Preaching in front of thousands of people does not phase celebrity-favored Pastor, Carl Lentz, who told Us Weekly he once had a fear of public speaking. In fact, the Hillsong Church preacher has garnered the attention of Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Hailey Baldwin, Kourtney Kardashian and more, with his motivational sermons. Lentz, who recently released his first book, Own the Moment, spoke exclusively with Us about the mega-church, his BFF Bieber and the advice he gives his fellow Christians.
Check out our Q&A below:
Us: What made you want to sit down and write this book?
CL: I feel like there are so many people who have an ability to change our world, and they need a reminder that there’s a lot that we can’t do, but there is so much we can do. If people could just do what they’re doing now with passion, it’s going to lead to more.
Us: What do you think is the best piece of advice you give to someone reading this book?
CL: A lot of people have talked to me about a chapter I have about fear and what to do with fear because a lot of people deal with that, anxiety and fear. I think you can use it rather than it use you. So, which you’re scared of, or if you’re dealing with anxiety, you kind of run to it rather than try to hide from it. I think it can become something that becomes fuel.
Us: I know you mentioned in your book that you grew up having disdain for typical religious jargon, so can you give me an example of how your sermons compare to something someone would see in another church?
CL: Maybe if a typical church phrase is, you just gotta believe. You gotta believe more. We would probably say, you need to get to know who Jesus is and trust him in the middle of your Monday when you’re overwhelmed by your lack of money and the job that you don’t like. Remind yourself who saved you, where your faith is and pray for two minutes. It’s like putting a practical handle on a giant concept. Sometimes churches have been guilty of giving people big directions, but no practical ways to make this happen.
Us: I know you mentioned in your book that you don’t believe in premarital sex. What do you have to say to the members who do engage in that behavior? Do they confide in you?
CL: For sure, it’s all based on trust and equity. Basically, that’s what preaching is. It’s our job to teach and direct and teach people what the Bible says, not what I say. That’s a huge point of clarity. My opinion doesn’t matter; it’s our job to find out what God thinks. When it comes to premarital sex, or anything like that, let’s go find out what God thinks about sex. Let’s go find out what the Bible says about relationships. You have to make your own decisions. If you don’t want to abide by this, I don’t suffer, you suffer. It’s not like I’m going to lose sleep over a decision that you’re not making … If you’ve been raised one way and thought something was ok your whole life, you’re not going to walk into Hillsong Church and hear one thing necessarily and be like, ‘Oh that makes sense.’ Sometimes it’s a journey. You have to relearn things. You gotta relearn because sex is never about sex. Sex is always about values.
Us: How do you think Justin Bieber has changed in the past couple of months per your teachings and sermons and the advice that you give him?
CL: I think Justin has a really deep, mature relationship with Jesus. I don’t think my teaching or my preaching has made even remotely as big of an impact as his own desire and passion and love for Jesus. That’s how it should work. The primary change agent in somebody’s life, it shouldn’t be a person. It shouldn’t be a preacher. It should be God. I think all his changes are a credit to him and him allowing God to continue to use him. Nobody gets credit for that. I don’t know anybody … he’s done this. He’s worked really hard to put himself in a position to be the best Justin he can be and I’m proud of him and inspired by him.
Us: Can you describe what appears to be Justin’s current rededication to his faith or his deeper dive into his faith?
CL: I don’t think Justin is dedicated to Hillsong Church. I think he’s dedicated to being a Christian and he has a community in our church and some other places that really gives him strength. I don’t think there has been rededication. I think this is growth that happens to anybody who is passionate about their faith. What the world sees is a rededication and I don’t think… that’s not fair, that’s not true. He’s always been on a journey like we all are. To me this is just natural progression of somebody who is dedicated, and he’s very dedicated.
Us: What are church members’ reactions when they see celebrities at service?
CL: They don’t even bat an eye because this is family. It’s only the weird fan people that make it odd and they sneak in here and there and those people. I feel compassion for them; they need to expand their world. I mean the last place you want to do is hound somebody in church.
Us: Do you see the average person is seeking the same advice a celebrity is?
CL: Yeah, I think that the function of the problem is different. If you’re lonely and you live in a really low rent apartment and you have a tough job your family is disconnected, that loneliness is different than if you’re famous and feel removed from the world, and you feel like an object. Loneliness is loneliness. The problem is you feel alone. The way you work it out with somebody is different, but the answer is the same, and that is where the hope is.
Us: In your book you give relationship advice. What is the biggest takeaway or piece of advice regarding relationships that you tell people?
CL: You need to be around people that make you better, period. That means people who are better at what they do than you are. People who will challenge you when you need to be challenged. People who will love you when you need to just rest, and in this life you have to pursue people are going in the same direction as you. Not everybody is going to be in every chapter of your life. That is just life. If your most common bond is physical attraction, you will not last, looks change. People will look different, and if that was your bond, you’re in trouble.
Own the Moment is now available.