Chances are if you walk into a church service these days, before you leave you'll hear or sing a Chris Tomlin song. Those in the industry estimate that almost a third, 3 out of ten, worship songs played in churches carry a Chris Tomlin credit.
It is a ministry with roots buried deep in the heart of East Texas.
This summer Chris Tomlin came home, to Grand Saline for a concert for the hometown folks. It is here, Tomlin says he knows God began to work in his life.
"I had such good friends," remembers Tomlin. "I was close to the school. I loved sports. I loved being active. I was just like any normal kid. It's the people I remember most about this town. Wonderful people. People at my church. Who...I really had this heart for music and loved it and I was terrible but they would still have me come up and sing at church and do something at church. The were always so welcoming and encouraging and I felt gift God were giving me and I really loved that."
As a young teen, Chris said he knew God had called him to a ministry. He just wasn't sure what. Singing was his passion, but it was hard to believe what God had in store for a "scrawny" kid from Grand Saline.
"I was a pretty normal kid. I wasn't...I was on the basketball team, the baseball team tennis...whatever I could play. We were always powerhouses in football and I was just to scrawny to play." remembers Tomlin. "I was a real normal kid in my school. But I just had these dreams deep down inside. I knew were from God. I didn't know how but I knew God had placed them in me. I really didn't know where it would take me but its been amazing to look back over these years and go wow I can really look back and say God did this because it wasn't my plan it wasn't..I didn't have a good enough plan for this. But really He has done it."
Chris would go from Grand Saline to Tyler to attend classes at TJC. From there it was on to Texas A&M. When college was done, it was time to trust those plans he says he knew God had for his life.
"It was really a big step of faith for me cause I didn't know how it was going to work. But I knew He had given me a gift. I had started sensing God had given me a gift to connect with people. It was more than just playing music and somewhere it turned it was more than just songs it was I felt God giving me a gift to write songs for people to sing to Him. I really didn't know what worship music was, I didn't know what worship leader was, I didn't know those words, I didn't know what that was about. I just knew I wanted to write songs and give a voice to people to sing and worship God," said Tomlin.>
At this years GMA Awards, the Grammy for Christian music, Chris was nominated a for nine different awards. For the second year in a row he was named Artist and Male Vocalist of the year.
He sells out shows around the world and his records are among the most popular in contemporary Christian music.
But when he begins to consider his success and the trappings that could bring, Chris says he remembers his time in East Texas and how here in the piney woods that he discovered God's plan for his life.
"People are always like what keeps you humble what keeps you in place and I think. I am so thankful for where I grew up because it really is such a grounding place. I think I have such a good perspective on life and what is real and what really matters in life because I know all those things come and go. You might be cool one minute and not the next but I understand that. Just where I come from, this East Texas area, just really good roots, really deep roots. I think its allowed me to stay exactly who I am all my life, inside. My hair may change, my clothes may change but who I am has been pretty much the same because I have such good roots here," says Tomlin.
"Its been a good process you know but it was definitely small steps, small steps along the way. Its really great to look back honestly and say you know it wasn't because I had a really great plan but it because I was trying to follow God and be as faithful as I could."
Clint Yeatts, KLTV 7 News.