This list will introduce you to thirty of the best Christian rock bands of all time.
Christian rock experienced its heyday in the 90s and 00s, with many of the bands on this list forming in that period. The bands on this list cover all different subgenres of Christian rock, including soft rock, hard rock, indie, punk, emo, ska, metal, and beyond.
In terms of lyrical content, this list covers a wide spectrum. Some of the bands on this list openly proclaim their Christian faith, while, for others, their faith remains more in the background.
A handful of bands on this list have recorded devotional albums, and a few bands on the list could be described as worship bands. However, in some other cases, you could listen to the band’s whole discography and not be aware of the band’s faith. There are a number of bands on the list who, despite being Christians, prefer to avoid the “Christian rock band” label.
I used to personally listen to many of these bands, and saw several of them in concert. I’ve aimed to include the most significant bands in terms of their fanbase, longevity, and commercial success. Whether you’re after a taste of nostalgia, or if you still listen to these bands, I hope you’ll get something from this list.
Let’s dive in and check out some of the best Christian rock bands of all time.
P.O.D., short for “Payable on Death” are a successful nu-metal band both within the mainstream rock scene and the Christian music scene.
Their unique style blends elements of nu-metal, rap metal, with hints of reggae and Latin music occasionally creeping in. Not only were they amongst the best Christian bands of the era, but they were amongst the most interesting and innovative nu-metal bands full stop.
Fronted by dreadlocked Sonny Sandoval the four-piece burst into the limelight with their gritty and powerful 1999 single ‘Southtown,’ from the album The Fundamental Elements of Southtown. This was followed up with their hit single ‘Alive,’ off their brilliant 2001 album Satellite.
To my mind, Satellite stands as the band’s crowning glory, but they have released several strong records since. They continue to release music and tour up until today.
The career of Christian pop punk band Relient K has spanned over four decades, and has seen the band rise to become one of the most famous Christian punk bands ever.
Respected in both the secular and Christian rock scenes, the band have released some nine albums, with the majority of those albums charting on the Billboard 200, and many of them topping Billboard’s Top Christian Albums chart.
Their album Two Lefts Don’t Make a Right…but Three Do (2003) was nominated for the 2014 Grammy award for Best Rock Gospel Album.
Their biggest hits include ‘Be My Escape’ (2004) and ‘Who I am Hates Who I’ve Been’ (2005). The band remain active today.
Founded in Tennessee in 1996, Skillet are amongst the most successful Christian rock bands of all time. Their style draws on aspects of hard rock and nu-metal. The band is fronted by singer and bassist John Cooper, who is the only continuous member of the band since they formed.
Skillet have released eleven studio albums between 1996 and 2022, regularly topping Billboard’s Top Christian Albums chart, and reaching the top five on the Billboard 200 three times.
Their most successful albums include Awake (2009), which reached number two on the Billboard 200 and went three times platinum, and Rise (2013).
Well past the heyday of the Christian rock music era, Skillet broke records with their 2016 single ‘Monster.’ The song is amongst the most successful digital singles in Christian music, with over half a billion streams on both Youtube and Spotify.
Swedish post-hardcore and nu-metal band Blindside are an example of a Christian rock band who were equally popular, if not more popular, in the mainstream rock scene than the Christian scene.
Although the four-piece band were not primarily known for their Christian content, many of their songs address Christian themes directly.
The band enjoyed their heydey in the 00s, supporting P.O.D. and Hoobastank on tour. Their most successful albums came in this period, including Silence (2002), About a Burning Fire (2004), and The Great Depression (2005), all of which charted on the Billboard 200 album charts.
My favourite record was Silence, with the singles from that album – ‘Pitiful’ and the emotional ‘Sleepwalking’ – amongst the band’s most popular and successful tracks. The album’s title track, which closes the record, is a tender, acoustic, devotional song.
Switchfoot are amongst the best-known and most successful Christian rock bands on this list. Formed in 1996 and active until today, the approachable and radio-friendly pop rock band has released twelve studio albums to date.
The band’s album releases have seen them top the Billboard Top Christian Albums chart an impressive six times, with the majority of these records also making it into the top fifty on the Billboard 200 album chart.
The band’s definitive album is the 2003 The Beautiful Letdown which featured their two all-time greatest hits – ‘Meant to Live’ (2003), and ‘Dare You to Move’ (2004 – both of which peaked in the Billboard Hot 100’s top twenty.
Post-grunge, hard rock band Creed are in some ways a controversial entry on this list as their lead frontman and vocalist Scott Stapp explicitly claimed that they are not a Christian band. However, the label is one that they have never managed to shake despite their best efforts, with Christian themes coming through in their lyrics.
Creed were exceptionally popular in their time, selling a total of over 53 million albums. Their debut album, My Own Prison (1997) was a remarkable success, and was certified six times platinum.
However, the band’s definitive, outstanding album was their 1999 Human Clay. The album topped the Billboard 200 album charts, and was certified eleven times platinum. The record featured their Grammy-winning single ‘With Arms Wide Open’ (2001).
Creed disbanded in 2012, although the former members have continued with various projects, most notably including Alter Bridge which features three former Creed members – Brian Marshall, Scott Phillips, and Mark Tremonti.
Five Iron Frenzy
Five Iron Frenzy deserve the accolade of being called one of the most popular Christian ska bands of all time. The eight-strong troupe has been successful in both Christian and secular scenes.
Although band members differ in their personal beliefs, the band’s lyrics often reflected social themes rooted in liberal Christianity. Their songs touch on topics including fundamentalism, capitalism, and racism. However, other songs are light-hearted, with a heavy dose of absurd humour cropping up in their lyrics and performances.
They have released eight studio albums between 1996 and 2021. Most of their albums made the top twenty on Billboard Top Christian Albums chart, with several creeping into the mainstream Billboard 200 album chart.
Their most popular tracks include ‘My Evil Plan To Save The World’ (1998) and ‘Into Your Veins’ (2013).
Casting Crowns is a rock band, but could equally be described as a worship band. While many of the bands on this list may have Christian members, or sing about Christian themes, Casting Crowns’ music is generally devotional and could be used in a church setting.
Their explicitly Christian content has certainly not hampered the band’s popularity. Founded by former youth pastor Mark Hall, the seven-strong band have been extremely successful in both the Christian and secular scenes.
Since dropping their debut self-titled album in 2003, all nine of their studio albums have reached the top one hundred on the Billboard 200 album chart, and all have reached either number one or two on Billboard’s Top Christian Albums chart. Their first four albums received platinum certifications.
Some of their most popular songs include ‘Glorious Day (Living He Loved Me)’ (2011), ‘Just Be Held’ (2015), and ‘Nobody’ (2019).
The band prove that Christian devotional music can have a widespread appeal.
Tree63 are the only band on this list to hail from South Africa. Founded in 1996, the band has been active for four decades, apart from a hiatus in the early 2010s.
The band is best known for their 2004 version of the Matt Redman worship song ‘Blessed Be Your Name’ – one of the best-known Christian worship songs of the past three decades. The song won the Dove award for Worship Song of the Year in 2005.
During their career they have released nine studio albums. The band are well-known in the Christian world, although it would be fair to say they have not broken the secular scene – at least, not yet!
British band Phatfish were a Christian rock band known predominantly for their devotional worship music. Active for twenty years, they were stalwarts of the British Christian music scene in the last 90s and 00s.
The band’s popularity has travelled worldwide as worship anthems including ‘Holy, Holy’ and ‘Amazing God’ have been picked up in churches across the Americas, Asia, and Africa.
Starting out on the local band scene in their hometown of Brighton, the band found early success in the secular scene. However, their music gradually became more devotional in its focus. It was their devotional music that has seen them become something of a household name in the Christian music scene, and one of the most famous Christian rock bands to emerge from the UK.
TobyMac is one of the most important names in contemporary Christian music. Hitting his heyday in the 90s, TobyMac’s music takes influence from both rap and rock, contributing to his widespread appeal.
TobyMac first rose to prominence as a member of the Christian rap-rock group DC Talk. He went on to even greater success as a solo artist.
He has been nominated for Grammy awards thirteen times, and has picked up three Grammy awards – for his albums Alive and Transported (2008), Eye on It (2012), and This Is Not a Test (2015). He has won an astonishing twenty-one Dove awards.
TobyMac has found popularity in both the Christian and secular world, with all of his albums performing well on the Billboard 200, and Eye on It topping the chart in 2012.
His biggest hits include ‘Speak Life’ (2013), ‘Til the Day I Die’ (2015), and ‘I Just Need U’ (2018).
Mumford & Sons
Mumford & Sons relationship with the Christian faith has been the subject of some scrutiny, and for that reason, although they are expressly not a Christian band, they do deserve mention on this list.
The British folk rock trio is led by Marcus Mumford. Marcus is also known as the son of John and Eleanor Mumford, who founded the Vineyard church – one of the most famous and influential churches in the UK.
Mumford’s songwriting is full of Christian and biblical imagery. However, to the disappointment of some band’s many Christian fans, he has come out on the record numerous times to say that he does not describe himself as a Christian. As he has put it, “I don’t even call myself a Christian. Spirituality is the word we engage with more. We’re fans of faith, not religion.”
The band has released four studio albums, with massive success worldwide – each album peaked at either position one or two in both the UK album charts and the Billboard 200 album chart, with over 14 million certified record sales worldwide.
MercyMe are an American Christian rock band who are best-known as a worship band. The five-piece band, led by singer and songwriter Bart Millard, have been active since 1994 up until today.
The devotional Christian focus of their songs has not stopped them from finding success in the mainstream charts as well as the Christian charts, with massive record sales seeing all eleven of their albums make it well into the Billboard 200 album charts.
The band’s breakthrough track and signature song is their 2001 hit ‘I Can Only Imagine.’ The song won the Dove award for Song of the Year in 2002, and selling over 5 million copies it was certified five times platinum. It is amongst the best-selling Christian songs of all time.
MewithoutYou are amongst the more experimental bands on this list, combining elements of post-hardcore, emo, art rock, and spoken word to create their distinctive sound. Founded in 2001 by brothers Aaron and Michael Weiss, along with three other members, the band became inactive in 2022.
The band has a large Christian following, and they are amongst the bands on this list whose relationship with the Christian faith has been subject to some discussion. The backstory is that the Weiss brothers who founded the band were raised by an ex-Christian mother and a Jewish father who converted to Sufi Islam.
So, is MewithoutYou a Christian band? It is clear that although Christianity has influenced the content of their lyrics, the band has neither embraced nor rejected the Christian “label.”
The band’s poetic lyrics are heavily influenced by Christian imagery, which has led many fans to assume that the band hold Christian beliefs. However, Frontman Aaron Weiss has been decidedly elusive on the question of his beliefs.
Kutless are amongst the best-known American Christian rock bands of the 00s. Founded in Portland, Oregon in 1999, the band remains active today.
The five-piece band started out as a worship band. However, their style progressed, with their sound becoming heavier, incorporating elements of hard rock, grunge, and even nu-metal.
Although the band is predominantly popular in the Christian music scene, their success has seen them rise through the secular charts with the majority of their ten albums charting on the Billboard 200 album chart.
Their biggest hit is their 2009 single ‘What Faith Can Do.’ The song topped Billboard’s Hot Christian Songs chart, staying in peak position for eight weeks.
Jars of Clay
Jars of Clay, whose name is derived from 2 Corinthians 4:7, are one of the oldest bands on this list. After meeting at college in Greenville, Illinois, the band was formed in 1993.
The band have generally found most of their success within the Christian music scene, although they toured with some secular bands in the 90s. That said, their lyrics are generally not as explicitly Christian as many of their contemporaries.
It’s probably fair to say that less explicitly Christian lyrics are generally associated with more liberal Christian artists. This was arguably confirmed by the recent furore that was caused amongst the band’s conservative fanbase, as lead singer Dan Haseltine came out in support of gay marriage.
The band have released some twelve albums since 1995, with almost all of them charting on the Billboard 200 album chart, and several of them topping the Top Christian Albums chart.
Delirious – usually stylised as Delirious? – are one of the best-known and most successful British Christian rock bands of all time. Led by singer and songwriter Martin Smith, the band was originally known as The Cutting Edge Band, and formed in 1992.
The band straddled the line between rock band and a contemporary worship band, with the majority of their songs being heavily influenced by Christian themes. Their song ‘I Could Sing of Your Love Forever’ became popular worldwide as a worship song.
Despite being hugely successful in the UK Christian scene, they didn’t make a huge impact on the mainstream UK charts. Their 2011 release of ‘History Maker’ – one of the band’s signature songs – was their highest chart entry, reaching a peak of number four on the UK singles chart.
Other popular Delirious songs include ‘Deeper’ from their 1997 album King of Fools, and ‘Majesty’ from their 2004 album World Service. They officially disbanded in 2009.
Underoath are one of the bands on this list who, despite being composed of Christian musicians, are more popular in the secular scene than the Christian scene. Their music is influenced by post-hardcore, metalcore, and screamo, and they have found significant success in those scenes.
The band’s name is derived from the Bible, and in their earlier days, the band openly identified as a Christian band. However, in their later years, the band has distanced themselves from the label. In fact, in recent years the band explicitly rejected the label, explaining that they had found it “limiting and suffocating.”
The band have released nine studio albums in their time, with many of them charting in top ten of both Billboard’s Top Rock Albums chart and the Top Christian Albums chart.
Hailing from Northern Ireland, Rend Collective are one of the most successful Christian bands from the British Isles. As well as achieving notoriety in the UK Christian scene, they have also become relatively well-known in the US Christian scene.
Formed in 2007, the band are relative newcomers on the Christian music scene. They have nonetheless produced an impressive twelve albums up until now – most of which have performed well in both the UK and US Christian charts. Their music is predominantly devotional worship music, and stylistically takes influence from folk music as well as contemporary Christian worship music.
Their biggest hit is ‘My Lighthouse,’ which comes off their chart-topping 2014 album The Art of Celebration.
Flyleaf’s music is influenced by alternative rock, post-grunge, post-hardcore, and nu-metal. Fronted by lead singer Lacey Sturm, they are one of relatively few female-fronted Christian bands on the scene.
Formed in 2002, the band were active until 2016, and after a hiatus, reformed in 2022.
Flyleaf are amongst the bands on this list who, despite being composed of Christian members, have distanced themselves from the “Christian rock” label – a common phenomenon amongst bands in the post-hardcore, emo, and metal scenes.
Sturm has come out and questioned the meaning of the term “Christian band,” but has also affirmed her commitment to the Christian faith. In one interview she stated, “finding Christ saved my life. So I’m not ashamed of it at all. And most of our album reflects that,” referring to their third album, New Horizons.
YFriday were one of the larger Christian rock bands on the UK scene in the late 90s and 00s. The band initially formed as the house band of a Youth for Christ event in Newcastle called WhyFriday? – from where they derived their name.
The band’s lead singer and songwriter Ken Riley penned a number of songs that went on to become popular Christian worship songs, including the band’s biggest hit ‘Everlasting God.’
The band released seven albums between 1999 and 2010. They performed widely at Christian festivals and events, although they did not enter the commercial charts in a significant way. Their most popular songs are ‘Everlasting God’ (2006), ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’ (2008), and ‘Great and Glorious’ (2009).
David Crowder Band
David Crowder Band, usually stylised David Crowder*Band, was a hugely successful Christian band during the late 90s and 00s. The band was led by the eccentric singer and songwriter David Crowder, who now releases music under the name Crowder.
Several of the members of David Crowder Band went on to form a new project, The Digital Age, after David Crowder Band disbanded in 2012.
David Crowder Band was initially formed in response to Crowder’s realisation that many of the students at Baylor University – the university he attended at the time – were not Christians. The band’s music incorporates elements of rock, electronica, and folk, and the lyrics are generally outwardly faith-centered.
The band went on to garner growing success in both the Christian music world, and in the secular market. Their 2009 album Church Music reached number eleven on the Billboard 200 chart, with their final album Give Us Rest (2012) reaching number two – a huge achievement for a Christian band.
Third Day are amongst the most successful Christian rock bands of their generation. Their name derives from the gospel story of Jesus’ ascension on the “third day.” Founded in 1991, and active until 2018, the band released thirteen studio albums in their career.
The band was hugely successful in commercial terms, topping the Top Christian Albums chart with seven of their albums, with several of these albums breaking into the top ten on the Billboard 200.
The band experienced their heyday in the 2010s, during which time they won four Grammy awards for their albums Come Together (2001), Wire (2004), Wherever You Are (2005), and their live album Live Revelations (2009).
Some of their biggest hits include ‘Call My Name’ (2008), ‘I Need a Miracle’ (2012), and ‘Soul on Fire’ featuring All Sons & Daughters (2015).
Dweeb, stylised as [dweeb], were a relatively little-known British Christian rock band, but I could not leave them off this list. Hailing from Coventry, the four-piece band were an explosive live band, blending elements of post-hardcore, punk, and emo.
Formed in 2002, the band often used absurd and comic lyrics, alongside a gospel-focused message that was hard not to miss. They played their final show and disbanded in 2011.
They released five albums in their time – This is Not Our Shed (2004), Moose Moose Moose Chicken Moose (2005), It Came From Outer Space! (2007), Feels Like Dynamite (2010), My New Hero (2011). A taste of their sense of humour comes through the titles alone!
Newsboys are one of the oldest bands featured on this list, and a ground-breaking group in the Christian music world. Hailing from Queensland, Australia, the band formed in 1985. They remain active today, although they have gone through numerous personnel changes, and are now based in the US in Nashville.
Their pop-rock sound generally features a strong Christian message, with the band releasing a couple of worship-focused albums over the years.
Newsboys have released seventeen studio albums during their lengthy career, with many of these records topping Billboard’s Top Christian Albums chart, and the majority entering the top one-hundred on the Billboard 200 album chart.
The band’s all-time greatest hit is their 2011 single ‘God’s Not Dead (Like a Lion),’ which is double platinum certified. Other hits include ‘Your Love Never Fails’ (2012) and ‘We Believe’ (2014).
DC Talk is one of the most important groups in the history of contemporary Christian music. Formed in 1987, the rap-rock trio was composed of Michael Tait, Kevin Max Smith, and Toby McKeehan – the latter also finding massive success with his solo project, TobyMac.
The band released five albums in their career, with many of them winning Grammy awards. Their best known records include the 1995 album Jesus Freak and the 1998 Supernatural. Both are certified platinum, reaching the top twenty on the Billboard 200, and topping the Billboard Top Christian Albums chart.
In many ways, DC Talk set the precedent for overtly Christian bands who appealed to both a Christian and secular audiences, appealing to a broad audience by tapping into both hip-hop and rock influences. In this sense, they are still regarded as seminal within contemporary Christian music.
Emo rockers Anberlin are amongst the bands on this list whose fan-base very much includes both Christian and secular audiences.
Despite being signed to Tooth & Nail Records, who were generally thought of as a Christian label, Anberlin more often gigged and toured with other bands from emo scene, rather than from the Christian rock scene.
The band members do identify as Christians, but they have not embraced the label to describe themselves. For this reason, they have been described as being “Christian and a band, but not a Christian band.”
Aside from their 2003 debut album Blueprints for the Black Market, their later six albums have all charted in the top ten on both Billboard’s Top Rock Albums chart and the Top Christian Albums chart. The band remains active today.
Sixpence None The Richer
Sixpence None The Richer are best known for their hugely successful 1998 single ‘Kiss Me,’ which peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and reached the top ten in international charts all over the world.
Formed in 1992, the band began a hiatus in 2004, and reformed in 2007. Both their hit single ‘Kiss Me’ and their self-titled 1997 album were nominated for Grammy awards in 1998, marking the height of their career.
The band, whose name refers to a passage in C.S. Lewis’ book Mere Christianity have not rejected the Christian rock band label, per se. That said, singer Leigh Nash has noted the issues that the label can raise, lamenting in one interview, “when somebody hears you’re a Christian band, they think they already know what you sound like.”
Thousand Foot Krutch
Formed in 1997, Christian metal band Thousand Foot Krutch are the only Canadian band on this list. Their music is influenced by nu-metal, rap metal, and hard rock. They have been on hiatus since 2017.
Thousand Foot Krutch have seen success in both Christian and secular markets, with the latter five of their ten albums all charting in the top twenty of Billboard’s Top Rock Albums chart. The band performed even better in the Christian charts, reaching the number one spot on the Top Christian Albums chart with their last three albums – The End is Where We Begin (2012), OXYGEN:INHALE (2014), and EXHALE (2016).
Like many Christian bands towards the heavier end of the spectrum, Thousand Foot Krutch have been slightly wary of the “Christian band” label, without rejecting it explicitly. In one interview, lead singer and guitarist Trevor McNevan clarified, “We’re all Christian guys…. We’ve always made music for everyone, though. It’s not a genre of music, so to speak.”
Formed in 1992, Disciple were one of the earliest Christian metal bands to emerge. The four-piece band are one of relatively few metal bands who are vocal about their Christian faith throughout their lyrics, addressing many Christian themes directly.
The band reached the peak of their career in the mid 00s and 10s, with a string of albums successfully charting on both Billboard’s Christian and rock album charts.
Their biggest hit is ‘Dear X, You Don’t Own Me’ off their 2010 album Horseshoes & Handgrenades, which topped Billboard’s Christian Rock singles chart in 2010.
In 2018, the band signed to Christian rock label Tooth & Nail Records, Based in Knoxville, Tennessee, the band remain active today.
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