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Reporting the Truth.
Restoring the Church.

The Megachurch Worship Monopoly

The Roys Report
The Roys Report
The Megachurch Worship Monopoly

What comes to mind when you hear Hillsong? Elevation? Passion? Bethel? You may think megachurch. You may think controversy or scandal. But you also may think of music. And chances are, if you were in church last Sunday, you sang a song produced by, or associated in some way with, one of these four worship powerhouses.

In this edition of The Roys Report, two collaborators of a new study on worship join me to discuss their stunning findings. Perhaps the biggest jaw-dropper is that almost all the top songs sung in churches across America over the past decade have been produced by just four megachurches — Hillsong, Elevation, Bethel, and Passion City Church. And what’s especially concerning is that some of these megachurches have been embroiled in scandal and have ties to questionable theology.

Hillsong, for example, has been embroiled in one scandal after another for the past two years, involving alleged sexual misconduct, fraud, spiritual abuse, and toxic leadership.  

Bethel has attracted controversy for promoting bizarre practices like “grave soaking.” Elevation, Bethel, and Hillsong have been accused of promoting the prosperity gospel. And Passion Lead Pastor Louie Giglio was a frequent speaker at Hillsong and participated in what some have dubbed Hillsong’s “celebrity preacher’s scam.”

So, what does it mean that these churches have essentially had a monopoly on worship in American churches? Historically, how did we get here? And how should churches and worship leaders navigate this current music landscape? 

These two guests bring much wisdom and experience to the discussion. Dr. Shannan Baker earned her Ph.D. in Church Music and is affiliated with Baylor’s Christian Music Studies program. And Elias Dummer is a veteran worship leader and singer-songwriter with decades of experience on the inside of the Christian music industry.


Dr. Shannan Baker

Dr. Shannan Baker is a postdoctoral research fellow at Baylor University, where she recently received the Outstanding Dissertation Award for the Humanities. Her research focuses on contemporary worship. She explores the theology of the text, the music and industry of the songs, and its practice in the church. Her hope is that her research will edify the body of Christ by finding practical applications for the worship life of the church.

Elias Dummer

Elias Dummer, a native of Ontario, Canada, and current resident of Nashville, Tenn., is passionate about the local church. A founding member of The City Harmonic, he was lead singer and songwriter for the contemporary Christian band which disbanded in 2017 after eight years together. Recently, he helped plant a church near Nashville and has released a two-part solo album entitled The Work.
Show Transcript


What comes to mind when you hear Hillsong, Elevation, Passion, Bethel? You may think megachurch, you may think controversy or scandal. But you also may think of music. And chances are if you were in church last Sunday, you sang a song produced or associated in some way with one of these four worship powerhouses. Welcome to The Roys Report, a podcast dedicated to reporting the truth and restoring the church. I’m Julie Roys and joining me today are two collaborators on a new study exploring the songs we sing in church and the affiliations that produce them. Stunningly, almost 100% of the top 25 worship songs of the past decade were written or in some way connected to just four mega churches. And those mega churches don’t necessarily have the best reputations. Hillsong, for example, has been embroiled in one scandal after another for the past two years. These involve allegations of sexual misconduct, fraud, spiritual abuse, and toxic leadership. Bethel has attracted controversy for promoting bizarre practices like grave soaking. Elevation, Bethel and Hillsong had been accused of promoting the prosperity gospel, Passion is perhaps the least controversial among the four though Hillsong whistleblower documents show that Passion pastor Louie Giglio was a frequent speaker at Hillsong. And he participated in what some have dubbed Hillsong celebrity preachers scam.

So what does it mean that these organizations have essentially had a monopoly on worship in American churches? Historically, how did we get here and what’s the takeaway for worship pastors and congregants? I’m super excited to explore these important questions with my guest today. But first, I’d like to thank our sponsors, Judson University and Marquardt of Barrington. Judson University is a top ranked Christian University providing a caring community and an excellent college experience. Plus the school offers more than 60 majors great leadership opportunities and strong financial aid. Judson University is shaping lives that shaped the world. For more information, just go to JUDSONU.EDU. Also, if you’re looking for a quality new or used car, I highly recommend my friends at Marquardt of Barrington. Marquardt is a Buick GMC dealership where you can expect honesty, integrity, and transparency. That’s because the owners there Dan and Curt Marquardt, are men of integrity. To check them out, just go toBUYACAR123.COM.

Well, joining me now is Elias Dummer, a Canadian born singer songwriter from Hamilton, Ontario. He was the lead singer of a contemporary Christian band called The City Harmonic which disbanded in 2017. After eight years together, Drummer also helped plant a church near Nashville. And in 2019, he released his first solo album called The W, Volume I. So, Elias, welcome, and thanks so much for joining me.

Thanks for having me, Julie.

And before I introduce Shannon, can you just tell me how you got involved in this worship leader research project and what your role in it was?

The worship leader research is a follow up to some research that was done by two of the partners in our team, Mike Tapper and Mark Jolicoeur, which looked at the shelf life of worship songs and how that’s changing, and maybe has come to reflect, say, a big pop single more than it used to. And so, I knew Mike and Mark, both being Canadian, and all Canadians know each other. No, I played a show at a church where Mike used to pastor and it was quite a memorable event where the fire alarm went off, and we. And it’s the concert in the parking lot, and all kinds of stuff like that.

So Mike, and I’ve kept in touch quite well over the years. And he knew that I had been involved in other domains as well. In addition to music, I’ve run a strategic marketing consulting firm for 16 years. The idea of interacting with the kind of follow up project and looking at what some of the implications of the data we happen to have. And not only what has been going on in popular worship for the last 30 years or so; we’re one of a handful of people who have that data, but also building out sort of project which looks at the ways that worship leaders themselves view the major producers of worship and kind of understand their own role and what they think they do versus what they actually do and that sort of thing. That’s really where I came in my history in marketing was bridging the industry, the music industry, of course, and the sort of attitudinal market research component, which has been really fun.

Yeah, and fascinating that you wore so many hats that really dovetail together in this entire project. Also joining us is Dr. Shannon Baker, a postdoctoral research fellow at Baylor University. Shannon’s work focuses on contemporary worship, the theology of the lyrics, the music and the industry of the songs and their practice in the church. Sounds like some fascinating work, Shannon. So glad that you could join us.

Happy to be here.

And you bring in, as I understand, the know-how on the methodology and how to go about the study. Is that correct?

Yeah, so I’m operating as our academic data specialist. So, my role was to really crunch the numbers, get findings that our group could talk about and discuss since it is a collaborative project. So, our methodology for this project was very similar to some other research that I’ve done.

There are so many different ways to approach studying worship music. So, in order to find popular songs, there’s a couple key places that researchers will typically go to examine contemporary worship songs. And one of the top ones is the CCLI, Christian Copyright Licensing International outputs top 100 lists based on church reporting. So obviously, at least on the academic side, that’s the go-to place to find out what the popular songs are. But there’s also some criticism about who is represented by that top 100, which churches report to CCLI. So, to try and mitigate some of the criticism we might receive from focusing on just one list, we did cross reference with another list or multiple lists that you can find publicly from praise charts. So, looking to cross reference to figure out what those top songs are. And yeah, that’s how we eventually got down to the collection that we studied.

And CCLI is something that you’ll often see projected on a screen if you look really carefully. And I don’t think a lot of people understand how that works. But when you project a song, and there’s a CCLI license, somebody’s getting a royalty on that song, is that right?

Yes. So CCLI’s role is to consolidate the process for churches to use copyrighted songs. So, a part of that process is they provide churches the ability to legally use copyrighted music, in exchange for the church’s having to report back to CCLI, the songs that they use, and then CCLI takes care of paying out the royalties to the appropriate people.

And a lot of that is good in the sense that, you know, Elisa, you’re a singer songwriter. You want to get paid, and you need to get paid, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Yet, at the same time, I think there’s a growing discomfort in what has been recognized as an industry and evangelicalism in a way is an industry. And we talk a lot on this podcast, even about the Evangelical Industrial Complex, and all of these are interconnected, and synergistic, and sometimes ungodly in the way that they cover for each other with certain things. So, there is I would say on this podcast, probably a following of people that become increasingly concerned about how that all works together. And can we have something where money is involved, and money exchanged, and have it be holy? And when we’re talking about worship music, one of the most personal, one of the most intimate parts of our relationship with God is worship. It’s the one thing that we give back to God, right?, is worship. Everything else he gives to us. And so, this is just a fascinating topic. But also, it’s something personal, probably to everybody listening, if you have a relationship with the Lord.

Sure. Yeah, it’s probably worth adding that it’s almost 100% because there are two notable exceptions. But basically, as Shannon said, we cross referenced these mega lists. And naturally, we ended up with a bunch of titles and filtered out songs which were written or produced prior to 2010. Because we were mostly interested in where new songs are coming from and what are the attitudes towards the people who make them and that sort of thing. And so, after doing that, we ended up with a scant 38 titles. So, in 10 years, a total of 38 titles reached the top 25 of those two lists, is what it comes down to.

So let me just dive in to probably what is maybe surprising, maybe not surprising, because I think there’s this understanding that, wow, a lot of these songs sound alike these days that we’re singing. I’m not sure that a lot of people mind that because they become so popular. But you found that 100% of the top 25 worship songs from 2010 to 2020, because that’s where your study was, came from just four mega churches: Bethel Church, based in Redding, California, Hillsong Church based in Sydney, Australia, Elevation Church, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Passion City Church, based in Atlanta, Georgia. Elias, let me throw this to you. Walk us through how your team made that discovery.

So, of those 38, a majority, I think it’s in the mid 60% range were directly attributable to those four churches. So, by that, I mean, they either released them themselves, or they had a co-writer on the song, regardless of who the artist was. So that is a direct tie. Then you have a second group, which is not quite as large of songs which might be, let’s say, affiliated with that movement. And so that would include an example like, say, Great Are You Lord, by All Sons and Daughters, is a song that at first glance doesn’t appear to have anything to do with any of these churches. And so, you start to notice when we did this by tracking published dates on YouTube, of covers at churches, and so on, that the song was covered meaningfully and repeatedly, prior to appearing on the top 25 of the two charts. So, once you start counting, for those, only two out of the 38 songs don’t fit that pattern. So they are either all directly attributable to these four churches, or attributable by affiliation.

Now, I’m friends with a lot of these people. So, I need to be intentional in saying, Hey, this is not taking anything away from those artists. In fact, my own song, Manifesto, which came out in this window and was in the CCLI charts, would have fallen into the Passion category. Charlie Hall covered it and so on. So, and I’ve was never signed to Passion, they didn’t write the song, it’s just different. What we were interested in partly was how do worship leaders view these things. And I think sometimes it says though, there’s, I want to say, as though there’s this worship leader cabal of this church guys, which in some cases, there’s other important conversations to be had. I think this probably says more about guys like me planning worship at the local level, even than it does about the institutions themselves.

So in any case, by affiliation, or direct association, all but two songs were tied to those churches. And those two songs, one is from North Point, so itself, a mega church. And the other was a Phil Wickham song called Great Things, which is sandwiched between two big songs he wrote alongside Bethel. So, it’s hard to say that it played no role at all. But for the purposes of our study, we certainly couldn’t attribute it that way.

But Northpointe big mega church right there in Atlanta right next to Passion, and this is something I found when I was at Moody Radio for 10 years, is that at the top, it’s a really actually a very small group. And a lot of people know each other. And so, there is, and can be beautiful collaboration. For example, one of the songs Phil Wickham, he describes how Bethel Church really was instrumental in his song, This Is Amazing Grace, becoming popular, and talks about how it was picked up by somebody at Bethel. I think it was Jeremy Riddle, who was at Bethel at the time, now he’s at Dwelling Place, which used to be Vineyard. Whole entire, we actually just published a piece on that, and then a lot of scandal going on there allegations of abuse. But anyway, I digress. But he rewrote some of it for Bethel, then Bethel released it, and then Phil Wickham’s song got out there. It kind of seems like I remember in the days when I was growing up, and this dates me, but for a comedian, the goal was to get on the Johnny Carson Show. And if you got on Johnny Carson, that was sort of launch your career. With music, country music, especially, you got to play the Grand Ole Opry, right? Has it become like that, in that if you’re a musician, if you’re a worship leader, if you want your song to get out there, these are the gatekeepers.

Yeah, I think there’s something to that. I don’t know if it’s quite that simple. But part of it is there has been a lot of research done on how listeners in general approach new music. And so, it can be tempting to say, Oh, this is a gatekeeper in the sense that they are controlling the industry. And I think it’s more complex than that. I think we tend to look at all music through kind of a social lens, before we decide to even check it out. And if you think worship pastors are notoriously overworked for their, in terms of the deliverables they have to have versus the time they have in a week, and it’s just at some point, there’s going to be some natural bottlenecks. And so, it makes sense, as disappointing as it can be as a songwriter myself, that is true for all intents and purposes. Without a rubber stamp of approval, it can be difficult for a song to sort of pop through that wall. But some of it is created by circumstance and the environment that we’re in and how we listen to all music as well. So, it’s just a complicated problem. So, it’s interesting that you use the term gatekeeper because in my research recently, I used that term for a different set of people, the worship pastors, and the worship leaders at the church.

Oh, interesting.

Right? Because just because a song is written or released by these major contributors doesn’t mean it’s getting sung in the church. Someone has to select that song to use in the church. And that was the second part of our study that we looked at and should be released hopefully soon. But we looked at quantity of how many songs are being released by these primary contributors, versus how many songs actually appear on our list. And the percentage is very small, from the 10 to 12 songs that are released on an album, only two or three actually get major use in the church. So, while you could view these major contributors as the gatekeepers of the industry, keeping other people out, really, if their songs aren’t getting sung, they aren’t becoming those primary contributors. So, the real gatekeepers are the worship pastors who are choosing to continue to select and use regularly these major contributor songs.

Okay, that is a really interesting point. And I’m curious, Elias, you’ve been a worship pastor at a church, right? So how would you determine what songs to play?

I mean, it is hard when you in my case, I’ve run several companies alongside working at the church. So, it’s been years, it’s been years since I was full time at a church. So, I was part time. And in part time capacity, there’s a limit to how much time I can spend listening to music and still do the rest of my job. And so, at some point, you are looking at the charts to see what’s working, and how do I shortcut what to check out what to discover and that sort of thing. And so that absolutely plays into it. You hear through, say, Facebook groups and different things like that, stories of a great song that’s really hitting and maybe you check it out, maybe it’s a fit for your church, maybe it isn’t. But it is, I think, absolutely fair to say that the gatekeeper for as far as the writer, songwriter, recording artists record label is concerned, the real gatekeeper of worship music is the worship director. It’s an interesting thing about CCLI, for example. It’s not like when your church happens to play that song, you’re cutting a check to a church, it doesn’t work that way. It is more like a pie system, where a CCLI takes in all of the reporting for that period, and then divvies up all of the royalties received based on a percentage share of the plays in that period. And so, it’s not a per play payment, which really skews the way that the data works a little bit, and explains exactly why during your reporting period, the person dictating exactly how rich Chris Tomlin is, is the worship pastor.

Okay, that’s an interesting perspective. And I do want to dive into looking at some of these mega churches where this music’s coming from. But I think you make a really good point. And I’ve said this before, too, with so many of the scandals even that I cover or the accountability.

It really depends on the consumer to a certain degree. And we look so much at what’s happening at the top. But we have to realize at some point, we’re driving this as a consumer, we’re in the church, we’re the ones that keep going to these churches, we’re the ones that allow it to happen. And so, I think sometimes there’s a lack of knowledge. And so that’s one of the things we try to do is bring information, bring knowledge so that you can be an informed, and I hate to say consumer, I can’t stand that our churches have become so consumeristic. But it just, in some ways, is the way that it is.

But before we talk about that, I just want to table that for a second and back up and talk about how this developed, because I was in the Vineyard movement for about 10 years, many years ago, but I actually had it, I loved it. This was back when John Wimber was a part of it. And it was a very different philosophy of why we did worship and why Vineyard music was there. It was my understanding that John Wimber he was trying to document what God was doing in the churches. And honestly, I’ve never seen such nurture of worship leaders as I did in the Vineyard. And I played guitar, not really well. Took a few classes in junior high. But it was in the Vineyard. There’ll be classes, oh, you play guitar? Come, we’ll train you to be a worship leader. And so everybody was getting trained on how to be worship leaders. And then you were deployed into your small groups to lead worship. And then you just started doing it more and more, and we had so many worship leaders. And as a result, there was so much songwriting happening. And it was grassroots. It was from the worship leaders up and then really what Vineyard my understanding Vineyard music, was trying to capture what God was doing in the church through the songs. So instead of it being like it is now where you have these big names producing all this stuff, and then the worship leader going to this big, centralized location, it seemed like it was very much grassroots from the bottom up, and then trying to record it

So give us the history of kind of how it started. Initially a lot of this contemporary Christian music getting played in the churches started with Calvary Church and the whole Jesus People movement, which was very much driven by bringing the songs that were popular to people, hymns were getting sidelined, and putting things in the vernacular, musically speaking of the people. So, whoever wants to take that one, I’ll throw it out. And would love to hear you describe how it began there.

Sure, I’m pretty familiar with this. I will say I’m not are resident historian. Adam Perez, in our group, is our historian. So, he definitely has more details than I do. But I would be remiss to not mention that the whole movement actually started in the 1940s when a man 1940s and in Canada, no doubt. So, in the 1940s.

Okay, let me just stop you there. I would say some people would say it goes all the way back to Martin Luther. He used to take bar songs, right? And bring him into the church, the tune just changed the words. But anyway, go ahead.

I would just say there’s a theory out right now that there’s two different streams that eventually culminate into the way that we understand contemporary worship music today. One of them does start in Canada in the 1940s with a man named Raj Loiselle, who started in his church, what came to be known as the Praise and Worship movement. Where you would start with the praise song and then move into a slower time of worship. So that was back in the 1940s. So, it has existed since then. But yes, the Jesus People movement, Calvary Chapel in the 1960s is the other stream, the contemporary worship stream, where a lot of I think more of the industry side a little bit starts a little bit more with creating music that’s getting recorded and distributed. So, you have, as you already mentioned, Vineyard, Calvary Chapel, and Integrity Music were the three big contributors and creators of this music in the 1960s, 70s and into the 80s.

And I think the main thing that we see as the movement continues to develop is each of these individual churches, as you even kind of mentioned, were writing songs for their church networks,. Vineyard was writing songs and singing them and sharing them with Vineyard churches. Same with Integrity music was sharing it within its networks, Maranatha within the Calvary Chapel Network. So, most of these churches songs were staying within their church networks.

As it continues, and we start to see more and more of the individual church solo artists, you’re Michael W. Smith, and a few others in the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, you get Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin. The one thing that we start to see in the 2000s, pushing into the 2010s, is this desire for that solo worship artist to be housed within a church, because it lends them this extra measure of authenticity. So that’s when we really start to see worship music come back into being housed within the church is because the solo artists are finding homes and leading regularly at their home churches. Which then leads to all of these home churches creating their own worship bands, which is what we see now is the major development in the 2010s is the development of the church worship band.

So that’s when you have Passion becoming a little bit bigger. They existed because of their conference in the 2000s. But really, as an established band led by Chris Tomlin in the 2010s. You have Elevation emerging right at the beginning of the 2010s decade. Bethel comes on the scene 2010. Hillsong has been around for a while, but you have these two new major players emerging that are these church worship bands onto the scene in the 2010s decades. So that’s how we got there a little bit. But the main difference now, and Hillsong recognized this, after a while because they’ve existed for a couple of decades. Is they realize their global reach. And so started to acknowledge that and write with that in mind. These other churches, depending on who you talk to, Elevation worship still describes their process as writing songs that they’ll use in their church. Bethel, in a similar way, you know, leads their songs at their churches, and Passion in the same way. So, all four of these major contributors do lead their songs at their church and in some cases, exclusively, as far as we know, at least as far as they’ll produce on YouTube. Hillsong primarily does Hillsong songs and Elevation primarily does Elevation songs, but for the most part sharing with the rest of the church.

One group we haven’t mentioned yet and I don’t see it in your study, and it might be because they become much bigger in the past, probably five years ,is Maverick City Music, which is this collective as I understand it, bringing more persons of color into the scene which had been really white dominated. And of course, they’ve been connecting a lot with Elevation. Do you see any difference with what Maverick City Music did? Or do you see it just following the pattern that we’re seeing?

There are a couple of factors there. Like you said, they do a lot of collaborations, Elevation, that sort of thing. It’s not known necessarily by all but Maverick City’s first writing camps were funded by Bethel, at least in part.

Oh, interesting. I didn’t know that.

And that’s what I mean by this sort of, it’s tempting to look at this and see this evil cabal of people. It’s like, well, they’re also trying to solve the problem that we all see at the same time. I think the question even and Maverick City is actually a very good example of this, Elevation is a good example of this, is the degree to which the movements we look at the artists we look at, the labels and churches we look at are interfacing with the music industry as we know it. And how we understand that is I really think the question that screams from it all, Maverick City pivoted to these kinds of pay to attend writing camps eventually. They started charging serious ticket money and filling arenas very, very quickly. That’s not as necessarily as a critique. I’m a recording artist myself. I just think the way that we talk about all of it, and I think you’re doing a good job of this, but the way that we talk about all of it needs to be earnest and transparent. Because there’s always been money in Christian music. Every part of what we do, somebody somewhere is making it, distributing it, and sharing it. And there’s $a dollar involved along the line. And I think the advent and proliferation of streaming can’t be overstated, as just dramatically changing the way this whole thing works. If you think about it, based on the radio numbers, my estimates are somewhere between 70 and 80% of church going Americans don’t listen to Christian music outside of church. The only place that they’re hearing most of these songs until they’ve heard them and come to like them, and then go listen to them is at church on a Sunday. And in many cases, one of the dominant ways that new music, like Maverick City, is discovered is through Spotify playlists, and that sort of thing, a lot of which is managed by either algorithm, or literally three people.

But it’s this strange relationship between the local church and the music industry that I think we’re not really talking about. Most of the time, when we talk about this, we’re still operating on the models that Vineyard and similar movements popularized, and taking those for granted when we look at the new way, and they couldn’t be further apart. I mean, The Blessing is a really good example of that, a very popular song. I think we as a worship pastor, I would often take for granted that a worship record heard was an album of songs, which had grown up in a church network or in home group somewhere, and became a song that had been tested, if you will, in the local congregation,. The Blessing was written on a Thursday and played and released to the public on a Sunday. So, this is the song which was ultimately even if it was from that church was ultimately industry first. That’s not to say that’s a bad thing. It’s just, it was a Beyonce style move. Not a Wimber style move.

I know I’m looking at it, and I am uncomfortable, because I loved the songs coming from the people where the Holy Spirit was anointing it, and people were beginning to sing it. And then I’m not saying it can’t happen the other way. Obviously, God can anoint any means of in ways of things happening. But probably my biggest discomfort when I read this study was that the four churches that we’re talking about: Hillsong is embroiled in a major scandal. We’re talking sexual misconduct, financial misconduct, abuse of volunteers and interns. It was a toxic culture. Hillsong College, toxic culture. And yet this was one of the if not the most influential church movements because of not because of the preaching of Brian Houston. I’ve never heard Brian Houston preach before I started researching this. Not because of anything other than the music. In fact, people look at Shout to the Lord by Darling Zscech. Boom! That put Hillsong on the map. I didn’t even know what Hillsong was before Darlene Zscech. That’s what most of us think of at least in the States, when we think of Hillsong. This worship was making Brian and Bobby Houston, the founders of Hillsong, rich. It was enriching their son Joel, who was heading up Hillsong worship. In fact, Joel Houston wrote The Stand. And I watched the video, and it was from 12 years ago. I watched it last night and honestly I am even now thinking about it. It’s hard for me, because that song, I remember singing, right? I remember being moved by that song. And I’m seeing people on this video clearly impacted, singing worship to the Lord. And yet right now it turns my stomach. There’s no way that the people at the top didn’t know what was going on and what they were participating in. How do we process that that so much of this? Let’s just look at Hillsong first and let me just ask you Elias, today, would you play a Hillsong song at your church? This concludes part one of my podcast with Elias Dummer, and Shannon Baker. In part two, you’ll hear how Elias answers my question. You’ll also hear some difference of opinion and a lively exchange as we hash out respectfully those differences.

We also forget that David repented, and I haven’t seen repentance from the Houston’s.

But we don’t strike the pre repentance Psalms from the Bible.

No, but I’m saying what we see in David is someone that the Lord called the man after his own heart, and part of being a man after his own heart, was how he responded to sin.

Well, I especially enjoyed the second part of my interview with Elias and Shannon, and I think you will, too. These are difficult issues, complex issues. And as Elias explains, they’re ones that he encountered personally, as several of the pastors he served under left their positions because of personal sin. So be watching for part two of this discussion, which we’ll be releasing soon.

Also, if you’ve enjoyed this podcast and appreciate our investigative work, please consider donating to The Roys Report. As I’ve said before, we don’t rely on big donors or grants or advertising. We rely on you, the people who want the truth and are passionate to explore these issues so the church can be renewed. To support our ongoing work, go to JULIEROYS.COM/DONATE. Also, just a quick reminder to subscribe to The Roys Report on Apple podcast, Google podcasts or Spotify. That way you’ll never miss an episode. And while you’re at it, I’d really appreciate it if you’d help us spread the word about the podcast by leaving a review. And then please share the podcast on social media so more people can hear about this great content. Again, thanks so much for joining me today. Hope you were blessed and encouraged.

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12 thoughts on “The Megachurch Worship Monopoly”

  1. The early church had ” no sermons” , no choir” well that one barely exits anymore. They had no buildings like nowadays, no ushers ,no decon or elder board, there were no singers with musical instruments to ” entertain” . None of the above was a description of the early church.

    1. Louis Zaragoza

      I think you’ll see that the early church had preaching elders as in the letters to Timothy, and business elders as in Acts chapter six. Even the deacons were required to be full of the Holy Spirit. In Ephesians Jesus gave ministry gifts to the church-there are five of them. God provided structure for church services and a model for leadership. He didn’t leave anything to chance ☺️.

    2. corrections: There were deacons and elders in the first century, from very early on.
      The Psalms have plenty of encouragement toward the use of instruments “unto the Lord”.
      The teachings weren’t called “sermons” and the format may not have been typical modern bulletpoint, but they served the same purposes.

  2. Can an imperfect earthly church filled with imperfect human beings still create anointed worship music?

    1. Louis Zaragoza

      Oh, yes, it can! Large groups and small congregations when engulfed in the presence of God can come up with the most anointed lyrics and melodies, to the glory of God. I love it

  3. “can we have something where money is involved, and money exchanged, and have it be holy”

    Philippians 1:15-19 (NIV) 15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.

  4. Re-worded Matthew 23 for today: Woe to you worship leaders, Hypocrites! Your lips are moving, but your hearts are far from me and your hip man-centered songs are meaningless to me. I think it’s creative how you write a worship song to me, that does not even mention me, so two young lovers can claim it as their love song too. Do you think your strobe lights, big screens, and fog machines impress me? Just call it what it is, it’s a freaking concert and the spotlight is on you, not me. You evaluate your success by the number of Twitter followers, likes, and shares. You are more concerned with singing the audience’s favorite song than you are singing mine. I’m not saying the songs you write have to be theological doctrine, but many times your lyrics get me confused with someone else. Your torn skinny jeans, expensive sneakers and backwards ball caps don’t impress me, but I’m assuming you are not wearing them for me. David dancing undignified before me does not give you license to turn the worship of me into a dance party with you are the D.J.. Do you worship me in your office with the same intensity you do on stage, or is all of that just for the audience? Worship music has become a big business, and you are selling my worship for your gain. You confuse emotion with worship, worship with music, and my worship with your worship.

  5. There are so many ordinary Christians writing songs that are mostly heard in their own churches. some of these are just as good as the well-known ones. If the Church at large agreed not to pay royalties (and only use songs not requiring them), even if these big groups stopped producing songs, there would still be plenty of good songs.

    It is a fallacy to say “writers deserve to be paid” when most songwriters out there aren’t paid. The only change would be that songs would rise into common usage more on their merits rather than by virtue of originating in a hit-machine with good marketing. I love lots of songs by the big names but their replacements would be just as good.

    1. “It is a fallacy to say “writers deserve to be paid” when most songwriters out there aren’t paid.”

      That statement is incorrect in the modern music industry—secular or sacred. Songwriters get royalties as long as they live, as long as anyone sells or performs the song in any way shape or form. (Whether or not the royalties are too much or too little is another question.) The producers, players, singers, studio musicians, and arrangers are the ones who usually get the short end of the stick. Savvy arrangers and producers (and pastors, apparently) always try to get their name in the song-writing credits whenever possible, because of this fact.

  6. Rabindranath E Ramcharan

    I don’t think Jesus ever said how big a church is allowed to be, but it’s possible for a church to be so small that it’s ineffective in the community. On the other hand, once it gets past a certain size, it’s easy to become more about the pastor than it is about Jesus, and falls under Eric Hoffer’s rule that “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.”

  7. There was a time when going in the ministry, and following Christ involved having a career, his goods/wealth and obeying the call (I know it first hand). Today, musician and celebrity preachers, it almost look like a financial promotion to use Christ for my new job (I Tim 6:3-5,10) without solving Mat 6:24. Let’s say Christ comes back and say to all those, leave your boat, seats, ministries, church, and sell your goods and give it to the poor…..can they make it? I believe many never had to decide between money, wealth, prestige…and Christ (Lk 14:25-26, I Jn 2:15). The World is ivery present n the Church. There are only beggars in Christ’s Kingdom (Mat5:3)

  8. Very interesting podcast, thank you. I’ve been reflecting for several years how dull and generic so much new contemporary worship music is now and wondering at what point it all went wrong. So often I’ve been in a church service where the congregation (including younger people) mumble their way through a repetitive, generic chorus written some point since the turn of the millennium, not knowing the tune if there is one. Then the worship leader starts a worship song from the 1970s or ’80s and everyone fairly belts it out! What is the answer to this? A fresh move of the Holy Spirit in the church!

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