The 2020 Faithlife data highlights the relevancy of church leaders in meeting the needs of their congregants and community during a difficult year,” said Bob Pritchett, co-founder, and CEO of Faithlife. “The words of the top worship songs and most used topics of the sermons were speaking to the issues of the day in order to offer comfort among the chaos.”
Worship Song Trends
The most popular worship song in 2020 was “Way Maker” by Nigerian gospel singer Sinach, according to the data from Faithlife Proclaim, Faithlife’s church presentation software.
“Way Maker” reached its peak popularity with Proclaim users the weekend of March 22, 2020, when almost 7% of all worship presentations included the song. “Build My Life” by Pat Barrett (the top song in 2019) was the second most popular, followed by “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)” by Matt Redman.
An analysis of songs bringing comfort to churches during the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic shows an interesting mix of modern and historic hymns such as “It is Well with My Soul” and “‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus” as well as “His Mercy Is More,” by Matt Boswell and Matt Papa. Other new songs on the list include “Goodness of God,” released in early 2019 by Bethel Music and Jenn Johnson, “King of Kings” by Hillsong Worship, and “See a Victory” by Elevation Worship.
Sermon Topic Trends
According to data from Faithlife Sermons, there were nearly 200 different topics, including loneliness, friendship, fear, contentment, or leadership, represented in at least 100 sermons throughout 2020. The most common topics included God, Jesus, love, faith, power, and glory.
Early in April, during the beginning stages of the COVID-19 pandemic and in anticipation of Easter, topics of fear, prayer, faith, suffering, comfort, grief, stress, and church were all trending.
Government, justice, freedom, anger, and judgment peaked in the summer months when there was a wave of civil unrest, including protests and riots following the death of George Floyd. By fall, church fellowship, service, church leadership, work, and election were most trending with peace and hope having the largest overall sermon trend of the year with peak popularity in December, the season of Advent.
Worship music trends are based on data from Faithlife Proclaim Church Presentation Software across the over 2.2 million times churches sang 7,000-plus songs together in more than 568,000 services. Insight into what topics and Scriptures pastors preached about in 2020 were compiled using data from over 60,000 sermons posted to Faithlife Sermons of which 75% included topic tags created by the author that describe an idea, person, or theological concept covered.
Additional data in the report includes songs that gained popularity in accordance with key calendar dates, including Easter. Father’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, and the top 10 most-preached Scriptures in 2020.
For more information on the worship songs and sermon topics of 2020, download the full Year-End Song & Sermon Report from Faithlife, at Faithlife.com/songs.