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2 local worship leaders give their take on best worship album since 2010
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Worshipers participate in a service in December 2019 at Christ Place Church in South Hall. - photo by Nick Bowman

Worship through song is a way for Christians to honor God, and those who lead congregations in it have a unique perspective. While the congregation stands or sits in front of them, they see, right there before their eyes, what worship actually looks like. To many, it's not just a simple ritual that comes around once a week or on Easter or Christmas. It's something that can happen anywhere and anytime. Churches and Christian artists have made that easier and easier as they release worship albums with their own songs or even remakes of old hymns.

All of these songs are meant to bring someone closer to God. And through these songs, Christians often find comfort when they're struggling and joy when they're celebrating.

It's a time to talk to God — quite literally have a conversation with him.

It's not just for those Christians, though. Worship sometimes marks the beginning of someone's faith. Whether it's a song they hear on the radio, in a store or when they find themselves in a church service that brings them comfort or peace, joy or excitement, worship albums can make people feel something they can't explain, no matter their age.

That's why we asked a couple of worship leaders at Gainesville-based churches to share their thoughts on what they think is the best worship album of the decade. So if you need a new album to listen to find a good place to start, here are a couple places.

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Jonathan Etienne - photo by Scott Rogers

Jonathan Etienne, worship director at Free Chapel 

Best album: “Victory” by Bethel Music

Honorable mention: “Speak Revival EP” by Elevation Worship

What’s the best Christian or gospel album of the decade?

“I know it literally got released last year, but it just had a huge impact on me and my wife —  The ‘Victory’ album by Bethel Music. They're a pretty incredible team from Redding, California, and we love a lot of their music. But something about this album, specifically, the song ‘Raise a Hallelujah’ has just been everything for our family.”

Who is this album for?

“Honestly, I think the reason that album is so powerful is because it breaks through a lot of demographics. It’s for anybody. Even just that song, ‘Raise a Hallelujah,’ because, does it matter if a person doesn’t know God yet to listen to it? I feel like they’re going to have an incredible opportunity to start a conversation with him, and if they haven’t talked with him in a while, that song and that album, it literally just feels like it’s talking straight to the heart. Not just the head, not just the ears and not just because it’s really good penmanship or really good mixing skills. I feel like everything about the album, especially that song, goes straight to the heart.”

Why this album?

“All you want to do after you hear, even that first song, ‘Raise a Hallelujah,’ it’s just like, ‘Wow, God. I’ve been going through a lot.’ But no matter where you are in life, newly saved or don’t know God yet or have been doing this thing for a while, it doesn’t matter what walk you’re in or what ZIP code you’re in. It’s just like, no matter what, I’m going to raise this hallelujah higher than anything else, and it just puts him back in his rightful place.”

Best time to listen?

“We listen to it in the morning, and it just does something about our day. Literally, when my wife gets up — our son is 10 months old now, and when he first was in the house, we obviously wouldn’t blast it because it would hurt his ears — but we would play it when we were getting ready for work or getting him ready. There's just something about playing it in the morning. … It’s just something about the mornings. You set your heart right and just get in a good mood.”

Why is this album special to you?

“Whenever I first heard their music, I was like, ‘I don’t know why I’m so drawn to them.’ But it just feels like the simplicity of getting together, being with people and worshiping the Lord together, literally no matter where you are in life. … And then I got to meet them, and in person, it matched exactly how it felt through your speakers. And so I was like, ‘Man, that’s literally who they are.’ It’s not something they’re trying to promote. That's literally them. They’re just simple people who care about life, and it just feels like everybody is invited to the greatest conversation of all time with God.”

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Allen Mills - photo by Scott Rogers

Allen Mills, associate pastor of worship at Corinth Church

Best album: “Here as in Heaven” by Elevation Worship

Honorable mention: “We Will Not be Shaken” by Bethel Music

What’s the best Christian or gospel album of the decade?

“I thought ‘Here as in Heaven’ by Elevation was super good, and it kind of covered all the ground you would need within a worship service. If you were going to open up with any of those songs or play any of them, you could start with ‘Call Upon the Lord.’ That's your opener, and then head into ‘Here as in Heaven.’ That's more focused on the spirit of God, and obviously, ‘Resurrecting’ is huge. That’s probably one of Elevation’s biggest songs. And then a response song is ‘O Come to the Altar.’ All four of those to me, I mean, you could put those in one service and you're going to have a response.”

Who is this album for?

“I'd say really, kind of if you've felt somewhat defeated, it’s for you … for someone who maybe has not had the best time, whether it's been a day, a week or a few years. Whatever. I think it's for someone who maybe has felt defeated and needs something to listen to that's positive and shows victory.”

Best time to listen?

“For me, usually early in the morning. Everybody does their own thing when it comes to quiet time or just getting away. But for me, it's super early in the morning. It's usually when I get back from working out or whatever and I've got 15 or 20 minutes where, I mean, it's still early and nobody's up. And in that moment, it feels like it's just you and God, which is nice.”

Why is this album special to you?

“‘Call Upon the Lord’ and ‘Resurrecting’ are two songs I just love to lead. For me, there's a lot of special moments I can think of. … Usually, we'll throw in ‘Resurrecting’ on Easter, obviously, because that goes over well. But I can remember the first time leading that song. It's super long, but just that line, ‘By your spirit I will rise/ From the ashes of defeat/ The resurrected king is resurrecting me.' I mean, whether you just became a believer or you're deciding whether you should step into grace or not, I think that's a line that everybody can sing. And I can remember singing that for the first time looking across the room and seeing everyone just singing out, whether they were 6 or 66, they were just singing it out. I always really remember those moments when someone’s singing no matter what age or what they've been through.”

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