"Winter Jam 2024," the largest annual Christian music tour, will come to 40 U.S. cities. Kickoff is in Mobile for well-known contemporary Christian music acts and a message.

On Friday evening, thousands will line up at the University of South Alabama's Mitchell Center, often a venue for basketball crowds. "Line up" is the operative term because there are no tickets. First come, first served on getting in and getting seats. It's a most unusual deviation from normal-ticketed concerts. The line-up adds to the excitement, and some concertgoers will likely start lining up early Friday. Admission donation is $15, only by cash or check. Age 3 and under get in free. 

Special guest Joseph O'Brien will perform and keep the crowd going during the show. O'Brien told 1819 News he grew up going to Winter Jam and is thrilled to be a part of it now.

"My dad was in NewSong so when I was a kid I would get to go behind stage and I would freak out because you know, back in the day they would have people like TobyMac and I would beg my dad to take me to meet them," O'Brien said. "And I would just go crazy. This is just really full circle to be on stage now. I always dreamed I would be on stage but now the door really opened up I am really excited to be a part of it."

O'Brien was born into the Christian music industry and has been pursuing his dreams since he was 13. This weekend will be his first trip to Mobile, but he has seen other parts of Alabama and has written songs with songwriter Jonathan Gamble, who is from Alabama.

Between entertaining the crowd and handling social media for Winter Jam 2024, O'Brien will be performing a mashup of two of his hits, "Saved and "Take Your Time."

Details of the concert can be found here.

The Mitchell Center is on the University of South Alabama campus at 5950 Old Shell Rd, Mobile, Alabama.

A second Alabama Winter Jam will be on February 17 at Birmingham's BJCC Legacy Arena.

While the concerts are a big draw among young people, a number of older adults are lovers of contemporary Christian music and fans of the well-known entertainers.

Those big names in Christian music that will play to the Alabama Winter Jam crowd include:

Crowder

Lecraie

Cain

Katy Nichole

Seventh Day Slumber

NewSong

Linn D

John Wesley 

Winter Jam originated in 1995, some 28 years ago, as "January Jam." In addition to musicians, it includes Christian stunts and comedy performances. It climaxes with a speaker called the "tour pastor." This year's tour pastor is Zane Black.

The tour pastor presents an explanation for how listeners can decide for Christ. Thousands do so during the tour concerts each year.

Zane Black is the student pastor of Grace Church in Eden Prairie, Minn. He is the author of a semi-biographical book, "Reckless: Following Jesus to the Point of No Return."

Black tells his own testimony of turning from drugs and alcohol to "radically" following Jesus.

The Christian music group "NewSong" created Winter Jam, which still performs on the tour and will be in Mobile on Friday.

Next month, the Winter Jam show will be at Birmingham's Legacy Arena at the BJCC.

Those wishing to support the Winter Jam ministry can donate and become a member of its support group, "Jam Nation." Membership includes early entry to concerts.

More information here.

Those not going to a concert can donate to the ministry with a check made payable to "NewSong Ministries, Inc." at:

Winter Jam Tour Spectacular

718 Thompson Lane

Suite 108-443

Nashville, TN 37204

There is a push nationally for a cashless society, with all payments by electronic means. Some Christians believe the move toward all electronic payments may be a sign of the end times and a method for centralized control. The Winter Jam procedure for no electronic payments and no electronic tickets is a pushback in the opposite direction.

America has seen Christian revivals, mainly through pulpits in the 1800s, through tent meetings in the 1900s, through stadium rallies in the mid-1900s, and through Christian films in the 2000s. Could it be that Christian music tours will spark the next Christian revival?

Erica Thomas contributed to this report.

Jim Zeigler is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at [email protected].

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