(Photo: Passion 2013 Conferences)
Pop singer Justin Bieber may have helped boost sales of Pastor Judah Smith's new book after the Canadian sensation told his 6.8 million Instagram followers to read Jesus Is: Find a New Way to Be Human. The book from The City Church pastor, made available on Amazon on Tuesday, currently holds the no. 1 spot among Christian books on the retailer's website.
Bieber, 18, shared an Instagram photo of the cover of Smith's book Tuesday, writing, "So proud of my pastor. This book comes out on the 26th. Judah is the best speaker of our generation. Read this book [you] won't regret it."
Although Feb. 26 is listed on Amazon as the official publication date for Jesus Is, Smith's book went on sale yesterday, according to the promotional website launched by publisher Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Smith, who is lead pastor of The City Church in Seattle along with his wife, Chelsea Smith, has been seen in photos and videos with Bieber, although the full extent of their relationship is not known.
Bieber is outspoken about his faith and has said that he has a relationship with Jesus Christ, whom he believes died for his sins. The Canadian pop singer is reportedly also a regular participant in a monthly Bible study held in Beverly Hills with other young stars, including Bieber's former girlfriend, Selena Gomez, and Vanessa Hudgens, who is known for her role in the television series "High School Musical." The Bible study was reportedly organized by Jason Kennedy, a Christian who works as a correspondent for E! Entertainment. Kennedy has also endorsed Smith's new book, saying "it will change your life."
When Pastor Smith caught wind of Bieber's Jesus Is Instagram shout-out on Tuesday, he tweeted, "I love you @justinbieber for life. #family Thnx for the INSTA. #JesusIs."
Carl Lentz, lead pastor of Hillsong New York City and a friend of Smith's who has also spent time with Bieber, took notice of the teen singer's comment on Jesus Is.
"I agree [with] young money @justinbieber and @scooterbraun will concur: @judahsmith is a leader of leaders," Lentz wrote, while sharing a photo he took of Bieber's Instagram image. The NYC pastor wrote in the caption of Bieber's photo: "The guy who posted this is a no-name so I wanted to add some insta-WIEGHT to it. And I agree: this book will significantly impact our world."
Pastor Smith, 34, has been preaching a series of sermons starting with "Jesus Is..." at The City Church since last year. The purpose, like the book, is to reveal the character of Jesus.
"He writes as if to a friend, illustrating the importance of Christ's message to modern men and women. This is a book for new believers, for lifelong followers, and for the merely curious," says a description from Thomas Nelson of Jesus Is: Find a New Way to Be Human. "Judah Smith shows us the Jesus that somber paintings and hymns fail to capture. With passion, humor, and conviction, he shows that Jesus is life. Jesus is grace. Jesus is your friend. Jesus is a new and better way to be human."
The Smiths have been leading The City Church since 2009, when Judah's parents stepped down from leading the nondenominational megachurch that attracts 6,300 regular worshippers. Pastor Smith has been noted for his effective communication of the Gospel, and for preaching with humor, authority and zeal. The Seattle pastor recently spoke at Louie Giglio's Passion 2013 conference, an annual gathering meant to spiritually stimulate college age students and draw awareness to modern-day slavery, among other issues.
Smith's previous book is Soul Seekers: Our Call to People and the 13 Challenges We Must Face to Reach Them, while his Love Like Jesus: Reaching Others with Passion and Purpose is scheduled for a June 2013 release. His latest work, Jesus Is: Find a New Way to Be Human, was on Wednesday no. 1 in Christian books about Jesus and no. 8 in books on Christian theology on Amazon.