As Powell recalls, “One of our favorite things to do used to be what we called a ‘back lounge party,’ where we basically turned the lights down, put the music on and fell asleep listening to records. Now no one even wants to come over and ‘just listen to music.’ We still like to do that.”

So when Anderson speaks of inviting band fans to “come along … on the next leg of the journey,” the invitation couldn’t be more heartfelt — or important. With the three-peat success of "Come Together," sandwiched by the band’s two "Offerings" worship collections, expectations were high from fans and industry executives alike for Third Day’s next studio album. It’s the kind of thing that can raise your game or make you crazy, as Powell explains.

“After the release of our third album ["Time"], there was a real pressure that the next one had to be better; and I started putting more pressure on myself than I needed to. And I thought, ‘At what point does a major artist like Elton John or whoever say, ‘This record I’m making may not be the best record I’ve ever made, but it’s the record I’m making now; and I like it.’” At what point do you get to do that? Never again am I going to say, ‘This is the best record we’ve ever made.’ I said that when 'Come Together' was released and believed it at the time, but I’ve learned you always feel that way about the one you’re working on because you’re invested in it.”

All of which is a cautious way of saying what all the Third Day boys were dying to say but feeling too close for comfort to do so: "Wire" is the record of this band’s career thus far. This is the one the fans would take to the deserted island if they had to choose one. This is the one that will still sound really good 10-15 years from now. This is the one the band wants — and deserves — respect for from the music industry at large. Those are this writer’s opinions, of course, and only time will tell; but as for the respect … that will be apparent sooner than later, with any luck.

The buzz on the street about "Wire" is that Third Day’s record company and its larger general-market owner may believe some of the same things about this record and are committed to running it up a mainstream flagpole to see if anyone may care to salute it. When drummer David Carr tells how the band “really focused on this new music easily twice as hard as we have ever worked on a record before,” I invoked the dreaded “c” phrase and asked if that effort came out of a conscious decision to make an album that had the potential to “cross over” into the pop market.

“You know, when you’re a young band, the thought of any label embracing you or putting you on tour at all is exciting,” Anderson says, “But when you start dreaming bigger dreams, you kind of have to be careful what you pray for because it might come true. If we were to have a single that blew up on mainstream radio, it could change the dynamics of everything we do. We have come to appreciate our fan base, and we’re certainly not going to sell out our beliefs to get a single on the radio.

“The thing is,” Anderson continues, “if we were to have a hit record, it would be in the context of everything else we’ve done as Third Day; and we aren’t going to turn our backs on everyone who’s helped us get this far. For us, our challenge isn’t to adjust the content to reach a wider audience but to raise the quality to such an extent — and communicate in a vocabulary that is accessible to people outside the church subculture — that more people will be drawn in.

“I feel like this is the most personal record we’ve ever done — especially in some of the lyrics Mac and Mark [Lee] have written — but I’m amazed at how powerful some of those words are for me to listen to. I think they will speak to others, too, as much as any worship song we’ve ever done.”