Spirits, Sales Rising for Christian Music

They sing, they dance, they pack in the crowds, they make girls scream … and, they pray.

They're the five guys of the boy band Plus One, but you might call them 'NSync with a message.

"We all grew up in the church and we knew that God had given us a gift, whether it's to sing or whether to play instruments musically," said band member Jason Perry. "We wanted to be a part of something that we love, but also to bring glory to Jesus Christ."

It's a rainy night at Disney World, but thousands of teens and their parents have come for "Night of Joy" — a sold-out night of Christian rock. (Disney is the parent company of ABCNEWS.com). For Plus One's Nate, Nathan, Gabe, Jeremy and Jason, it's a testament to their role in the fastest-growing segment of the music industry.

"It's what we believe," said Jeremy Mhire of Plus One. "It's like, we're passionate. Some people are passionate about different things in life. We're passionate about our faith."

On the Charts

It used to be the message came in subdued music in church or synagogue, but in the last two decades, a drumbeat has arisen.

Artists like Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith rose to the top of the contemporary Christian music charts, and then sang top-40 hits that were hot on radio and MTV. Now, it's groups like Third Day, Jars of Clay and Sixpence None the Richer — all giving a contemporary look, and sound, to faith.

"I think the biggest thing that has been detrimental to Christian music is calling it 'Christian music,'" said Matthew Turner, editor of Contemporary Christian Music magazine. "I think it's music. It's great music from people of faith that just so happen to follow Jesus Christ."

It's not just a passing trend. In Nashville, long thought of as just the home of country music, contemporary Christian music has taken up residence, too. Artists live and record there.

Their work helped the industry sell nearly 50 million albums last year — making contemporary Christian music more popular than jazz.

‘A More Spiritual Him’

Among the hottest on the charts is 22-year-old Jaci Velasquez, who sings in English and Spanish and is being nominated for major awards. She could be the Christian music world's Britney Spears, but when Jaci sings about "loving him," she's not talking about her boyfriend.

"In our music when we say him, we are talking about a more spiritual him," she said.

Record companies have faith in the message, too. Warner Bros. just bought Jaci's record label, and Jaci signed a $2 million endorsement deal for a hair products company.

"It's a business for us too," Velasquez said. "But the fact that we get to change people's outlooks on certain part of life makes it worth it."

Time-Life says the Songs 4 Worship album has become one of its most successful products ever.

For artists like Plus One, selling records, and selling out shows, proves their message is being heard.

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