Positive messages draw crowds to Christian concerts

Christian rock appears to have found a home in front of the M&T Bank Grandstand at the Delaware State Fair. This is the fifth year that 88.7 The Bridge has hosted a concert event at the fair. In the past, it has attracted popular Christian artists such as Casting Crowns, MercyMe, Building 429 and Jeremy Camp. (Delaware State News/Mike Finney)

Christian rock appears to have found a home in front of the M&T Bank Grandstand at the Delaware State Fair. This is the fifth year that 88.7 The Bridge has hosted a concert event at the fair. In the past, it has attracted popular Christian artists such as Casting Crowns, MercyMe, Building 429 and Jeremy Camp. (Delaware State News/Mike Finney)

HARRINGTON — It’s not necessarily the soaring vocals, amazing guitar riffs or the pounding of drums that attracts many people to contemporary Christian music.

Rather, Bill Sammons, general manager for 88.7 The Bridge radio station out of Milford, said it is simply the positive messages the songs provide.

“In one word — hope,” Mr. Sammons said. “It’s a positive style of music and it gives people hope.

“There’s a lot of really negative stuff going on in our world and people want a respite from that sometimes and they want something they can find some peace and some hope in and Christian music offers that.”

Perhaps no band offers as much inspiration as For King & Country, which headlined a contemporary Christian concert that also featured Sidewalk Prophets and Jordan Feliz at the Delaware State Fair Tuesday night.

“Christian is the only genre of music that is defined by its lyrical content,” said Luke Smallbone, who fronts For King and Country with his brother Joel, in an interview with the Delaware State News.

“Within Christian music you have heavy metal, you have hip-hop, you have lots of different types of music. When I’m listening to the radio what keeps me listening to the station is the words of the song, no matter what type of music it is, and the song’s message.”

Mr. Smallbone overcame a life-threatening illness recently. Reflecting on that experience, he wrote a song called “Without You,” which he called the most difficult song he has ever written.

“The lyrics gave me the vision and the hope for what is to come,” he is quoted on the band’s website as saying. “I know that I have today but I don’t know if I have tomorrow, so in those moments, I am going to laugh, and I’m going to dance if I can. If this illness was to take me, it would take me as a very hopeful man.”

Like Mr. Sammons said, it’s all about hope.

But don’t get him wrong, there are also some talented artists and musicians in the Christian music industry.

Some of them, including For King & Country, pull off some high-tech wizardry when they’re out on the stage.

“It’s nice that when we take the stage at something like the state fair, it’s already dark out, which goes well with our light show,” Mr. Smallbone told the Delaware State News. “That’s the way we had always envisioned a For King & Country show, with the kind of production that we have.”

Christian rock appears to have found a home in front of the M&T Bank Grandstand at the Delaware State Fair.
This is the fifth year that 88.7 The Bridge has hosted a concert event at the fair. In the past, it has attracted popular Christian artists such as Casting Crowns, MercyMe, Building 429 and Jeremy Camp.

For King & Country actually opened for Casting Crowns at last year’s Delaware State Fair. This time around, they received top billing.

Debbie Laird drove up to the fair with her daughter, Caitlin, from Princess Anne, Maryland, to watch Tuesday night’s show.

“We’ve been going to several of the concerts,” Mrs. Laird said. “We’ve actually seen for King & Country at a youth rally in Ocean City two years ago.

“We like the music and it’s a family-oriented environment.”

Every year, the Christian concerts seem to attract more and more people.

“It is the fastest-growing radio format in the country,” Mr. Sammons said of contemporary Christian music.

“Oddly enough, just a couple of weeks ago Delaware Today magazine readers chose 88.7 The Bridge for ‘Best Radio Station for Music Downstate.’

“That’s the first time Christian music has ever been selected by readers of that magazine as the best radio station. I think that says something about the music.”

So does the crowd that was gathered to see For King & Country at the state fair.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Delaware State News features editor Craig Horleman contributed to this story.

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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