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Few worship leaders avoid choosing Hillsong and Bethel songs despite controversies

by Kelly Valencia

Few worship leaders avoid choosing Hillsong and Bethel songs despite controversies.

A new study suggests that only a few worship leaders in the US and Canada avoid selecting songs from Hillsong and Bethel, despite the controversy surrounding these megachurches.

Released by Worship Leader Research (WLR), the report asked over 400 worship leaders about their song selection process, their perceptions of the motivations behind new songs, and whether they consider the artist or church that produced a song when making their choices.

Regarding the latter, only 16 per cent of respondents said they were less likely to choose a Hillsong song, compared to 27 per cent of worship leaders who expressed a similar inclination towards songs produced by Bethel. In contrast, more than half of the respondents (62 per cent) stated that they were likely to choose a song with ties to Hillsong, while nearly half (48 per cent) said they would choose a song from Bethel.

In terms of how worship leaders should choose songs, recommendations from church leaders (76 per cent) and congregation members (56 per cent) were considered the most influential factors. Additionally, 76 per cent of the respondents stated that hearing a song at a conference or streaming it online made it more likely for them to choose that particular song.

Both Hillsong and Bethel are part of the so-called 'Big Four' megachurches, which have a monopoly on modern worship music, with their songs being sung by millions worldwide. In fact, a recent study found that out of the 38 most sung worship songs between 2010 and 2020, 36 were produced by musicians associated with Bethel in California, Elevation in North Carolina, Hillsong, and Passion City Church in Atlanta.

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