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Meet the Artist: Casting Crowns Print Email
Written by DeWayne Hamby   
Monday, 11 November 2013 10:50 AM America/New_York

Thrive-CastingCrownsCastingCrownsThrive (602341018425) from GRAMMY-winning band Casting Crowns releases Jan. 28 from Beach Street Records (Provident Distribution). Lead singer and songwriter Mark Hall shares the story behind the new project. 

Tell us what inspired Thrive.  It was inspired by the student ministry at our church, Eagles’ Landing, called “Thrive.” We’ve been working with the youth for about 12 to 13 years. Being a youth pastor is still what I want to be when I grow up. When I talk to my teens, I ask, “How are you doing?” and they answer, “I’m just trying to get to Friday or fall break, if I can just get to graduation.” All they’re doing is surviving. When they talk about their calling, they say, “One day, God is calling me to ministry,” but there’s something to be doing now. You’re here to bloom where you’re planted. You’ve been given your story to make God known today, so we named our student ministry Thrive and used a verse in Jeremiah [17:7-8], which speaks of a tree planted by streams of water whose roots are digging down and reaching.

In the church, some believers are all roots. They’re digging in and learning all the doctrine and theological terms, they’re all roots, but there’s no reach. They don’t get out and love on the world. As deep as their roots are, there’s nothing to them. Then there are believers who are all reach, saving the whales, doing mission projects. They haven’t fully dug into their faith. The first storm of life just knocks them right over. So the “roots” people are more law and the “reach” people are about more grace. We took six songs and they’re all about digging deep and getting into the Word. The next six songs are about reaching out, your gifts, talents. How does it work to live out your faith in your friendships where you’re having to trust God in your everyday life?

What are some of the new songs?  “Thrive,” the title track, is a high-energy worship song. “All You’ve Ever Wanted,” that song is hitting the church right where they live. It’s about the fact that [with] most of us, the battles we’re fighting are the battles that are over, just taking us to that journey of God pursuing us, not that it needs to be earned. 

“This Is Now” is the story of Peter in that same vein, about starting his friendship with Jesus all over again. It’s a pretty “killer” story I’ve been telling my kids for years. We tend to gravitate toward stories. We just pop around sometimes. I remember, several years back, that the story of miraculous fish happened twice. Peter caught the fish when he first met Jesus. Peter, on the biggest payday of his career, leaves it all and follows Jesus. Anybody today would say, “Jesus, let’s meet here tomorrow at this same time.” He leaves it and follows Jesus, and for the next three years, sees things he’s never seen before. … He’s starting to get a little less popular hanging around Jesus. Jesus is telling him, “I’m going to die. I’m going to let them kill me.” He leads with his mouth, which reminds me a lot of myself. At Jesus’ greatest point of need, Peter bailed. In the last chapter of John, Peter is with Jesus, Jesus is resurrected … teaching and talking to Him. At one point, Peter turns to one of the guys and said, “Hey, I’m going fishing.” To me, it’s like saying “I had my shot, I’m bailing.” He’s out fishing, and what does he hear from the shore? He pulls in the second-biggest payday of his career. He’s so far away from God in his mind. One of the other disciples says, It’s Jesus. He jumps in the water and swims a football field to get back to Him. What Peter is saying to Jesus is, “I’ll start over with you. We’ll go all the way to where our friendship began.”

How do you meet the needs of older listeners while reaching younger ones as well?  The music has never been polarizing; it’s been in the middle by design. I listen to a lot harder music than I play. I listen to rap, to (the rock group) Red. I think the blessing [is] that our music lands somewhere in the middle. Someone said, “you’re one of the only bands that my daughter and I can listen to together.” It’s more about what we say. I think that helps us that our group, our audience, is all over the map. We’re working with teenagers every week we’re writing these songs. It’s almost like it’s designed to be that way.