Songwriter's Corner|

Photo: Elias Dummer | By Bob Smietana, Religion News Service | On Easter Sunday, the worship band at Bethel Community Church in Redding, California, opened the service with “This Is Amazing Grace,” a 2012 hit that has remained one of the most popular worship songs of the past decade.

Chances are thousands of other churches around the country also sang that song — or one very similar to it.

A new study found that Bethel and a handful of other megachurches have cornered the market on worship music in recent years, churning out hit after hit and dominating the worship charts.

The study looked at 38 songs that made the Top 25 lists for CCLI and PraiseCharts — which track what songs are played in churches — and found that almost all had originated from one of four megachurches.

All the songs in the study — which ranged from “Our God” and “God Is Able” to “The Blessing” — debuted on those charts between 2010 and 2020.

Of the songs in the study, 36 had ties to a group of four churches: Bethel; Hillsong, a megachurch headquartered in Australia; Passion City Church in Atlanta, which runs a popular youth conference that fills stadiums; and Elevation, a North Carolina congregation with ties to the Southern Baptist Convention.

“If you have ever felt like most worship music sounds the same,” the study’s authors wrote, “it may be because the worship music you are most likely to hear in many churches is written by just a handful of songwriters from a handful of churches.”

The research team, made up of two worship leaders and three academics who study worship music, made some initial findings public Tuesday (April 11). More details from the study will likely be released in the coming weeks.

Elias Dummer, a worship leader and recording artist, said he and his colleagues have been watching changes in worship music over the past decade. They wanted to know how worship songs become popular among churches, he said. They also wanted to know how the business of producing and marketing songs is shaping the worship life of local churches.
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“They can go toe-to-toe with some of the biggest acts in music,” she said.

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This content is written and produced by Religion News Service and distributed by The Associated Press. RNS and AP partner on some religion news content. RNS is solely responsible for this story.

[Thanks to Alex Teitz for contributing this article!]

From the Collide Kids Podcast: I had the privilege of meeting and speaking with Elias Dummer! He is a singer songwriter who used to be a part of Canada‘s acclaimed worship group, The City Harmonic. Elias has a fantastic new Christmas song called “1914 (Christmas Truce)” that shares the incredible story from the battlefield of World War I.

Photo: Elias Dummer (

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