I was never a fan of Justin Bieber as an artist, even before his tumultuous teenage years. However, he caught my attention after his visits to Hillsong NYC about a year ago. He had been visiting after his run-ins with the law and other reckless behavior. Justin has now remerged promoting his new album, Purpose, reinventing his public image and proclaiming his relationship with God as his catalyst for change.
At first I was skeptical of Justin Bieber’s outspoken views of God and Christianity. It would be a perfect plan to quiet the bad publicity. However, after reading and hearing many of his recent interviews, I believe his relationship with Christ seems genuine.
As believers, even if we don’t support Justin Bieber, I think we should at least try to understand him and his journey as a human being. I believe it would help us to understand the millennial generation better. Not only because his music is popular among teenagers and young adults but also because Justin in many ways represents millennials today. Through his example we can better understand millennials (their struggles and needs) within the Christian community.
Below are some reflections from observing Justin Bieber, his views on Christianity and how we can relate that to the church.
1. Millennials May Seem Shallow but They Are Truly Searching For Purpose and Meaning
I remember leaving my four year college just a few shy credits away from earning a bachelors degree in graphic design. Why do you ask? Because I knew I couldn’t do it for 12 hours a day for 25+ years. I wasn’t passionate about it and I wanted to help people with my career. Now what does this have to do with my point? I find that this same situation is common among millennials. While we do seem superficial and image conscious, we long to do things that tap into our higher calling. We cannot fathom working the same mundane jobs our parents did. And so, we would even resort to live with less in order to live a more fulfilling life.
It seems that we write off the younger generation as a lost pursuit when really they are one heartfelt conversation away from giving their life to something with more meaning and value. I think some Justin Bieber’s recent search for God is a reflection of many young people that have easy access to an array of material things but yet strongly desire to seek truth, purpose and and meaning in their lives.
This is a reminder to me that as a Christian I should always present myself to younger people with patience, love, and understanding. Seems at though many times leaders and elders meet millennials within the church with judgement, criticisms and criteria for change. A humble spirit and a vow to open communication can ignite more growth and passion in young people knowing Jesus.
2) Contrary to Belief Spirituality Is a Big Thing Among Millennials
Most millennials I encounter profess themselves to be spiritual more than atheist or agnostic. What does spirituality to the millennial mean? Whether or not they practice a set religion, they have an understanding that they are to be accountable to a higher power. More young adults searching for whom to seek after, some celebrities ( ex. Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber and Shia LaBeouf) have sought out Christ as the answer.
From my viewpoint, I’ve have seen a shift from intolerance to curiosity when it comes to christianity. My non-believer friends are more open to listen to Christian music or attend a service at church as opposed to was when I was younger. Surprisingly they are willing to understand when discussing any religion. Although statistics state that more young adults are disassociating themselves with the Christian church, we can see that their is a trend of willingness to at least understand Christianity.
We as the Christian church need to teach young Christians in the faith effective evangelism. Sharing the gospel these days must be more intentional instead of general. We must make more of an effort to nurture real relationships with non-believers.
3) Many Christians Churches Don’t Support Millennials Effectively
From my personal viewpoint I think that most churches somewhat neglect our millennial generation. I’m not even talking about the lack of youth ministry in churches but more so the lack of support for the age group. Teens are left to be guided by young adults and most young adults are left on their own to figure out leading youth ministry.
I have also seen other churches who encourage the youth to be involved in the Sunday community. Their community are encouraged by the whole church. Being in church since children’s ministry, I know the most critical ministry throughout my lifetime so far has been youth ministry. It was were my faith in God became my own.
So how do the millennials need help in your church? Lets start by approaching and encouraging them on Sundays. It might not be the most rewarding thing to do but your encouragement is not in vain.
I think we also need to be mindful about what we say and how we say it, especially on social media. Sometimes as believers we use our social platform to justify what we believe. But most of the time I find that the way we do it is more hurtful than helpful.
This can turn away those who are unaware of what the Christian church is really about. Like Justin Bieber explained in his Complex interview, the bad reputation that Christians have made him and others weary of attending church.
Some people are bad communicators. They find something that works so well for them and they wanna share it, but they don’t know how to share it so they’re kind of pushy. There’s a lot of really weird stuff going on at churches…And you’re like, I don’t want anything to do with this. – Justin Bieber
4) Millennials are Desperately Seeking Face to Face relationships and
In an age where communication is almost entirely done through social media we are relying less on face to face interaction. Many young people find themselves feeling lonely and disconnected to their real life relationships. Now more than ever, we see the value of Christians meeting together physically and connecting about their faith. It is not only important for millennials to meet together in church but also to have mentors guiding them who are familiar with their lives and personal situations.
As many people know Pastors Judah Smith and Carl Lentz among other friends have taken Justin Bieber under their wings as friends and mentors. He has stayed at some of their houses and gone on many trips together. I believe that their fellowship with the singer has been an encouragement to him on his journey. After years of their mentorship, Justin has grown in his faith and has become outspoken about how God changed his life.
This goes to show all of us is that all mentorship takes is forming an authentic relationship with a young person. You never know what the person is going through until you attempt to connect to them. From personal experience I can say that if you are genuine the teen will be willing to talk and be honest about their difficulties.
Justin has shown how our generation should be reached for Christ. Pastors have taken out the time to instruct him and not necessarily correct him. Young people will come to know God through your direction and example.
I can see that Justin Bieber is on a journey. He is still making mistakes. But When I gave my life to christ at 19, I was still doing a lot of things I shouldn’t have been doing for years. Thank God for his mercy and grace on me. Thankful also for the awesome people who were honest and kind to me. They were patient and listened to my worries and doubts. They walked alongside me to help me figure out this christian walk. If people were too abrasive with me I probably would not be attending the church today.
These are thoughts I had on Justin Bieber and what he teaches me about millennials today. Let me know what your thoughts are!
P.S – I am addicted to his new album Purpose, its def. worth the listen.