TJ Joy’08 | College & Young Adult Pastor Long Hollow Baptist Church
“God has called us to be multipliers. That’s the way in which He wants to reach the world.”
TJ Joy grew up the son of a pastor, Billy Joy ’83, making stops at churches in Crestview, Florida, and Enterprise, Alabama.
He had seen different models of ministry and been part of various Bible studies, but what he experienced as a student at University of Mobile would shape him forever.
“Neal, Buff (McNickle ’93), and Aaron Turner (in the Office of Student Life) brought me under their wings and showed me what Biblical discipleship looks like,” he says. “It’s investing your life into someone, holding them accountable, helping them overcome temptation.”
After graduation, Joy worked in UM Student Life before taking a job as high school pastor at Valley View Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Being only seven minutes away from The University of Alabama’s campus, he began building his student ministry on the idea of discipleship by multiplication. By inviting college students to disciple high school students, he began to see how a ministry could grow in a healthy, sustainable way.
“Anyone can create an attractive environment – but to be healthy, you have to pour into a few people that catch the vision and replicate that process,” he says.
Joy went on to become college pastor at Woodstock Baptist Church in Georgia under pastor and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention Johnny Hunt. Immediately, he saw the need to develop leaders in a ministry that was made up of freshmen and sophomores. “I realized 60 percent of our budget and resources had been spent on providing a weekly service,” he says. “So, we took a step back and asked how to better use these resources to raise up leaders.”
The first year of ministry was spent with 10 adults discipling college students, who then multiplied to start their own groups. Woodstock went from 0 to 22 discipleship groups over the course of those few years.
“Instead of people coming in to services to take in more information, we had students that were giving their time, energy and gifts to make disciples,” Joy says.
During this time, Joy met Pastor Robby Gallaty of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee. Gallaty had built a multiplication discipleship model called Replicate Ministries and provided training for churches, including Woodstock. Seeing how closely his ministry ideas aligned with Gallaty’s, Joy joined Long Hollow as college and young adults pastor in late 2017.
“I knew it was the right time to join Robby, build on his disciple-making process and existing vision to know God, find community, make disciples and change the world,”
Joy says. Joy will be spending much of his time investing in students at Volunteer State Community College – which is only a few minutes away and enrolls 10,000 students.
“Some college ministries don’t think they’re successful unless they are in a prominent college town with a large state school,” he says. “But students at community colleges are a major opportunity because they don’t have the same experience as those living on a residential campus.”
Commuter students don’t have the same communal advantages as those living with their peers on a daily basis. This can be challenging for building healthy, Christian community.
“I tell my students – ‘You’re not meant to live the Christian life alone’,” he says. “It’s through the local church that God uses you to reach communities and the world.” This is Joy’s main goal –to get his students engaged in the disciple-making process locally and globally.
“It’s a command from Jesus in Matthew,” Joy says. “He doesn’t say, ‘come sit and learn’ – when you’re following Jesus, you’re going to go and replicate what He does.”
Having experienced this personal discipleship through the investment of UM faculty and staff, he knows that it can change a life.
“My time at UM really changed the trajectory of ministry for the rest of my life. I no longer thought of ministry as a spectator but, instead, getting into the life of people and helping them see scripture for what it is.”