NASHVILLE – Worship leader Chris Tomlin “is the most prolific songwriter in the United States now, in this past decade,” a Christian music executive said in a CNN feature highlighting the differences between Tomlin and secular stars.
Howard Rachinski, CEO of Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI), the company that tracks what music is used in churches around the world, said last year churches used 128 songs Tomlin wrote or co-wrote.
According to CNN.com March 9, CCLI estimates that every Sunday in the United States, between 60,000 and 120,000 churches are singing Tomlin’s worship songs.
The article identified Tomlin, who leads worship for Passion conferences and helped pack the Georgia Dome in Atlanta with college students in January, as the “undisputed king of worship music.”
But CNN noted the secret to Tomlin’s success: “The stage, the lights, the band aren’t about him. As lively as his shows are, the point is not to get you inside the doors. The point is to get you singing in church.”
Churches across the spectrum – black, white, Asian, large, small – connect with Tomlin’s songs, the article said. His goal, he told CNN, is to write songs that communicate what people would like to say to God.
Tomlin, 40, grew up learning country music in Texas, he said, and he didn’t give any thought to a career writing worship music. But in college, as he starting writing worship songs, he was invited to lead Christian conferences with 10,000 students, CNN reported.
“I was just writing songs for the church and from there they just started taking off,” Tomlin, now the worship pastor at Passion City Church in Atlanta, said.
Unlike mainstream musical celebrities, Tomlin isn’t driven by money or his own fame, the article said.
“I feel like I have a responsibility, that God has given me a gift to write songs for His church that people listen to and that people are coming to expect now,” he said. “… The difference to me in the music is that I ask that God’s presence be on it and that people, when they sing these songs, sense that God does something.”
Tomlin added that when he’s on stage, it’s not about him. In fact, he prefers to step back from the microphone and listen to God’s people praising Him in unison.
“It’s about a greater name than my name,” Tomlin told CNN. “My name is on the ticket, but this is about a greater name.