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  • Writer's pictureThomas Bonifield

"Casting Crowns: Home by Sunday" Delivers on Promise to "Go Beyond the Songs"

This documentary about the popular Christian band retraces their steps from the beginning and highlights lives they have touched along the way.

Casting Crowns' lead singer/songwriter Mark Hall appears in concert in clip from the documentary.
Casting Crowns' lead singer/songwriter Mark Hall appears in concert in clip from the documentary. Image: Provident Films/screenshot from YouTube.

Casting Crowns is marking 20 years in the music business with the release this week of a film that commemorates the highs and lows, impact and setbacks. It is called Casting Crowns: Home by Sunday and it does a good job of mixing concert clips with archival footage and band member interviews to weave together the Grammy-winning ensemble's story.

Founded by youth pastor Mark Hall, the story of the group - which draws its name from a Scripture in Revelation 4 - is largely Hall's story since he is also lead singer and songwriter. The documentary's title, for instance, is an acknowledgement of his policy that he needs to be back at his home church in Georgia every Sunday, even when the band is on tour, in order to perform his ministerial duties.

That is something that he has insisted on from the beginning and, having screened the movie, Christian Film Blog believes it does a nice job of fleshing out the tension in the early years between being a big-time music act signed to a major label and yet limiting time on the road so that Hall could pastor young people at his church: he says youth pastor is still his "most important title" and that if he could not balance that with the band, the band would have to go.

The 54-year-old husband and father of four also reveals his personal vulnerabilities in the production, discussing conditions like dyslexia and attention deficit disorder that led to his needing six years to complete a four-year college degree. And he reveals how God used that and more serious challenges, like a tumor on his kidney later in life, to stretch his faith and inspire his songwriting.

"My songs start in the dark, but I've got to let God speak light into them, then I've got to follow Him out."

This documentary features some of Casting Crowns' biggest hits, like Praise You in This Storm, East to West, and Voice of Truth, all of which are connected to God's ability to shine His light in dark situations. As great as the group's success has been - 13 million albums sold and 15 number-one hits - Hall speaks sincerely about not letting fame go to his head, but instead using his talents to direct people to the Lord.

"On my best day writing a song, what I'm really writing is an arrow: I'm pointing to something. So, if you're a little closer to Jesus because of this song, then we did something, right? That's why I write music, that's why music is powerful to me, because it can point us to the Father."

The film also features interviews with executives from Casting Crowns' record label, Christian music legend Steven Curtis Chapman (he helped discover the group), Hall's church family, and testimonials from fans touched by their music; among that latter category is a particularly poignant one involving a young girl with cancer, which is a moment in the film that is certain to bring tears to your eyes.

The trailer for the documentary promises it will "go beyond the songs," and while it does so quite effectively, that is simultaneously our only complaint: we would have liked to see and hear a bit more from the band's concerts. Their music is so well-known, that it did not feel to us like the film quite did it justice. That aside, Christian Film Blog wholeheartedly recommends you go watch Casting Crowns: Home by Sunday, because it is powerful and sure to inspire you in your faith.

You will have no room for error, though, because it is releasing in theaters as a one-day special engagement, playing on the big screen only this Thursday, November 30th. You can purchase tickets to a venue in your area via this link to the movie's website and the trailer below will give you a better feel for what to expect.


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