Pastor Carl Lentz talks hanging out with Justin Bieber: 'It gives me perspective'

Gibson Johns, AOL.com

Pastor Carl Lentz, the lead pastor of Hillsong NYC, is routinely referred to as "Justin Bieber's Pastor," and he understands why.

"It makes sense," he told AOL Entertainment during a Facebook Live interview this week. "He's this generation's Michael Jackson fame-wise. People are desperate to know why, what or who he's hanging out with. I tell people that he's just like everybody else -- he just wants people that love him."

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And Lentz does "love" Bieber. The Virginia native, whose new book Own the Moment hit shelves this week, describes himself as "Justin's friend" who does "pastoral things" for him -- but he's actually not his pastor. 

"I have a friend Judah Smith who has an amazing church in Seattle and L.A., and he's really more Justin's pastor than I am," he explained. "Judah would have that title much more accurately than me."

See photos of Pastor Carl Lentz:

That being said, the stylish pastor -- who used to play college basketball -- appreciates his time with Bieber, as it gives him a window into his life, which is one that very few people on this planet can even come close to understanding or truly empathizing with.

"It gives me perspective," Lentz said of spending time with the pop star. "If I were to hang with you for a day and watch what you do [...] I would have a better sense of empathy with what your every day is like. With Justin over the years, it's been interesting to get a glimpse into the insane pressure of his fame and celebrity."

One recent example of that was when Bieber famously cancelled the remainder of his Purpose World Tour, citing the need for a break and soul-searching as his reasoning. Critics were quick to blame his relationship with Lentz and Hillsong for the announcement, alleging that he made the decision after receiving pressure from his relatively new friend. Again, Lentz wasn't surprised at the reaction.

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"They're running out of stuff," he said with a laugh. "The truth can't be what he said, which is too clear on his Instagram. 'I'm doing this because I am tired. I want a break because I want to build my soul and I want to chill out.' [People said,] 'No way! Let's accuse this church of being a Scientology-like cult, because this young man made a career decision.' It's just a thirsty news cycle that has to get people to click. They can't say, 'Wow, the guy made a good decision.'"

At the end of the day, though Lentz has no problem discussing his friendship with the "Love Yourself" hitmaker, he insists that he's never the one to actually bring him up in conversation.

"Somebody the other day was like, 'You talk about Justin Bieber a lot.' And I was like, 'I actually never do, you ask me about him.'"

Watch our full interview with Pastor Carl Lentz below:

Own the Moment by Carl Lentz is out now. Order here.

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