Two words that strike fear in the hearts of 16 year old boys.
Two words that irritate the masses at large.
The floppy hair. The programmed music. The predictable success.
Here’s the thing. Justin Bieber isn’t the first pop idol. He is one in a long line of idols. We’ve got Backstreet Boys, ‘Nsync, NKOTB, Boys II Men, New Edition, The Beatles. Becoming an idol is tricky business but Bieber has succeeded. He is now someone people worship. Little girls bow down before him and beg him to marry them, talk to them or just hold their hand. Bieber is a sensation. Bieber is something people desire and covet. Bieber is a true idol.
I just found out Bieber is a Christian. You can read about it here in the Toronto Star. They say that his movie Never Say Never shows his roots in faith. You can find videos of him singing Christian Ballads on You Tube. I love that he’s Christian. Good for him for being strong enough to demonstrate his faith. Nevertheless, he has become an idol. He is a sensation. He markets himself well and people respond to that. He knows how to sell himself and make the biggest impact. I was in Superstore last week buying groceries and I saw a line of nail polish by Bieber. Tell me what interest he has in nail polish. None I would bet. But he knows the people he’s trying to reach and he uses their interests to target them, to entice them, to draw them into Beiber Fever.
How do you balance the idol aspect with faith. In the Bible is specifically says we shouldn’t worship idols. We know there are little girls who love Bieber more than God. What’s a man of faith to do. I love that Bieber declares his faith and isn’t afraid to say who he is. He isn’t afraid to be known for who he is. But he’s still an idol. He’s still someone that people worship. I wonder how he feels about this.
Idol worship is a problem in today’s society. We have magazines that follow every movement of Celebrities, we know every detail of the private lives of our politicians and our Preachers if they are to succeed have to look, act and speak in such a way that they appeal to the masses. This is something that has been a problem for years. How do we as a church compete against this? How do we compete against mass marketing and the money that goes into making a star a star?
I don’t think we can fight against it. I do think we can use it. We can learn from the big engine that drives the production of these individuals. We can use what they are doing to help enhance our connection with society.
- The first thing we need to do is sit down and think about the market we are trying to reach. Who are we trying to reach? Where are those people?
- The next thing we need to do is sit down and figure out what is important to them. Justin Bieber is marketed to pre-teen girls. They like nail polish, glitter and boys. He’s a perfect fit. If we are trying to reach people for Christ we need to see who is in our neighborhoods. What there needs are. What interests them. We need to discover what they want and find a way to provide a relevant environment that will interest them. Planning for people without knowing who or what they are is an exercise in futility. We need to embrace market research.
- After these things we actually need to make changes. Our churches need to become comfortable environments for the people of today. Have you entered a Starbucks recently? They have couches and chairs. Cozy corners and tables with benches. There is music playing in the background and even if you are alone you feel like you’re part of the coffee drinking community. Starbucks has made tons of money marketing community. Now compare this to most churches. We have rows of hard wooden pews lined up one after another. The minister stands at the front and talks at people who are staring at the back of other peoples heads. There isn’t a lot of community involved in worship as it stands right now. We need to find a way to forge connections as we experience God. We need to find new ways of doing things.
- After we do this we need to remember that change happens again and again. Justin Bieber will not continue to have success if he does not change as his people change. Most pop idols stay 3-4 years in the lime light and then disappear forever if they do not change. We cannot allow ourselves to stagnate again. We must always keep our fingers on the pulse of the community.
I don’t know exactly what church should look like but I know we need to make changes. We need to start gathering together and using our resources to keep our faith relevant in today’s world. We are past the time when we can expect people to idolize us. Instead now we need to look at others for examples. We need to start creating our own destiny.