Grammy Award-winning Christian group visits Victoria
Jennifer Lee Preyss
Sept. 14, 2012 at 4:14 a.m.
Casting Crowns' lead singer, Mark Hall, doesn't consider himself a rock star.
The Grammy and Dove Award-winning singer yields to his band's international fame and success, and opts for a more traditional title - youth pastor.
The title is fitting, since Hall works as student pastor for Eagles Landing First Baptist Church in McDonough, Ga. - the same church where Casting Crowns formed in 1999.
Hall's staff bio on the church website mentions nothing of Casting Crowns, although when prompted about when he's most aware of God's presence, he responds, "My one-on-one time with God and when I'm singing and speaking."
But Hall is openly thankful for his band's unexpected, decade-long success, and continues to find purpose in spreading the gospel through music.
With Casting Crown bandmates, Juan DeVevo (lead guitar), Hector Cervantes (rhythm guitar), Melodee DeVevo (violin, backing vocals), Megan Garrett (piano), Chris Huffman (bass guitar) and Brian Scoggin (drums), Hall is scheduled to visit Faith Family Church on Thursday, Oct. 25, for their 2012 "Come to the Well" tour.
The Victoria Advocate interviewed Hall about being a member of one of the most successful Christian bands of all time, and his journey to the top. Here's what he had to say:
Have you ever visited Victoria?
I don't think we've been in Victoria. Texas is a big place. It's like it's own country, so it's hard to say if we've ever been exactly in that city. But Texas is a great state. I've been a youth pastor half my life, and half my students are over in Texas, so it's always a good visit. And we love the barbecue. I will definitely be trying the barbecue when we get there.
You've had so many songs top the charts, and you've won and been nominated for countless Dove and Grammy Awards. Have you become numb to the success?
I don't know if you ever get used to the success. I'm a youth pastor, so for me, making good songs are great, but if one of those kids goes to college without his faith, then it doesn't really matter. It's about growing their friendship and relationship with God.
Do you ever feel the burden of having to live a public Christian life?
As a youth pastor, you're always on, so that's something I'm used to. I've always been under a microscope anyway. On the weekends, you have these concerts and people put you on a pedestal. But when I come home, I'm just me. The church is still the real world, you're not a rock star at home. One thing I did start noticing is everywhere you go, someone knows you. I'll be shopping in Walmart for DVDs and have a couple of people recognize me. And they'll always want to know what movies I'm watching, like, "What he's got there?"
What about your faith journey? Where did it begin?
I was saved at 9 years old. My dad became a believer at 32 or 33 years old and we all started going to church, and becoming more active in church. I remember seeing a visible change in him, in how he did things and what was most important to him. He wanted our family to know Jesus.
And when did you decide you wanted to get more involved in ministry?
I was 20 years old and I'd hit a big low in life. I broke up with a girlfriend and in that low point, I gave my life to God, and asked him to start running my whole life and help me get through this. In a period of three months, I built my own friendship with God. I wanted to be doing something in church, but I didn't know what it was. It was about that time, I started singing songs in my head, and making up songs.
What was the first Casting Crowns song you heard on the radio?
We heard "If We Are the Body." I thought, "That's the first song the world is going to hear from us and we're coming out swinging."
Today is the anniversary of Sept. 11. What does this day mean for you?
I remember it was the Wednesday before we started a new ministry at Eagles Landing, and we were in Gatlinburg on a mini vacation. We checked in the room and turned on the television, and the first building was on fire. The kids were jumping on the bed, excited, and the second plane hit. That's when it set in that this was on purpose. I'll never forget how that felt. Eleven years later, it has a special meeting because we have a lot of friends in New York, and it means just knowing those friends are OK. We have a blessed country. To live where we live and have what we have - it makes me pray for my country today.
What do you want to tell Crossroads about your show?
Three things: First, I want to share the gospel clearly; what it means to belong to God and for God to be in you, rather than just a religion or a worldview. Second, I want believers to grow in their faith. And third, I want them to discover that you're not the audience, you're the church. I do it through singing ... but you can do it through writing, teaching, construction.
What's the future for Casting Crowns?
We're making an acoustic record right now, which is a ton of fun. We're doing a couple of new songs. I haven't named it yet. I guess we should name it soon. But the church will always be what I do. And I really need some good barbecue.
Tell me something good?
I am a big walking train wreck. If there's a way to mess up life, I've already done it. But God loves me, and loves that version of me, and if God can save me, then there's hope for everyone else.