This summer, a group of 12- to 16-year-old boys got up close and personal with the pavement of Upland Community Church's parking lot. Had you driven by on a Monday or Thursday evening, you might have seen them: running sprints, pushing vehicles, flipping tires.
The ringleader was Taylor senior and Colorado Springs native Kyle Windebank. After spending last summer in Upland and doing little outside of working and training for football, Kyle was determined to use this summer to give back.
When Kyle was in high school, his youth pastor started a summer program for middle and high school boys called ManTime. "The core of the program," Kyle explained, "was he wanted to build young men instead of fixing them when they're older."
ManTime deeply impacted Kyle and his walk with God:
"Seeing men that weren't that much older than me, who were living the way I hoped to be living, just striving after the Lord—that was huge for me."
Early this year, Kyle met with the youth pastor of Upland Community Church (UCC), a local church less than a mile from Taylor's campus, and pitched an idea. He wanted to bring ManTime to Upland. He wanted to put on a five-week program where middle and high school boys would come twice a week for three hours—one hour of Bible study and discipleship, one hour of service in the community, and one hour of physical competition.
UCC's youth pastor was on board.
ManTime kicked off the last week of June, after Kyle's summer routine of work, football, and two online classes was set. Every morning, he got up at 6:20 to go to football practice or paint Bergwall Hall. Days that he worked right away, he went to football afterward. Evenings were for homework, except on Mondays and Thursdays, when he had ManTime. To him—after working 40 hours, training with his teammates for another 10 or 15, and studying outside of that—the weekly six hours of ManTime were a break.
"I get to go and just hang out and goof around with some middle schoolers and high schoolers," he said. "Amidst the chaos, this program's been my oasis."
The first day, Kyle and the two other leaders, Daniel Luke '16 and Nate White '13, put the boys through a series of drills including a tire-carrying relay, tractor tire flips, and wall jumps. Then they split the boys into two teams: black and green, delineated by bandanas.
"It's all to make them push themselves beyond what they think they can do, and grow in friendship with one another and discipleship with the Lord."
Josiah Wehling, 12, was given a black bandana, Kyle's team. And though he missed the last few ManTime sessions because of summer camp and family vacation, he had a lot to say about his four times there.
ManTime's motto is "How you do anything is how you do everything." It's based on Colossians 3:23: do all for the glory of God. ManTime's memory verse is 1 Corinthians 9:27, which both Kyle and Josiah rattled off without hesitation:
I beat my body and I make it my slave, lest when I preach the Gospel to others, I myself may be disqualified from the prize.
"We recite that every day," Kyle said. "With pushups. We get them all doing pushups and, 'I beat my body! I make it my slave!"
Josiah provided more detail:
"We had to do 10 of them [pushups] and—it doesn't sound like a lot now, but what we had to do was . . . get in the pushup position, and they would say, 'What's the motto?'" Everyone would say the motto. "And they would go, 'Down,' and then you would do a pushup and everyone would say, 'One.'" Then, they'd hold the top of the pushup position and, when the leaders asked for the verse, they'd all recite it together before doing another pushup.
Josiah remembers looking around when they were at the top of the pushup and seeing his friends' arms shaking. He remembers Kyle encouraging them, saying, "Don't fall, guys, don't fall. Come on, say it with me."
"That made me feel like, I'm glad I joined this," Josiah said, "and not chickened out or something."
They yelled out the verse as they did service several blocks away at Lightrider Ministries—running there as a group, moving chairs from a double-decker bus into the Red Barn facility, running back. They yelled it out during the truck push, "a staple of ManTime," when they pushed a Ford Ranger in laps around UCC's parking lot.
And this wasn't mindless repetition for senseless activities.
"It's all to make them push themselves beyond what they think they can do, and grow in friendship with one another and discipleship with the Lord," Kyle said.
The service and competition worked together with the devotion time's lessons to provide a three-dimensional understanding of what it means to be a man of God. They looked at Samson, the "could have, would have, should have story of manhood in the Bible." They talked about biblical traits of manhood: time in God's Word, prayer, service, humility, etc. They talked about purity, what it means to be a man of the Word and a man of prayer, and how to love Jesus above all else. They dug into 1 Kings 21 and the potential for power and status to corrupt. They studied, discussed, and put into action brotherhood and accountability.
Competition was just one piece of ManTime. The Bible study and discipleship hour was Josiah's favorite part:
"The very beginning, where everybody was there and . . . it was just everybody listening—we're all going to come together as brothers and we're going to take in as much as we can and learn together," he said, "I really, really enjoyed that."
"That is something the Lord does for us: the more we give and the more we pour out, the more He pours right back into us."
After the lesson, the teams would break up and get into groups with their leaders. In Josiah's group, Kyle would ask the team discussion and application questions and, Josiah said, almost everyone would answer. "And then you'd [think], 'Hmm, I never knew that about them.'"
For Kyle, ManTime at his home church led to some of his closest friendships. He still keeps in touch with his first ManTime leader, he's still close to his youth pastor, and some of his best friends back home were right next to him during his first ever truck push. Seeing the Upland boys—many of whom have been friends since kindergarten or preschool—grow even closer through ManTime excites Kyle about their futures as men of God and brothers in Christ.
ManTime met for the last time on July 28. Kyle returned to his early summer routine of work, football, and classes, minus the oasis of six hours with twenty middle and high school boys.
Josiah started gearing up for seventh grade, taking the ManTime memory verse and applying it to life at home—especially the regular need to clean his room before joining his friends outside. Asked why it's important to take control of his body, he said, "Because when you beat your body, it shows you more that you can do . . . If you keep doing more than what you've accomplished, then you can accomplish almost anything."
Several weeks ago, Kyle was seeing this play out in his own life. A summer of late nights, early mornings, and very little down time was taking its toll.
"It's like six to twelve every day . . . I haven't shaved," he jokes, taking off his hat and rushing his hand through his hair. "I don't care. It doesn't matter . . . I wouldn't have it any other way."
Last summer, he hardly did anything. "This summer," he said, "I've given a lot more, but I've received so much more. And I think that that is something the Lord does for us: the more we give and the more we pour out, the more He pours right back into us."