For many, listening to Christian music is synonymous with listening to Casting Crowns. The band’s first album was released in 2003 with recognizable songs like “Voice of Truth” and “If We Are the Body”, and since then you can hear their songs on K-LOVE and and in churches across the country. But the band’s musical successes pale in comparison to the overall impact of their ministry, one that lead singer Mark Hall told Pure Flix Insider is “more than music.”
Staying Grounded in Faith and Music
As a child, Hall was diagnosed with Dyslexia and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), challenges that God used to attract him to music as a way to get to know Christ. “Christian music really discipled me in a lot of ways,” Hall said. “It showed me what it was like to pray and what faith looked like every day.”
The personal impact of worship music is still evident in Hall’s ministry and music today. Hall has continued in his role as a full-time youth pastor at Eagle’s Landing First Baptist Church in Georgia. He attributes Casting Crown’s ability to stay grounded in faith despite the pressure of “success” to their ongoing ministry at home:
I think what holds what holds Crowns together is the fact that it's more than music for us. Because every one of us, every week, are pouring into the lives of teenagers and families. Any song that you hear from us is something I've been teaching. We come home every week to a bunch of people that already know us and aren't impressed and we've never moved on past that. Success affects people differently, and it's all about your roots and where you're grounded.TWEET: @MarkHallCC from @CastingCrowns: "It's more than music for us."
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Truth in Love
Those familiar with Casting Crowns’ lyrics know that the band doesn’t stay away from challenging the body of Christ. From the very beginning, Hall says it was a balance of truth and love:
The first song the world ever heard from us was "If We Are the Body" and we had no idea that was hard hitting, as a matter of fact [people] were a little shocked by some of our songs to start with. And it's because, well, we didn't write it for y’all, we wrote it for our church! And the church can handle truth if it's given in love. So we wanted to be transparent, and if there's a problem we're going to say, “Hey, if we are the body why aren't we doing this?”
That first “hard-hitting” song reflects Casting Crowns’ mission to be “real.” Hall explained:
We want to break down the walls of the ‘perfect Christian home’ and the ‘perfect Christian person’ that people have in their mind. A lot of times when you hear music and you see people on the stage in church, you get a feeling everybody's got it together but you. So you've got to show all your scars and all your blemishes and say, ‘Look, I'm blowing this everyday too. But God loves me still, and He can love you that way too.’ You have to do that in your music too. You really got to be real about yourself.TWEET: "The church can handle truth if it's given in love." @MarkHallCC @CastingCrowns @PureFlix
Music, Prayer, and Relationship with God
To Hall and the rest of the band, prayer, music, and conversation with a relational God are all inextricably intertwined. He told Pure Flix Insider that, “Worship is prayer and prayer is conversation. So I think worship music teaches people how to pray. And in a lot of ways, it’s because you're not sure what to say.”TWEET: "Worship is prayer and prayer is conversation." @MarkHallCC @CastingCrowns @PureFlix @SarahPHartland
Beyond talking to God, Hall believes worship music brings relationship to God into focus, highlighting His personhood. He explained:
If you're not careful, God will become an ‘it’ to you. And you hear people say that sometimes, ‘Well I really need to get back into ‘it,’ I used to be so into ‘it.’
What is ‘it’? If you've got a problem with an ‘it,’ you can leave it anytime you want. You can pick it up and set it right back down. But that's not who Jesus is. So worship music reminds us that...there's somebody listening. He's here. So I think that's why [worship music is] important.
Home and Abroad
Casting Crowns is one of the only American bands ever invited to perform in North Korea. They performed there in 2007 and 2009, and both trips presented ministry opportunities that few Americans may ever experience, due to the harsh regime. Hall’s memories from the band’s time in Pyongyang highlight the power of music to speak across linguistic and cultural divides. He shared with Pure Flix Insider:
We did ‘Amazing Grace,’ because they asked us to do a traditional American folk song. And I thought well, this is a traditional American folk song... so we sang it, and an older gentleman walked up to us and he said, ‘You know, my wife has been playing this song on the piano since she was a little girl, but we never knew there were words.’ And so we wrote down the words for him. And you know, that kind of stuff stays with you long after you leave.
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Creation Fest 2017
Casting Crowns is one of the many bands performing at Creation Fest (sponsored by Pure Flix) this year. Creation Northeast is in Mt. Union, Penn. June 28- July 1, and Creation Northwest follows in Kennewick, Wash. July 13-15. Either of these festivals present unique opportunities for your family to worship and enjoy fellowship with believers from all over the country, all while enjoying your favorite bands like Casting Crowns.
Hall believes this event is a special time of year for families. Even if you can’t make it, he says to be sure and pray for those in attendance:
Pray that the Gospel is clear every time it is shared. Pray that families will be drawn together and I would just pray for something that only God can do for them. It’s bigger than music, and bigger than the moment, and it is what our families need right now.TWEET: "It’s bigger than music, and it is what our families need right now." @MarkHallCC @CreationFest
Sarah Hartland knew she wanted to be a writer from the time she wrote her first short story in the fourth grade. By the time she was in high school, she had written two novellas and countless short stories. It was her love of storytelling that led her into marketing and media.
Sarah freelanced throughout her time at Colorado Christian University, where she graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration. At CCU, Sarah competed in speech and debate across the country, securing multiple awards and a national debate championship. She co-lead CCU's first-ever broadcast media program, CCU.TV, and served as the program's Student Producer during her senior year.
When she's not writing blog posts or editing a video, Sarah loves to swing dance, ski, travel, or visit her seven younger siblings in Montana.