After reviewing 2.7 million songs churches sang and 91,000 sermons delivered in 2021 amid the raging COVID-19 pandemic, the church technology company Faithlife has published its annual report revealing top worship songs and sermon trends of the last year.
The maker of the Logos Bible Software released its 2021Year-End Song & Sermon Report last week. Faithlife highlights worship music trends based on data from over 705,000 presentations using its Faithlife Proclaim Church Presentation Software. The report's insight into the most covered topics in sermons is based on data from sermons posted to Faithlife Sermons.
According to the report, the most popular worship song of the last year was the 2016 song "Build My Life" by Pat Barrett.
"Worthy of every song we could ever sing
Worthy of all the praise we could ever bring
Worthy of every breath we could ever breathe
We live for You."
The second-most popular song in 2021 was the 2015 song "Way Maker" by Sinach, the top song in 2020.
"Great Are You Lord" by All Sons & Daughters was at No. 3. "Goodness of God" by Bethel Music/Jenn Johnson finished fourth, and "10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)" by Matt Redman claimed the No. 5 spot. Chris Tomlin's 2004 hit "How Great is Our God" came in No. 6.
"Altogether the average age of the top 20 songs is [just over 11] years, driven down by 'How Great Thou Art' from 1949," the report reads. "The top 10 songs are even younger with an average age of 8.6 years."
Faithlife notes that the "youngest" song on its top-20 list, 2019's "Graves into Gardens" by Elevation Worship/Brandon Lake, was the only new addition to the list of the top songs in 2021, finishing at No. 9.
The report finds that hymns continue to be among the top worship songs during services.
"How Great Thou Art" was the 13th most popular in 2021, while "Lord I Need You" placed No. 14 and "Amazing Grace [My Chains Are Gone]" placed No. 16. "Cornerstone" ranked No. 17.
The sermons delivered in 2021 followed the most common topics of 2020. But some topics became more popular in 2021, including the No. 1 ranked topic, eschatology/resurrection, which was six times more popular than the previous year.
The topic of grace (No. 2) was four times more popular.
Other topics that increased in popularity were family and children, creation/renewal, philosophy, revival, cults, compromise, persecution and hospitality.
"These topics demonstrate the internal and external tensions many churches are facing," the report details. "Torn between fear, hope, and simply surviving, preachers dedicated many of their sermons to helping their congregations understand how Scripture applied to their struggles."
The top trending Bible passage was John 3:16, which states: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." The second-most used Bible passage was Matthew 28:18–20.
The passage states: "And Jesus came and said to them, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.'"
Some passages saw a significant increase in their uses in 2021. Ephesians 3:14-21 saw a 26% increase last year, according to a statement shared with The Christian Post. Other trending passages include John 17:6-19, John 14:8-21, Acts 2:14-39, Acts 2:40-47, and 2 Timothy 2:1-13.
"While there aren't many surprises in the 10 most used verses, Faithlife discovered that, of the 31,102 verses in the Bible, 29,321 verses were referred to in at least one sermon in 2021 (94%)," the statement reads.
Faithlife CEO Vik Rajagopal said that the data shows how church leaders met the needs of their communities and congregants amid another challenging year during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The trending preaching topics demonstrate that even as the world navigated the challenges of the COVID pandemic, churches delivered God's truth about the hope found in Jesus," Rajagopal said.