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Here in the United States, we have become a nation of planners. Whether it’s planning for college, a wedding, vacation or our retirement plans—if there’s a checklist to be made and bullet points to be hashed-out, we’re all over it.

The same can even apply to our faith. Our walk with Christ can easily become a series of things we’re going to do “someday.” With the best of intentions, we ease into a pattern of projection and preparation and lose sight of the possibility of today.

For Mark Hall and the members of Casting Crowns, it’s a trend they have watched take root across generations. So much so, it is the area of focus for their students in their Atlanta-based home church and, aptly, the crux of the message in their latest album, titled The Very Next Thing (buy).

“We’ve got this idea of an awesome walk with Jesus out there somewhere, and we’re looking for the bridge to get over to it,” says Hall. “Serving God isn’t this giant dream a year from now. It’s not this thing He’s going to have you do in a month. It’s right now. Following God is the next word of love that I need to speak to somebody, the very next heart that needs to be encouraged. Ministry isn’t on Sunday; it’s not on a stage. It’s you, where you are, doing the next thing God tells you to do.”

Such a message carries extra weight when delivered by Hall and his colleagues. Despite being the Billboard’s number one top-selling Christian act since 2007, the band members have maintained their roles as full-time youth pastors in their respective home churches. The duality of their lives has not only delivered ample source material over the years, but has engendered a level of humanity and normality within their hearts and lives that lends to their music in both artistry and utility.

“Because we have the honor of waking with people in our churches, we get to see what they are going through—the issues that are impacting everyone now,” says Hall. “It’s in these situations that ideas are born for what we all need to hear right here and right now.”

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Caroline Lusk
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