Not your average TnT
The No Walls ministry based in Lynchburg, VA is committed to combining the races and denominations of the city. They seek to accomplish this goal through events and have found great success with their Talent and Testimony night.
Talent and Testimony night (TnT) provides the city of Lynchburg with an opportunity to meet on the first Friday of every month and share a talent of their choosing with those in attendance. Talents such as spoken word, singing, poetry, and playing instruments are a few of the acts that took place at the December event. Stephen C. Weaver, founder of No Walls, began the event to create a neutral place for everyone to meet. “The purpose of TNT is to provide an opportunity for local talent to display their abilities to the honor of the Lord. Also we are helping the artists to develop their talents which is why we hold a dress rehearsal of sorts the night before the event for all new artists, to instruct them. Lastly, it provides a forum for our churches to get together across denominations and across cultures in fulfillment of the No Walls mission,” Weaver explained.
The mission of No Walls, according to Weaver is “to help churches work cross-culturally and cross-denominationally to meet the needs of the local community.” Their hope for the city is to “build bridges not walls.”
Spoken word performer, Carlena Baker, said she felt comfortable performing in front of strangers because the atmosphere was welcoming. She further explained that she specifically chose spoken word rather than a different talent. “I like music and artsy things, but I am not necessarily musically talented. I wrote the spoken word one day in my dorm room when I was fed up with the way our culture views Christianity vs. the real Christianity,” she said. Carlena further added: “I think that the spoken word I wrote is very relatable and relevant to the way our generation looks at the church verses how the church should be.”
Tnt began at 7 p.m on Friday night and concluded after the last act. Emmalee Foss, attended for the first time in December. “I knew it was at a church so I was expecting a church talent show with little kids or at least kids mixed in throughout the acts. I guess I wasn’t expecting them to be professional at all. I knew I was going to like it, but I didn’t really know what to expect,” Foss said. She also added that the most memorable aspect was the atmosphere of the church, but the hosts of the event could have been friendlier. “It is very warm and inviting with all the couches and lightning and, honestly there is nothing more inviting than couches. The people, however, were not very welcoming, because no one said hi and we just went straight to our seats when we got there,” she said.
Tori Robertson attended the event as an elective activity for the social work program. Robertson said she was overall impressed with the events and what she learned from the experience. “I thought it was a really cool way to reach out into the community and allow people to share their stories and testimonies in a way that everyone enjoys. I thought their acts could have been better, but it was nice that they got to perform,” she said. Robertson added that location is a very important factor in an event like this that is trying to reach a large group of people. “You have to find ways to meet people where they’re at. I think they have done a good job inviting people in, but I think they probably could have advertised it better or had a more central location.”
Mosaic Church hosts TnT until they reach capacity. The goal for this event is to keep growing out of each building the event occupies.
Emily Hayden attended the December Tnt and was impressed with the style of the host church because it felt inviting. “I really liked the coffee shop feel and the mood was chill because of the couches and it was a cool place to hang out. It was a little weird to hear rap in a sanctuary though. People were being vulnerable and open but that was style of the atmosphere,” she said. Hayden grew up as a pastor’s daughter and thought the experience was different but the people were united. “It wasn’t segregated and I liked that. The rap music and worship music were both welcomed rather than separated.”
Weaver says he is very pleased with the event because this is the time when he is able to see those that are impacted by No Walls share their stories of God’s work in their life. “I personally have been inspired by the music and the talent. I have been continually impressed by the quality of talent and the powerful testimonials about what God has done in the lives of the artists.”