My college roommate and longtime friend Trevor has started blogging again, and I love to read his thoughts. (You can check his work out here.)
This week, Trevor shared a provocatively-titled post called “4 Reasons Why Justin Beiber Shouldn’t Go to Church.” The point of Trev’s post was to poke a righteous finger in the eye of American Christianity’s obsession with fame, and he rightly points out that we have a tendency to latch onto celebrities for the sake of benefiting ourselves.
However, I disagreed with some of Trevor’s conclusions. He writes:
Bieber will be better off having a core group of believers around him. People of faith that knows who he is. If he hasn’t already, Justin needs to surround himself with people that will disciple him and can look beyond the wealth and fame. He needs people in his life that see him as a regular human being and not a superstar. These need to be the people that love and encourage him even when he falls. And fall he will. The Church that Jesus established is one of people. Not of brick and mortar and an order of service. The Church is the collective group of people who follow Jesus. Justin is a part of that group. He just needs to find a few of them to walk through life with.
I agree that, if Justin Beiber is indeed a born-again Christian, he needs people around him who will tell him the truth and disciple him. Every Christian needs that. But that’s not all he needs. It’s not all we need, either.
Every Belieber–I mean, believer–needs to be part of a local church: a church that gathers regularly, celebrates the ordinances, proclaims the Word, and instructs believers.
So, here are 4 reasons why Justin Beiber should join a good* church:
- Because God commands us to gather together.(Hebrews 10:24-25) It is the common expectation of all the New Testament authors that the church of God gathers together on the Lord’s day, in their local contexts. And since we believe that the Bible is breathed out by God, carrying the authority of God, the commands to meet together regularly apply to all Christians.** Furthermore, the metaphors that the New Testament uses to describe the Church (a body, a family, a building, a temple) are all “group” metaphors. The idea of a lone-wolf, “just-me-and-Jesus” Christianity is foreign to the New Testament. It’s primarily in the context of a local body of believers that we can practice the many “one-anothers” of Scripture.
- Because Justin needs to be under the authority and care of pastors/elders. (Hebrews 13:7, 17) Just as the New Testament talks about the Church meeting together in local congregations, those meetings are presided over by pastors and elders who have responsibility to care for the flock of God. These shepherds should have oversight over Justin’s spiritual life, providing counsel and at times giving rebuke and correction. This isn’t something that brother-to-brother accountability can fully provide. Young men, and especially young men with power or prestige, need to learn humility by submitting to spiritual fathers.
- Because that’s where Justin can partake in the ordinances of faith. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are two practices that are specific to the Church, and are (in a sense) sacred to us. They do not bring salvation or earn/accomplish the grace of God in our lives, but they are part of our life together as they symbolize what Christ has accomplished for us in His death and resurrection.*** These shouldn’t be practices that you do by yourself or with a few friends, in order to “check the box.” They are public demonstrations performed corporately with a church body, because we are all part of Christ’s body on earth.
- Because the church needs Justin. (I Corinthians 12) I’m not talking about Justin’s fame, his singing ability, or his money. Each believer has been given spiritual gifts, not for the purpose of personal benefit or even personal worship, but for the building up of the body. If you are a Christian, your spiritual gifts are not for you–they’re for the rest of us. Every Christian needs to be part of a local body so that they can use their gifts for the common good. Not only that, but Justin should be part of a local church so that, as he becomes a more mature believer, he can begin to pour into others, while still under the authority of a pastor/shepherd.
Here’s the most important thing: The reasons Justin Beiber needs to be a committed member of a healthy church are the very same reasons that you and I need that, too. The Christian life is designed to be lived in community with other believers, under the care of loving and hard-working shepherds.
To conclude, I’ll paraphrase a much-respected “menace” of the Christian interwebs:
Let me encourage, exhort, and plead with you to be with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s day. It’s good for your soul, it’s good for the church, and it’s obedient to the command of Christ. And that goes for you, me, and Justin Beiber.
*Yes, I am qualifying the statement. Just joining any old church isn’t enough. What I’m talking about is the kind of local church where the Bible is preached and believed, and people are committed to sound teaching, training in righteousness, and preparation for ministry in the world. You know, a real church.
**Some would argue that meeting together with believers is “church” enough, and may even cite the verse about “two or more being gathered together.” To those folks, I would suggest first that the context of the passage they are citing (Matthew 18:15-20) is referring to issues of church discipline, a concept instituted by Jesus which requires a) elders/pastors, and b) a specific, known group of believers who have submitted to the authority of those elders/pastors.
***I realize I’m approaching this issue from an evangelical/Baptist standpoint. Just roll with me here, folks. If you’re Presbyterian/Lutheran/Catholic, we disagree on these issues. But no matter what you believe about the ordinances/sacraments, we all agree that these are practices done as a body, right? That’s my point.
8 thoughts on “Four Reasons Justin Beiber *Should* Join a (Good) Church”
The implication that Justin is a believer is probably the strangest part to me…not that it isn’t possible…but I guess I don’t see the fruit one may expect.
I agree, I don’t see it yet either–but my goal is not to analyze his fruit as much as describe what he and all baby Christians need to do for their growth in godliness.
So what you are saying is that it doesn’t matter if someone is famous or not the prescription for their spiritual growth is the same? I think I might start reading this blog regularly.
Michael, I do not see the fruit in your life. Of course, I do not know you and do not spend time with you. Our expectations always change when it involves a celebrity. When a celebrity claims Christ we pull out a notepad and start checking boxes. “Did he say Jesus enough times, check. Did he turn the other cheek, check.” When a normal person claims Christ, we applaud them and welcome them. The point of mt post is pointing out the hypocrisy in the way the American church treats people of different classes.
When a normal person claims Christ, yes, there is a season of immaturity as they begin growing in the faith. However, in an era of easy-believe-ism, when 80+ percent of the American population self-identify as Christian, there is also a place for looking at fruit. Public actions don’t tell the whole story, you’re absolutely right; but they say something.
You don’t know Michael. Neither do I, other than what I see online. BUT I can look online and see a pattern of sound speech that may indicate SOMETHING about his spiritual state.
Dave, I agree with your first three points. On points 1 and 2: Justin finding a group of people to grow with and be discipled with does not forsake the gathering of the saints and does not mean he is not under some sort of spiritual authority. Just because it does not look like what you and I grew up in does not make it illegitimate. On point 3: Since when did you need a church building to practice baptism and communion? On point 4: The Church needs Justin. A church does not.
Good read and I am glad you posted a response.
Re: #1/2 — I hear what your’e saying; community looks different in different places. However, we can’t just throw out what is a pretty clear implication of NT teaching, either. If you look at the text, there are heavy implications of regular (i.e. weekly) meetings of believers under the leadership of elders/pastors who proclaim the Word and administer the ordinances. It’s unwise to toss all that out because “things are different now” (an idea I know folks like Don Miller have been suggesting). I worry that we in the 21st century (not unlike our forebears in past centuries) are falling victim to “chronological snobbery” when we think we’re more smart and sophisticated than the divinely-inspired text.
You wrote: “Just because it does not look like what you and I grew up in does not make it illegitimate.” My response would be, just because people gets together in a pub or at a house for religious conversation and calls it “church” doesn’t necessarily make it *legitimate*, either. The comparison should be to the text, not to tradition or preference. What does the Bible say about what the Church looks like in its local expression? THAT’s the question we must consider. Same for Question #3.
Re: Point #4 and your comment, “A (local) church does not (need a believer).” I would urge you to reconsider that. I recognize that my word “need” here is a conditional “need”–we “need” nothing but Jesus. I was using the word for semantic consistency. However, I will stand by a converse statement: “A local church is hurt by the non-participation and non-service of new believers.” My local church is strengthened and built up by believers, new and veteran, who use their spiritual gifts to build up my local church specifically. I believe the Bible teaches this clearly in I Timothy 4. So if a believer is not actively involved in a local church, he is depriving that local church of whatever his gifts may be.
Thank you for responding. I’ll leave the last word to you, if you want it.
The Bible does not give us much to go on what the local church looks like. God doesn’t care what it looks like as long as it isn’t immoral and is beneficial. He cares that there is community that meets and that the older aka Pastors and Elders are disciplining and guiding the younger. The reality is the church will always change in how it looks as it has through the centuries. And church looks different in other parts of the world. We can’t always see things through American eyes.