Casting Crowns does not measure success by how many albums it sells or how many fans attend its concerts.
Although the contemporary Christian artists have sold 4.5 million albums and have been known to sell out arenas, their main goal is ministry.
Juan DeVevo, guitar and vocals, said the band's desire is to show Jesus' love to others, especially teens, through its concerts and home church ministries.
(Courtesy photo) Casting Crowns, contemporary Christian artists, have been touring for six years. They are the recipients of a Grammy Award, an American Music Award and are five-time Dove Award winners of Group of the Year.
The Grammy and Dove-award winning band will perform in central Pennsylvania at 7 p.m. April 15 at the Bryce Jordan Center in State College. Tenth Avenue North and Caleb also will perform.
Casting Crowns usually tours Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Then, it's back on the bus to return to Atlanta where the musicians minister on Sundays and Wednesdays in their respective home churches.
For instance, DeVevo, works with the student praise band at Eagles Landing First Baptist Church where Crowns lead singer Mark Hall is youth minister.
For the past six years, Casting Crowns has been following this schedule during its tours. And the entourage keeps growing as members' families grow. On this tour, about six kids are accompanying their parents. DeVevo and his wife, Melodee, who sings and plays violin and cello for Crowns, travel with two children, ages 1 and 3. He admitted life on the road can be a little hectic.
"God puts you through things you think you can't handle so you learn to depend on him," he said. "Then you realize you needed him to do it anyway."
The band never set out to tour, DeVevo said.
Hall, who has been a youth pastor for 18 years, wrote music as a way to minister to teens when he lived in Florida.
"He found that it was the best way to get the students' attention. What they wouldn't listen to for 30 minutes, they would listen to for two," DeVevo said. Hall had a CD made so teens could pass it on to their friends.
Somehow the country music group Sawyer Brown heard it, arranged for it to be marketed, and Casting Crowns gained national recognition.
While all age groups enjoy the music, DeVevo said, Casting Crowns likes to connect with youth ministers and teens. He said free materials are made available to youth ministers to help them in guiding teens.
DeVevo said teens today experience situations they should not have to encounter. He said some kids' parents are divorced, or they don't have parents.
"Their parents have checked out," he said.
"That's why we are around, to love them like Jesus does," he said.
He said everyone has struggles and is looking for love and acceptance.
"We are there to bridge the gap between not knowing anything that's going on and finding the truth," he said.
DeVevo said concert-goers will hear songs from Crowns' latest CD, "Until the Whole World Hears," plus a couple of familiar selections, such as "Praise You in the Storm" and "Who Am I?"
One of the songs, "At Your Feet," features DeVevo and Hector Cervantes on vocals for the first time on a Casting Crowns CD.
DeVevo said doing the lead vocals was natural for them because they do it regularly at their home churches. Cervantes is the worship leader for his church in West Rome, Ga., and DeVevo leads worship for high school students at Eagles Landing.
DeVevo said the song talks about sacrificing one's future to God which can be difficult to do when one is young. He said a verse in Galatians talks about how God started everything and he is going to finish it.
"Why try to control it [your future]? Why worry about your future? Give it to God and your reward is peace," he said.
The title song, "Until the Whole World Hears," is a little more rock than most Casting Crowns' songs, although DeVevo said "American Dream" and "What If His People Prayed" have more of a rock sound. The music came out of the writing, he said.
"This sounded good," he said about the group working together on the music. "The song is an anthem, a declaration to keep telling the world about Jesus," he said.
The album also contains some older familiar Christian songs but with new arrangements.
"Joyful, Joyful," "Glorious Day" ("Living He Love Me") and "Blessed Redeemer" are sung to different melodies than the original tunes.
The music was changed to make the songs fresh."The songs become so familiar to you that you don't really hear the words anymore. It's like John 3:16. But when you hear them in a different way, the words take on new meaning," DeVevo said.
"'Glorious Day' talks about Jesus living, loving and dying. It's the whole gospel in one chorus," he said.
"We get a big response when we do it live. Some people are hearing it for the very first time and others are hearing it for the first time in a new way," he said.