Carl Lentz is the unconventional leader of Hillsong Church NYC. (hillsongnyc.com)
Every Sunday thousands flock to Hillsong Church
in New York City, but it's not your typical, traditional church.
It is complete with strobe lights, concert-like worship and an unconventional leader in its pastor, Carl Lentz.
The 35-year-old Lentz looks more like a rock star than a man of the cloth.
chooses to wear leather jackets and jeans instead of a suit and tie.
"Our church is about trying to get people to experience the power of God as fast as possible," Lentz
"I love Justin and he's a good kid; he's trying to figure this out," Lentz
"People are like, 'Is he
even a Christian?' " Lentz
"I always tell people … grace and acceptance does not mean approval," he
"I can accept you as a human being and not approve of your actions.
That's how we've been loved."
We Reach Them All
co-founded Hillsong NYC
in 2012 as an extension of the main Hillsong Church in Sydney.
"So when it comes to celebrities I always say celebrities are people last time I checked," Lentz
Lentz on Moral Issues
The pastor is not so quick, however, to address moral issues like abortion and homosexuality.
During an appearance on the Katie Couric's show, Lentz
was asked if he
had a moral imperative to speak publicly about controversial issues.
"Because we try to be like Jesus."
doesn't want to make blanket statements about morality, preferring instead to have conversations surrounding hot button social topics.
"Homosexuality is something right now that people are really, really looking at," Lentz
"I'd rather talk to these people on my own and walk it out like I would anybody else than make a bold statement in the papers..."
"I hate it when I talk to someone who has a pre-conceived notion of what I'm going to say or do and I don't think it's fair so I just decline to answer it in most forums," he
For that and more, Lentz
critics, which he
says helps him be better as a pastor and as a believer.
"I don't have it all together and there are areas of my life where I'm trying to do better as well, trying to handle criticism better," he
"I'm going to take it onboard and walk with it humbly and say like I never write criticism off.
Most people who criticize us simply do not know us."
And with a growing church and his
name among the stars, many question whether Lentz
is the next 'big thing' in Christianity?
"I know me so I don't think so," he
"I'm a small thing used by a big God," he