Casting Crowns stops in Huntsville on ‘Acoustic Sessions’ tourcomment (0)
November 7, 2013
By Martine Bates Sharp
To someone walking into Whitesburg Baptist Church, Huntsville, it looked and sounded like a concert was about to begin. A ticket booth, merchandise tables, some vendor displays and a band warming up inside the auditorium all served as clues to what was about to happen.
But the stage didn’t look quite like a setting for a concert. In the middle of the stage sat a sofa, several comfortable chairs and a coffee table decorated with the kind of items found in most dens.
The concert Oct. 25 was part of the Casting Crowns “Acoustic Sessions” tour, and the set was carefully planned, according to band founder and lead vocalist Mark Hall, to get into an intimate setting with the audience and share the raw basics of the songs.
“I think there’s something really honest about taking songs down to the lyrics and a few guitars, a mandolin ... and re-creating those moments the songs first came out of — to take all the production away and all the bells and whistles and just hear the song as it was when the artist wrote it,” Hall said.
Casting Crowns, all youth ministers out of Eagle’s Landing First Baptist Church, McDonough, Ga., have been recording together since 1999, first recording CDs for the youth in their church. A few years later, they were asked by well-known Christian artist Steven Curtis Chapman and Mark Miller from the group Sawyer Brown to expand their music.
Hall noted that he was hesitant at first but secured an agreement that the band members could remain with their jobs as youth ministers and only tour Thursday through Saturday, enabling them to be at church with their youth on Sundays and Wednesday nights. They still continue this practice after numerous successful CDs and Dove, Billboard Music and Grammy awards.
The group’s dedication to youth ministry is unmistakable. The music, which is written primarily by Hall, generally grows out of a need to “draw a picture” that the youth can understand. The group sees their music as an extension of student ministry.
“I don’t feel any more legit coming to Huntsville playing than I do back home working with my youth,” Hall said. “When we started touring, we wondered how it might work, how we could connect with people we might not see again, instead of a youth group that you work with week after week.”
The band was able to connect easily to the audience at Whitesburg Baptist, drawing the 2,000-plus people in the sanctuary into their inner circle and giving the feeling of listening to a group of friends sitting around talking.
In the end, Hall made it clear that it wasn’t just about the music.
“Just repeating words on a screen is not worship. God, we don’t want to just sing songs to You — we want our lives to be a song.”
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