The First Church of Justin Bieber?
I have some good news, and I have some bad news. The good news is that Justin Bieber has canceled his current tour. The less trite, brain-cell rotting music from an effeminate man-child that's foisted on the world the better. The bad news is that Justin Bieber apparently wants to start a church. Via The Sun:
“I am led to believe that the real reason he has come off the road is because he wants to reconnect with his faith and he may be even planning to start his own church,” veteran showbiz reporter Richard Wilkins told Today Extra.
“We know that he was in the country (Australia) a few weeks ago having meetings and attending the big Hillsong Church convention that they had here,” said Wilkins.
“[He’s] very close to a lot of the Hillsong people. Whether he’s looking at teaming up with them in something of a more permanent situation or doing some sort of religious activity on his own – starting his own church – we’re not quite sure, but that’s the word from an inside source.”
The thought of the First Church of Bieber conjures up images of people asking questions of Pastor Pop Star as they exit the church building: "Excuse me, Pastor Biebs, would you mind giving me a brief exegesis of Ephesians 5:4?" Or will that be Pastor the Biebs? Regardless of how Bieber frames his ecclesiastical title, the thought of Justin Bieber starting and presumably leading a church is bad news.
Over the last few years, the Biebs has been pretty vocal about his involvement with Hillsong Church (you know, the church that had a youth pastor
dress up dress down as the Naked Cowboy and dance onstage in front of a group of shrieking, excited women). He counts Hillsong Pastor Carl Lentz as his spiritual advisor and mentor. This week, in fact, Bieber accidentally struck a photographer with his truck while he was leaving a service at Hillsong Los Angeles. To be fair, accidentally hitting a pedestrian with your car does not disqualify someone from ministry. At least, it didn't the last time I checked the qualifications found in 1 Timothy 3:1-7. That being said, I'm fairly confident that I can safely assert that Justin Bieber is not qualified to start (much less lead) a church.
A quick rundown of his recent activities and musical themes uncovers a man far removed from being qualified to start and pastor a church. For example, the video for his latest single "2U" (which I'm not going to link to) features Victoria's Secret models lip-syncing while being sexually objectified in their lingerie. His legal troubles are well known — 2014 was a banner year for Bieber's lawyers. Since 2014, he has worked hard to repair his image and stay out of trouble. If you ignore Bieber's very low personal behavior bar, he's mostly succeeded in cleaning up his act. Except, for most of us, being investigated for misdemeanor battery, as Bieber was this past winter, does not equal walking the straight and narrow.
Needless to say, I doubt that many people consider Justin Bieber qualified to start a church, much less lead a church. Unfortunately, as Bieber makes clear in the first track from his latest album, he sees himself as a spiritual guide. His recent involvement with Hillsong's church convention earlier this summer combined with these reports that he wants to start a church indicate that the First Church of Bieber may be happening sooner than later.
To be clear, Justin Bieber has insisted that his tour cancellation has nothing to do with his involvement with Hillsong Church. That doesn't mean that he doesn't have plans to start a church, though. In fact, I believe (or is it Belieb?) that connecting his canceled tour with his desire to start a church gives the pop singer too much credit. I find it difficult to believe that Justin Bieber possesses the discernment necessary to see that touring, and his music in general, is a distraction (at best) and a detriment (at worst) to ministry. Sadly, I also don't believe that the people around him can see the unholy alliance of the two. Even his supposed spiritual mentor Carl Lentz was reportedly opposed to Bieber canceling his tour. It's also important to note that Bieber hasn't denied the report that he's planning on starting a church.
I'm not doubting the Bieb's salvation (I can't see his heart), nor am I claiming that he can never be a minister (the Apostle Paul was a murderer). However, if he is indeed planning on starting a church anytime soon, that's troubling. The amount of spiritual damage that could be done by "Pastor" Justin Bieber to people attracted by a cult-of-personality is scary. If Justin Bieber does want to start a church, he should quit the music industry and dedicate himself to growing in the faith and knowledge of Jesus Christ under the tutelage of a wise, discerning church family not named Hillsong.