Leading Worship with Scripture | Image of Songwriter Aaron Shust
Episode 81

A Conversation with Aaron Shust

Using Broken Vessels

The Transformative Power of Scriptural Songwriting

Aaron Shust*, a prominent voice in Christian music, offers an enlightening perspective on the role of Scripture in songwriting. His creative process, deeply anchored in biblical texts, transcends the mere composition of music. It is an act of faith, believing that the Word of God, when melded with melody, will accomplish its divine purposes in the hearts of listeners. Shust’s commitment to this principle is particularly evident in his work with psalms, where he crafts musical expressions that resonate with both familiarity and spiritual profundity. His approach is not about creating from a deity’s perspective but embodying the worshipper’s voice, akin to David’s psalms. As he quotes Jesus in Matthew 11, Shust underscores the inherent power of divine words that work beyond human capacity to inspire or evoke emotion.

A Pilgrimage to the Heart of Worship

jerusalem-aaron-shustShust’s pilgrimage to Israel in 2016 was transformative, deepening his understanding of biblical events and their present reality. He recounts how walking in the footsteps of Jesus across the historic landscapes of Israel imprinted on him a profound sense of the Scriptures’ authenticity and the enduring significance of these sacred sites. This experience not only enriched his personal faith journey but also influenced his music, infusing it with the weight and spiritual significance of the Holy Land.

The Ongoing Relevance of Israel in Worship

In a world striving for equity and sensitivity, the unique role of Israel in God’s divine narrative continues to captivate Shust. The mysterious choice of Israel and its people plays a pivotal role in the fulfillment of biblical prophecy, as well as in the unfolding of God’s ultimate plan. Shust passionately conveys his desire to stand with Israel and acknowledges the intricate plans God has for all nations while maintaining a balanced love for Israel and its neighbors.

Generational Leadership in Worship

Reflecting on intergenerational dynamics within the church, Shust emphasizes the need for authenticity in worship across age groups. He challenges the next generation to inquire and engage with the practices of worship passed down to them, fostering a dialogue that respects tradition while allowing for evolution. As someone who now finds himself in the role of the mentor rather than the mentee, he seeks to inspire younger worshippers to contribute meaningfully to the church’s legacy.

The Sanctity of Gathering

Shust highlights the beauty and necessity of the Christian community coming together in worship, echoing the early church’s unity and fervor. He sees the gathering of believers as a fundamental expression of the church, vital to its spiritual vigor and reflective of the inherent human need for connection and shared faith.

Worship and Relevance in Songwriting

Navigating the delicate balance between timeless and contemporary, Shust aims for his music to hold relevance for all generations without alienating any. He aspires for his creations to be recognized as timeless classics, pairing eternal content with melodies that stand the test of time.

The Journey to Songwriting as a Calling

From his first song at the age of 11, Shust’s songwriting journey has been one of spiritual and emotional exploration. His process, richly influenced by his musical education and personal faith, led him to discover the profound satisfaction of setting Scripture to music. His story is a testament to the power of creative expression as a means of worship.

Words of Wisdom: Advice to the Younger Self

Reflecting on his younger years, Shust would advise his younger self to embrace the present, trust in God’s direction, and value the present ministry over future aspirations. His growth as an artist and believer underscores the importance of faithfulness in small things and the recognition of God’s sovereignty over our life’s path.

Artistic Creation as Ministry

Shust advocates for a ministry-focused approach to artistry, ensuring that creative works serve to edify others and glorify God. He encourages artists to consider the impact of their art on the spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being of their audience, moving beyond self-serving motives toward a ministry that points to the divine.

Leading Worship with Imperfection

In his humility, Shust acknowledges that worship leaders, like all believers, are flawed vessels. Yet, he has witnessed God’s grace in using imperfect individuals to lead others in worship. Striving for a clean heart and pure hands is a continual pursuit for Shust, highlighting the necessity of confession and dependence on God’s mercy.

Aaron Shust’s dialogue in “The Walk” reminds us that worship is both a personal devotion and a communal experience. Through his music and reflections, he illustrates the power of authenticity, scriptural grounding, and the beauty of shared faith. His journey encourages us to seek deeper connections with our heritage of faith, to honor our traditions while welcoming fresh expressions, and to cherish the act of gathering as a cornerstone of worship.

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Read the transcript here


Who is Aaron Shust?

Aaron Shust’s musical journey is marked by a profound connection with both the art of music and the spiritual depth of God’s Word. From his early days at the piano, Aaron has been deeply engaged with the nuances of sound, melody, and musical structure. His commitment to exploring the complexities of Scripture has been equally significant, delving into the narratives that portray the messianic figure of Jesus.

Shust’s discography, including hits like “My Savior My God,” reflects these core passions, earning him accolades such as the 2007 New Artist, Songwriter, and Song of the Year awards. His personal trials, including his son’s Down Syndrome diagnosis and family health battles, have deepened his reliance on faith, echoed in anthems like “My Hope is in You” and “Ever Be.”

Aaron’s exploration of his faith led to a rich connection with the Messianic Jewish community, deepening his understanding of the Hebrew Scriptures and Jewish customs. This journey profoundly influences his music, as evidenced in the project Heaven + Earth: The Psalms Project, where Shust integrates traditional Hebrew elements and collaborates with Israeli artists to bring ancient biblical praises to life.

Residing in Nashville with his wife Sarah and their children, Daniel, Nick, and Michael, Aaron Shust continues to weave his life experiences, faith, and musical talents into a tapestry that not only entertains but also spiritually nourishes his audience.

Music from Aaron Shust

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