Challenges of a church plant

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been experiencing a rather intense period of what feels like spiritual opposition — a couple of car accidents, several burglaries and thefts, a drive-by shooting in one of the neighborhoods we’re ministering in, to name just a few incidents. It’s something that many of us on staff have been observing and feeling on a personal level as well, so I’d ask for you to stand with us in this, as “our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12), and prayer is the most effective weapon we have right now.

There are a lot of good things happening: small groups are going really well, new people are finding community, those that are far from God are giving their lives to Christ, and we are making real headway in building connections with other churches and organizations in the city to see more of God’s kingdom in our neighborhoods. (For instance, I had a great meeting with Dr. Evans, the new principal of Miner Elementary, about how we can continue to partner with them to help the kids; and our layout reshuffle [see below] looks great.) So it’s not altogether surprising to be in this situation; but it’s a good, humbling, sobering reminder that we’re not just playing games, and also that none of what we’re doing is possible unless the Lord is in it.

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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.

Want to support a young pastor?

Dear friend,

When I agreed to spend Christmas 2009 with Aaron and Amy Graham, little did I know what I was getting myself into. Aaron and I spent a lot of time together, especially as we both attended, and taught at, Urbana 2009 (InterVarsity’s triennial missions conference). We talked a lot about churches, about what we felt God was calling us to, and about what church could look like.

At the time, Aaron and Amy were thinking of planting a church in our neighborhood of Columbia Heights, and a few months later they took the plunge. I’ve been involved with The District Church since we began meeting as a small group of twelve in the Grahams’ living room, through to our public gatherings that began in September with several dozen more people.

After a couple months of discernment, prayer and a lot of time trying to figure out what God wanted to do with me, I felt led to join the staff of the church, which I did on October 31, 2010.

So here I am, the first Leadership Resident of The District Church, which, depending on how you look at it, makes me either a pioneer or a guinea pig … or some hybrid. My responsibilities for the next year and a half essentially cover the gamut of pastoral urban ministry: teaching, preaching (which I did for the first time in mid-December; see right), discipling, chaplaincy, church and community outreach in the neighborhood, and leading worship. (For more on what it means to be a Leadership Resident, you can check out the “About Us” page of our website: www.districtchurch.org.)

Due to the church’s youth and its identity as a non-denominational missional church plant, Aaron and Amy have raised support in order to live and serve full-time. I’m committing to do the same, raising support in order to enable me to serve the church and the city, the church in the city.

To that end, I’m excited to invite you to be a part of what I believe God’s doing in and through me, this church, and this city.

I hope that you will prayerfully consider joining me in helping found this new church in our nation’s capital.

Peace and grace,

Jus.

***

WHY THE DISTRICT CHURCH?

At The District Church, we want to be centered around and excelling in worship, community and justice; we want to be a church that seeks to love God, to love our neighbors, and to love the city to which God had called us. If you look on the church’s website (www.districtchurch.org), one of our first descriptors is “A Church for the City.”

This vision and passion is built upon God’s words to the Israelite people in exile in Babylon in the 6th century BC:

“Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (Jeremiah 29:7).

Washington, DC is a fascinating city. On the one hand, it is a city rich in culture and history, a city to which movers and shakers come from all over the world, a city that leads the country in terms of life expectancy, education and income.

And yet it is also a city with devastating poverty, a struggling public education system, and an HIV infection rate higher than many sub-Saharan African nations—it’s estimated that one in every twenty adults in DC has the infection.

People come to DC to change the country, to change the world … and yet changing the city is often overlooked. We want to be a church that seeks to make a genuine, tangible difference in the place to which we have been called.

Moreover, community is hard to find in a city whose transience is so ingrained by the political cycles; in this context, we want to be a church that provides such community to people. People may—and will—leave DC because God calls them to other things, but we don’t want people leaving DC because they couldn’t find a faith community and friends.

***

RAISING SUPPORT

I began raising support in mid-October and by the grace of God and the generosity of family and friends, I’ve already been able to raise $15,000 in support both pledged and given, both one-time and monthly.

To put this into context, I’d budgeted about $2,500 per month (or $30,000 for the year, November to November), which includes rent, utilities, health insurance, food, transportation … everything, really! So I’ve raised half of the support I need for the year, and I’m asking you to help me get the rest of the way!

TO GIVE, PLEASE FILL THIS OUT AND SEND BACK TO justin@districtchurch.org.

I/we would like to offer monthly support by donating on the 1st__ 16th__ of the month:

$500____ $250____ $100____ $50____ $25____ Other____

These contributions will be mailed__ transferred online__ automatically drafted online __

I/we would like to give a special gift of $________

Name:____________________ Phone:________________

Address:______________________

City:______________ State:___  Zip/Postcode:__________

E-mail:___________________________________

You can set up your online giving by visiting www.districtchurch.org, clicking Giving, and selecting the “Leadership Residency” fund in the drop-down menu. You may also make checks payable to “The District Church,” with “Leadership Residency” in the memo, and mail to: PO Box 3116, Washington, DC 20010.

All gifts are fully tax-deductible.