If you Google the term “top CCLI” you’ll find hundreds of links to different organizations who provide “Top 20 lists” or rankings of “Top 100 worship songs” based on CCLI song data. This stands to reason, because no one is as closely tied to the songs sung in our churches week after week as CCLI.
But to be clear, we don’t see ourselves as the “Billboard” of Christian worship. That’s not our job. We track this data not for syndication, but because it can be useful to songwriters and worship leaders and publishers.
This info is fun to play with at times, though, like we did in this Worshipfuel post from earlier in the year that looked at worship songs by their birth year. It’s fun to wonder. CCLI has been looking at worship songs for 26 years… what will worship songs look like in another five years?
We’ll be singing lots of songs from familiar names—Chris and Matt and Jennie and Crowder will all be there. But will churches find new voices that speak to them? Or ask new questions that have familiar, but differently-accented answers?
So here it is:
A completely unscientific, opinion-based, one-person-only, lop-sided view of some names that might be on that mythical 2020 list, and samples of why we think so.
PJ Anderson, “Lead Me To You.”
This young artist found a message in “Lead Me To You” that speaks to Everyman, and our constant need to bring God back to his rightful and central place in our lives. I think his lyrical songs and innovative self-funding campaigns will introduce his music to many more churches in the years to come.
Unspoken, “In Your Hands.”
You may have heard this group’s rousing “Start A Fire” on your favorite radio station, but there’s more to come. This song, in particular, has a very harmony-friendly chorus that still sounds fresh and unexpected enough for young congregations.
Lauren Daigle (singing any darn thing she wants to sing)
Her voice is just that good. Heart-stopping good, jaw-dropping good. Look for her rich, edgy alto to carry dozens of songs into our churches in the near future, songs that are as soulfully beautiful as they are theologically real. For this example, let’s use one with over 3 million views already: “How Can It Be.”
Carrollton, “You Are Faithful.”
Different songs reach different people at different times. Some stick and some don’t. I’m not sure what was happening in my life the day I first heard these words—“Even though I cannot see where You’re leading me, I am Yours and You are faithful”—but when I did I felt sure these four gritty-looking guys were on to something amazing. They have all the right pieces, and more importantly they seem to have the right heart.
Jon Guerra, “I Will Follow.”
I’m double-dipping a bit here, because we wrote about Jon in this Worshipfuel post just a few weeks ago. But since then I discovered this video ringing with exuberant voices that reminds me—forcefully—why scores of hungry young churches will love singing this song. It brings to God the most fundamental gift we can offer, maybe the only one He really wants from us: A promise to follow Him, in all seasons.
Once again, there’s no science here. There are no surveys, no research and no algorithms. And I’m pretty fickle, so let’s be honest: if I do this in five months I might have five completely different names. But if you’ve read this far and played all five of these videos, let me know what you think. What new faces would you expect to see in a future, completely imaginary “CCLI Top 20 for 2020”?
For now I’m going to watch these videos again and ponder how God will use the emerging voices that are loudly praising His name.