We have reached the end in Part 5 of 5 of the “100 Greatest Albums of Christian Music” and I don’t know about you, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed myself. Trying to chronicle the first 50 years of anything and rank it is a tough an assignment as their could be, much less something as nuanced as Christian music, and I’ve done my objective best. Then today while putting the finishing touches on this post I realized with horror a certain album that will remain unnamed wasn’t present anywhere…like not even the honorable mentions. 😳 Yikes. And I’m sure it’s not the only one as there will likely be many you remind me of after the fact.

Lastly, be on the lookout for one last post of the entire list without commentary that will include 25 honorable mentions and some works cited that I used in compiling my list. The purpose of that final post is a quicker read and an easier share to debate with fellow Christian music fans. Okay…Top 20 here we go!

20. SatelliteP.O.D. (2001)

Released the day America stood still in shock, (Sept. 11, 2001) this album had 3 smash hits on mainstream radio, the band became darlings of MTV’s TRL (Total Request Live), and had two hits in “Alive” and “Youth of the Nation” that became anthems for a generation making sense of terror and tragedy.

19. SpeechlessSteven Curtis Chapman (1999)

Containing one of his best-known songs in “Dive,” and one of his best songs in “Speechless,” plus one of my personal favorites in “Be Still And Know,” this one is a classic.

18. This Beautiful MessSixpence None The Richer (1995)

Raw and arresting, I go back and forth on this being my favorite Sixpence album or second favorite. Either way, it does have my favorite of their songs in “Within A Room Somewhere.” A must for fans of indie rock with terrific guitar work.

17. Free At Last Dctalk (1992)

Funky and innovative with some slight cheesiness, this was a major jump forward from their cringe-y Nu Thang album. Minus the skits and a song or two, Free at Last has aged well and has one of their best overall songs in “The Hardway.”

16. Love Broke ThruPhil Keaggy (1976)

I have a young and developing relationship with this album. I heard later Keaggy first, but it caused me to go back through his discography and Love Broke Thru is definitely one of my favorites, and ultimately I believe one of his best.

15. To Hell With The DevilStryper (1986)

Not really my style of music but I understand why it’s important to the genre. I love how the band leans into the cheese factor and uses it to their advantage. Vocalist Michael Sweet does have one of the best rock vocals you’ll hear, that much is true. Also, to further cement it’s status here it is the first Christian Metal album to receive platinum sales status and best overall selling of the genre until P.O.D.’s Satellite unseated them from that distinction.

14. This Means War! – Petra (1987)

Perhaps Beyond Belief is more iconic, and even a better album, but War is important and worthy in its own Right. John Schlitt’s bonafide wailing rocker voice marks an important shift in the bands sound and approach going forward.

13. MmHmmRelient K (2004)

Major maturity in songwriting, a more piano-pop approach added to their punk leanings, and two mainstream hits make for my pick for their best overall album and most enduringly impactful album. Plus, “I So Hate Consequences” and the seamless transition from “Which To Bury, Us or the Hatchet” and “Let It All Out” are great moments for the band. And there’s still fun stuff to boot.

12. Self-Titled Sixpence None The Richer (1997)

Lush. Beautiful. Swirling. Melancholy pop rock. I’ll hold it up to any Christian album as the best “sounding .” Although “Kiss Me” is certainly a catchy and sweet song, it’s far from the best this album has to offer. Do yourself a favor and listen on a rainy day with a pair of good headphones.

11. A CollisionDavid Crowder Band (2005)

There is so much thought and craft put into this album. Crowder and Company worked hard at making music that caused you to dig a little deeper, and I always appreciated that about them. “You Are My Joy” tops the heap of an album full of intent and creativity. Masterpiece.

10. CrookedPropaganda (2017)

Yes, it’s still a young album, but it’s an important one on an important topic. Racial reconciliation. Forget Christian music, the world needs this album. I haven’t heard many artists do so well at calling out injustice and the crookedness of everyone’s heart without coming off pious or condescending. Prop takes listeners to school, and there’s a reason that several JFH reviewers (myself included) gave this the rare 5 star rating. Read our thoughts here: https://www.jesusfreakhideout.com/cdreviews/Crooked.asp

9. The End Is Not The EndHouse of Heroes (2008)

I’m sure there are many reasons Band House of Heroes wasn’t a huge success, but this epic concept album is not one of them. This should have made them household names for alt/rock listeners across the board but it didn’t. It’s a shame because this is a monstrously great swing and home run of a project. Soaring vocals. Hooky choruses. Cohesive storyline as a plumline throughout. It’s all here.

8. Take Me To Your Leader – The Newsboys (1996)

The Newsboys never rocked harder, or flew higher in my opinion. TMTYL is them putting it all together. Besides, “Lost the Plot” vies for top song of the 90s.

7. For Them Who Have EarsKeith Green (1977)

The album is ranked fifth on CCM Magazine‘s 100 Greatest Albums in Christian Music for good reason. This debut has stood the test of time without wavering. So. Many. Great. Songs. Though my relationship with Green’s music is more based around his greatest hits collections, this album almost acts as a greatest hits comp on its own. So good.

6. The Beautiful LetdownSwitchfoot (2003)

Riding the wave of interest from inclusion on the Walk to Remember soundtrack, The Beautiful Letdown delivered two smash hits and debatably their best overall album. “24” and “On Fire” remain some of their best ballads, and that’s saying something.

5. Lead Me OnAmy Grant (1988)

Named the No. 1 Christian album in CCM Magazine‘s 2001 book The 100 Greatest Albums in Christian Music Lead Me On is certainly worthy of that kind of praise. Though not a mainstream hit like some of her others, this is another must for the Christian music fan. The title track is tops in my opinion. Less poppy and more serious this might be (probably is) Grant’s Greatest overall album.

4. Self-TitledJars of Clay (1995)

Literally the album I’ve listened to most in life, “Flood” impacted mainstream and unfairly cast the rest of the album as “meh” in a lot of people’s minds. “Liquid” is different and memorable, “Love Song For A Savior” was youth ministry campfire worship worthy, “Worlds Apart” passionate declaration, and “Blind” is totally mesmerizing. A tremendous debut from an excellent band with a long and varied body of work.

3. A Liturgy, A Legacy, A Ragamuffin BandRich Mullins (1993)

His most cohesive and creative? I’m not truly sure how describe the album in a way to do it justice. Safe to say, you just need to own it and listen to it. regularly.

2. Only Visiting This PlanetLarry Norman (1972)

Of these top two albums this can certainly be described as iconic without question. Many of his best and most well-Known hits are here including “Righteous Rocker #1,” “The Great American Novel,” “Why Should The Devil Have All The Good Music?,” “and “The Outlaw.” A classic of classics and a must-own for the serious Christian music collector.

1. Jesus FreakDctalk (1995)

There’s literally nothing that I could say that hasn’t been said. 6 of the 7 singles released went to #1. Six! It peaked at #16 on the billboard chart. It won a Grammy. It still sounds great to this day, and contains one of Christian music’s most iconic songs of all-time in the title track. Critically and commercially acclaimed, this is the best overall Christian music album up to this point. Not to mention “What if I Stumble?”

Whew…That’s it folks! So, who got snubbed? What are you surprised to see didn’t make the cut? What would you change? Or better yet, what would your list look like?

Stay tune for one final post that will include the whole list in one place, 25 honorable mentions, and a works cited with a few other lists for you to read.

Happy listening! – Josh