Episode #173 — The new movie I Can Only Imagine brings to the big screen the true story behind one of the most beloved songs in decades. Along the way, it also shares the highly entertaining story of how lead singer Bart Millard first came into contact with his future band-mates.

“I moved to Florida from Texas, after my dad passed away, to work at a church. And we had a praise team there, this praise and worship band that was the first live band that I ever worked with. And Mike – the future guitar player with MercyMe – he was in that band.”

“In the meantime, there was this ministry out of Oklahoma that was traveling the country to promote team missions overseas. The youth pastor that I worked for in Florida was involved. He was a dear friend of these guys. He would fly out to help them on the weekends. Well then he got tired of doing it and sent me in his place, because I was the junior high intern guy!”

“So I got sent to these places, and it was another band that I worked with there. Jim – the future keyboard player with MercyMe – and a girl named Jamie Smith that was a worship leader out of Oklahoma City. When I helped on the weekends, I was the guy that was running cables and literally running the slide projector because Power Point wasn’t invented yet! I was basically the tech guy.”

“One weekend, Jamie got sick, and she couldn’t make a show. They had this girl filling in except she panicked before a show and bailed!”

With the band about to perform without a lead singer, Bart Millard spoke up to fill the role.

“I jumped in and sang, and Jim and I became the early version of MercyMe. I went back to Mike in Florida and I said, ‘You need to pray about this. We need to do this!”

“And, as a freshman in college, he packed up in Florida, and we moved to Oklahoma City where the ministry was based. So that’s how we got our start. The filmmakers kind of mashed together the two things. It was two different bands, but they loved that story. I was the guy that spoke up, and they were like, ‘What?! You’re the tech guy!'”

Bart Millard is the lead singer of the chart-topping band, MercyMe. His life story comes to the big screen in the brand new movie ‘I Can Only Imagine,’ tracing the writing of the hit song of the same name.

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On the Road with Bart Millard