A trip across town to Target sealed the deal.
The deal it sealed was that I became a fan of Mumford and Sons. The trip across town was for the purchase of their CD, “Sigh No More.”
As I headed back to the office, I listened intently to the lyrics of their songs. They are a very popular, English folk rock band with an interesting combination of sounds and edgy lyrics.
Mumford and Sons songs like “Roll Away Your Stone” with lyrics like, “It seems that all my bridges have been burnt/But you say that’s exactly how this grace thing works,” have raised questions about the faith of band members.
What piqued my interest in Mumford and Sons is what lead singer and founder, Marcus Mumford, said about the church. All of our words have context, and the context for his words is this:
He is the son of one of the leading evangelical Christian couples in England. He grew up in and around the church. I guess you could call him a PK (a preacher’s kid).
Apparently his parents have been good, loving parents. He did not grow up in an environment where mom and dad had their collective thumbs on him all the time.
It was not a terribly strict, legalistic home in which he grew up. His parents have been encouraging as Marcus sought out his own faith and asked his questions.
Now to what Marcus said in a Rolling Stone magazine interview.
When asked if he was a Christian, he said, “It comes with so much baggage. So, no I wouldn’t call myself a Christian. I think the word conjures up all these religious images that I don’t really like … I’ve kind of separated myself from the culture of Christianity.”
In another context, he allegedly said, “I’m cool with Jesus, but I don’t like his friends.”
I got interested in Mumford and Sons actually because of the work I do. I do the work of ministry and church.
I love the church. I know that the church has had a questionable past. I know that we have had problems relating to our culture. I also know that we have been wrong many times before.
Marcus is right about our checkered past. The church has lagged behind the culture on issues like racism, for example.
Institutions like the church can be so slow to change, and sometimes we get stuck behind stained glass and can’t see the world as it really is. I get all that. I think we should admit our failures and try to do better.
I know all that about the church, but I love the church, flaws and all.
It is sad but true that in our world, the word “Christian” or “church” has some very negative vibes—from Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas to slick televangelists, from preachers lining their pockets to racism.
I get it. We have not been nor are we now perfect—far from it. But I would like to invite Marcus to my church, and to yours as well, to meet some of the “friends of Jesus.”
There is so much great, compassionate work done for Christ and so many kind words spoken for Christ by Christians and churches in every community.
I wish Marcus would show up one day unannounced to see the work of food pantries and homeless shelters run by Christians.
Marcus needs to spend some time with those who say that they would not have made it through a certain crisis without the church folk.
Mumford and Sons would have lyrics for a hundred CDs if they would spend time with Christians I know who spread the love of God through “Kleenex and casseroles.”
I see it every day. I wish Marcus could.
So, Marcus, here is your invitation. Come meet some of the not perfect, but wonderful “friends of Jesus.” We will even let you sing.
Steve Davis is the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Carrollton, Ga. A version of this article first appeared in the April/May 2014 edition of Visions, a publication of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia, as well as in the Times-Georgian, where Steve writes a weekly column. It is used with permission.
Steve Davis is the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Carrollton, Georgia, and the author of “From the News to the Pews.”