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.
Amy Grant – Heart in Motion 
Amy Grant – Home for Christmas 
Kirk Franklin – God’s Property from Kirk Franklin’s Nu Nation 
P.O.D. – Satellite 
Amy Grant – House of Love 
DC Talk – Jesus Freak 
Jars of Clay – Jars of Clay 
Kirk Franklin – The Nu Nation Project 
Various Artists – WOW 1999 
Various Artists – WOW 2000 
Various Artists – WOW Worship: Blue 
Lifehouse – No Name Face 
Various Artists – WOW Hits 2001 
MercyMe – Almost There 
Michael W. Smith – Worship 
Casting Crowns – Casting Crowns 
Switchfoot – The Beautiful Letdown 
The Fray – How to Save a Life 
Third Day – Chronology Volume 1 
Third Day – Chromology Volume 2 
Amy Grant – Age to Age 
Amy Grant – A Christmas Album 
Amy Grant – Unguarded 
Amy Grant – The Collection 
Stryper – To Hell With The Devil 
Michael W. Smith – Go West Young Man 
DC Talk – Free at Last 
Michael W. Smith – Change Your World 
Carman – Absolute Best 
Carman – The Standard 
Kirk Franklin & the Family – Kirk Franklin & the Family 
Steven Curtis Chapman – Heaven in the Real World 
Michael W. Smith – I’ll Lead You Home 
Various Artists – WOW 1996 
Kirk Franklin & the Family – Whatcha Lookin’ 4 
Point of Grace – Life Love & Other Mysteries 
Various Artists – WOW 1997 
Jars of Clay – Much Afraid 
Six Pence None the Richer – Six Pence None the Richer 
Various Artists – WOW 1998 
DC Talk – Supernatural 
Point of Grace – Steady On 
P.O.D. – The Fundamental Elements of Southtown 
Steven Curtis Chapman – Speechless 
Mary Mary – Thankful 
Third Day – Offerings: A Worship Album 
Various Artists – WOW Worship: Orange 
Various Artists – WOW Hits 2002 
Kirk Franklin – The Rebirth of Kirk Franklin 
Michael w. Smith – Worship Again 
Various Artists – WOW Christmas: Red 
Various Artists – WOW Hits 2003 
Various Artists – WOW Hits 2004 
Various Artists – WOW Worship: Yellow 
Chris Tomlin – Arriving 
Third Day – Live Wire 
Various Artists – WOW Hits 2005 
Flyleaf – Flyleaf 
Kirk Franklin – Hero 
Third Day – Wherever You Are 
Casting Crowns – Lifesong 
Various Artists – WOW Hits 2006 
Chris Tomlin – See the Morning 
Various Artists – WOW Hits 2007 
Casting Crowns – The Altar and the Door 
Various Artists – WOW Hits 2009 
Casting Crowns – Until the Whole World Hears 
The Fray – The Fray 
Owl City – Ocean Eyes 
Skillet – Awake 
twenty one pilots – Blurryface