What Is the Bestselling Christian Album of All Time?

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So, what is the bestselling Christian album of all-time? To answer that question we must first set some parameters for just what qualifies as a “Christian” album. Since the question at hand concerns album sales, I suggest we define a Christian album as any album which was marketed to a Christian audience. Therefore, I will consider albums which either charted on Billboard as Christian or featured songs which charted on Christian radio. With that out of the way, what is the bestselling Christian album of all-time?

In 1991 Amy Grant released her eighth studio album Heart in Motion which would go on to sell over 5 million copies and be certified 5x Platinum by the RIAA. The album would reach the top 10 on the Billboard 200 chart and spend 32 weeks on top of the Christian albums chart. No doubt, the lead single, “Baby Baby,” which reached the No. 1 position on the Adult Contemporary chart played a big role in making Heart in Motion the bestselling Christian album of all-time.

What’s the second bestselling Christian album of all-time then? I’m glad you asked.

Without knowing the exact figures, we will call the second bestselling Christian album of all-time a three-way tie. Let’s start with Amy Grant’s 1992 Christmas album, Home For Christmas. Maybe it’s not fair to count a Christmas album, but selling over 3 million copies is nothing to sneeze at. Moving on, Kirk Franklin also had an album that went 3x Platinum, God’s Property from Kirk Franklin’s Nu Nation which was released in 1997. Lastly, let’s not forget P.O.D.‘s fourth album Satellite from 2001 which also sold over 3 million copies.

But Amy Grant, Kirk Franklin, and P.O.D. all had the benefit of being artists who crossed over into the mainstream market. What is the bestselling Christian album that didn’t benefit from mainstream crossover marketability?


By my calculations it would probably be Casting Crowns‘ self-titled debut in 2003 which sold over 2 million copies and was certified 2x Platinum. One might also consider Michael W. Smith‘s 2001 album Worship which also sold over 2 million copies. However, while Worship itself never achieved any mainstream success it may have benefited from Michael W. Smith’s crossover success in the 90’s. I’ll let you be the judge.

So what Christian artist has had the most albums certified Platinum by the RIAA?

That would be Amy Grant again. She’s had seven albums certified Platinum or better. Oh, and it’s probably worth mentioning the WOW I Love Christian Music compilation album series. There’s 17 of those that have been certified at least Platinum over the years.

Okay, one more question, has any Christian album from the last decade been certified Platinum? Maybe. It depends on what you mean by “Christian album” and “decade.”

If you use the criteria listed above then Twenty One Pilots‘ last album Blurryface from 2015 would be the last Christian album to be certified Platinum by the RIAA. I hear you, calling Blurryface a Christian album is a stretch, but it did have several songs make chart on the Christian Rock charts. Setting that one aside though, to find another Christian album that was certified Platinum, you have to go back to 2009–which was less than 10 years ago, so we can say last decade, right? In 2009 there were 5 albums that were certified Platinum: Until the Whole World Hears by Casting Crowns, The Fray by The Fray, Ocean Eyes by Owl City, and Awake by Skillet. Not a bad year.

So did I miss an album? Do you want to argue that The Joshua Tree by U2 is actually the bestselling Christian album of all time? I’ll just leave the list of albums I made while researching here for your consideration.

Platinum 5X

Amy Grant – Heart in Motion [1991]

Platinum 3X

Amy Grant – Home for Christmas [1992]
Kirk Franklin – God’s Property from Kirk Franklin’s Nu Nation [1997]
P.O.D. – Satellite [2001]

Platinum 2X

Amy Grant – House of Love [1994]
DC Talk – Jesus Freak [1995]
Jars of Clay – Jars of Clay [1995]
Kirk Franklin – The Nu Nation Project [1998]
Various Artists – WOW 1999 [1998]
Various Artists – WOW 2000 [1999]
Various Artists – WOW Worship: Blue [1999]
Lifehouse – No Name Face [2000]
Various Artists – WOW Hits 2001 [2000]
MercyMe – Almost There [2001]
Michael W. Smith – Worship [2001]
Casting Crowns – Casting Crowns [2003]
Switchfoot – The Beautiful Letdown [2003]
The Fray – How to Save a Life [2005]
Third Day – Chronology Volume 1 [2007]
Third Day – Chromology Volume 2 [2007]

Platinum

Amy Grant – Age to Age [1982]
Amy Grant – A Christmas Album [1983]
Amy Grant – Unguarded [1985]
Amy Grant – The Collection [1986]
Stryper – To Hell With The Devil [1988]
Michael W. Smith – Go West Young Man [1990]
DC Talk – Free at Last [1992]
Michael W. Smith – Change Your World [1992]
Carman – Absolute Best [1993]
Carman – The Standard [1993]
Kirk Franklin & the Family – Kirk Franklin & the Family [1993]
Steven Curtis Chapman – Heaven in the Real World [1994]
Michael W. Smith – I’ll Lead You Home [1995]
Various Artists – WOW 1996 [1995]
Kirk Franklin & the Family – Whatcha Lookin’ 4 [1996]
Point of Grace – Life Love & Other Mysteries [1996]
Various Artists – WOW 1997 [1996]
Jars of Clay – Much Afraid [1997]
Six Pence None the Richer – Six Pence None the Richer [1997]
Various Artists – WOW 1998 [1997]
DC Talk – Supernatural [1998]
Point of Grace – Steady On [1998]
P.O.D. – The Fundamental Elements of Southtown [1999]
Steven Curtis Chapman – Speechless [1999]
Mary Mary – Thankful [2000]
Third Day – Offerings: A Worship Album [2000]
Various Artists – WOW Worship: Orange [2000]
Various Artists – WOW Hits 2002 [2001]
Kirk Franklin – The Rebirth of Kirk Franklin [2002]
Michael w. Smith – Worship Again [2002]
Various Artists – WOW Christmas: Red [2002]
Various Artists – WOW Hits 2003 [2002]
Various Artists – WOW Hits 2004 [2003]
Various Artists – WOW Worship: Yellow [2003]
Chris Tomlin – Arriving [2004]
Third Day – Live Wire [2004]
Various Artists – WOW Hits 2005 [2004]
Flyleaf – Flyleaf [2005]
Kirk Franklin – Hero [2005]
Third Day – Wherever You Are [2005]
Casting Crowns – Lifesong [2005]
Various Artists – WOW Hits 2006 [2005]
Chris Tomlin – See the Morning [2006]
Various Artists – WOW Hits 2007 [2006]
Casting Crowns – The Altar and the Door [2007]
Various Artists – WOW Hits 2009 [2008]
Casting Crowns – Until the Whole World Hears [2009]
The Fray – The Fray [2009]
Owl City – Ocean Eyes [2009]
Skillet – Awake [2009]
twenty one pilots – Blurryface [2015]

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30 Comments on "What Is the Bestselling Christian Album of All Time?"

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DJ Fedak

NF’s album Perception has gone Platinum.
Skillet’s Awake is 2X Platinum and Comatose is Platinum

Harold Mendoza

Jaci Velasquez
Heavenly Place (1996)

Platinum (2001)

Elisha McFarland

I think you forgot NF’s song Let You Down. That was triple Platinum, and the album Mansion also sold a lot…

Michael Allen

I believe you may have forgot Lauren Daigle’s first album which I can see from Wikipedia was a platinum selling album, and she just released her 2nd album earlier this month September 2018.

Michael Allen

I truly believe Lauren Daigle has a more dynamic and beautiful voice than The Queen of Christian Pop, although I have fond memories of my youth hearing Baby Baby and Every Heartbeat on the radio. I also believe Lauren’s new album is superior to her first album. God knows what the future holds, but I don’t believe his power is done working through his followers and in the realm of popular music.

Noah Hardwick

It wasn’t forgetten, it just wasn’t certified platinum when this article was written. At some point I need to take the time to write a revision.

J San Diego
Hello! Great article and research! I am looking around for articles like yours that address the assertion by the makers of the movie “I Can Only Imagine” that it is the # 1 best selling Christian single of all time. Is that what you found in your research? They don’t provide data parameters. I would think Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah would hold that bragging right. Also, I might be missing it but would love to see a last updated date stamp to know at what point this article may have evolved past the point of current/late 2010s contributions. Finally, very surprised… Read more »
J San Diego

Sorry, March 29 2018 – you did have a publish date. My bad! Also the thumbnail for Amy Grant Christmas album not conveying correctly in second best selling trio.

Noah Hardwick

Thanks for the feedback. I’ve not done any research on the best selling Christian singles, but the RIAA would probably be a good place to start. I know this lists is already a bit dated only 6 months after publishing. For one I know that Lauren Daigle needs to be added to the list after getting her first platinum album this summer. A revision might be order along with a little more fact checking on a few albums.

Tim M

It’s hard to judge these things. For example, didn’t Underoath’s Define The Great Line hit no.2 in the charts. I know they’ve come out and said they aren’t a Christian band now but they were definitely talking about Jesus from the stage at that point and some of the success can be attributed to the Christian market ( just look at the current criticism from “Christians” about their new singles…!)

Daniel G

So impressed at the research that went into this! Well done!

On the other news, just now I found out ‘ChristianRock.Net’ removed their music catalog. That was my go-to page (early 2000s) to look up current and past band/music.

Elbert

I started to gripe that Bill Gaither’s Alleluia and a Dallas Holm album (both from the 1970s) should be in there too, but I think both only achieved Gold status. And I could imagine the gold list would be lengthy.

Surprised No Name Face is the only Lifehouse album on the list.

PMartinez

Considering the numbers in sales and popularity in both secular circles and Christian circles during a time where they had no YouTube, Amazon, FB, or any social media. STRYPER should have been there perhaps in second place, but their work was ground breaking. Something was definitely missing in this research, it should be reconsidered in my opinion.

I wonder if that list would change if bands that identified as “we don’t want to be labeled a Christian band. We’re a band with Christian members who sing songs about Jesus” instead identified as simply, “Christian”

I would add Alice Cooper to that list as well. He has claimed time after time that his Christian faith saved him from addiction. To me that is a very powerful statement coming from one of the biggest staples in the metal community. By the way, you did a great job on this list. I used to love Amy Grant growing up and was taken aback that she had achieved such success. I was born in 83 and wasn’t paying attention to chart achievements even when I was in hs so I didn’t have a clue. Keep up the great… Read more »
Kavin

Good research put into this. I was intrigued!

Daniel J

I have vivid memories from childhood of my sister playing Amy Grant’s ‘Heart in Motion’ cassette over, and over, and over… until it drove me crazy!

Norman Cruz

Did you miss one?…. Hmmm…. I don’t know…. How about, one by a rather obscure band, like “To Hell with the Devil” by STRYPER?!??!!!?!?!?? O_o

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