A daily companioning worship walk with God, where prayer and conversation with God are givens and frequent, is essential for anyone leading public worship. It is the first foundational habit of every healthy disciple. Any worship leader that does not develop such a companioning-worship-walk with the LORD will almost assuredly end up repeatedly placing the most emphasis in their worship ministry on performance, production, and administration. And the result will be just that: performance with little congregational participation; entertainment of people without much congregational encounter of God.
The worship leader should intend to talk with the LORD throughout the day more than you talk with anyone else. The result of this kind of lifestyle produces a disciple focused on companioning with Christ, demonstrating the character of Christ in daily living, and embracing the commands of Christ.
Jesus demonstrated this sort of companioning worship walk. Even as a child, Jesus was unusually well versed in the Hebrew Scriptures. FIRST, He “. . . grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52); and second, (where Jesus, as a 12-year-old boy was left in Jerusalem and was found three days later amazing everyone there at the Temple by “understanding and answers” (Luke 2:47). Apparently, Jesus spent much private time in the Scriptures.
Publicly, Jesus repeatedly indicates that He spent much time interacting with the Father, listening to Him, hearing from Him, and interacting with Him. Jesus’ companioning-worship-walk with the Father is the model every disciple may follow.
His worship-walk with God is completely in line with other biblical role models: Abel was a righteous man (Heb. 11:4); Enoch walked with God (Gen. 5:24); Noah walked with God (Gen. 6:9); King David was a “man after God’s own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14 & Acts 13:22); Joseph was a righteous man (Mt. 1:19); the Apostles had been “with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).
Certainly, the true disciple must develop a life of prayer but, the real disciple is one who “companions” with God through Christ, conversing all through each day, leaning into Him, interacting with Him, listening for Him and to Him—while living out His dynamics and directions in the crucible of everyday living. The specialized ministry leaders who lead their congregations into gathered worship must practice developing that sort of conversational, dynamic, companioning-worship-walk with Him.
Jesus also demonstrated an understanding of the principles of companioning, character imitation, and obedience when he says to “the woman at the well” in John 4: “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.”
Jesus is underscoring the fact that worship at its core is an inner spiritual transaction and not an outward, ritualistic transaction. Worship happens in the inner world, in the spiritual dimension of a person. Jesus underscores this by not capitalizing the term spirit. Jesus is making an application to the inner world of an individual and interacting with God in the realm of the spiritual, not in the realm of the physical.
Jesus’ use of the term truth in this passage is not talking about the Truth of God’s Word. Rather he is talking about the reality that worship is a lived-out life transaction. The Apostle John uses the term truth in 4:23 in the exact same way as in the 1 John 3:18, where he says, “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” John is instructing believers not just to talk about love, but to live love out. That is, the truth of the matter is in the lived-out actions of our daily lives. John is pointing out that true worshippers will worship the Father in the way they live out their lives in the realities of everyday living—that true worshipper will worship the Father in reality.
It is interesting to note to whom Jesus is speaking in John 4:21–26 passage. Jesus is not speaking to a sophisticated Jewish religious person, but to a woman, who is also a Samaritan. Interestingly, once Jesus revealed his Messiahship (v 26) and the woman had gone into town and told everyone that in fact Messiah was standing at the town well, then Jesus and this woman and many in the town proceeded to companion together for another two days for so. The point being made here is that the purpose of discipleship is to move people into a companioning worship way of life with God Himself.
Other scriptures seem to support the notion that God desires a companion type relationship:
Matthew 1:23 points out that Mary, the mother of Jesus, is to know that this Son to whom she is giving birth will be called Immanuel, which means “God with us.” The implication given by the angel is that God intends his worshippers to companion with him.
Matthew 4:2–4 documents Jesus interacting with the devil after his forty days of companioning with the Lord through fasting and praying in the wilderness.
Mark 1:35–37 and 6:45-46 provide insight into Jesus’ pattern of pulling away from the regular interactions of the day to find at some solitude in which to interact and companion with God intimately.
Luke 5:16 points at the same: “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”
In John 10:7–21, Jesus states, “I am the gate for my sheep” (v. 7), and “I am the good shepherd” (v. 11), and “I know my sheep and my sheep know me” (v. 14). These metaphorical statements about how Jesus interacts in a companioning manner are “just as the Father knows me and I know the Father” (v. 15). What Jesus is getting at with his disciples is that he no longer calls them servants but friends (John 15:15).
At the heart of this companioning relationship is the disciple’s desire to develop the character of Christ in their lives. In Matthew 22:37–40, the Lord himself explains that the ultimate purpose of life is to, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
Galatians 5:22–23 articulates how this companioning with Christ is demonstrated in daily living: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
It is important for those who are discipling worship leaders to realize that those being discipled should evidence the character of Christ in their daily walk. It is seen in how the artist interacts with others, develops relationships, and partners with other musicians in genuine ministry. In fact, demonstrating the character of Christ is the ultimate goal of discipleship; and the ultimate indicator of whether or not discipleship has truly happened.
Those that focus on “companioning with God” will develop and grow as disciples that live out the commands of Christ. The seven commands of Christ referenced below may serve as a guide to discipling worship leaders and artists:
Repent, believe, and receive the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:14–15).
Be baptized in the baptism (or name) of Christ (Matthew 28:19–20;
Acts 2:38; Romans 6:3–4).
Love God and neighbor (Luke 10:25–37).
Break bread—which may also imply activities of worship (Matt 26:26-29).
Regularly spend quality time in prayer (Matthew 6:5-10).