Saints Of Darkness – Episode 4: The Next Door


Welcome to a new series I’m calling Saints of Darkness. It will run on Mondays from now until May 18th and feature folks who are doing really interesting, creative, and important social justice work. The series is available as a free podcast that you can stream from this site or download either from iTunes or Podbean and listen to later at your convenience.


There are few topics more taboo in the Church than mental illness.

We don’t like talking about it.

We don’t know how to talk about it.

And when do try to talk about it we say good intentioned, but ultimately utterly unhelpful things like “All you need is Jesus,” when in fact a doctor, therapist, medication, and a supportive community are all vital to that person’s well-being.

Like mental illness, we also don’t do such a great job serving and meeting the needs of folks in our community who struggle with addiction…or trauma…or incarceration.

The Next Door works is working hard to pick up our slack while also inviting us to come and learn how to better serve the folks in our community struggling with needs we don’t really know what to do with.

And they do it a beautiful way.

Yes, they’re comprehensive in their care.

And, yes, they have an incredible facility to serve the women in their care.

But the love is in the details at The Next Door.

After my interview with Amanda Dunlap, Director of Community Services at The Next Door, she gave me a tour of the amazing building they call home. And on the pillow of every bed at The Next Door, there was this note waiting for each new arrival.


I didn’t open the note to read what it said inside, but its simple presence speaks volumes about how much The Next Door sincerely cares about women whose very existence most of the world would prefer to forget about.

My interview with Amanda is the shortest of the series, but it’s packed full of great insights and wisdom about how the Church can help society overcome the stigma associated with addiction and mental illness, while better loving and serving the folks in our own community for whom addiction and mental illness are a daily reality.

The Next Door does some amazing work, but they can’t do it without your support. Make sure you follow them on Twitter, like them on Facebook, and if you can, consider making a donation to help The Next Door better serve the women of Nashville, Knoxville, and Chattanooga, TN.