Q&A with Aaron McClainEvery day that you wake up, keep hope. Keep having hope, keep hope alive.
PEER: How did you come to know Jesus? Did you always grow up in the church?
AARON MCCLAIN: I grew up in The Salvation Army. I did all the things. I went to camp, I worked at camp, and back then, it was called corps cadets. I did corps cadets, I was a junior soldier, senior Soldier, but in 2012, I went to the Southern Territories, Territorial Youth Institute, or TYI, and I had a radical vision and encounter from the Lord and I gave my life to Jesus when I was 19 at that event. I had always been in church, always in a church my whole life in one facet or another, but I didn’t come to know Jesus until I was 19 years old.
PEER: That’s so cool. You’re a worship pastor. Who are your musical influences? What inspired you to get into music?
Aaron: I’ve always loved music. My dad was an incredible man as it relates to loving Jesus, and we grew up listening to gospel music, artists like Fred Hammond, Tonex and Kirk Franklin, all these people. I fell in love with music because of his love for music. It’s not just love for any music, but music that makes your soul feel something. When I came into my own, I would listen to, obviously, Fred Hammond, but the likes of Israel Houghton, Jonathan McReynolds, Mali Music. The list can just go and go, but I have loved music for such a long time. Being a worship pastor or stepping into the role of a worship leader or worship artist was something that, I guess, came natural even though it’s had its challenges. It came natural because it’s such my whole life.
PEER: Nice. How would you say your personal relationship with God influences your worship?
Aaron: It’s built on it. I got saved in 2012. I was 19, and I had started to go back to school. I was in school for sociology and I minored in music. I tried to go back to school, and through a series of circumstances, me being a knucklehead for the most part, I did not go back to school immediately. In that little time that I wasn’t in school was around the time that I got saved. As I started to pursue worship, I made this agreement with the Lord that I would not use my musical giftings, talent, skills and abilities for secular purposes. It seemed extreme for a 19-year-old but I love music. I love music of all types, but as far as where I give music and where I minister music, I made that commitment to the Lord when I was 19. I only write Christian worship music or gospel music. I only sing Christian worship music or gospel music as it relates to any platform or influence I’m given, or any opportunity I’m blessed to be a part of.
PEER: So interesting, made at 19 years old. Why is it important to worship both in big groups, in church settings, and alone with God?
Aaron: Jesus was known for, in His time on Earth, He was known for these miracles, and obviously, the claims they made to be the Son of God and all these different things, but He would go do these miracles. He’d feed 5,000 and then He turned around and feed 4,000. He cast out demons, He healed the sick, He raised the dead, all these signs and wonders that He did, but if you look through the gospels, you see that right before He did these things, He spent time alone with the Lord, with His father. You’ll see that the time that He walked on water, that the disciples were out on the lake by themselves, but He was alone with the Father. I’d say that those small moments, for me, had formed the big moment. I can’t give what I don’t have. If the Lord wants to give something to people, to a congregation or even a person through me, then that means I have to go and be alone with Him to, like I said before, inform those big moments. I’d say that those smaller moments are where I built a relationship with the Lord. Those moments where it’s just me and Him and my Bible, or just me and Him and my guitar or my keyboard, it’s just me and Him. Those moments are when I hear from Him, and I connect with Him. Once I’m filled up, I go, and I pour out from what the Lord has told me.
We’re not meant to have stagnant water. I am not doing everything God has called me to do if I just keep all of this to myself, right? At the same time, we’re supposed to be open to the Word of the Lord. We’re supposed to be open to His ministry onto our hearts and we’re supposed to minister to Him.
PEER: I want to shift to the music that you write, specifically with your latest release. What was the inspiration behind your latest release, “Sure”?
Aaron: “Sure” is actually about grief. My dad, who I mentioned earlier, passed away five years ago. With this being Peer Magazine, I’m sure you can appreciate this story.
I went from attending that Territorial Youth Institute to leading the Territorial Youth Institute in worship. I wrote a song around six years ago, called “In Spite of It All,” and the Southern Territory, through the help of a dear mentor and friend, Bernie Dake, decided to invest in me. I wrote a series of songs to be a resource album for The Salvation Army. About more than two weeks before I was slated to start tracking, my dad passed. My dad got saved and clean at a Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center in Newark, NJ, where I was born. My history with The Salvation Army goes back to before I was born. He passed away right before I started tracking music for that, but also, he passed away three weeks exactly before I went on mission with Salvation Army Service Corps. I never got a chance to fully grieve his passing. He passed away on a Sunday morning. I was on my way to the corps (church). I led worship that morning and then at finals that week, and then we buried him, and then I went and tracked my music with some producers with The Salvation Army, and then I was on a plane to Romania for six weeks.
Even his passing away five years ago, I had moments to grieve him but I never actually did it through song and so I wrote “Sure” just as a letter to my father, to both fathers, my heavenly Father and my earthly father as a way to grieve his loss. It coincided, too, with a miscarriage that me and my wife had. I finished writing the song around that time and then I recorded a demo of it the week that we experienced the miscarriage.
This whole thing about grieving and fathers was very hugely on my heart, having had a miscarriage and missing that opportunity to become a father, myself, while also grieving my earthly father, and at the same time, saying something truthful and something real about my heavenly Father. It’s a song about grief and the certainty of God’s love as a father.
That was a long story. Sorry about it.
PEER: Remind me, when did “Sure” release?
Aaron: “Sure” released on July 29 of this year. I was at Territorial Youth Institute, leading that event in worship for the first time in four years, so it was very special for me to release it independently, but release it with my Salvation Army family. It meant the world to me to do that.
PEER: Awesome. It’s a really great song and I love the message behind it. I know you just released this song, but do you have anything coming up in the works that you are excited about?
Aaron: Yeah. I am a co-leader and a pastor of a ministry out here in Colorado Springs called Jesus Co., formerly known as WorshipMob. I didn’t know if you were going to ask me about them at any point. We release music regularly, and I write a lot of music with them and for that ministry, co-write, solo write, all that kind of stuff. The next one we have coming out soon that I had the privilege of co-writing with my Jesus Co. family is a song called “Sweeter.” We’ll release it on YouTube first with my Jesus Co. fam, and then it’ll go to streaming, Apple Music, Spotify, all the DST, Digital Streaming platforms. That should be coming out in the next couple releases.
As far as solo releases, I got some stuff in the works, but I don’t have a date yet. If they are looking for the next release, then they can always go to Jesus Co. and they can find things that I’ve had the privilege of writing on or helping facilitate, produce as far as live recordings go, along with them and my brothers there who do an amazing job, amazing work.
PEER: Is that something that you enjoy being a part of, Jesus Co.? How long have you been a part of it?
Aaron: I’ve been a part of Jesus Co. for four years. I moved out here on a word from the Lord in 2018. It was the first faith move I ever made. After TYI 2018, there’s a lot of … I’m telling you, TYI, it was a huge thing in my life. During TYI 2018, I heard the Lord tell me, “Move up to Colorado Springs. Revival is coming to the region, and I want you to help facilitate a sound.” Okay. I don’t know what that means. I said no at first. I was like, “I don’t want to go there. I don’t want to do that,” but through the Lord’s own way, I ended up agreeing and it was the best decision I ever made in my life. I met my wife, I got involved with WorshipMob and I was pretty much hooked with them ever since.
The founder of WorshipMob, his name is Sean Mulholland, started WorshipMob about 12 years ago, 2010-ish, 2011, on security cameras. Ever since then, he’s just been walking with the Lord. He gave up his 9-5 job as an engineer and started WorshipMob.
About four years ago, I became a part of the family and I started to help lead the ministry along with my little brother in the faith, Colton, and his wife, Claudia. I met my wife there. We’ve been married for two and a half years, so that is family. That is the family. We do life together; we spend time together. We not only write music and sing together, but Colton watches my dog when I’m gone, and vice versa. We break bread together. We got a chance to open for Chris Tomlin at Red Rocks Amphitheater back in May. They were there with me, and I would have had no one else on the stage with me, but my Jesus Co. family. They mean the world to me. That’s the fam.
PEER: That’s so fun. One of the last questions that I would ask is specifically advice for young people. What advice do you have for any young Christians who may be struggling with doubts in their faith or just with their faith?
Aaron: I think the most practical piece of advice I could give is keep waking up. Every day that you wake up, keep hope. Keep having hope, keep hope alive. I guess that’s just it.
As a teenager, for me, 16 to 22 was the hardest years of my life in every sense of the word. I battled depression, I battled suicidal thoughts and tendencies, anxiety, not knowing myself, not loving myself, not being able to love others, not being able to love Jesus. I got saved at 19. I should tell you that there were three years even in that space where I was living in obscurity and confusion and loss. Without going into too much detail, I got to my rope at around 22 years old.
I would say it gets sweeter. Funny enough, that’s what the song is about that’s going to be released soon that I co-wrote. It’s about God’s love and how if you just stick around for a little while, if you keep waking up and you keep looking for it, His love does get sweeter and sweeter with time. The Bible says, “If anyone will come to God, if anyone wants to know Him, wants to experience Him, they must first believe that He exists. First, believe that He exists and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.” Not only does He exist, but if we seek Him, then He will reward us with His presence. His presence is the gift. It is the reward. My advice is keep seeking, keep waking up. It only gets sweeter.
Quick Questions with Peer
PEER: What are you currently listening to?
Aaron: I got two albums that I listen to that almost feels like a daily basis. It’s an album called “Tent Revival” with Travis Greene and Forward City Church, which is his church, they’re incredible, and an album called “All Things New” by Tye Tribbett. For podcast, I’m listening to a podcast called Thirty Minutes with the Perrys with Jackie Hill Perry and her husband, Preston Perry.
PEER: In only a few words, describe your morning routine.
Aaron: Okay. Take the dog out to go use the restroom, kiss my wife, “See you later,” go to work, spend time with Jesus and take my sweet time getting to work, like take as much time, long shower, long music, just take as long as I want to get out of the house.
PEER: What’s a Bible verse that’s been on your heart recently?
Aaron: Hebrews 11:6. That says, “But without faith, it’s impossible to please God, for He who comes to God must first believe that He exists, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
To follow Aaron and stay up to date with his music, follow him on Instagram @itsreallyaaronmarquis.