Mark Hall, the lead vocalist for Casting Crowns, had been a youth pastor for several years and it was his heart for youth that caused him to write and perform music to reach them and help them grow as Christians. "I've been a youth pastor for about 12 years, and every church I've been in, music's always been a part of it", Hall says in the band's biography. Music ministry, however, was something that he never imagined would go beyond his local church. "I had the thought that maybe I could write for other bands because traveling around playing was not something I thought I wanted to do".
Youth ministry in Daytona Beach, FL, followed by Atlanta, GA was where Mark and the rest of Casting Crowns shared their music. Casting Crowns recorded two independent records that were distributed mainly in the Atlanta area, and both were wildly popular. They were tempted to send their CD's to record labels, but after praying about it, decided that they were supposed to just keep doing what they had been doing. It wasn't that God had other plans for them, it was that He just had a different plan for getting them where they needed to be. That path came in the form of a college student in Daytona named Chase Tremont.
Chase had one of their CD's and he shared it with his basketball coach, who happened to be friends with Mark Miller of Sawyer Brown. Mark liked what he heard, but he didn't know what he could do for the band at that point. He hung on to the two records, waiting for the right time to do something. The perfect moment came on a vacation trip with the families of two of his longtime friends, Provident Label Group President Terry Hemmings and Steven Curtis Chapman.
Hemmings and Chapman liked what they heard as much as Miller did and before long Beach Street Records was born. Mark Miller, who was running Beach Street, wanted Casting Crowns to be their first band.
In 2003, their self-titled album, full of an edgy-pop sound and rich, heart-felt lyrics, debuted with Miller and Chapman serving as co-producers. Their first single, "We Are The Body," which challenges Christians in the church to truly look at the needs of people around them, took off fast and set the group on a whirlwind of activity.
"What has really excited me," says Mark Hall in an interview by Christianity Today, "has been the response we've read through e-mails. I've gotten e-mails from pastors and their wives talking about what the song's doing in their youth group with their students. People are writing to us from California to Finland. That's incredible, because I wrote that song for 25 kids in Alabama. It really lit a fire in me that people, do see it the right way. We're not angry artists throwing rocks at the church. We're in the church. We're not saying everything's messed up. We're saying that all of us have something to do."
Their second album, Lifesong, was released in 2005 and elevated the band to national status. Their third effort, The Alter and the Door was released in 2007.
Through all the hype and success, Mark and the group remain committed to what they have been called to do and are at times quite overwhelmed at the blessings God has given to them. "The other night," recalls Hall in the same interview, "we played for 4,000 students in Gatlinburg. To see those students singing the song shook me a little bit. But it doesn't go to my head, because I've got enough limitations in my life where I'm scared to death to take the reins on my own. God is, for some reason, deciding to use us right now. I don't think we're saying anything new that any pastor, Sunday school teacher, or youth pastor isn't already saying. I think it was just God's timing and he decided to use the song. And if he decides not to use the next one, that's fine with us. We're just happy to be a part of it."
Hall's fundamental message remains: "I want to shake people up and help them see that Jesus is not a religion, and God is not a book," Hall says. "You can't pray to a book and you can't draw strength from an idea or standard. If there's no relationship with Jesus as a person to you, you're in trouble. It's about life, not religion. It's about relationships, not books."
Listen to Casting Crowns Here
|What If The World Prayed||2002||Independent|
|Casting Crowns||2003||Beach Street Records|
|Live from Atlanta||2004||Beach Street Records|
|Lifesong||2005||Beach Street Records|
|Lifesong Live||2006||Beach Street Records|
|The Altar and the Door||2007||Beach Street Records|
|The Altar and the Door Live||2008||Beach Street Records|
|Peace on Earth||2008||Beach Street Records|
|Until The Whole World Hears||2009||Reunion Records|
|Come To The Well||2011||Reunion Records|
|The Acoustic Sessions: Volume One||2013||Reunion Records|