covers many relevant issues on worship. On the Heartfelt Music website, under the category of Worship Matters book, I summarize the book in four parts. In Part 4, Bob reminds us that worship ministry is always about people. It is very important to keep in mind at all times that people are so important! God is all about relationships. Because of His deep love for us, God sent His Son to die for people, to heal relationships, and draw us all closer to Him. Relationships are messy and there are so many variables which make it hard to have a “cookie cutter” answer in solving problems. “But I know this,” says Bob, “the church doesn’t need leaders who love to lead people in worship but don’t love the people they’re serving.” It’s not just selecting the right songs that pleases God, but God is more interested in how we treat others. Take stock of your relationships and love them like Jesus would.


Phil Keaggy is Coming!

Saturday, June 23, guitar master and concert artist Phil Keaggy will be coming to Mount Hermon Christian Conference Center, which begins the Summer Concert Series. Invite every guitar player you know!


Austin Coates is Getting Married!

Austin, my youngest son, is getting married this month to Lindsey Doran. Sherri and I are so excited for them and are full of joy in the midst of all the preparations. They met at George Fox University in Oregon.


Brandon Coates is Getting Married!

Brandon, my oldest son, is getting married in September to Kristin Campbell. Sherri and I are so blessed to know both Austin and Brandon have found wonderful and beautiful soul-mates. They also met at college, San Jose State University.


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March Ministry Update

Ministry Journal, Upcoming Events No Comments


Worship Matters

I will be giving a concert at Gilroy Presbyterian Church this Sunday. It’s a musical three part series we’ve been having once a month to enhance our love for the Lord and express worship through music. The theme is Music in Faith and it starts at 6:30pm. I would love to see you!

The book Worship Matters by Bob Kauflin covers many relevant issues on worship. On the Heartfelt Music website, under the category of Worship Matters book, I summarize the book in four parts. Part 2 covers “The Task” of worship leading.  Bob beautifully gives a working definition of the purpose in worship leading with the following sentence:

A faithful worship leader
magnifies the greatness of God in Jesus Christ
through the power of the Holy Spirit
by skillfully combining God’s Word with music,
thereby motivating the gathered church
to proclaim the gospel,
to cherish God’s presence,
and to live for God’s glory.

May you be reminded to magnify the greatness of God and live for His glory in all you do!


Reggie in Concert at Gilroy Pres.

I will be doing a concert at Gilroy Presbyterian Church, 6000 Miller Ave, Gilroy, CA 95020, Sunday, March 18, at 6:30pm. This is the third of three monthly Sunday Evening Worship Series. This Music of Faith concert begins at 6:30pm. It will be just me with guitar and vocal tapestry. I’d love to see you!


Easter Sunrise Service at Mount Hermon

An Easter sunrise service, open to the public, will be conduced at the summit of Mount Hermon on Easter Sunday, April 1, at 6:30am. Reggie Coates will be leading a time of worship and Randal Kay will share an Easter message. Breakfast is served immediately following the service.


Praise & Worship

Heartfelt Music has me involved in many things lately, which takes a lot of time and energy. But, everything works together and overlaps in the area of praising and worshiping God. Leading worship in churches; training others to sing praises through private lessons; teaching at conferences; organizing summer concerts at Mount Hermon…I love what I do!


Coming Events

March 18 (Sunday)
Music of Faith Concert with Reggie at Gilroy Presbyterian Church, 6000 Miller Ave, Gilroy, CA 95020. It begins at 6:30pm. It will be just me with guitar and vocal tapestry.

March 30 (Friday)
Good Friday Service at Gilroy Presbyterian Church, 6000 Miller Ave, Gilroy, CA 95020. It begins at 7:00pm. I’ll be leading music at this meaningful time of reflecting on the cross of Christ.

April 1 (Sunday)
I’ll be leading worship at Mount Hermon’s Easter Sunrise Service, at the cross near Ponderosa Lodge, 37 Conference Drive, Mount Hermon, CA 95041. Breakfast is served after the service.

April 1 (Sunday)
I’ll be leading worship at the main service on Sunday, 10:00am.  Gilroy Presbyterian Church, 6000 Miller Ave, Gilroy, CA 95020.


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Worship Matters Book Insights – Part 2

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Worship Matters bookWe’ve been reading the second part of Bob Kauflin’s new book called Worship Matters.  Part 2 covers THE TASK of worship leading.  Bob beautifully gives a working definition of the purpose in worship leading with the following sentence:

A faithful worship leader
magnifies the greatness of God in Jesus Christ
through the power of the Holy Spirit
by skillfully combining God’s Word with music,
thereby motivating the gathered church
to proclaim the gospel,
to cherish God’s presence,
and to live for God’s glory.


There is a wealth of practical and helpful insights in this section.  Yet, it is a little intimidating to try and summarize it in a few paragraphs here.  I’ll give you ten points that I think are significant.  After reading them, add comments, questions, or other points you think are significant.

  1. Leading people to praise God involves energy, intentionality, and thoughtfulness (page 59).
  2. We want people to leave in awe that God would speak to us – encouraged by His promises, challenged by His commands, fearful of His warnings, and grateful for His blessings (page 63).
  3. We need to remember that our access to God is not based on last week’s performance, today’s practices, or tomorrow’s potential.  Rather, we’re accepted “in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6) and need have no fear of rejection as we come before God’s throne (page 74).
  4. We need the Holy Spirit’s power when we worship God… Three attitudes are indispensable in this area – desperate dependence, eager expectation, and humble responsiveness (page 82).
  5. A faithful worship leader combines the Word of God with music to magnify the greatness of God in Jesus Christ (page 96).
  6. Throughout history, God has inspired music to be a primary expression of our hearts to His, yet it is so easy to argue about.  Music wars have been fueled by publishing houses, revivalism, charismatic outpourings, cultural shifts, sound amplification, electronic instruments, and of course, our own sinful hearts (page 98).
  7. The selecting of music is of utmost importance.  If someone was born in our church and grew up singing our songs over the course of twenty years, how well would they know God, based on the song’s content (page 119)?
  8. A worshiping community is made up of individuals whose lives are centered around the Savior they worship together each week.  A worshiping community expects to encounter God’s presence not only on Sunday morning but every day.  A worshiping community recognizes that passionate times of singing God’s praise flow from and lead to passionate lives lived for the glory of Jesus Christ (page 127).
  9. As we help people understand the relationship between God’s love for us in Christ and our daily struggles and challenges, their love and appreciation for the gospel will grow.  The result will be a joyful, gospel-centered community that demonstrates and proclaims the good news of God’s grace to a lost and hopeless world:  God’s grace forgives!  God’s grace redeems!  God’s grace restores! (page 134).
  10. Genuine worship changes lives and inspires us to live for God’s glory:  making us humble, secure, grateful, holy, loving, and mission-minded (page 144-149).

Worship Matters Book Insights – Part 3

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Worship Matters bookPutting together a worship service is not easy if you take it seriously.  It helps for everyone to understand what goes into a worship service.  In the third section of Bob Kauflin’s book Worship Matters on Healthy Tensions, he looks at nine critical areas that must be embraced and kept in balance.  Before we look at those areas, Bob makes some good points I’d like to amplify.

  • We need to realize that God has something to say about what He wants in a worship service before we do “whatever we want.”  Some examples are:
    • We’re to pray together (1 Tim. 2:1-2).
    • Pastors are to preach and explain God’s Word (2 Tim. 4:2).
    • We’re to sing praises to God (Col. 3:16).
    • There’s a proper way to participate in the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 14:29; 11:17-34).
  • There are three principles that are a good “rule of thumb” in putting together a service:
    • Do what God clearly commands.
    • Don’t do what God clearly forbids.
    • Use Scriptural wisdom for everything else.

Now, let’s take a look at the many “tensions” involved in a worship service:

Transcendent & Immanent

God is so much beyond us we cannot fully understand Him and His ways.  He is huge!  He is “God of god’s, Lord of lord’s, the great, the mighty, the awesome God” (Duet. 10:17).  Because of this, reverence is essential for worship (Heb. 12:28-29).  He is holy and we are sinful.  But God has made Himself reachable and near to us because of His deep love for us shown in the incarnation of Jesus.  God became human to laugh, eat, sleep, and interact with those He created.  The radical fact for Christians is that He is not only with us but He dwells in us.  Can you get any closer than that?  He is both majestic God and our friend (John 15:14-15).

Head & Heart

Churches can have a hard time connecting the knowledge of the mind with the passions of the heart.   God desires us to set our minds on the things above (Col. 3:2).  In Colossians 3:16, Paul tells us an important reason to use Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs is to let the Word of Christ richly dwell within you.  Truth must be prevalent in all we do.   Yet in many churches, it’s passionate worship from the heart that needs attention.  Godly affections are deep and the result of focusing on what God has done and who He is.  God’s transcendence causes us to feel awe.  His holiness evokes sorrow for our sin.  A view of his mercy leads to gratefulness.  The knowledge of his sovereignty brings great peace.  Many times we can feel wonder and joy in response to God.  God intends for us to remember that neither biblical truth nor deep emotion is out of place when we worship God; they’re meant to be together.

Internal & External

God looks upon the heart (1 Samuel 16:7) and the state of our heart is of primary importance because “from it flows the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23).  In Scripture, the heart encompasses everything from what we think to what we feel to what we choose.  It’s not enough that people just attend meetings, something must be stirring in their desires, thoughts, and feelings.  While heart worship is most important, what we do with our bodies isn’t irrelevant or unimportant.  Physical responsiveness to God in worship is encouraged and modeled throughout Scripture.  Various physical actions can bring God glory, including clapping, singing, bowing, kneeling, lifting hands, shouting, playing instruments, dancing, and standing in awe.  We must help our congregations understand that God is worthy of our deepest, strongest, and purest affections…and that our bodies should show it.

Vertical & Horizontal

Worship, from beginning to end, is about God.  He is complete in every way.  When we worship God, we join an activity that began in eternity and will continue forever – the triune God valuing His beauty and worth above everything else.  God’s nature is to give and He created the world so we could share in the joy of knowing Him, ultimately for his glory.  God’s glory is the end of our worship, and not simply a means to something else.  Biblical worship is God-focused (God is clearly seen), God-centered (God is clearly the priority), and God-exalting (God is clearly honored).  The horizontal aspect of worship is about the importance of our interaction together as we worship God.  We are not to neglect our meeting together so we can build one another up and “stir up one another to love and good works” (Heb. 10:24-25).  We are “teaching and admonishing one another” (Col. 3:16).  Worship is not about us, but includes us.  Ephesians 5:19 reveals the perfect balance as we sing to the Lord we are speaking to each other, “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.”  Worshiping together is a time for us to be built up, all for His glory.

Planned & Spontaneous

I’ve been in situations where worship leaders don’t plan the service until 5 minutes before it.  Others will have such a detailed plan that even the prayers are written out in advance.  We need both planning and spontaneity.  Planning can’t replace dependence on the Holy Spirit.  Planning also can’t ensure we’ve made the right plans.  Our goal should be to plan wisely, humbly, and prayerfully, fully expecting that God may provide fresh and unexpected guidance during the meeting.  Plans are meant to serve us, not rule us.  It can make us aware of our need for God before the meeting.  It can cause us to clarify our goals and how to meet them.  It can help us use variety and contrast as well as use God’s Word more consistently.  It can help prepare all the team members for their contributions.  But spontaneity is important as well when it brings freshness to the meeting.  Gifted leadership is seen on the spot and in the moment.  We can plan for spontaneity by playing through a simple progression at the end of a song, singing a line of Scripture, sing a prayer using a familiar tune, etc.  Playing spontaneously gives us one more musical tool to help people see the glories of our great God and Savior.

Rooted & Relevant

We must keep rooted in the timeless truths and principles as well as stay relevant to those who come to our services today.  Keep in mind that ours is not the first generation to think about and pursue biblical worship.  The past holds many things worth keeping or repeating.  There is richness for us in the liturgical forms from the past.  Throughout history, hymns are brilliantly crafted with certain depth and theological precision.  The greatest traditions in the world are meaningless unless they effectively communicate God’s truth to the people who come to our meetings.  God is the same, but we don’t need to be thirty years behind in decorating styles, graphics, and technology.  Our goal is to communicate clearly, not to distract or overwhelm.  It’s good to sing new songs and offer variety in our services, but realize we are constantly changing.  One of the benefits of rooted traditions is their ability to immunize us against the relentless changes in our culture and make us more attuned to faithfulness.  Let us draw upon the rich heritage of the past, while at the same time seeking to communicate the eternal gospel in ways our culture can understand.

Skilled & Authentic

In comparing a hundred-voice choir dynamically leading worship with an average singer/guitarist passionately leading worship, which is more pleasing to God?  The answer depends on whether we define excellence from our perspective or God’s.  God commends musical excellence (Psalm 33:3;  1 Chronicles 15:22; 2 Chronicles 30:21-22).  When we worship God skillfully, we offer him what is excellent, our very best (Exodus 23:19a;  Numbers 18:29-30).  But taken to the extreme, an emphasis on skill and excellence can drift toward arrogance, formalism, and art worship (idolatry).  God wants us to pursue both skill and heart.  In building the temple, Moses called the craftsmen who were filled with the Spirit of God (Exodus 35:31) and whose heart stirred him up to do the work (Exodus 36:2).  Jesus said, “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and in truth (John 4:24).  Beauty and skill can be appreciated by all (especially God), but genuineness and heart is what God truly wants (and this builds us up as well).

For the Church & For Unbelievers

When you have a party at your house, there’s a difference between family and guests.  The same distinction can be made in the church.  I care for the guests, but my greatest concern is for those God has joined to my particular congregation.  They’re my spiritual family (1 Peter 2:4-5).  The first priority of our Sunday meetings is strengthening the church.  God doesn’t intend for the people we lead each Sunday to remain perpetually immature.  He wants them in every way to grow up into Christ.  Their maturing can be hindered when we focus primarily on non-family members (unbelievers).  However, scripture does tell us to keep unbelievers in mind and speaks of “outsiders” coming into our meetings (1 Corinthians14:24).  Being aware of non-Christians in our meetings causes us to say things more simply, explain common Christian phrases or words, and occasionally address those with us who don’t know the Savior.  When unbelievers visit our church, there are some things that really affect them:  Authentic passion – Do they find people who are awestruck and amazed by the kindness and mercy of God?  Love – Do they find people who reach out to them, serve one another, and maintain a “unity” as a spiritual family?  The Gospel – The best way to hold a healthy tension of building the church and reaching out to unbelievers is by proclaiming and expounding on the gospel (Jesus Christ was crucified for our sins to bring us to God).

Event & Everyday

There may be a misconception of the word “worship.”  Some think it means merely singing.  Others think it is primarily our gathering on Sunday mornings.  Worship can happen when we have an event like Sunday morning, but scripture makes it clear that worship is a lifestyle of giving God worth and meant to be everyday.  Evangelism is worship (Romans 1:9).  Serving others is worship (Hebrews 13:16).  Giving is worship (Philippians 4:18).  Romans 12:1 connects worship to all of life as we “present our bodies as a living sacrifice.”  However, it is important to be together.  The early Christians are almost always seen worshiping, evangelizing, praying, singing, and living together.  Why?  Because we need the encouragement and support; God receives greater glory; We receive the teaching and care of God’s pastor-shepherds; We’re reminded that we’ve been drawn apart from the world and drawn together to God; We all need help transferring the truth we sing about on Sunday into the daily details of our lives.  In both contexts – together and apart – we’re aware that this is the reason we’ve been created:  to magnify the greatness of God in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Worship Matters Book Insights – Part 4

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This is a summary of the fourth part in Bob Kauflin’s book called Worship Matters.  Part 1 of the book gives practical insights into the life of a worship leader.  Part 2 gives a helpful focus as to what is the goal of our worship leading.  Part 3 reveals 9 healthy tensions we face in church worship.  Now, Part 4 describes how important it is to have good relationships in worship ministry:  Right relationships with the church (the people you see every week in your congregation), with your team (musicians, technicians, ushers, etc.), and with your pastor (or pastors if you have more than one pastor you work with).


Always People
It is very important to keep in mind at all times that people are most important!  God is all about relationships.  Because of His deep love for us, God sent His Son to die for people, to heal relationships, and draw us all closer to Him.  Relationships are messy and there are so many variables which make it hard to have a “cookie cutter” answer in solving problems.  “But I know this,” says Bob, “the church doesn’t need leaders who love to lead people in worship but don’t love the people they’re serving.”  It’s not just selecting the right songs that pleases God, but God is more interested in how we treat others.  Take stock of your relationships.  Who are you regularly coming in contact with?  Do you value these relationships?  As leaders, we must realize we can’t do ministry alone.  For one thing, sin is deceptive and we all need a degree of accountability and transparency with each other.  Sometimes we develop “blind spots” that only others can see.  Confront problem issues instead of avoiding them.  Plus, we need the contribution of others.  To be a one-man-band is ridiculous and will lead to arrogance and burn out.  Allow others to use their gifts and exercise a huge amount of appreciation as you relate to them.  A relevant prayer of Paul applies to us:

“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another,  in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:5-6).


Your Church
The feedback we get from the congregation isn’t always glowing.  Sometimes there are very good comments of critique and other comments are just whining or destructive.  Instead of writing them off, we should care for them and serve them.  This takes more time, thought and energy…and it takes God!  We need God to intervene and guide us through some of these relationships.  Make prayer a priority!  Pray for the church as your planning the service or practicing the songs.  Prayer will humble you.  Prayer will open your eyes to God’s purpose.  Prayer cultivates care for others and gets your eyes off yourself.  There will be those who love you and those who don’t so be ready for both encouragement and correction.  Receiving compliments may be awkward, but learn to graciously receive them.  Thank the person for taking the time to encourage you.  Express gratefulness for the opportunity to serve.  Draw attention to the contribution of others.  Also, internally and intentionally transfer the glory to God.  Receiving criticism is not easy, but God wants us to be open to it.  “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid” (Proverbs 12:1).  Pray for correction.  Expect correction.  Be proactive.  Thank people who correct you. Thank God for correction.  There are other leadership challenges when it comes to the church like handling song suggestions, teaching new songs, and leading through changes.  Each church has unique challenges when it comes to change.  It would help to make sure the leaders are in agreement, regularly teach the church what biblical worship is, lead theologically, and lead humbly but confidently.  Remember that God sees people as treasures and precious in His sight.


Your Team
No two worship teams are exactly alike.  They may play the same instruments as another church, but musicians are a rather varied lot with different backgrounds, experiences, strengths and weaknesses.  Here are five categories that will help you and your team create a way of relating that honors God.

  1. Establishing Your Team – The Bible doesn’t define what a worship team should look like.   It depends on your church’s size, your pastor’s vision, your gifts, how much time you have, your church’s schedule, and who’s available.  You can be a super close group or not, depending on the structure that best fits your present goals and resources.  You may want to include your sound technicians and other media.  Think through the different roles you have as worship leader such as overseer (spiritually), music director, and coordinator (even if you assign others to do these tasks).  Create standards for you team to spell out responsibilities and expectations.  Worship isn’t a gig.  It’s the overflow of a life devoted to the glory of Jesus Christ.  Also, clarify the level of commitment.  This may vary per person as some may have children or serve with other ministries.
  2. Encouraging Your Team – Cultivate a culture of gratefulness through things like gifts, thank you cards, random appreciative conversations, or a Christmas party.  Provide environments where people intentionally encourage evidences of grace they see in others rather than self-righteously criticizing their weaknesses.  Pray for each other one on one and as a group.  you can even do things together that are non-musical like miniature golf or going to see a movie.  Celebrate those who do extra things like organizing music, practicing extra hard, coming early to rehearsal, etc.  Giving thanks goes a long way.
  3. Equipping Your Team – Create a culture of growth.  Provide training for your team.  This lets them know you value them and are willing to invest in their character and skill development.  Provide an avenue for theological growth.  They do hear the Word preached every week, but we can help them understand worship better.  There are great books that can be used to learn more about God’s holiness, His grace, His greatness, etc.  Provide an avenue for musical growth.  Encourage the “chart” readers to learn more about music theory.  Help vocalists understand more about singing harmony.  You can suggest private lessons, watch a training video together, or attend a conference on music or worship.  Committing a portion of rehearsals to training will help build this culture of growth.
  4. Evaluating Your Team – One of the best ways to motivate your team to continued growth is to offer consistent and thoughtful evaluation.  Assessing your group’s progress in different areas will also help develop a culture of humility.    We need to start with ourselves and ask questions like, “How did I do leading this morning?” “Are there any ways I can run rehearsals more effectively?” “Was I clear?”  Take time to evaluate each musical presentation.  Listen to others during the presentation and let them know what you heard (or saw) afterwards.  It is good to evaluate character.  If you care about your team, hold them accountable to pursue godly character and help them grow.  Evaluate their gifting and skills.  Help them fit in where they can thrive.
  5. Enjoying Your Team – As you lead your team, try to create a culture of joy.  Seeking to enjoy each other makes the challenging times more bearable.  Experience the fruit of God’s grace together and watch him work through us to glorify the Savior.  Leading a team isn’t always joyful.  Rehearsals can get tense or boring.   We can lose people to church plants, season-of-life changes, job transfers, or even sin.  So appreciate those you have.  You may not have the biggest and best worship team in your city, but have fun with who you have and “let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).


Your Pastor
Pastors come in all shapes and sizes with different likes/dislikes, music tastes, and managerial styles.  However, the pastor and worship leader are a very important duo.  Pastor’s are gifts from God to teach and equip the church.  It’s our responsibility to support our pastor and not set our own agenda.  Serve your pastor.  You can do your job better by knowing your pastors priorities.  He probably doesn’t know music like you do, but serve him joyfully and humbly.  Listen to your pastor.  This may take time to understand what he means.  Sometimes you need to define words.  Pastors and worship leaders don’t always speak the same language, especially when it comes to music. What he calls “simple” you may call “dull.”  His “frantic” could be your “jubilant.”  “Wordy” to him means “thoughtful” to you.  When he says start with something “upbeat” to get people “going,” may seem to you like he doesn’t care about truth and wants to musically manipulate the congregation.  But, maybe you pick too many slow songs and the people are nodding off.  Communicate well and often.  Initiate creativity.  Use whatever freedom you have to be creative and offer meaningful ideas to enhance each service.  Ask for input from your pastor and implement it as often as you can.  Let your pastor assist you in your spiritual growth.  What can you do when you disagree?  First, make sure you’ve rightly identified the issues.  Beware of selfish ambition.  Second, exhaust every avenue of resolution.  Pray and talk things out.  Third, stay or move on in faith.  Take time to grow, learning more about technical issues, spiritual issues, people issues.  The last chapter of the book addresses the pastors role in supporting the worship of the church and the worship leader.  Bob gives good suggestions:

  • Pastors should recognize their own role in leading worship.
  • Pastors should know what to look for in a worship leader (humility, godly character, love for good theology, leadership gifting, and musical skill).
  • Pastors should equip and encourage their worship leaders.
  • Pastors should be faithful to plan and evaluate.
  • Pastors should resolve conflicts biblically.