The Stories of TNL – Stephen Newhall

When I think of TNL the first word that comes to mind is “honest”

I once heard it said that a church shouldn’t try to be the coolest place on the block. That’s not its purpose, and though I can think of a couple places that operate with that as their primary goal, it’s not what the church is supposed to be. Rather, the church is supposed to be the most honest place on the block. It is supposed to be a place of safety where no one is afraid of, or put off by your baggage, but rather you are seen for who you are, and everyone is embraced and told the gospel without condition or qualification. This is the dream. This is what we’re all going for, but it’s so easy to talk about and so hard to actually do. And the reason I continue to choose TNL as my home, is because we practice this type of honesty.

I moved to Colorado a little over 3 years ago, and on my 2nd day in the state I came to TNL, while we were meeting over at the Gothic. I met a ton of new people, all of which were so open with me about themselves, and asked great questions about my story. As the service started, Jared got up and began speaking, and he spoke a great deal about his divorce, highlighting the pain it caused him, the confusion he was feeling, the shreds of hope he was clinging to, and thanked everyone in the room for their support and for allowing him the freedom to be so honest. Now remember, I was brand new to this area, and was just so anxious about all the newness that was in front of me. I felt like I was in a constant state of tension and unrest, but after hearing Jared speak, my body relaxed, my breathing slowed, my mind started to settle – truly, I vividly remember the feeling in my body as my tension released. I remember thinking, this is home. This may be the most honest place on the block. I’m allowed to be myself here, and I’m a mess.

A few weeks later, I asked Jared to be my mentor, and we’ve been meeting every week for the last 3 years.
I’ve said it many times to a number of people, but TNL has been the most stabilizing force in my life since moving to Colorado. I breathe better here. When I’m tossed by something, I can’t wait to be back in this room. Truly, after tragedy has struck, I’ve counted the days until Tuesday night. “Okay, only 3 days till TNL. I can make it till then, and then collapse into the embrace of that place.”

I get to stand up front every week and say our famous words, “you are welcome and accepted here just as you are” and I love that I get to say them, because I know they’re true, because I’ve been welcomed and accepted just as I am. We may not be the coolest place on the block, but we don’t have to be. I know in my heart of hearts that we’ll always be one of the most honest places on the block. That’s why I’m here.


Categories: Stories of TNL