Rethinking Youth Ministry
The Appealing Faith of Justin Bieber: A Q&A with Belieber! author Cathleen Falsani
And you can see that his appeal transcends religious and cultural lines. One of the most moving, powerful scenes in Never Say Never involves a group of teenage Muslim girls who Justin's road managers surprise with free tickets to his concert. The girls are massive fans and one girl, who is wearing a hijab (the traditional head covering worn by many religious Muslim women), sings a beautiful rendition of one of his songs. What a tremendous gift of grace to these girls, who so admire Justin despite their religious differences. It's something I'm certain they'll never forget and perhaps speaks more clearly to what Christianity is meant to be about—love, grace, mercy, etc.,—than anything Justin might say in an interview or at an awards show about his Christian faith. That scene never fails to move me to tears.
I've heard from hundreds of fans around the globe via Twitter and email since I started working on the book. I've heard from Jewish kids in Israel, Muslim teens (both girls and boys) from the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and Indonesia. I've heard from Buddhist and Shinto fans in Japan, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. Catholic kids in South America, the U.S., all over Europe and into the former Soviet Union. They're all intrigued by his faith—even if they don't share it or come from a different faith tradition—and want to know more about it and his story. It's extraordinary the reach Justin has and the barriers that he so naturally and with great love crosses all the time.
And then, the most moving to me are the kids I've heard from (including a few I know personally) who say that the way Justin expresses and lives his faith has made them reconsider faith—and God—for themselves. They began praying because he encouraged that. They opened a Bible for the first time on their own because they heard him talk about stories from the Bible. They decided to give faith a try because of Justin's faith and the encouragement Pattie Mallette (who often communicates with Justin's fans via Twitter and never fails to mention Jesus, scripture, the power of prayer, etc.) has given them, as well. Would that all of us who call ourselves followers of Christ would be so eloquent and effective in sharing our faith and, more importantly, God's love with the world around us.
Rev. Brian Kirk is an ordained pastor in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and currently serves an inner-city church in St. Louis, Missouri. He also teaches as adjunct faculty at Eden Theological Seminary, and co-writes the blog rethinkingyouthministry.com.