Another exciting transition

Since Easter, we as District Church pastoral staff and leadership have been in discernment about the future of the church and specifically about the East Side community, which we launched last year and which I’ve been pastoring since its inception.

As we’ve been praying over the last few months, we’ve sensed that God is calling Matthew Watson to take over the leadership of the East Side community from me. As you may already know Matthew and his family (wife Lisa and kids Nathan, Elias, and Annelies) moved to DC from Memphis last summer to be our new church planting pastor.

Matthew reading The Adventures of Max the Minnow to kick off Sunday's message.
Matthew reading The Adventures of Max the Minnow to kick off Sunday’s message.

September 7 is the date when my role as East Side pastor will officially come to an end and Matthew’s tenure will begin, and during our service that Sunday we’ll have a special time of prayer and commissioning for Matthew and his family. (If you’re in or around the DC area, you’re welcome to come! 5pm at Miner Elementary School.)

Having had the opportunity to work with Matthew over this last year, and to get to know Lisa and the kids as well, let me just say: I’m so excited to see how God will work in and with and through the Watsons to help The District Church and the East Side parish mature in Christ and in love. God has already used them to grow our community and I have no doubt he’ll continue to do so.

As for me, this frees me up to step into a slightly different role but one which, I think, fits my gifts and passions a little better — I’ll be serving in a church-wide pastoral role focusing on teaching and spiritual formation. We’re still finalizing the exact details, but again, I’m excited for what God is going to bring in this new chapter of The District Church’s life.

There’s more news to come, but I’ll leave it there for now! Please be praying for me and for the Watsons and for the church as we turn another fun page.

Exciting News, #3: New Campus, New Pastor

The news keeps coming. And today you get not one, not two, but THREE exciting announcements!

1. A NEW CAMPUS
As I shared a few months ago, we’ve been praying since the beginning of this year about where God might be leading us to plant a new church–in continuing fulfillment of our vision to be a network of neighborhood churches. And as God led, we sensed that this would be in the H St/East Side of DC, about four miles southeast of our current location.

Well, in the three months since that email, momentum has continued to grow and energy within the community of folks living in that area has continued to build; and after much prayer and seeking, we’ve decided to start preliminary launch meetings at the end of January (yep, in two weeks!), with this campus beginning more like a third service (in a different location). (Listen to Aaron share about it at the beginning of yesterday’s message.)

2. A NEW PASTOR
You know the old adage about how God sometimes uses us to be the answer to our own prayers? Well, in response to that prayer request for a leader for the new location that I shared in October, it appears that … it’s going to be me! The leadership of the church, the leaders living in the H St area, and myself, all came to a place where we realized that this was the route that made the most sense and generated the most  enthusiasm–and peace, too.

So I’d ask for your prayers as I continue my steep learning curve in pastoral ministry–I’m excited to be taking on more responsibility, to continue growing in what God is calling me to, and to face the challenges ahead in and together with the community that God is entrusting to me and the other leaders there. I’m also fully aware of my own inadequacies–God’s going to have to really step up (again)!

3. GOD’S PROVISION, AS USUAL
Two weeks ago, I asked for your support and your prayers to raise the remainder of the money I needed for 2013, which at the time amounted to about $7,000. Well … as usual, God answered and you stepped up, and gave generously to the tune of $6,000!! Which means that, with two weeks before the end of January (my deadline), I have less than $1,000 left to raise. So …

Will you partner with me to raise the $1,000 I need for 2013?

If you’d like to help support me financially, you’re welcome to do so:

  • by check, payable to “The District Church” with “For the Ministry of Justin Fung” in the memo, and mailed to The District Church, PO Box 3116, Washington, DC 20010;
  • online here, selecting “Ministry of JF” from the dropdown menu.

[All gifts are fully tax-deductible.]

As ever, grateful for your friendship in this adventure called life,

Justin.

2012: Two weeks in

2012 is not even two weeks old and God has already begun his work in and around me. About a week ago, as I prayed about what God had in store for me this year, my mind was drawn toward the word “intentionality”–a theme I talked about in my New Year’s sermon (“In the beginning … rest”) and also in a recent blog. I got the sense that this would be a year of big decisions and big choices, with big consequences. At the time, I had no idea what those would be, but even in the last week, I’m beginning to see what God might have in mind.

This weekend, The District Church’s Leadership Community will be heading on its yearly retreat, for a time of spiritual renewal and re-visioning for the coming year. Last year, we had about thirty people; this year, our church having grown now to a community of around 250, we have over 50 people coming–and several other leaders weren’t able to make it this weekend! Please hold us in your thoughts and prayers as we get involved in helping this toddler-aged church learn to walk and talk.

As for myself, I’m learning to fill out my role as Associate Pastor at the church, moving from a manager and task-completer to a vision-casting, proactively-investing leader, with the remit to create, to innovate, to make space for other people to grow into their God-given potential. It’s, in equal parts, exciting and challenging, and I can’t wait to see how God does his alchemical work with what I have to offer. Discerning where and how to invest my time and energy is definitely a matter of prayer, and I’d appreciate yours for my continuing development in the calling God has for me.

Finally, I’m so stoked to inform you that–through the generosity of many of you getting this email–I’m now at over 50% of my target support for this year, after only two months! That’s not even including those of you who’ve said you want to support my work at The District Church but haven’t yet given! What an amazing testimony to your love and support; I’m so humbled, and glad to have you along for the journey. I count you as part of the ministry team without whom my work wouldn’t be possible! And as a reminder of how I ended up where I am, here’s a video produced by Lindsay, one of the storytellers (she’s a writer and photographer) at our church, from an interview we did last summer:

You’re invited!!

In August, I shared about beginning the ordination process (“Adventures in Becoming a Pastor”). Well, in the six weeks since then, we’ve had an ordination council meeting, at which I was unanimously approved; and the church’s leadership also came out in strong support of my ordination. So with that:
They say it's like a wedding ...

I’m so pleased to be able to invite you to my installation service as Associate Pastor at The District Church at 2pm on Saturday, November 5, 2011.

The service itself will take place at National Baptist Memorial Church in Columbia Heights, just a block away from where our church meets, and it’ll be immediately followed by a brief reception/celebration time. I know most of you won’t be able to make it to DC for that weekend, but if you are, I’d love to have you here to see, hear and experience life in DC and at The District Church.

Let me know if you think you can come; if you’re coming from out of town, I’ll help to try and find housing for you!


Facebook reminds me of God

 

Facebook has this new thing where it posts flashbacks: “On this day in …” Today it popped up on my sidebar while I was browsing a friend’s pictures, and it read: “On this day in 2010: ‘Heading up to MA for final interviews. If you’re the praying kind …’”

Wow. It’s only been a year. It’s already been a year. The last twelve months have simultaneously felt like they’ve flown by, and yet an eternity has happened in that same time. Twelve months ago, I was still on the verge—and completely mentally prepared—to move to Cape Cod. I was excited for the opportunity to get paid to play music and hang out with young people, and excited for the opportunity to get to work with John-Paul.

 

It was also the first step in the redirection play that God ran on my life. A couple days after this post, I was back in DC … lost, uncertain, searching, wondering. I had no idea that God had better things for me—all I knew was that what I thought was going to happen, hadn’t.

So today, I give thanks to God for his redirection play, for his bigger plan, for proving himself trustworthy. I give thanks for the times when my plans didn’t come about because God had his own, for the disappointment that was the fertile ground for a new hope, for the uncertainty that gave space for me to trust and have faith in God.

And thanks to Facebook for reminding me of all of this. 🙂