Worship Trends: Bethel Drums


by Don Chapman

Bethel Church in Redding, CA has become one of the hottest producers of worship music – influencing the contemporary church with their songs and style.

One interesting development is their drum groove (or lack of it!) and you’ll hear this trend on many current worship recordings. Just as your electric guitarist is probably having a nervous breakdown because synths are all the rage, your worship drummer is probably throwing a fit because of the lack of a traditional pop groove.

Instead of using a typical pop drum pattern, most Bethel songs employ what I call “percolating” toms. Almost like a drum loop, these toms ebb and flow throughout an arrangement – typically showing up sparsely on a 2nd verse and building in intensity and complexity to a big finish.

You’ll hear this trend on their latest recording We Will Not Be Shaken. Watch their No Longer Slaves video for an example:

And here’s a way to isolate and hear these percolating toms by listening to the multitracks.

So, ever the mad scientist in my musical laboratory, I thought I’d try adding this drum pattern to my already Bethel-inspired arrangement of O Come All Ye Faithful (Adore.) Similarly, the toms start sparsely after an intro and chorus and gradually intensify to a big ending. Compare the original traditional pop pattern version with my new Bethel drums version:

[one_second]LISTEN: pop drum groove version [/one_second][one_second]LISTEN: Bethel drums version [/one_second]

Take the poll: Which version would you be more likely to use in your own praise set?

Which version would you be more likely to use in your own praise set?

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9 Comments. Leave new

  • Thank you for your insight and for sharing your thoughts on this current trend in worship music. You refer to the “B” version as the “Bethel Drum” version, I believe I prefer to call it the “Full” version (“Full” as opposed to “Empty”, not saying other versions are empty and void but having the Spirit of God and not having the Spirit of God) I have been playing music for many years and have been in orchestras, concert bands, jazz bands, blues bands, rock bands, etc. and they can all be “Full” but they can also be, regrettably, “Empty”.
    I don’t mean to say that pop is empty as it can be as full as the people playing it, I am saying that I prefer the richness of sound generated by an orchestral arraignment when a more reverential atmosphere is desired.
    Glory to God in the highest! In all His Majesty.
    Again, I thank you for your love and dedication and insight,

  • The bottom end is really sparse in the Bethel version. Miss the “kick”

    • That’s another thing about the Bethel style – no kick lol! My drummer didn’t put one in but I actually added it in the mix (you probably can’t hear it if you’re listening through a computer speaker.)

  • I’m a big fan of Bethel but for this arrangement, I prefer the pop groove. I do like the drive on the Bethel version though. It gives it some energy and the feeling that there is a destination. The pop groove was rather airy and generic.

  • as a drummer and former music director, I really would like to combine the two methods, for that song. As wrtten pop drum first verse and chorus, bethel thru 2 verse and with the power strokes pop groove for 2 chorus on.

  • And as a drummer, probably why I am not a big fan of Bethel. Healer was their best song for me..

  • Who cares what the groove is like if it fits the song and helps people connect with God? I’m a drummer and play in a number of churches. I very rarely play this square stuff because it is a “trend”. I don’t see the point in this article but maybe I am missing something.

  • I am an 81yr old man living in Riverside Texas and am the music director for our Country Campus Baptist Church. The instrumental music is from my old Martin acoustic guitar. Most Sundays we sing old tradional hymns. On Sunday the day of Christmas we will have all Christmas music. I am drawn to the Bethel version. Small Church but Big in the ways of


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