Justin B. Fung is a Washington, D.C.-based pastor, worship leader, and liturgist, who has a passion for discipleship and spiritual formation evidenced by justice and peace, particularly in multicultural, multiethnic, and multiclass contexts.
1. What story, verse or passage from your faith tradition’s sacred texts has significantly influenced / shaped your life?
Luke 12:48: “From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.”
2. Who are three people (other than your family) who have shaped your life and worldview? And why?
Eugene Peterson, who gave me a new love for scripture. His Message paraphrase was the first version of the Bible that I read all the way through and who taught me, through his books, what it means to be a pastor.
Howard Thurman, whose book Jesus and the Disinherited changed my faith. To hear and be convicted—in my privilege—by the question, “What does our religion have to say to those whose backs are against the wall?” changed my paradigm of Jesus-following, more towards one that looked more like the faith Jesus lived out—in service to, in defense of, and in solidarity with the vulnerable and marginalized.
Dr. Erin Dufault-Hunter, my ethics professor at Fuller Seminary, who challenged all of us to think, pray, reason, argue, and discern through the very practical implications of our theology and faith; and who equipped us with the tools to do so.
3. List three of your “desert island” books, movies, or TV shows.
The Lord of the Rings trilogy (books, though I loved the movies too — can they be one entry?), a favorite since the first time I read the books at 10 years old.
Ted Lasso. As a soccer/football fan, I especially enjoyed this. The series feels like a needed antidote to the cynicism and shallowness that it’s so easy to sink into.
Anything with Denzel Washington. I’ll go with Déjà Vu. Not his most critically acclaimed nor his most challenging role, but a fun/silly action-adventure that I’ve always enjoyed.
4. What is one of the most critical issues people are facing today?
This may be an indirect answer to the question, but I would say that it is critical for us all to learn, know, and be reminded of (1) who we are, (2) where we belong, and (3) what we’re here for. In my faith tradition, this looks like being rooted in (1) our identity as those made in the image of God, beloved by the Creator; (2) our community—the family of God, whether you take this to be those who are likewise on a journey of following Jesus, and/or humanity as a whole, indivisibly interconnected as we are; (3) our calling to be and become like Jesus, who was the perfect embodiment of love for God and love for others.
5. What are a few of your hobbies?
Soccer. Even now, I try to play once a week, and though competing with 20-somethings is an increasingly losing battle, the love of the game has never left.
Reading fiction. When so much of my work involves reading non-fiction, making space for fiction not only reminds me that there’s more to life than work, but I also love getting to see the many and diverse ways that others tell stories to both make sense of our world and to craft an alternative vision.
Music. There was a season in my life when I was writing songs and performing all the time. I’m not there anymore, but when I get to play music for fun, it’s a sign that I’m finding time to just be (and not constantly do).
6. If you could freeze your life into an already-lived 10 seconds, what would they be?
Back in 2015, I had the honor of being invited to offer the closing prayer at the White House Easter Prayer Breakfast. It was a surreal experience to be around so many people I had heard of (but who had no clue who I was), including getting to meet President Obama and then-Vice-President Biden. But the ten seconds would be in the middle of the prayer.
Initially, when I was writing the prayer, I was worried about what to say and how to say it, how to sound impressive in front of all of these important people. But God reminded me that it wasn’t about the people I was praying in front of but about the One I was praying to. Getting to do so in a once-in-a-lifetime setting was an experience I am grateful for though.
7. Our tagline at Good Faith Media is, “There’s more to tell.” What’s your “more to tell”?
I am because of “the great cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1), the relationships that have led me and shaped me: my parents, who were the first Christians in their families, pioneering a new way for our family. My two older brothers, who walked the path of pastoring before me. My wife Carolyn, my biggest cheerleader and most faithful challenger. My two kids, Daniel Ignatius, and Katherine Junia, who show me love I don’t deserve and remind me that I have a lot more growing to do. The numerous mentors and friends that God planted in my life, both over decades and for particular seasons. And the people of the churches I have had the privilege of pastoring, who have given witness to what it means to be a body together.
Reflection and resources at the intersection of faith and culture through an inclusive Christian lens.