From Awana to Jars of Clay
Jars of Clay is one of the most recognized names in the music industry. Its brand of alternative pop rock was an immediate hit with Christian and secular audiences. Even MTV and VH1 don't seem to mind playing songs from a band dedicated to attracting nonbelievers to Christ.
With songs that have received significant airplay on radio stations across the country and opportunities to collaborate with some of the biggest names in music, Jars of Clay has worked hard to stay focused on a higher goal. As Steve Mason, the band's guitarist, says, "Regardless of what we do, our music and our lives are to be to God as worship."
Mason credits Awana with playing a significant role in leading him to Christ and dedicating his music to the Lord. Awana sat down with Steve to find out more about his experience in Awana, his thoughts on Christian music and how Jars stays true to its calling.
Awana: You were in club as a kid. How long were you in Awana?
Mason: I was in Awana from Sparks through most of the middle clubs, first at Joliet (Ill.) Bible Baptist, and then I went to Riverside Baptist in Decatur, Ill.
Awana: You have said that Awana helped bring you to the Lord. Tell us about that.
Mason: On a Wednesday night, I went to Sparks and they presented the gospel during Large Group Time. I went home that night and followed up with my parents. My mom read some Scripture and answered my questions. Then we prayed together.
Awana: What did you appreciate most about your time in Awana?
Mason: One of the great things about Awana is that it incorporates so much relationship building. The games are an enjoyable time for the kids. But Awana gives adults opportunities to build relationships with kids, and that brings opportunities to talk with them about Jesus. I think we sometimes get so program-driven that we miss the fact that the majority of sharing the gospel with people is out of relationships. It's hard to keep kids interested in a program if that's all you have. The gift you can give them is the relationship. God has used Awana as a powerful witness to educate kids about God.
Awana: You went from being a college freshman to making an album with a song in the top 40. What was that like?
Mason: It was bizarre. I can't explain it other than God has been really gracious. He's shown us so many times how He's been loving us through a lot of experiences we couldn't have done on our own. We've seen even clearer that this whole thing is about who God is and His call on our lives.
Awana: You're out touring most of the time and there are many demands on your schedule. How do you stay focused on God while on the road?
Mason: We found it really important to develop a heart for worship. Before shows we'll have a time of prayer, sing songs and hymns, read Scripture. We pray specifically for what should be shared during the show.
Awana: Is there a verse, other than 2 Corinthians 4:7 (from which the band derives its name), that is especially meaningful to you? And how did Awana influence your views of Scripture memory?
Mason: Hebrews 10:23 says that we hold unswervingly to our hope in Christ because He is faithful. That really gives me encouragement. Through Awana I was impacted by Scripture memory and learning the Bible. It's very easy to fall into the trap where we believe the cross is not really freedom. But freedom comes when we really sit in God's love and know that it's not about us but Jesus.