Hospitality and The Office

the hospitality

– ryan james ross

Have you ever been invited into a space that overwhelmed you with gratitude and awe?

Like being invited into a group or party that made you think,

“Who am I that I get to be here?”

“Who am I that I get to be with these people?”

I remember a time recently where Rachel and I got invited to a party with these friends that we really loved and admired. The invite to spend time with them and their family in their home meant the world to us. To share life with them moved us from admiring fans to real friends; people that do life together. Rachel and I felt like, “Who are we that they would like us?!” Yes, even though that sounds like middle school social dynamics stuff, let’s be honest… even as adults we feel like that sometimes!

I remember the first time I got invited to go to Ken and Margie Blanchard’s house. I had read Ken’s books. I was shaped by his lessons in leadership. I had heard him speak in front of huge audiences and I had even heard other famous people talk about Ken and Margie Blanchard. I was in awe when I sat in their living room and found myself eating and drinking with them like a friend — like family.

I remember this one day, sitting with Ken Blanchard and Dawn Neldon, and Ken asks us to review his sermon writing and give any suggestions to make it better! Yes, you can laugh…us review his writing. Dawn and I looked at each other and audibly said, “Who are we that we get invited into this space?!”

This “inviting others in close” is also called hospitality, and it is a mark of divine community.

The study of hospitality throughout the books of the Bible is fascinating. There are so many passages that teach the ethos of inviting others in close, taking care of them, and creating community. Try a google search on verses about hospitality, and you’ll get a great list to read through. A list that will reveal the God of hospitality throughout the old and new testaments. Let’s just hit a few great passages here.

From the very beginning, as God was laying out life principles for his people in the book of Leviticus, He charges His people to invite strangers and foreigners in close:

“Treat them [the stranger among you] as if they were your own, and love them as you love yourself. Remember that you were once foreigners living in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”  ~ Leviticus 19:34

Obedience to this principle of radical hospitality would’ve created a very diverse and loving community made up of all kinds of racial and religious backgrounds. Imagine living this out in a time where racism, division, and judgment of the other was rampant. But that was back then, right? [smirk]

Centuries later, the Son of God comes on the scene and models what a life of hospitality and love looks like on the streets — and it shocked the religious elite. Jesus created community with everybody, and in a time where righteousness was evidenced by what you ate and who you ate with (or more like what you wouldn’t eat and who you wouldn’t eat with), Jesus’ kind of hospitality actually looked totally irreverent.

Jesus even says of Himself that he modeled a life of eating and drinking with everybody. And people called him a glutton and drunkard because of it.

“The Son of Man comes eating and drinking, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’ But wisdom is shown to be right by its results.”  ~ Matthew 11:19

Jesus created community parties wherever he went, and the wisdom that was revealed in this was that people felt comfortable with him, they built relationships with Jesus, and by this He was able to speak into their lives and give them the good news of who He was.

So, the early Christians in the first century began to follow Jesus’ way and they continued to invite everyone into the God family. The community of hospitality grew and challenged some deeply held misunderstandings of who God would invite into His family – who was worthy to sit at the table.

Acts 10 contains an incredible story of God giving Peter a vision that made Peter stop judging people as pure or impure, clean or unclean. It drove Peter into community with Cornelius — they entered a home together and ate and drank just like Jesus did, and it changed the life of Cornelius and Peter alike. That moment launched the early church into being a people known for hospitality to the other once again, and it should be a characteristic of Jesus community to this very day.

Is it?

I think God puts people on our hearts all the time. People that He wants us to reach out to, strangers that He wants us befriend. Who could you invite in close this next week? Is there someone that you could create a party with, have over for dinner, go do something with?

Is there someone outside that you know would like to be invited in?

This “inviting others in close” is called hospitality, and it is a mark of divine community.

I got the opportunity to talk about some of this on a podcast with our good friends over at Orchard Community Church.

You can listen to that here: How to Find and Build Community

And now…

the office [not dunder mifflin]

We’ve got office… and what a story of Jesus-like hospitality.

Our team has been searching for a spot where we can meet, use wifi, and get stuff done throughout the week [starbucks was getting real old]. We’d put out a few feelers and just this weekend, we got word that our friends over at The Church at RB have a space for us!

This last weekend Nate and Ian [CRB staff] opened the door to a room and said, “will this be alright for you?” We walked in and saw an incredible space, nicer than any office we’ve ever had before.

It’s beautiful… and they’re asking if it will be OK for us? Ha!!!!

Yes, I believe it will suffice. : )

Once again, I was left feeling “who are we that we would be invited into this space?”

I know that people around Jesus felt that way all the time, and so, as Jesus followers, may we all continue to invite others in to share life with, foster community, and live out the hospitality that comes from our loving God. That kind of love saves the world.

the unicorns [again]

We wanted to remind you of our upcoming talk on parenting for moms of young kids. Uncommoners, Dawn Neldon and Maren Nelson are hosting Raising Unicorns at Maren’s house in Poway, March 27th, @ 9:30 – 11 AM

Join us for mimosas and mom-spiration as Dawn shares about growing kids who stand out in a world that tells them to fit in.

There’s still space left [for now] – click the red button to register!

Register for Unicorns

You are loved and valued.
Thank you and God Bless!

 

Rainbows and Recaps

the rainbow

– dawn neldon

Saturday Morning I woke up and the very first thing I did was pull out my phone to check my weather app. I had been anxious all week – monitoring the weather like a teenage girl monitors her “likes” on instagram. I was obsessed. We had been planning and praying for our Taste of Community event for weeks. We were excited and exhausted and exhilarated and determined that rain would NOT spoil the goodness!

My heart sank when what had been looking like a clear-ish forecast now predicted rain. ALL DAY. The eternal optimist in me was unshook. “It’s gonna be fine” I said. “God’s got this I said”. But as one event after another got rained out Saturday morning my optimism was waning.

In fact, my optimism soon turned to pleading and I found myself convincing God of the merits of my argument while anxiously/angrily throwing laundry into the washing machine (as one does….) “God – I really need you to come through on this. It can’t rain God. God, I’ve pictured tonight in my head and that picture absolutely did NOT include rain. Do you understand? It can’t rain!”

Suddenly, from my laundry room window I saw a glimmer of sunshine and I felt God nudge “I’ve got this.” My heart lightened but frankly, that wasn’t enough.  “God, I can’t take it. I need to know you’re gonna come through or I’m gonna be an anxious mess all day. I need you to show me a rainbow. God, I NEED a rainbow okay?”

Having just seen the sun break through, this didn’t seem like an unreasonable request. So I dropped my laundry, frantically pulled on my boots and ran outside (kinda like a crazy person), searching for the rainbow that I was certain I would find waiting for me. There was no rainbow. In fact, the one patch of blue sky was quickly getting swallowed by incoming clouds.

That’s okay I told myself, I have all day. “God – you hear me? You’ve got time! I just need to see a rainbow today – I need to know you see us.”  And, in all honesty I was certain that He did see us. And so I spent all day hunting for rainbows. Everytime a patch of sunlight would break through I would run to the window and crane my neck. Several times I scurried into my muddy front yard in the rain (much to the confusion of my neighbors I’m sure)…but no luck.

Finally, I had to give up rainbow hunting to get ready for the event – all the while checking my weather app like it was my job. Truth be told, things weren’t looking good and I was preparing for the worst. And that’s when it happened. Just as I had finished getting ready, my 5 year old, Rubi came into my room.

“Mom, I drew you a picture!”

“Oh ya? What is it?” (because *pro-tip* you always ask a child what they drew. Guessing is for rookies.)

“It’s a monkey dancing under a rainbow.”

And I smiled. God showed up.

As I headed down to Old Poway Park to set up for the event I was just laughing to myself. It’s just like God to show up in a totally unexpected way. And this unexpected nature of God means that we often miss what He’s doing. If I hadn’t spent the day hunting for rainbows I would have missed the fact that God had my daughter hand deliver His message of promise. I would’ve missed the wink from God that said, “You are seen and I’ve got this!”

Honestly, I think this happens all too often. God offers us hand-delivered messages and we overlook them because we are busy watching for our narrowly defined “something else”.  We can do better! Let’s be a people on the lookout for God’s Uncommon activity in our midst. This week let’s hunt for rainbows – watching for God to show up in our lives. Convinced that He will – perhaps in surprising, unexpected ways.

the recap

Saturday night was simply amazing!

Even with the threat of rain looming all around and knocking out everyone’s little league plans, the evening turned absolutely beautiful on us!

About 200 people came out to Old Poway Park in all of it’s night time glory, and a good time was had by all under hundreds of glowing cafe lights.

Music made the whole scene great with sounds from Cody & Zogby, aka “Doc Zog & the Codfish” and our new friend Kyle Reynolds. These guys all worked to have a chill and welcoming vibe for everyone to mingle and connect… so good! Listen to more of Kyle’s music at kylereynoldsmusic.com. God is doing great things with this guy and we were so stoked to have him join us!

I don’t know how many potatoes and pounds of chili we went through, but the crowd enjoyed a lot of great food and well paired beverages on the balcony! I absolutely loved seeing so many friends reconnecting, hanging, enjoying community and not being in a hurry while kids ran around in total joy everywhere. We all need more times like this!

King’s Craft — thank you for the great coffee… we drank it all!

Jan — “You’re welcome” for winning that hairy-belly-fanny-pack… it was almost as good as getting a new Uncommon [good] hoodie, huh?

All in all —  If you felt joy, connection, and a strong sense of belonging, then you got a great taste of Uncommon [community]. That right there is a gift from God that not everyone feels. And we pray to have more people be a part of this community and love that we are all made for.

Thanks to all who came out on a cold and almost wet  San Diego night to enjoy the big family that God put together!

May U[g] continue be a catalyst of love, community, and faith for all.

Check out the rest of our photos on Facebook…

Pics of the noche

You are loved and valued.
Thank you and God Bless!

 

Weekly Update 2-23-2018


agenda free [community]

-ryan james ross

High pressure sales turn away just as many people from church as they do at the used car lot. We weren’t meant to pawn God like a gently used sedan and push to ‘close the deal’ before the conversation ends. That’s an agenda.

Have you ever had that experience where a book, a conversation, and then later maybe a podcast, and then even later in the week, a verse or a sermon that all end up repeating the same thing to you? It’s like the universe has conspired to give you a message through disconnected sources. God often whispers to us that way. And in the last week or so, we at U[g] have been hearing ‘agenda-free community’ a lot.

What is it to gather with others and to share life and love without agenda?

It means we talk less and listen more. It means we share stories, and we laugh and we cry together. It means we love and connect and do life together without condition. Everyone is recognized as God’s masterpiece on a wild journey through life. We love others without demanding anything in return.

This is the table that Jesus sets over and over in the scriptures: the place of continual restoration, enduring communion, and unending fellowship. No one earns a spot there, and no one fails and finds themselves with their chair removed.

“When we who claim faith come to people without any agenda other than to receive people as they are and to love them as they desire to be loved, they rest in the safety of that, and they begin to be transformed without any prodding from us.”  – John Pavlovitz in A Bigger Table

The Spirit of God transforms people, not our witty words (no matter how witty we be).

“When God’s people go out without agenda we are open to see people as people, rather than as objects of ministry and to see the ways God might already be at work in their lives… In order to be open to what God reveals, we need to drop our agendas.”  – Markus Watson at Flourish San Diego

So let’s dive into some agenda-free Uncommon [community]!

We are designing a party — a table to be around and some bread to break and some music to move to. Check it out…

So… we’ve had some interesting experiences while planning this party…

A couple weeks ago we spent some time with someone from the city of Poway, we will call her Patricia. It was a funny exchange. See, we had to try to explain to Patricia that we wanted to rent a large space to throw a big party. She was confused. Patricia couldn’t quite understand who we were, why we knew so many people or what would possess us to want to throw a big party for the community. We are familiar with causing confusion for people. It’s one of our specialties. So we were undeterred and walked away with a reservation to throw a party for 100 people.

Yesterday we had to call Patricia back to tell her that we will be having more people than expected – apparently we know more people than we even thought – because we currently have 111 people registered to join us!

We are so excited for this event and it’s not too late to join or invite friends. In fact, we have a team of people who are working alongside us to ensure that this is an event you won’t want to miss.

And to facilitate your reservation needs we have an RSVP button conveniently located in this very post…

A Taste of Uncommon [community]
Saturday, March 3rd, 5PM, Old Poway Park

RSVP

our uncommon [dream]

It’s clear from the response to this event that people are hungry for opportunities to gather together for some Uncommon [community] and we have already begun planning ways to make this event pure goodness.

Our dream is to offer this event to our COMMUNITY as a gift from our Uncommon-ers (that’s US!).  That being said – we issued a challenge last week that if each person on our mailing list gave $20 we could cover the cost of the Taste of Community. Many of you responded and we’ve brought in over $500 so far! (THANK YOU!) If you haven’t yet, please consider giving (by clicking the convenient link below) to make sure this and future events are free to our community!

GIVE

[connection]

By the way… At the heart of what we are doing with uncommon [good] is connection. Connection with God and one another. We believe deep in our bones that some of the best connection happens around the table. And we aren’t the only ones who think this… Here’s a video promoting a growing movement that we think is pretty cool.

Check it out and get excited about March 3rd!

You are loved and valued.
God Bless our uncommon [community]

 

 

Weekly Update 2-16-2018


We see great pain today…

and here is life.

At the same moment we celebrate love, evil is right there with us. And when we encounter evil, it shatters our sense of security and comfort in an instant.

We are shaken, afraid, angry, and we lift our eyes to God for answers and help.

We had some other words to share today, but we dropped them because our hearts and prayers go out to all of those families, students, and faculty in Florida. So we offer this prayer…

Dear God…
May your presence draw near and comfort those that are crushed, hurt, afraid, and angry.

May you surround those families with loving arms — with a community that can grieve alongside them and cry out for a brighter future.

May your Spirit guide humanity towards wisdom that brings about a better world — one of safety, liberty, and mental health — one of protection, freedom and hope for the next generation. Give us your eyes for justice, love, and life, Lord.

May your will be done on earth as it is heaven.

Amen

An Invitation To Hope

As you pray this week and hold on even tighter to those you love,
we invite you to a night of hope and love — celebrating life and community.

This will be a night of music, inspiring words, food, and drink for the whole family. We want to share a taste of this community that God is bringing together!

And we’re calling it…

A Taste of Uncommon [Community]
Saturday, March 3rd, 5PM
Old Poway Park

RSVP

btw… THANK YOU!

We raised over $500 last week to make this event happen. Thanks to everyone who contributed. We are so grateful to have you with us on the adventure of uncommon [good]. See you March 3rd!

You are loved and valued.
God Bless our uncommon [community]

Weekly Update 2-1-2018

Re-shaping God

– ryan james ross

In my reading of a great book this last week, The Good and Beautiful God by James Bryan Smith, I kept thinking of this pretty frightening question;

“Do I need to re-shape God?”

It sounds pretty arrogant on the front end for a human to think that they shape the God that made them, but for the most part, our concept of God is shaped far more by our world and the people around us than by what is actually written in scripture. Depending on one’s life journey and the stories about God they’ve received along the way, they may come up with all sorts of understandings about who God is and what God is like. Our concept of how God sees us and what He wants from us is shaped by a thousand different and often conflicting messages that we receive throughout our life. So what does God end up being shaped like? Usually a mix of culture, fallacies, crazy superstitions, and bible truths all mixed up together.

We end up with a ‘mess god’.

When Jesus showed up on the scene He began telling a lot of stories to reveal the character of God. His stories of God conflicted with their current concepts, and not everyone liked the picture of God he was painting. There were great misconceptions about God AND life that needed reshaping, and Jesus chose stories as His primary tool to fix things.

“We are shaped by our stories. In fact, our stories, once in place, determine much of our behavior without regard to their accuracy or helpfulness. Once these stories [about life, and love, and about who we are and who God is] are stored in our minds, they stay there largely unchallenged until we die. And here is the main point: These narratives are running (and often ruining) our lives. It is crucial to get the right stories.”

Were you ever told that “God helps those who help themselves”? It’s not in the Bible despite someone telling you it was a verse. “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” is also not in there no matter how many times your mom used it to get you to wash your hands.Yes, parental-bad-theological-leverage is real! Those are just a couple examples of fallacies that may damage your understanding of who God is. The largest fallacy amongst us is that you have to earn God’s love and favor. That God saves his love and grace for people who make an effort to be good… this narrative will mess you up, if it hasn’t already.

So how can we get the right concept of God?
We need new stories (and Jesus gave us some).

Here is the challenge that we at Uncommon [good] are going through together…

First, try to empty your mind of who you think God is (you can’t truly do this, but try it out just for the sake of learning here). Now, with an empty mind, read one of the gospels (or all four) and let Jesus shape your concept of God from scratch once again. Specifically, listen to his stories that teach about God’s character. What picture of God does he paint? Do you see a God of grace or a God of judgment? Do you see a God of love and forgiveness more than a God of anger and resentment? Does Jesus paint God with more hope, healing, or hell?

Try it.
Open the gospels once again.
And with a new eye…
let Jesus [God incarnate] reshape God for you.

 

 

We Have Big News!

We have decided to take the next step in our relationship.

You know what that means: this week Uncommon [good] is gonna be Facebook official!

While many of you already discovered our Instagram shennanigans, we haven’t truly made our Uncommon [good] presence known publicly…yet.

But that all changes TOMORROW (Friday if you’re slow to open your emails)!

Our hope is that our social media channels become a place that allows our Uncommon [community] to feel connected in the absence of a physical gathering space. We plan to share videos, devotionals, prayer requests as well as real time updates of the day-to-dayness of our Uncommon [journey]. More than that, we hope to create a space on Facebook and Instagram where everyone can join in our ongoing conversations about life and faith and citrus.

 

 

Sharing is Caring…

We are excited to take this goodness public, AND, we want to invite you to take part in our social media campaign! We will be pushing our Facebook page tomorrow (Friday, February 2nd) and we would love for our Uncommon [community] to share the love by liking our page and sharing it with your friends!

It’s a really simple and tangible way that we can ALL participate in the work of Uncommon [good] this week! We thank you in advance for your clicks, shares, comments, and contagiously-joyful banter : )

 

Like Us On Facebook

 

Like Us On Instagram

 

Like Us On Twitter

 

 

 

Weekly Update 1-26-2018

You ought to listen to some Gospel today…

This last week I had a friend with a birthday that didn’t want any happy birthday wishes.

Due to tragedy and loss in her family, she wasn’t exactly feeling like being flooded with happy wishes in a time when life felt anything but happy.

So she asked for something different.

In lieu of ‘happy birthdays’, my friend asked people to leave a note of a memory they had with her, or to just simply share what my friend meant to them. Messages came flooding in — all kinds of memories from friends and family about moments in their lives and lots of statements about who my friend was – kind, courageous, loyal, loving, and the list went on.

In a time of sadness, my friend wanted to be reminded of who she was and what she meant to others. My friend needed some Gospel.

Real Gospel (the good news about Jesus) gives us two gifts:

It shows us who God is and it reminds us of who we are.

Gospel says that we, despite our circumstances, feelings and imperfections, are lovingly and purposefully made by God, fully known by God and still loved deeply. The gospel is that we are so loved that Jesus gave up His life for us so that we can have life with Him — and know a life of forgiveness and freedom. Listening to a little gospel reminds us that we are children of God as we walk through days that are good, bad, or sometimes straight up ugly.

There is a common phrase in faithful circles that “we must preach the gospel to ourselves everyday”. What does that mean? Everyday we need to hear about how God sees us over how we or anyone else may see ourselves. We are loved. We are valuable. We are worth dying for. And the God of the universe did just that very thing for us so that we may have life.

Maybe you really needed to hear this today.

The gospel about God’s love and about who we are in His eyes changes us.
It will change every interaction we have throughout the day.

Try starting the morning with a little bit of that gospel in your ears.

 

 

You’re gonna love this…

Last week we invited you to join us on a journey of Spiritual formation – which is a fancy, (and perhaps intimidating) way of saying taking time to practice the things that Jesus taught.

Our Uncommon [team] is reading The Good and Beautiful God. which is a quick and practical guide through some great devotional thoughts. And it’s accompanied with practical things we can do every day to actually practice the things that Jesus taught!

Whether you’ve jumped in this week or not, we want to invite you to join in the first week’s practice with us – wait ’til you hear what it is – you will probably run out and buy the book immediately (can you even do that anymore? Are bookstores still a thing?)

Drum roll, please… The first spiritual practice is… REST! You didn’t read that wrong. REST is actually considered a spiritual practice (thank you sweet Jesus!) Did you ever consider that God (the all-powerful, world-sustaining-being) modeled resting! The same God that also designed our bodies to spend 1/3 of our lives asleep. Yet rest is the first thing we ignore when life gets busy. More than that – we often feel guilty or lazy for getting rest when the to do list is never ending!

But the truth is we can’t operate at our best, live life at our optimum, or focus on any other spiritual practices well if we are haggard and tired. So – here’s the challenge: spend time intentionally resting this week – it’s kind of like a choose your own adventure situation, so pick one of the following:

1. Choose one day this week and sleep until you can’t sleep anymore! Don’t feel bad about it either!

2. Get at least 7 hours of sleep for 3 days in a row. Set an alarm to get in bed not just one to wake yourself up!

3. Take a nap. Maybe you can’t sleep in (cause, hello! small children) and maybe your week is crazy and you simply can’t get 7 hours for multiple nights in a row. That’s okay! Find a window of time one afternoon and instead of doing the dishes, take a nap! WOOHOO for Spiritual Formation (#amiright?)

Let us know how this challenge goes or you! Chime in on our Instagram to share your adventures in REST.

You are loved and valued.
Worthy of the Savior giving His life for you, in fact!

God Bless our uncommon [community]

 

 

Four Quirky Friends Seeking Uncommon [space] For Cool Jesus Stuff…

We found ourselves peering into several buildings this last week — in the least creepy way possible, of course — We’re looking for the future space of Uncommon [good]!

Somewhere in Poway Unified School District we know that God has a place for us… we just have to identify it and move forward.

We need a large place with lots of parking and great outdoor space as well. The zoning has to be right for events and retail (ie. coffee, food, music, beverages, etc.) and more.

We’d love it to look like a beautiful barn – but we hold our ideas and dreams with open hands and plan for flexibility : ) Keep your eyes open with us!

We have began to build a team of architects, designers, and real estate friends that will make this Uncommon [space] a reality! Maybe you could be key to this team if you have experience in commercial real estate, building, LLC incorporation, etc. Is this you? CLICK HERE

If you’re not clear on what that vision is exactly, check out our website to get an idea of what we’re talking about.

When we’re not looking at buildings and meeting with development teams, we’re working everyday with Gateway Leadership Initiative. They help people like us make visions a reality and will take us from zero to the launch of a successful, long lasting ministry through support and in depth training. We have an overwhelming amount of good work to do with them every day – ranging from demographic studies, forming bylaws, 501(c)3 incorporation, and yes, even spiritual development so we keep Jesus at the forefront of everything in our planning!

This Uncommon [dream] is huge.

It’s God-sized for sure.

We encourage you to pray for Uncommon [good] and that God would use us ALL to bring it into being as we move forward into this new Spirit driven vision of ‘church’ in our community!