Many Christian congregations gather on Sundays to sing hymns or worship songs by popular solo artists such as Michael W. Smith, Kari Jobe and Chris Tomlin. But in some churches, contemporary bands are now dominating the worship experience.
Worship music has changed over time from powerful hymns with simple melodies to modern, repetitive choruses accompanied by full band arrangements. Below is a list of six church worship teams that are reinventing worship music worldwide.
Leading the charge of church bands that are molding the culture of worship music are three bands that all hail from the popular Australian-based ministry Hillsong Church.
"In the early 1980s, my wife and I planted Hillsong Church with a vision to build a church that would write worship songs to be sung by our own worshiping congregation, and with the hope that maybe they might also be sung beyond Hillsong Church as well," Hillsong Church Senior Pastor Brian Houston told The Christian Post on Wednesday.
"I had no idea though that our songs would today be sung by (reportedly) over 50 million believers each week across every continent of the world. Undoubtedly our journey is a miracle story, and a testimony to God's amazing grace, for which there is no natural explanation," he added.
Hillsong has three popular bands that consist of Hillsong Worship, Hillsong United, and Hillsong Young and Free. All three of those Billboard-charting ensembles have a specific goal with their music.
"Our growth into three distinct worship expressions has been intentional, with a commitment to reach and minister to people from all generations," Houston explained.
"I believe Hillsong Worship carries the sound of a healthy local church, and that as long as our church continues to be Christ-centered, dynamic and relevant, our songs will continue to minister to people around the world. I love the personal testimonies and stories we receive about the impact of our songs from small villages to huge cities, and from almost every people-group, tongue, and tribe. What an honor."
The music of Grammy-nominated Hillsong Young & Free has been popular among mainstream artists such as Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez. Their new album, III, is now available.
Hillsong Worship's latest album release, There Is More, broke the street-week record for audio/video streams in the Christian genre in April.
Hillsong UNITED is the leading contemporary Christian act in its genre with over 2 million albums sold. They remain the No. 1 Christian group on all social media platforms, reaching over 9.7 million fans combined. Their sixth full-length studio album, Wonder, is now available everywhere music is sold.
For more information on Hillsong and any of their worship teams, click here.
Bethel Music is another worship ministry that formed from a group of believers out of the congregation at Bethel Church in Redding, California. Since they first began seven years ago, Bethel Music has grown from being a local church worship band to becoming a global outreach.
"We are deeply grateful for the opportunity to create worship songs and music that both glorify God and equip the global church community. We're encouraged by all of the other amazing Christian musicians who bring hope through their God-given talents and hearts to worship the Lord," Bethel told The Christian Post in a statement.
"Our desire is to pursue God's presence and to minister to Him above all else, and it has been a joy to see the worldwide church extravagantly respond to a good God."
The Bethel Music artist roster includes: Brian and Jenn Johnson, Jeremy Riddle, Steffany Gretzinger, Amanda Cook, Jonathan David and Melissa Helser, Leeland, Hunter Thompson, Paul and Hannah McClure, Kalley Heiligenthal, Josh Baldwin, Cory Asbury and Kristene DiMarco.
The award-winning music collective have six Top Billboard Christian Albums. Their latest live record, Moments: Mighty Sound, was released in May 2018.
"In our history at Bethel, there was a line drawn in the sand where we said, 'This is why we're alive, this is our supreme responsibility, our great God-given opportunity to be those who minister to the Lord.' As a church, our entire ministry grew out of that priority. Most everything we've ever learned, we've learned as worshippers," Pastor Bill Johnson said on the church's website.
Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, has been among the fastest-growing churches in the United States since its inception in 2006. Now, with a multisite church led by Pastor Steven Furtick, Elevation Worship has also become a household name among believers across the country.
Elevation Worship's album, Here as in Heaven featuring the hit song "O Come to the Altar," was named one of the top Christian albums in 2017 by iTunes. Their most recent album, Hallelujah Here Below, reached No. 2 on Billboard's Top Christian Albums chart and is now available. The album features their hit song "Echo" featuring popular artist Tauren Wells.
For more information on Elevation Worship, click here.
The Vertical Worship band kicked off at their home church, Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago, Illinois. Led by Andi Rozier, Lauren Smith, Tara Cruz, Jake France, Judd Harris and Jon Guerram, the group direct worship every week in one of the seven Harvest campuses across Chicagoland.
The worship group released its newest album, Bright Faith Bold Future, in April and reached over 10 million streams on Spotify. Their hit single "Yes I Will" also had 5 million downloads.
"Every band on the planet hopes that the new songs they release will be well received, and trusting in the audience who receives it to connect with the message of the song itself. For Bright Faith Bold Future, the band has been overwhelmed with the reception of these honest songs and their hopeful message," Andy Rozier, worship pastor at the Elgin Campus of Harvest Bible Chapel, told CP.
"People from across the world are responding to us about songs like 'Yes I Will,' as the message gives them the language in choosing to look above the circumstances of 'the day,' not just in their church, but in their workplace, cars, kitchens and beyond; joining us in honoring the One we're writing these songs for in the first place," he added.
For more information about Vertical Worship, click here.