Two weekends ago I saw my favorite band, Metallica, for the third time. A downside of living in Richmond is that major concerts don’t come through town like they did in Chicago. So my family made a quick road trip down to Atlanta. My parents came up from Florida to watch our kids so that my wife, one of my best friends from high school, my sister’s boyfriend, and I could attend the concert at the Braves’ new SunTrust Park.

As always, Metallica put on an amazing show. Even though the members of this 36-year-old band are in their early 50s, they still rock hard. I think their newest release, Hardwired…To Self-Destruct, is excellent and their classics are, well, classic.

At the three concerts I’ve been to and on every live recording I’ve ever heard, frontman James Hetfield always talks about Metallica fans as family. It’s commonplace to hear him tell the audience that “you’re Metallica!” Like any live concert experience, to attend a Metallica show is to participate in something bigger than yourself. It’s transcendent.

Metallica has never been political and typically refrain from making public statements. To be sure, their music often conveys a political perspective, but they let their songs speak for themselves. In fact, it’s not uncommon to hear them express disdain for musicians who get too involved in politics.

So it is noteworthy that on their current tour, Hetfield takes a moment after they play the first two songs of their set (“Hardwired” and “Atlas, Rise!”) to make a rather pointed and timely statement. Here is the version he shared in Atlanta:

Before we go much further, we just gotta make a statement here. All are welcome, because Metallica does not give a shit…we don’t give a shit where you’re from, what you’ve done in the past, who you vote for, what you do or don’t eat. We don’t care what god you believe in. We care about the similarities. We are here together, right now, to celebrate life. And to celebrate music—live music. You are Metallica family! Are you with us?!

That sounds a lot like what I look for in church, and what I hope the United States of America still values. Unfortunately, this kind of inclusivity is often absent in the former and has been under attack in the latter.

In the midst of our fractured culture, I’m grateful that Metallica—a little older and a little wiser—is spreading some good news throughout the land this summer.

John W. Vest

John is a "church hacker" attempting to overcome the limitations of church as we know it. To connect with him and learn more about his work, please visit johnvest.com.

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