A big part of that ‘walking the walk’ still happens – week in, week out – at Eagle’s Landing Baptist Church just south of Atlanta, Ga., where Casting Crowns’ hearts are rooted in local youth ministry to over 400 kids. In the whirlwind of Christian celebrity and success, this calling supercedes all others, a fact that’s more than apparent in the schedule the band keeps. While they could obviously be booked 52 weekends a year, they make a point to be home every other Sunday, as well as Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of every week.

It’s not just a matter of responsibility with them. It’s a matter of passion.

It’s a challenge, one that even their youth group wasn’t convinced they’d meet. But over time, the band (which is just part of the youth ministry team at the church) proved it was up to the task. “Sometimes, they test us just to see what we’ll do,” Melodee DeVevo says, “but we’ve been really careful with their schedule, careful to be there on Sundays. Even if we roll in at 8:30 AM on Sunday, we get off the bus and go to Sunday school. They see that, and they respect that.”

A lot of what they teach their students, like a lot of what they sing about, is better witnessed in action, Hall says. “We worship, and we pray a lot. Through our songs, we teach our students how to pray that way. In fact, the song ‘Lifesong,’ like many of our songs, simply came from what I found myself saying and praying while leading the students. From the questions that come up in my time with them.”

For the seven ordinary people known as Casting Crowns, the church is their field of choice, an extraordinary place where honest questions and real-life answers are always welcome. Where the lost, the weak, unwanted, unlovely and even the ordinary can be beautiful. Where the mission, in music and in life, is to love them all like Jesus.

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