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.