That conversation typically leads to more questions than answers: “What have I done with my life to this point? What’s been the most important time in my life? What’s the greatest thing I’ve accomplished? Have I already done the most impactful things I will ever do, or is that still at some point in the future?”
There’s a temptation to look for the answers to these kind of questions retrospectively, looking back or futuristically, anticipating they will take place at some unknown point in the future. But what if the most important, impactful time in your life is right now?
Casting Crowns’ Mark Hall says it is.
“In Christian circles, we talk a lot about being ‘all in’ or ‘on fire’ or ‘doing big things with our lives,’ but we don’t really have any idea what that means. We typically think of it as something that we’ll experience in the future somewhere.”
But, Hall says, it’s the very next thing.
When he was diagnosed with cancer on his kidney in 2015, he came uncomfortably close with his own mortality, giving him experience in the importance of now. Following Jesus and listening to Him is not about tomorrow, because tomorrow’s not guaranteed for anyone.
“It’s not some big, far off thing next year. It’s right now! Following God is doing the very next thing He calls you to do.”
Mark Hall’s Very Next Thing
By God’s grace, Mark is now cancer-free, and he’s not taking time for granted. He’s busy doing every next thing God shows him to. He’s still a youth pastor and worship leader in his home church, teaching and discipling high school boys. And if you’re wondering how this works with his celebrity status, Mark says, “It’s easier than you think when kids already know you and aren’t impressed anymore.”
Doing the next thing happens on the road with Casting Crowns, too. While they travel, the band, crew members and merchandise team members come together in small group meetings everyday. And they take their music and message seriously, because before they even get on stage, the band and crew spend major time in prayer.
“We take time as a team to go through every venue before our concerts and pray over every seat. Every seat represents a soul. A story.”
Casting Crowns wants to make sure that every person’s story gets connected to God’s larger story. Because every single person who comes to a concert is their very next thing.
Mark Hall’s story has been a series of doing the very next thing. He tells about his lifelong struggle with dyslexia and ADHD, his call to ministry and worship, failure before God and fights with God, and how he has come to understand that God wants his now. His next.
“The Very Next Thing” is the name of Casting Crowns’ new album, and the message is the same throughout the album, from the popular radio single, “One Step Away” to “Oh My Soul,” to the title song, “The Very Next Thing“: “Show me the next thing. I’ll do the next thing.”
With the very next words of love to be spoken
To the very next heart that’s shattered and broken
To the very next way you’re gonna use
Show me the next thing
I’ll do the next thing
Now, when Mark thinks about cancer, he doesn’t think about dying. He thinks about doing the very next thing.