Author: Zack Newsome

South of the Border

For the next few days, Kelli, the kids, and I will be in Puerto Penasco, Mexico for some much needed time away. I want to think I live unselfishly during the rhythms of normal, daily life, but when life becomes chaotic and rhythms are lost, I find my priority becomes the restoration of order. To live a life that is filtered through a dep committment to “the other”, it’s vital that we first care for ourselves SO THAT we can care & be available to the other. Unfortunately, more often than not, those who best care for others are terrible at caring for themselves. I hope that I leave a very different legacy – one that advocates an equal and deeply connected commitment to health (spiritually, physically, emotionally, etc) AND a commitment to the other. I am convinced we were never meant to do one without the other.
So I will rest, laugh, play, ponder, enjoy, and exist without a schedule for the next few days in hope that I’ll come back better able to better engage and care for “the other” in downtown PHX.

Taco Day 4 will be livecast on the web

For those of you who don’t live in Phoenix, but want to celebrate Taco Day with us, will be live streaming the event all day on Saturday including some special looks into Taco Day and interviews with guests at every 2 hours starting at 10am. The live stream is also a great way see what’s going on before you head over or after you leave.

Until Saturday, the channel will loop previous Taco Day videos for your TacoDay preparation. We’ll see you at TacoDay4!

the communitas network: our new community site

For those involved in the various efforts of communitasPHX locally, we’ve created and launched a new community site.  It’s a place where we can interact, share thoughts, document our journey, post photos and videos, and share important information (events, etc).  If you are following the movement from afar or are local and want to take a step deeper into our world, please feel free to participate in this new online community.

AND….please feel free to let us know how we can make it even better.

Prayers for Justice

During our most recent collective, both as an excercise in creativity and as an exploration of God’s heart for Justice, we wrote down some thoughts and prayers.  Here’s a sample of what we came up with:

Justice is not about punishing the wrongs, it’s about embodying the good and true life.

We live in troubled times.  The economy hits close to home.  Friends, family, neighbors; anxiety is everywhere, but also Hope.

We are not judged by the events of our past, rather by the faith in and direction of our future.

As we live in a world of labels, make us people who live without regard to our differences.  May we live with compassion to all we encounter, both those who know they have need AND those who don’t. Make us people who are aware, who aren’t distracted by the notion of ourselves. Show us the differences between what we need and what we want – and help us live simply in result. Let us live on less before we’re forced to and when we are forced to, let us remember that we are not alone.

As I reflect on this exercise and it’s result, I am challenged by the paradox discovered in the simplicity of the language and the complexity of actually living in these ways.  As always we’ll do our best as a people, extending much grace to each other along the journey.

2009 explorations

communitasPHX is an experimental movement in that we empower fresh thinking, try new things, and accept both the successes AND failures that come with experimentation. With our new focuses for 2009 (see above article), we’re centering our common and public life together even more around the ideals of spirituality (Jesus-centric), community, justice, & creativity. We’ll be digging into these ideals deeply as a people in 2009, and here’s some of the aspects we’ll be exploring:

Spirituality (Jesus-centric):

  • Will being a part of an open spiritual dialogue (anything goes) allow for people to discover and follow Jesus?
  • Will developing a global community of some who are together living out ancient contemplative rhythms in modern day help develop our spirituality in new ways?
  • How do health and balance in our mental, emotional, relational, & physical lives affect our spiritual life?


  • Can middle-class and lower-class families really build deep friendships and share life together in meaningful ways?
  • Can white, african-american, & hispanic people really build deep friendships and share life together in meaningful ways?
  • Can parties be an effective and illustrative way to expose those around us to the kingdom?


  • What systems are at work keeping those around us in poverty?
  • What are some simple and transferrable ways we can help those in poverty break out of the oppressive systems of poverty to discover a new hope?
  • Where and how are the issues of poverty, immigration, and human trafficking present our neighborhood and city?
  • How can we affect change in the issues of poverty, immigration, and human trafficking in our city?
  • Can we effectively introduce people to Jesus as they join us in “Kingdom-activity’?


  • How can we as a people play a “trickster” (publicly challenging the “way things are”) role in our city?
  • Can we introduce the public to the ideals of the kingdom by presenting the parables of Jesus through fresh, creative, and artistic events?
  • Would offering creative workshops (organic gardening, beer-brewing, arts) help those around us live more imaginatively?

the roller-coaster ride of incarnational living

During a recent conversation with a family member, I was asked to describe the various neighborhoods around us in Downtown Phoenix. I described at least three local neighborhoods as “if we took you there, you would think we’re crazy for not wanting to live there.” I didn’t know any other way to describe these neighboring communities. They are cleaner, more developed, trendier, and safer-feeling that the neighborhood we currently live in. To the average person, our decision to live in our neighborhood doesn’t make sense socially, economically, and physically (ie. safety concerns). To top off the insanity, the demographics of these neighborhoods are more like us: white, affluent, educated, & established. Ironically, it’s these very qualities that led us NOT to live in those neighborhoods and to instead settle into a much messier, less safe, diverse, and chaotic neighborhood filled with more people who are not “like us”, than those who are.

At the core of the communitasPHX movement is an interest in making Jesus accessible to all people. Our clear calling is to cultivate a movement that exposes our world to the radical beauty of the Kingdom of God and to the reality that this same Kingdom is available to all. To do this, we need to be in and amongst the people to whom Jesus is currently inaccessible. For sure, in a country built on religious freedom, all have the right to pursue the faith of their choice, but social systems and cultural realities exist that render some outside “the current reach of the church”. These are the people that communitasPHX primarily exists for. Further, in anticipation of a future-fulfilled Kingdom of God that is sure to be multi-racial and multi-cultural, we want to now live amongst a diversity of ideas, perspectives, cultural understandings, races, and socio-economic realities.

It was these postures that led us to center communitasPHX out of the Coronado district in Downtown Phoenix, a community that is filled with white & hispanic, gay & straight, young & elderly, rich & poor, religious & secular, and various other peoples. Living in the middle of such diversity has been an amazing joy, but it has challenged us to our core. We have hosted parties where all people can be (and are) valued, no matter what their sexual preference, race, or socio-economic status. We have talked with neighbors about caring for each other & the neighborhood itself in creative ways. We have embraced those stuck in lives of poverty and learned from their experience. We have discussed the pain of the past with neighbors and been able to offer a hope for the future. We have made neighbors feel welcome and have been made to feel welcome by others. We have let those who feel shut out of a relationship with God know that we want to help them reconnect with Him. In all my years of ministry, I am most fulfilled as I experience these “kingdom moments”.

But to be honest and fair, living in the messiness of diversity and of difference can be really painful as well. We have listened as the African-american mother-of-two on our street explain how her husband left the family earlier in the morning. We have cried with a neighbor whose wounds are still fresh from pain of losing a young daughter decades ago. We’ve experienced death: as both a visiting family member of a neighbor and a homeless man have died on our street. We’ve struggled with the indifference toward others that some can’t seem to shake. We’ve sought to help those living with addiction and been devastated by their inability to get help. We’ve felt lonely and powerless to really make a difference in the messiness and chose that so many people’s lives are characterized by.

Sharing life this way with people, especially people whose lives look different than ours, is really difficult. It is a roller-coaster with some unbelievable highs and some absolutely depressing lows. We recognize that these ups and downs represent the fact that the Kingdom of God is “already, but not yet fully” here. We catch glimpses of the radical beauty of God’s reign, but more often we experience the pain, the brokenness, and the messiness that sin has caused in our world. Were we not aware of this (and able to handle it), we’d have no business engaging in this sort of incarnational mission. We are people of light in a world of darkness, and as we build relationships with those God has put us in proximity with, we must celebrate the glimpses of the Kingdom every chance we get to allow us to handle the depth of pain and sorrow we walk with people through. - © 2022 - All Rights Reserved  |  site by VAUX digital