Eleven years ago, Barna Group released a study that indicated 85 percent of young men fall away from church after they turn 18. The findings broke the heart of Jeff Wood and hit home as his son was becoming a teenager.

The First Baptist Church in Allen member began looking for a tool that would help him combat the statistics at home and in his church. His daughter thrived through the strong mentorship of the Acteens program, and he hoped to find something similar to it for young men. 

Wood discovered the “Challengers Journey” through a contact in the Woman's Missionary Union and developed a strategy to implement it at his church. He leads the seventh grade class to introduce the program and has recruited other men in the church to serve as mentors and leaders for the subsequent grades.

The program disciples young men, helps them grow spiritually and assists them in applying their faith to the world around them. The curriculum walks young men through how to apply and share the gospel in nine areas: their life, family, church, school, neighborhood, association, state, nation and world. Through Challengers, the church has been able to transform the lives of young men, turning them into disciples who makes disciples. 

Wood has “been encouraged by the effect it has had on young men becoming involved in the church. All of the 20 that have completed the journey have stayed involved at FBC Allen or at their local church after leaving high school.”

The students continue growing in their faith today.

“I saw skills like leadership, evangelism and service develop in these young men who went through the program,” Wood said.

Andrew Kissell is the most recent student to complete the “Challengers Journey” through the church. He learned how to share his testimony and the gospel with others, volunteer in other ministries at his church, worked a project in his association, and activated his youth group to support international missions. Completing the Journey is the highest award for challengers.

“Andrew developed confidence since the seventh grade to become a young man who is eager to share the gospel and his testimony with Allen and beyond,” Wood said. “He is one of the first to volunteer when the church asks.”

Alan Huesing, TBM Royal Ambassadors & Challengers State Director, was a principal author of the resource Woods found. Since joining TBM, Alan has been hard at work fostering more Challenger programs. 

“The purpose of Challengers is for people like us to follow Jesus and let Him make us fishers of men. The “Challengers Journey” is a plan that He can use to equip and mobilize us to join Him on His Mission,” Huesing said.

“Challengers don’t just talk and learn about the Mission. We prepare and then do it."

Want to know more about Challengers? Email Alan Huesing at Alan.Huesing@tbmtx.org.