Award-winning multi-platinum Christian band MercyMe has one message for believers: Keep your focus on Jesus.
Despite living in uncertain and sometimes chaotic times amid the noise on social media, where people sometimes feel compelled to take a side on a divisive issue, the band seeks to be a unifying force that shines the spotlight back on Jesus, the ultimate uniter. That’s the theme of their 11th studio project, Always Only Jesus.
MercyMe released their last album Inhale, Exhale during the COVID-19 pandemic when they were prohibited from going on tour due to gathering restrictions. The record was meant to be light-hearted as a way to lift morale during the lockdowns, the band said, but in the process of creating music, they wound up penning 40 songs. Some of those songs were worship numbers that are featured on the new release.
“This record is the songs that are hopefully pointing directly at Jesus and saying, this is the one thing that matters,” MercyMe guitarist Michael John Scheuchzer said in a video interview with The Christian Post. “We can disagree about everything else in the world, but as believers, if we can come together and point to Him and agree on Him, then we can really see some change in the world.”
The new release declares that Jesus must be the focal point in everyone’s life, regardless of what’s going on in the world.
“After the pandemic and Inhale, Exhale serving its purpose, it feels like the body of Christ went through a very divisive time,” frontman Bart Millard added. “Just a crazy time and fear manifesting itself in different ways.”
“We had friends we go to church with that drew some pretty hard lines in the sand and became very passionate about different things, and now that things are kind of getting back to normal, some are pretending it never happened. Some are trying to walk things back. Some are trying to explain where their stance is,” he continued, speaking of the various social and political stances some Christians took on social media.
“I don’t know how much healing is in that versus we need to find the common denominator —that’s Jesus,” he continued. “That’s the only thing that’s going to unify the Body of Christ. So, with Inhale, Exhale being about a lot of clever lyrics and us just wanting to try different stuff and having the time to do it, this one’s more about … it really is about Jesus!
Throughout their nearly 30 years together, the band has been intentional about writing songs that point vertically with songs written about Jesus.
“We wrote the song ‘Always Only Jesus,’ and we’re like, ‘This is the title.’ Even the album artwork there’s no concept. It’s very simple because we want it to be about Him, and it really is all the way through.”
“I think it’s perfect timing for unifying the Body of Christ, and this is the best way we know how to do it,” Millard declared.
The new album features a tune titled “To Not Worship You,” and the singer, whose life story can be seen in the blockbuster film “I Can Only Imagine,” said the song was written in reflection of those that have been falling away from the faith.
2021 marked the first time since the Gallup organization started tracking data that fewer than 50% of Americans belong to a church or religious organization. BreakPointreported that some of the people leaving the church are joining a growing demographic known as the “nones.”
Many are not only leaving a particular house of worship but joining a growing demographic known as the “nones,” rejecting all religious affiliation, BreakPoint adds, noting that the “Christian version of those who grew up in the Church but have become “nones” often go by another label: exvangelicals.”
The overall movement is called “deconstruction,” meaning deconstructing one’s faith and leaving the church.
Many who are deconstructing have spoken out about their experiences of getting hurt by people inside the Church. Others have cited their rejection of biblical teaching on sexuality as the reason they are dissociating.
“The whole deconstructing of faith became like the flavor of the month. It felt like,” Millard shared in the band’s interview with CP. “Having conversations about all that, especially the deconstructing of faith, we know people have gone through it. I’m like, I think we’ve all asked the same kind of questions like why do bad things happen to good people? But I just didn’t get an Instagram account and start talking about it that much.”
He added, “I think we’ve always kicked the tires of our faith, but it doesn’t necessarily mean we’re stepping away from it. The song [“To Not Worship You”] for us, personally, it was like, ‘Oh, yeah, I have doubts, I wonder, I question a lot of things, but the one thing is it’s to stop and actually remember, ‘Oh, You’re the God that moves mountains.’ Eventually, it’s like, who am I to ever think of not worshiping you if I truly understand who You are?”
Another new song highlighted during the interview was “Better Days,” which the group says carries a “universal message.”
“We were seeing the stats of depression and suicide and all that stuff and divorce rate because people literally having to be in under one roof for so long. The one thing that I kept going back to and I’d written it down a few times was, ‘The hands that are holding tomorrow are still holding on to us.’”
Millard said Christians must remember that better days are coming in Christ. When they wrote the song, he said it “was the only message” that resounded in his heart.
The 10-song album, Always Only Jesus will be available everywhere on Oct. 21.