Teen sensation Justin Bieber opened up again about his relationship with God in the upcoming 75th “The Music” issue of V Magazine.
In a coming of age cover story photographed by Inez & Vinoodh, the soon to be 18-year-old pop singer discussed his rising fame, paternity suit controversy, and his views on faith and religion.
Bieber, an unabashed Christian, is known not to shy away from his beliefs in public, seen in his candid declarations of faith in Jesus, whom he believes died for his sins, to his visits to the holy land of Israel.
Most recently, the Canadian star turned heads again with a new tattoo – the face of Jesus Christ adorning the back of his calf.
With more to say about his faith, Bieber, who is currently recording his next album Believe, told V Magazine, according to the New York Post, “A lot of people who are religious, I think they get lost. They go to church just to go to church.”
“I’m not trying to disrespect them ... but for me, I focus more on praying and talking to Him. I don’t have to go to church.”
Responding to his statement, Dan Kimball, pastor of Vintage Faith Church in Santa Cruz, Calif., told The Christian Post that he agreed and disagreed with what Bieber was saying.
“[E]very Christian according to the New Testament is to be in some form of structured local church, whether a house church or large church,” the pastor stated. “We are not meant to be following Jesus without being in a Christian community, where if we are not there part of it, we are missed and noticed.”
“I do agree with him that some Christians can see ‘going to church’ as the basis for their faith, and that then becomes incorrect theology too,” Kimball noted.
“We aren't Christians based on whether we go to a church meeting or not, that is based on our faith in Jesus. So I agree with him there, but having faith in Jesus then means we should then be functioning in a local church according to the guidelines of Scripture. It would be sad thinking of a Christian living out their faith on their own without being in a faith community.”
Looking at the quote alone, the Western Seminary graduate believed the entertainer might not be taking into consideration what “church” is “theologically.”
“Again, it is hard to know from just a quote, so I can't make assumptions about what he believes or not about church. But to say ‘I don't have to go to church,’ he seems to be misunderstanding the biblical definition of church. You can have faith in Jesus and be a Christian without being part of a local body of Christ, but you then aren't functioning in the way the Bible describes Christians should be living.”
In the Scriptures, it was clear that every follower of Jesus should be a functioning part of a local church, meant to contribute to the local body of Christ with the gifts God had given each believer.
“We also are not to live as Christians on our own, but the Bible teaches we should have leaders, shepherds, elders as part of how we live out our faith,” he added. “So we are not meant to function without being part of some sort of formal church family that meets regularly; there is accountability there and we are contributing to that local church family.”
The preacher acknowledged, however, the difficulty for pop stars or celebrities to function in a local church due to travel schedules and personal space issues with fans.
“But I have talked to pastors who have celebrities in their churches and it is possible for sure. So my response is that if this quote is his understanding of what ‘church’ is, he is missing the theological understanding of church and also then is missing contributing to a local church.”
Clarifying that he struggled with making a comment just based on one quote, Kimball revealed that he could not make judgments about what the pop singer really believed since he did not know about his personal life or actual church involvement.
From what he did read about in the news, however, Kimball found it “totally refreshing” to see someone in pop culture like Bieber be vocal about his faith and be publicly proud to be a follower of Jesus, especially due to his influence among children and young teens.
As a public figure adored by many young followers then, was his statement about church a dangerous one to make?
“I don't know if I would say dangerous, as I celebrate the fact that he is vocal about his faith in Jesus and that is a wonderful and bold thing for a pop star to do,” The Emerging Church author answered.
“But I would say if by the quote he is meaning we can function as healthy followers of Jesus on our own, without being part of some form of a structured local church, whether a house church or a large church, then I would say that is incorrect theology he would be advocating about what church is and what a Christian’s role [is] as being part of a local church.”
“The whole metaphor of the church being a body, or a family precludes that you are not in isolation but functioning as a participating member contributing and receiving while in a church. And the Scriptures talk about elders, shepherds and accountability needed for all of us, which you wouldn't then experience if you were not part of some form of a local church,” Kimball concluded.
“So I would hope that children and young teens understand the correct theology of ‘church’ in that way.”
Kimball launched the first formal church plant of Santa Cruz Bible Church, Vintage Faith Church, in 2004 with a team of about 175 people.
The mission of Vintage Faith Church is to reflect the “vintage” values of the early church and teachings of Jesus.