It was in the work of booking on college campuses that Ben and Robin first connected with the beautiful Don and Lori Chaffer and their band, Waterdeep. Ben approached Don and shared his vision for a worship album that was made specifically for students, and recorded in such a way that it would be easy to play. They recorded the album in a lakeside cottage on Possum Kingdom Lake in Texas, and mixed it in the basement of the Pasley’s apartment in Akron, Ohio. When Enter the Worship Circle was first made available in January of 1999 it immediately gained traction with fans of roots music. Soon, the internet was buzzing with talk of the project, and word-of-mouth news spread far beyond the reaches of their underground fan base. This was one of those rare albums that people felt compelled to share with their friends, and it introduced a completely different kind of sound and attitude to corporate worship music. When Grassroots Music began distributing the recording it immediately became the company’s fastest-selling album ever. To date the Worship Circle album catalog has sold well over 100,000 units. The I Will Not Forget You video was released in 2000 and won a Bronze Telly award. The song I Will Not Forget You was recorded by Paul Baloche with Maranatha, as well as John Tesh, and was later featured on the WoW Worship collection as one of the best worship songs of the year. Countless print and online review followed and continue to this day. Third Day went on to re-record You Are So Good To Me, which rocketed to #1 on the CHR Charts in May of 2003 and has become the most well known song in the Worship Circle catalog. When Kingsway Music in Europe released the First Circle album in the summer of 2002 it went to #1 on the worship album charts in less than three months.
Since that time three more albums—Second Circle, Third Circle, and Fourth Circle—were recorded in keeping with the first Enter The Worship Circle and even a book, under the same title, was written by Ben Pasley and published by Relevant Media in 2001 and has sold over 8,000 units to date. From RealMagazine.com: “It’s a book for a spiritually enlightened age, an audience that’s tired of dusty religion and lifeless tradition. It’s a book for the non-Christian that’s curious. The result [of the literary style] is easy to read, refreshing, and perect for this multi-tasking digital age. This is the kind of book more Christians should be writing …”
In 2002 the Worship Circle team introduced a brand new musical style in the series that feature only one performer and one instrument per song. They simply titled it the Chair and Microphone series and the first featured Ben Pasley in his solo debut. The second featured Aaron Strumpel, and was titled, in keeping with the series, Chair and Microphone, Vol. 2. A glowing reviewer typed, “This collection of sixteen intense, arresting songs continues the unwavering tradition of superb songwriting, authentic worship, and quality recordings produced by Ben Pasley’s Worship Circle series. Unlike the initial “unplugged” Worship Circle albums, which swell with sweet harmonies, smooth guitars and exotic percussion, the Chair and Microphone discs are minimalistic in scope: one voice, one guitar. These brave, bare efforts could easily fail due to all that’s missing; however, Strumpel follows Pasley’s outstanding lead and delivers in the most magnificent way.” Chair and Microphone, Vol. 3 featured Karla Adolphe, and Chair and Microphone, Vol. 4 featured Tim Coons.
In 2005 a totally experimental, electronic album was added to the mix—much to the astonishment of the growing organic, live recording loving fanbase. One reviewer for the ultramodern, urban-colored Village Thrift album glowed: “If you would have told me that a Christian worship band would release a completely unique album of progressive pop, I would have laughed. Worship bands are lucky if they could even remotely sound like what is currently popular—let alone trying to sound ahead of the game, but that is what this album does … I cannot stress enough that this is a truly original release; highly stylized and lushly arraigned it is the perfect addition to any music collection, and don’t let the worship title get you down, even if your not a Christian you should find enough talent and beauty in this release to make you hum along without any kind of guilt.”