Is there another peak for MercyMe to scale? With multiple Dove Award wins and GRAMMY Award-nominations, multi-Platinum singles and numerous chart-topping albums, the popular pop-rock band is now the subject of a theatrical box office hit, I Can Only Imagine (Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions, Mar. 16, 2018). Their platform, at this point, is a global one and has been for some time.
To hear bassist Nathan Cochran tell the story of MercyMe’s success, it’s clear that they’ve been along for the ride for some time. They’ve simply leaned in the direction they’ve felt the Holy Spirit’s leading and that obedience has brought Cochran and the rest of MercyMe—Bart Millard, Mike Scheuchzer, Robin Shaffer, Barry Graul— to such great heights.
With a new greatest hits project (I Can Only Imagine—The Very Best Of MercyMe, Fair Trade Services, Mar. 2, 2018—buy) and the popular new motion picture out now, we recently spent some time with Cochran to hear about MercyMe’s journey from a group of guys playing summer camps to joining Billy Graham in his final ministry moments.
CCM Magazine: With a new movie out and a greatest hits project, it makes me curious how much of any of this were you able to picture when MercyMe was first starting? Did you have a vision for a legacy like this at all?
Nathan Cochran: Honestly when we first started, we just wanted to be able to pay our electric bill, which didn’t happen quite a bit, unfortunately. [Laughs] We were all pretty young when we started doing this. I was nineteen when I started playing with the guys, so there were some years in there when we were a bunch of bachelors. We were guys running around summer camps trying to make music for a living.
I think we started figuring out pretty quickly that some of the songs we were writing and things we were doing meant a lot to people. We took that seriously in the best possible way, not in a pressure to perform or fulfill, but we knew things were happening around us that were bigger than us. I think everything that’s happened with us over the years, we were fortunate that we didn’t treat those things like a stepping-stone to something bigger. We treated it like, “Wow, people like what we’re doing. I guess that means we get to keep doing this.” That’s always been our mindset. We try to be diligent and responsible with what we’re given yet not take ourselves too seriously along the way.