Hillsong's Carl Lentz on card games and Bible studies with Justin Bieber

Hillsong 'pastor to the stars' Carl Lentz has opened up about his high-profile, spiritual friendship to pop-sensation Justin Bieber.

Lentz, pastor at Hillsong Church in New York City, has in recent years emerged as a close confidante and mentor to Bieber, whose Christian faith has increasingly made headlines alongside his sometimes-controversial celebrity life. In August rumours circulated that Bieber had quit his world tour in order to start a church – a claim he later denied.

Justin Bieber hangs out with one of his favorite preachers, Pastor Carl Lentz of Hillsong Church.(PHOTO: Instagram/Justin Bieber)

Bieber stayed with Lentz and his family for a month at their New Jersey home in a break that included 'Uno, card games, Bible studies and just sneaking into coffee shops' in a bid to give the star a moment of 'real life' before the trip was discovered by the press, Lentz told Associated Press.

Lentz, who baptised Bieber several years ago, shared some of the advice he's given to the star when he comes under public scrutiny.

'It's the same way I would try to handle criticism in my own life. You never want to get to the point where you're so callous that it doesn't register but you do want to get to a place where you can control what it does to your spirit,' he said.

'For him, he's so used to that kind of thing that we try to change what kind of reaction he had. On his own accord, he just said, "Look, I don't like stuff like this but there's absolutely nothing I can do about it. It's not going to rule me so I'm not going to think about it."'

Though he's also associated with high-profile figures like NBA stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, Lentz was keen to distance himself from the 'pastor to the stars' image and the idea that Hillsong is dominated by celebrity culture.

'I think everybody's a star in their own right, and I think that's immediately where I differ, because I think God has created everybody with really special unique things about their life and about who they are, but I know why our world says that because they don't expect people that are famous to be in church at all,' he said.

'So Hillsong Church is 99.9 per cent filled with amazing people who are not famous. Those are the people that build it, that serve, that sacrifice, that give, and we get notoriety for that small little sliver because people know them.'

In Lentz's new book Own the Moment, he writes: 'People always ask, "What's it like talking about life and Jesus with Justin Bieber?" I always say the same thing: "Matter of fact, he's just like you. And just like me."'