When Tony Reynolds heard a young man say he’d never held a fishing rod, Reynolds’ first response was sadness because he knew the simple statement implied much larger concerns.
“Some of the boys in our community are in homes without fathers, and others seemed not to have anyone to teach them practical manhood skills,” said Reynolds, pastor of Randolph Baptist Church in Bibb County. “So we began to think about our men showing them how to do some things they’d maybe not done before, based on the scriptural admonition that the older men teach the younger men.
“We wanted to ‘disciple them up,’ as I told our men,” Reynolds said, sharing Jesus with them while also providing an opportunity for mature men in the congregation to teach younger men some life skills they’d not learned before.
The result was Young Timothy Day, which was held for the second time last May at Randolph Baptist. The church hosted 33 second to sixth grade boys who moved from station to station throughout the day.
“We gave them a big breakfast, and then we went to work,” Reynolds said with a laugh. “Our Brotherhood group worked hard to make it a good day.”
Attendees learned how to cast a fishing rod, how to safely handle a gun on the target range and how to change oil and a tire, among other skills.
“We tried to connect these skills with biblical truth,” Reynolds explained. “For example, we talked about being fishers of men while handling the tackle and how to aim for the target in life when we fired weapons. When changing a tire and changing oil, we talked about routine maintenance in our Christian lives.”
Reynolds said two men from his church supervised each learning station, and it was a busy day.
“We had a few boys younger than second grade and a few older than sixth grade, but it all worked out,” he said. “We also had some parents who stayed with us for the day, and this has brought some good fruit for our church.”
Reynolds, who will celebrate 13 years as pastor of Randolph Baptist in February, said Young Timothy Day was inspired by the Lord but happened due to the good work of the men in his church.
“The enemy is targeting our young men; therefore, we must be proactive in helping our teen guys know how to address the things they deal with on a daily basis,” Hyche said. “It’s on us as the older generations to equip them with a biblical foundation to help them navigate a post-Christian culture.
“We have to be intentional in encouraging them,” he added. “I call it discipleship, and it’s a newer way to do men’s ministry. Men’s ministry in many of our churches has been prayer breakfasts and the like, and this is fine, but what I talk about is the priority of reaching and discipling older men to reach and disciple young men.”
Hyche said his office exists to help churches reach and disciple men of all ages, he said, and two annual events focus on helping young men grow as disciples: Fortify, an annual conference for guys in grades 7–12, and Adventure Weekend, a camping experience for boys in grades 1–6 held at Shocco Springs in Talladega.
Hyche also provides leadership for Called, an annual conference for young men and women discerning a call to ministry. (Recordings of this year’s Called Conference sessions are available here.)
Fortify 23 was held at Westwood Baptist Church in Alabaster on Aug. 26. It’s a unique event among state Baptist conventions, Hyche said, noting he hasn’t found a similar conference in any other states. Twenty-two churches brought 133 attendees to this year’s event for a day of fun, fellowship and teaching by men of God, Hyche said.
The featured speaker was Jason Cook, senior pastor of Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, Georgia. A Birmingham native, Cook played football at the University of Mississippi and went on to play for the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens.
Cook spoke on Luke 15:11–24, connecting the life experiences of contemporary young men to that of the wandering son in Scripture.
“When I think about what it means to be a teenager, I remember long stretches of time where I’m running from God, running from the things of God, because I believed that the things of the world were more fun. They felt better,” Cook said. “It was worth giving my life to these things, at the very least, because for a moment in time I could feel something.”
Using Rembrandt’s famous painting “The Return of the Prodigal” as an illustration of the son’s sin and his father’s love, Cook noted, “this dude ran. And in running away, he ultimately ended up running home.”
In a Q&A time, Cook took questions submitted via text by conference participants. In a one-on-one time with moderator Josh Meadows, SBOM student ministry strategist, Cook addressed everything from his preference for waffles or pancakes to knowing and discerning God’s will.
Breakfast foods aside, “Fortify doesn’t shy away from hard conversations,” Hyche said. The goal is to address difficult topics with middle and high schoolers and to invite dads and church leaders to be there as well.
Each of the three main sessions started with group games and worship led by Adam Smith with the Awaken Band from Spring Valley Baptist Church in Springville.
Breakout sessions included Smith, a police officer, speaking about following Jesus in hostile environments; Donte’ Little, assistant to the executive director at the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind in Talladega, who spoke on identity and culture and offered strategies to help young people grow in their Christian identity; Alabama Baptist youth pastor Jon LaMarque, who spoke on the prevalence and dangers of pornography; and Mike Williams, co-founder of Six2 Ministries, who spoke on mental health issues.
Events for young men and students in 2024 include:
- Adventure Weekend, March 22–23, Shocco.
- Called Conference 2024, Aug. 3, Samford University.
- Fortify Conference 2024, Aug. 24 (Location TBD).
For information on these and other resources for youth and men’s discipleship, contact Hyche at 800-264-1225, ext. 2268, or by email at email@example.com.