In an unprecedented six-year span with nearly 4.5 million career album sales, a GRAMMY Award, an American Music Award, 23 Dove Awards and 8 chart-topping radio singles, Casting Crowns remains focused on discipleship through music. With lead singer and songwriter Mark Hall’s 18 years in youth ministry, the band’s message remains rooted in the student services he has led on a weekly basis since 2001, at Eagles Landing Baptist church near Atlanta. The songs start as messages for his 400 teenagers and their families. With boldly honest, hard-hitting lyrics, the band continues to challenge, strengthen and pour into the body of Christ, giving listeners a fresh, relevant perspective on loving God and loving people.
Living life with a kingdom focus, a reaching-out, loving-the-world-like-Jesus-does purpose – that’s the focus of the band’s fourth studio album titled Until The Whole World Hears. Millions of fans won’t be disappointed as these seven gifted musicians continue to speak truth into today’s culture through this new 12-song collection.
Hall says, “Our main purpose, above all else, is to know Him more.” It’s that unwavering desire and the intent of a personal friendship with Jesus that drives Casting Crowns and shapes its latest offering of message-centered songs into powerful tools for discipleship.
The title track on the album comes from a signature line in an e-mail from Roger Glidewell, Mark’s mentor in student ministry. Glidewell always closed his e-mails with the phrase, “Until the whole world hears.” Hall says, “Those simple words are a challenge to be intentional with the way we live our lives.” The lyrics were born out of John the Baptist’s life. “He was the voice crying out in the wilderness, eating grasshoppers, and speaking into the world about their sin. Speaking out in the wilderness is never popular but in the body of Christ, we’ve got to do it in love.” With a captivating rock style, “Until the Whole World Hears” also includes the voices of the congregation from Eagles Landing First Baptist Church, Hall’s home church.
“To Know You” encapsulates the Apostle Paul’s struggles and fears, and brings them down to a personal level for every believer. Steeped in Scripture, every line of the song is a declaration of total surrender. Hall explains, “In Romans 8:29, we’re told that God is conforming us into the image of His Son. His goal for my life is to make me like Jesus. To bring Him glory. Everything else is rubbish, Paul says, compared to knowing Him. And if my life goal is really to know Him and to honor Him, is He going to steer me off a cliff? No. Is this easy to say and hard to do? Yeah. But that doesn’t make it not true.”
The members of Casting Crowns each serve in student ministry in their local churches. “Our songs have always come from our ministry in the church,” Hall says. “They start as messages on Wednesday night, things we’re teaching our teenagers and their families. Our typical Wednesday night crowd is about 70% students and 30% parents. So we’re a family ministry and that comes out in the crowds who come to our concerts. You’ll see a six-year-old and a 60-year-old at a Crowns concert.”
Concert-goers love hearing the stories behind their favorite songs. And Hall loves to tell the stories and give God all the credit. He explains how “If We’ve Ever Needed You” came to be: “I’d been trying to write all day, but I felt like I was tying words in knots. I went to bed, couldn’t sleep, was up and down, until about 2:30 in the morning. My wife, Melanie, sat up in the bed and said, ‘You just need to say, Speak, Lord, for your servant hears!’ And then she rolled over and went back to sleep!”
Hall laughs when he recalls, “I was a little ill about that comment but I knew she was right, so I went downstairs to the piano. That’s when I realized I’d been humming a tune in my head for hours. So I pounded out the chords and the first verse just poured out. That’s when you know it’s bigger than you; when you know you didn’t come up with the lyric. I’m not that creative! When God whispers in my ear — that’s a ‘God line.’” The result is a captivating song of crying out to God in desperation, both personally and corporately as the body of Christ.
“Always Enough” also has God’s fingerprints all over it. Hall remembers, “Several months ago, we lost a soldier in Afghanistan who was part of our church. His son is in our middle school ministry, and it really rocked us. You know it’s going on, but then it happens close to you, and it opens your eyes to the reality. Casting Crowns was on the road and couldn’t be home for the funeral. The song really came together that day. When life is hard and tragedy comes, you discover how real Jesus is to you. Your friends and your church try to help, but at that moment, Jesus can’t be Plan B. He’s got to be it; He’s got to be enough. When things that are constants in our lives are stripped away, that’s when we have to know He’s ‘Always Enough.’”
Until The Whole World Hears showcases the signature sound of Casting Crowns and its members: Mark Hall, Megan Garrett, Melodee DeVevo, Hector Cervantes, Chris Huffman, Juan DeVevo, and new member Brian Scoggin. Brian makes his debut with Casting Crowns on this album. A veteran musician and Middle School Pastor at a church near Atlanta, Scoggin is now the drummer for the band. Hall notes that former Crowns’ drummer Andy Williams, the “Bald Wonder,” is serving in ministry with his wife and doing well.
For the first time on a Crowns’ album, Juan DeVevo and Hector Cervantes add their vocals to Hall’s on the haunting worship song “At Your Feet.” This song provides an opportunity for listeners to respond to the gospel by laying their past, their present, and their future at Jesus’ feet. In an effort to connect others to the powerful theology of hymns, the album includes modern reinventions of songs Hall grew up with, including “Glorious Day (Living He Loved Me)” (from the hymn “One Day”), “Joyful, Joyful” and “Blessed Redeemer” − which features violinist Melodee DeVevo as lead vocalist and again includes the congregation from Eagles Landing.
After all the accolades, all the awards, all the time on the road and in the studio, why does Casting Crowns continue to do what they do? The answer is simple: It’s their calling – God’s calling on the lives of these seven committed and talented musicians. To pour their lives into the students and families God has placed in their paths. To set discipleship to music. To challenge and strengthen the body of Christ. It’s what brought them together in the first place and what keeps them going … Until The Whole World Hears.