Indy: You've been celebrating the 10th anniversary of the writing of your first hit and signature song, "I Can Only Imagine." Is it true you nearly left the song off of [the 2001 album] Almost There?
MS: Yes, we put it on there because we had nine songs and we wanted to round it out and have a full 10-song [release]. It really felt like it was a B-side. It didn't feel like it fit the formula of a worship song. It's not that verse-chorus, verse-chorus kind of thing.
Indy: Over the years, the band has evolved from having a mostly acoustic sound to plugging in and rocking quite a bit. Oddly enough, this shift seemed to start with your holiday album [2005's The Christmas Sessions]. What happened then?
MS: I think the Christmas record probably helped a lot of that, because you go into a Christmas record not worrying about whether or not you have a hit, because the songs are classics. They're already hits. It's just your job to not mess them up at that point. So I think we had a little license on that, a little artistic freedom to just run with it.
Indy: You released a greatest hits album last year. That's a sign of how MercyMe has become one of Christian music's most popular acts. Did you ever envision this kind of career?
MS: I always thought it would be successful on some level, but never to this extent. I thought we'd play youth camps and church groups for a few years and have to call it quits and go back to college and get a real job. That was almost 15 years ago now. I still haven't had to go back to college and get a real job, so it is an amazing thing.
— Alan Sculley
At the World Arena, March 21.