So many of us today are simply surviving. But we were not made to survive, we were made to Thrive.
Like a tree planted by the water (Jeremiah 17:7-8) we should be digging into God's word to know Him and know who He has made us to be. We should be reaching out to the world and showing others who He is through our lives and our stories - knowing Him and making Him known.
I caught up with Mark, Melody and Juan from Casting Crowns at a summer festival this year. I wanted them to feel me in on their new album and what has been going on in their life as a band.
John: You guys just got done in the studio, recording the new record. Is there a title for this thing yet?
Mark: Yep, the name of the record is Thrive. It's named after the thing we've been teaching our student ministry in our church for several years. It's just a picture of digging deep and reaching out, what a healthy believer looks like after Psalm chapter one.
John: I love it. When does it come out?
Mark: Comes out ...
Melody: January 28th.
John: January 28th, Thrive. New record from Casting Crowns. That's pretty cool. A little bit of background information then. When you guys record a record, do you actually go through the process of teaching, through all of the lyrical content of the record first, and then go, "Okay, you know what? Now, we have 12 great songs from these 12 great lessons we just went through." Or is it reverse? Do you put the record out in front of people then go, "Now we're going to hammer you all over again"?
Mark: What happens is, we're just teaching what we're teaching. Just pouring into believers, it’s discipleship. Then when it's time to write, we go back and usually the things that have been resonating throughout the year, sort of start emerging on their own. It's not really ... I don't know how to say that.
Juan: It starts out as Mark is saying something from the stage. I'm usually playing the guitar, always talking like, "Oh, it's pretty cool." Then, it becomes a Bible study on Wednesday night for the teenagers and students, and then it turns into a song, usually after that.
Mark: And new book comes out in January, as well.
Juan: Mark has a new book coming out in January, same title.
Mark: The record is called Thrive, the book is called Thrive. It's a little easier to make the book happen, because I get to say everything I wanted to say for every subject. You got to turn these Bible studies into a song. That's why Crowns can't write a song under five minutes long, because we have preacher's writing. The book is coming out as well, and I also have a children's book coming out, and it's called ...
John: This is your first children's title.
Mark: Yes, first one. It's called City on the Hill. It's after a song in the last record about how we are all different before we come together to make the body, so I’m pretty excited about that.
John: That is very cool. When you guys go and set out to write these songs, do you have specific people in mind when you write a particular song? Name a song, can you name a song from the new record?
Mark: Sure. There's a song called “House of Their Dreams,” that we’ll actually do tonight. A song about a family. When we sing a song about a girl, it's a song about a girl. It’s in these things that are going on around us.
Juan: These are real stories that you ...
Mark: They're real stories. Because our church will hear them, sometimes I'll shift things around to protect people, but these are just real life situations. That's what's cool about them, it’s that God lives in real life situations. That's where the hope is.
John: With that in mind, what do you guys hope that this record will do, once it goes out there next year?
Mark: For me, we've been doing concerts for a while. All of our concerts are really to pour into that young believer. The gospel is obviously going to be shared every time we're on the stage. But I'm trying to pour in it, for those not just young in age, but a believer who's young in their faith, to help them grow a little bit. I'd notice, I would say things in the teaching moments, and people in the crowd looking at me like, "Where has this been? How do I do this?" I can tell I need to give more. This record, the goal was to take that Psalm 1 passage about us being a tree planted by streams of water, and just look at what a believer should look like. Instead of going out and trying to be an awesome Christian, let's just dig in our roots and let God define for us some things. Let Him define who He is, and let Him define who we are.
Once we grow in our roots, fruit will begin to happen. Instead of something we try, it's something we let God do in us. Six of the songs are all about digging deep in your roots and understanding God. Six of the songs are all about reaching out, and leting God use you in the world. It's really ... I'm just trying to pour into this bigger church that we've been coming in contact with.
John: These songs, did they affect you guys as a band? I mean, are you just as moved, as maybe your audience is? How involved are you in responding to your own music?
Melody: I don't write the words, the music; Mark usually does that. Sometimes he’ll co-write with somebody, but I know who he’s talking about in a lot of the songs. That is a bigger connection emotionally. One of the songs in the new record is called “Broken Together,” and it's about marriage. It's about a couple of marriages of friends that are close to us, that are just going through really hard times. When he was recording it, I was already crying, because when you know who is about, it means so much more.
Mark: For me, it usually takes a few times for some of these songs to get through. A couple of these like, “Broken Together,” I don't know. It would probably be a rough couple of concerts to get through...
Melody: He cries, I cry and then...
Juan: And then everybody's crying.
Melody: I'm the band crier. I cry at the drop of a hat.
John: Anything on your bucket list for this year?
Melody: Bucket list? Just survive first grade.
Juan: I’m a big C. S. Lewis fan. They're doing a thing, it’s a big event, and I have to get to London, is it the day before or day after my daughter's birthday. It'd be like a three day deal.
John: What are they doing?
Juan: They're erecting a memorial stone, and poets corner, Westminster Abbey, honoring C. S. Lewis, so it will be beside Shakespeare, and Alfred Lawrence Tennyson, all those guys.
John: You think you're going to go?
Juan: I don't know.
Melody: You want to really bad.
Mark: I stepped out in faith, and I reserved the ticket to be able to do that. It was free to register, so I don't know. I think I'll start in a kick-starter. Please, please, send me money.
Melody: I love it.
Juan: There’s always some great kick-starters out there. I want to go the Switchfoot concert. Kick-starter for that.
Mark: Good idea.
Melody: I just want to survive first grade.
Bonus: All You've Ever Wanted (Official Lyric Video)