People ask, “Who would you say you are in Christ if you keep saying that?” I would say, “I guess I’m a child of the risen King who wrestles with the flesh. I win some and lose some but it cannot change how Christ sees me because the cross is actually enough.” When you start living a life of grace and when you start to love yourself and forgive yourself, it’s amazing what you can do for others. I’ve said for years that I used to think the church didn’t know how to love people. Now I’ve realized we’re actually really good at it. The problem is that we don’t love ourselves, so we treat people the way we treat ourselves. Our mission in life as MercyMe as long as we keep being a band is to try to get people to let themselves be loved and understand what Christ has done in their lives so they can be that sort of people.

CCM: …and that tipping point?
BM:
We were in this place where the band was like, “Let’s fix what’s broken.” Right before Welcome To The New, we cut all of our shows in half. I moved to Nashville just to sleep in my own bed more and write with other artists and not rely on touring as much. I thought I was on my way out. The crazy thing is when we cut back and stopped caring in a good way, we started falling in love with music again. We started acting like 15-year-olds in a garage again. So, Welcome To the New was the first record where we didn’t care what people said about us. We were just making music we loved. We’re not recreating the wheel or anything, but for us, if we agree it should be on the record, that’s all we need. So we had a blast writing that album.

Lifer is a continuation of that victory. I mentioned feeling like it was okay to try different stuff and pop music clears the way for a lot of things. Christians won’t admit it, but we’re usually a decade behind, although we’re getting better. [Laughs] But we’re the only genre that exists where the only thing that separates us from anything else is our lyrics. We have country and pop and every genre you can imagine, but the lyrics are what set us apart. So there is a freeing element that you can try whatever you want—it doesn’t mean people will like it. So when pop music evolves, it does trickle down eventually and the church becomes a little more tolerant of funk and hip-hop and all of this stuff. It’s all music we’ve loved for years, but it’s almost like we’ve avoided it because we thought people would not buy it or like us because of it. Now it’s like, “Forget that. Life’s too short. I want to make a record that I enjoy and that I’m proud of.”

MercyMe, Lifer, CCM Magazine - image

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CCM: Do you have a favorite example?
BM: “You Found Me” is a great example. That is a straight-up homage to “Melt With You” by Modern English. It was one of those songs that got us going and we didn’t know why. I was in the studio singing, “I’ll stop the world and melt with you” and then I said, “Man, we so need an ‘80s groove like that.” [Laughs] We kind of worked backwards from there.

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Matt Conner
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Matt Conner is a writer/editor living in Indianapolis.

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