When he gets on stage in front of thousands of fans, Mark Hall doesn’t channel his inner rock star or strut around showing off his hot bod in his skinny jeans.
Instead, the longtime youth pastor and front man for the contemporary Christian rock band Casting Crowns makes himself as emotionally vulnerable as possible. He doesn’t polish his life into a perfect image. He tells it like it is — the good and the bad. He’s not a perfect Christian, husband or father. He makes mistakes. He falls down. He’s like every person in the audience.
“When I get on stage, my goal is to show you if God can love me, he can love anybody,” said Hall from a tour stop in Dodge City, Kan. “I’m mapping out my weaknesses and flaws between every song. Acting like you’ve got it all together doesn’t help anybody. I’m up there laying it all out. Nobody’s talking down to them at concerts. We’re getting real.”
The Grammy- and Dove award-winning seven-piece band from Atlanta will bring its “The Very Next Thing Tour” to The Broadmoor World Arena on Sunday.
Letting his imperfections shine through didn’t always come naturally to Hall. Growing up, he thought everybody at his church led perfect lives, and all you had to do was dress up and play the part. But when his career as a youth pastor kicked off at age 21, a conversation with a teenager challenged his beliefs. The teen’s dad was an alcoholic, and it was a rough home situation. He told Hall he’d never understand, since he was a pastor and did everything right.
“I said, ‘Dude, I’ve not been a good youth pastor then. I’ve got a really crappy temper in the morning, I get selfish when I’m tired, I have a smart mouth and I shoot my mouth off when I shouldn’t. There are so many things about me that I’m trying to get God to help me with, but the cool thing is he sticks around.’”
That was the moment Hall knew transparency was the only way to connect with people.
The popular band formed in 1999 when Hall gathered musicians from various churches, who all continue to work in their own ministries. Casting Crowns’ eponymous album debuted in 2001, and the group went on to nab the title of Billboard’s top-selling Christian music act since 2007. Hits include “Voice of Truth,” “East to West,” “Lifesong,” “Until the Whole World Hears,” “Courageous” and “Thrive.”
Their upcoming album “The Very Next Thing” drops Nov. 16.
When Hall hops on stage these days, he’s praying for the families in the audience. After having spent the majority of his week working with kids at his church, he knows firsthand the disconnect that can happen between teens and their parents.
“The concerts are my chances to talk to mom and dad,” said Hall. “I want to help them get into the minds of their kids a bit. I’m basically dad to a lot of kids, and it shouldn’t be that way. I would rather partner with the dads.”
Jennifer Mulson, The Gazette, 636-0270,