It’s been more than 10 years since the members of Casting Crowns heard their first single on the radio in July 2003, the same day Mark Hall and his wife, Melanie, welcomed their daughter, Zoe, into the world. In the decade since, so much has happened in the lives of each member and along the way, God has taught them so much. The title track of the band’s new album, “Thrive,” reminds listeners that life can be so challenging and it’s easy to become overwhelmed.
“The idea of ‘Thrive’ came out of our student ministry. I’ve been a youth pastor for almost 22 years and it’s still what I want to be when I grow up,” Hall said. “The songs always really start out with what we’re teaching, and for years I’ve been using Psalm 1 in showing them what a believer looks like. It says: ‘Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season.’”
For Hall, nature seemed to underscore scripture on a family vacation in Gatlinburg, Tenn., when he looked at the trees near the river. “Their roots are exposed and you can feel them just doing everything they can to get to where the water is,” he said. “When I talk to families about how they are doing, they always say ‘just surviving.’ That is not the life that God designed for us to live. That’s not saying that you’re not going to have problems. None of the New Testament people had it easy. They all had troubles, some even at the expense of their lives. The book of joy, Philippians, was written from prison. Hard times are going to come, but God didn’t put you here just so you could survive through hard times. He put you here to thrive, to dig in and to reach out. This record is an effort to draw a picture of what a believer, a follower of Jesus, would look like if they dug into their roots and understood God and themselves more, and then instead of trying to go be Christian for God, they just let God give them chances to be a Christian.”
Casting Crowns has consistently delivered songs that spur listeners to evaluate their relationship with God and with each other.
“The basic idea is let God define himself through you and if you’ll do that, you’re going to thrive,” Hall said. “The first six songs on the record are all about learning who God is and who you are. The second six songs are about how that works out. How are you going to get out there and let him live his life through you?”
Working again with producer Mark Miller, who signed the band to his label more than a decade ago, Casting Crowns has crafted another collection of songs that are entertaining and innovative, yet lyrically substantive. In writing songs for “Thrive,” Hall enlisted some of his favorite collaborators, among them Matthew West, Matt Maher and Bernie Herms.
The album’s lead single, “All You’ve Ever Wanted,” has a potent message.
“It’s combating that logic that we have in us that says when we fail, we need to make it right,” Hall said. “We think we need to make things right with God. We think we’ve got to make him proud again. Not only does it not work, it’s not needed. We’re fighting a battle that’s already won and that’s what this song is about.”
Tickets are $80, $44, $30, $23 and $33. Children less than 2 years of age will be admitted free. For tickets or more information, visit www.johnsoncitytn.org/freedomhall or call 461-4855.