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Move Over, TobyMac: Chris Tomlin Tops Billboard 200 (Thanks to Passion)

(Updated) Conference did more than just raise $3 million to combat human trafficking.

Update (Mar. 11): CNN has profiled worship leader Chris Tomlin, calling his songs the "most widely sung music on the planet today."

Not convinced? Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI) CEO Howard Rachinski has done the math. "CCLI estimates that every Sunday in the United States, between 60,000 and 120,000 churches are singing Tomlin's songs. By extrapolating that data, Rachinski says, 'our best guess would be in the United States on any given Sunday, 20 to 30 million people would be singing Chris Tomlin's songs.'"

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In September, TobyMac made headlines for becoming the first Christian artist to top the Billboard 200 sales chart in 15 years. Now, a second Christian artist has followed suit.

Chris Tomlin's new album, "Burning Lights," topped the Billboard 200 album chart yesterday with 73,000 units sold in its first week.

He is only the fourth Christian artist ever to hit No. 1; TobyMac's "Eye on It," which CT reviewed here, was the first since 1997. Both artists have been top award winners in Christian music.

Why did Tomlin's album hit No. 1. According to Reuters, Billboard credits a key factor: Passion 2013, the recent Louie Giglio conference where Tomlin led worship. CT reported from Passion here.

Giglio has made national headlines for being chosen to give the benediction at President Obama's inauguration, and then withdrawing amid protest over a past sermon on homosexuality.

CT recently interviewed Tomlin regarding his first greatest-hits album and his impact on worship worldwide, and profiled how, thanks to Tomlin and others, a small music label focused on worship became one of the most successful. CT also interviewed Giglio regarding the church he started with Tomlin and Matt Redman, and did a cover story on how the Passion conferences went global.

As his album hit No. 1, Tomlin tweeted, "To do anything significant or great, it takes an amazing team...I know this full well on this day. They are the strength of 'Burning Lights.'"

CT has regularly covered the topic of worship, including church music and worship wars, including the Top 10 most influential worship albums of the decade, as well as an op-ed on how modern worship is going nowhere.

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Posted:January 17, 2013 at 10:01AM
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Move Over, TobyMac: Chris Tomlin Tops Billboard 200 (Thanks to ...