To build this list of the most influential worship leaders, I have narrowed it to the variety of worship music known as modern praise and worship, with all due respect to traditional hymnody. Another factor that distinguishes this list of influential worship leaders of all time is that I have only included individuals, not groups; otherwise I would have certainly mentioned influential worship groups like Bellarive, Hillsong, The City Harmonic, Hosanna-Integrity, and Maranatha. Without further ado here is the Top 20 Most Influential Worship Leaders of All Time.
1. Michael W. Smith
He has had hit after hit in Christian pop since the 1980s, crossover music success, No. 1 adult contemporary hits, over 40 Dove Awards, three Grammys, and is the first Christian artist to receive the Golden Note award for lifetime achievement. However, Michael W. Smith’s first real worship album release wasn’t until 2001, entitled “Worship”. Since then has enjoyed “taking worship past the sanctuary” and is one of the most beloved worship leaders today.
2. Chris Tomlin
He has sold millions of records, produced nine number one songs, and is considered by many to be one of the best Christian song writers and worship leaders today. Just a few of Chris Tomlin’s most popular worship songs include “Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone)” “Forever”, and “How Great is Our God”.
3. Kari Jobe
This Dove award winning artist with the passion for leading others into the presence of God is a worship pastor at her church. The song Revelation (by Jenny Lee Riddle) sets the theme for Kari’s life and ministry because it emphasizes the glory of God shown in the rest of her repertoire of worship songs.
4. Matt Maher
The hymn inspired song “Lord I Need You” has become a favorite worldwide. In one interview Matt Maher talks about the love CS Lewis referred to as “need love” for God; He adds, “it’s a love we will never grow out of”.
5. Bob Kauflin
As the director of music and worship for Sovereign Grace Ministries, Bob Kauflin is not only an accomplished pianist, singer, song writer and recording contributor, he also teaches the theology of worship to pastors and worship leaders at conferences all over the world. Bob’s blog at worshipmatters.com is a go-to resource for worship leaders throughout Christendom.
6. Matt Redman
Here is a man who truly sings scripture and has powerfully influenced modern Christian worship. A short list of his incredibly successful tunes includes A Heart of Worship, We Shall Not be Broken and Better is One Day.
7. Phil Wickham
Phil Wickham’s energy and enthusiasm for God is heard in his smooth and sincere voice of worship, and in the words of his songs. Some of his most popular tunes are: This is Amazing Grace, True Love, and Glory.
8. Meredith Andrews
The angelic voice of two-time Dove Award winner, Meredith Andrews has been heard in Christian worship since she was 6 years old. Andrews currently leads worship with the Vertical Church Band at her home congregation in Chicago. Her standout songs include familiar titles such as Not for a Moment, You’re Not Alone, and In Your Arms.
9. David Crowder
David Crowder is a unique voice and personality in Christian rock and modern worship. His style is a distinct blend of bluegrass, alternative, and worship choruses. Responding to the needs of the un-churched Christians at the Baylor University, a church was started with David Crowder as the Worship Leader. As the church grew, the band’s lineup grew. While the David Crowder Band dismantled in 2012, David Crowder himself is still busy producing his own one of a kind brand of Christian music.
10. Lincoln Brewster
This worship leader and contemporary Christian artist started at an early age and developed expertise in playing mandolin, bass, and drums, in addition to singing. Since dedicating his life to God as a young adult he has contributed significantly to Christian worship.
11. Brenton Brown
Most Christians are probably familiar with “God is My Rock” and “Everlasting God”. This well-known Christian music writer and worship leader’s recent tweets show him contributing to worship conferences, working with Third Day’s Soul on Fire, and promoting new music by good friends.
12/13. Keith Getty and Stuart Townend
The writing cooperative effort between Keith Getty and Stuart Townend is the closest to a group I will include on this top 20 list. The last five years these two have been extremely busy converting liturgical traditions to modern hymns.
14. Keith Green
“I repent of ever having recorded one single song and ever having performed one concert if my music, and more importantly—my life—has not provoked you into Godly jealousy, or to sell out more completely to Jesus!” Keith’s lyrics of repentance and joy in serving Christ and his powerful prophetic call to awaken the church are as relevant today as they were in the 1980s.
15. Donnie McClurkin 1996
Enthusiastic and soulful songs of Donnie McCLurkin include We are Victorious, Speak to My Heart, and Great is Your Mercy. He has won three Grammy awards, ten Stellar awards, two BET awards, two Soul Train awards, one Dove Award and one NAACP Image award.
16. Tommy Walker
Tommy Walker speaks about his song Lord I Run to You: “Strong Christians are not strong people; they just know where to run.” His own written works and music choices point to the Creator in praise and adoration.
17. Brandon Heath Knell
Better known as Brandon Heath, his most-loved songs include I Am Not Who I Was, Give Me Your Eyes, and Love Never Fails, and inspire and challenge their hearers to sacrifice all for the sake for Christ.
18. Aaron Shust
The Gospel as presented in My Savior and My God sets the precedence for all of his music. His songs inspire hope, worship, courage, faith, and speak of God’s attributes and glory.
19. Paul Baloche
This Christian music artist, writer, worship leader, and song writer is currently the worship pastor at Community Christian Fellowship in Lindale, Texas. His songs have been performed by popular artist including Michael W. Smith, Casting Crowns, Rebecca St James, ‘Phillips, Craig and Dean’, and Sonic Flood.
20. Fernando Ortega
The classical training and personal experiences of Fernando Ortega help to create his unique style. He urges that worship should be about complete adoration of God, not whether the person sitting in the pew is “getting it” or not. In addition to serving as Director of Music for Hope Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico, his schedule is filled with tours across the country.
The influential worship leaders who made the list are among the true leaders of worship because they own the unique gift to interpret relationship with God in voice, instrument and leadership. These are the Top Most Influential Worship Leaders of All Time.