I’m going to be a bit arbitrary here: “contemporary Christian” music really started in the 1970s. That’s when churches and their leaders first discovered that if they could communicate gospel truths in the (relatively) new medium of pop/rock music, they could reach new generations.
What follows are the songs that in my view best represent the decade in which they emerged. I am including only those songs which congregations (or youth groups, or retreats) could sing collectively . . . that’s why there are no DC Talk or Jars Of Clay songs here.
So with those ground rules, here goes:
5. The 70s — “It Only Takes A Spark” Oh, how do I remember singing this with the youth group of Princeton United Methodist Church and how daring (and even non-Methodist!) we felt when we shouted “Praise God!” in the last verse!
4. The 80s — “How Majestic Is Your Name In All The Earth.” I confess: this is still a great song. Double confession: it’s on my mind because the series after the next series is based on Psalm 8.
3. The 90s — “Lord I Life Your Name On High” (first half) and “Shout To The Lord” (second half). Why should one decade get two songs? Because it’s my blog and these are my rules. Also because the 90s were the decade when contemporary Christian music really came of age.
2. The 00s — “Blessed Be Your Name” One of the first times the genre could be honest about pain and doubt and the results were simply mesmerizing.
1. The 10s — “The Great I Am.” Made that much better when we sing it in Spanish as well: “El Gran Yo Soy.”