We talked with Mark Hall, frontman for Casting Crowns…
Tell us about your album, Altar and the Door.
Altar and the Door started with a line of songs. One song in the record called Somewhere in the Middle deals with the fact that we don’t want to fail. We want to love; We want to do right; We want to walk with Him, but at the same time we get out the door and something happens to us. Because at the altar, everything makes total sense.
When we’re together in church, when we’re hearing God’s Word, or in a worship moment — everything is black and white. We know how to live. We know what we should do. Everything makes perfect sense. But somewhere between the altar and the door we get out there and it’s like something leaks out. Suddenly we’re not sure we believe anymore and it all links back to the fact that we have to have our own walk with Jesus. We can’t have our pastor’s walk with Jesus. These songs are songs along that journey. I believe that, we as believers, live somewhere between the altar and the door. There’s got to be a connection between a highlighted verse in my Bible and a highlighted verse in my life. I think the Christian life is all about working that through. It’s an idea in my head, and somehow it needs to make it out to my hands and feet.
I hear a recurring theme in your songs. You’re passionate about community and church life, aren’t you?
Definitely. I’m just passionate about believers helping other believers. We need each other. Jesus designed it that way. We’ve got to have accountability, prayer support, got to have fellowship and help when we’re hurting. He created the church for us.
Praise You in the Storm came out when?
Probably about a year ago.
Those lyrics were so relevant during the times of Katrina.
Yeah, the record came out two years ago, I believe the week that Katrina hit. A song that we wrote for one reason, God took and blessed people and spoke to people in a different arena in life reminded us that He has his own purpose for things. We heard a version on the radio one day that edited in the President, news people were talking, people were giving testimony; it was as though the song was written for that moment. It was a pretty amazing thing.
Who influences your music?
Well, musically, I’m a Christian music fan. For about the past maybe 15 years, I started listening to Christian music. Steven Curtis Chapman was going out on the Great Adventure. I feel that music is a big deal. You’re pouring worldviews into yourself. You’re pouring theology into yourself. You’re pouring other people’s beliefs about everything into you when you listen to music. There’s a lot more going on than guitar solo. So I decided a long time ago to pour music into me that pours Jesus into me. Saying that, I would have to say Third Day, DC Talk, Delirious, Steven Curtis…I love it all.
If we looked in your CD player or your iPod is that what we’d find?
Now you’d find a lot of new groups. There’s a group called Leland. They’re one of my favorites. I listen to a little harder music than I write sometimes just to hear what God’s doing. If a hard rock-n-roller gets saved, he’s not going to break out an accordion. He’s going to sing what he sings. [laughs] There’s groups like Red out there that are amazing that really speak to me and there’s a Michael W. Smith. Stylistically I try not to get stuck because I might miss something. You’ve got to branch out. You can fence yourself in and miss some really good stuff.
Do you have the live CD that Delirious? cut about a year ago?
In my iPod, I would say the most concentration of any band would be Delirious?. For me they launched the modern worship movement. I discovered worship listening to them years ago with the Cutting Edge CD. You name it I’ve got it. Hillsong United has a new one out.
How’s marriage going these days?
Marriage is going better than ever. Melanie has always been my right hand in ministry. She has gifts that I don’t have. We are the right side and the left side. I tell her all the time, I can see really easily what I’m getting out of this deal. I just can’t really see what she’s getting out of this. [laughs]
Melenie is your tour manager?
Yes, she’s the road manager so she travels with us and my kids as well. We all travel together everywhere we go.
How do you keep your marriage fresh? How do you keep that relationship charged up and still keep balanced to do everything else?
I feel that the key in my marriage — is walking with Jesus. When I’m walking with Jesus as I should be — I’m in his Word, I’m spending time with him, and he and I are close — my marriage is totally different than when I am sort of coasting along spiritually. I believe what God has designed me for is to walk with him and he completes me. He fills me with himself. That way when Melanie and I come together, I’m not needing her so much and my desire is to pour into her.
I think what happens in marriages is we’re not walking with God so we’re pulling out of each other. We have a hole in ourselves and suddenly we need things from our spouse that they weren’t designed to give us. I know the difference between when I’m walking with Jesus or not.
When I’m walking with God and I’m in fellowship with him I’m where I should be. I just want to love her; I want to pour into her; I want to serve her. When I’m not walking with Jesus — I’m sort of coasting along, haven’t been in the Word for a month — suddenly I need her to appreciate me, I need her to help me and serve me, and recognize how awesome I am and all this kind of stuff. I’m telling you there’s a lot of things you can do, but when you walk with God the marriage starts working.
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