Iron Sharpens Iron 2011 Conference

Iron Sharpens Iron Testimony and Conference Review

By: Katie Sobiech

If you missed this past weekend's Iron Sharpens Iron Conference there is still hope... Mark your calendars now for next year's event! In the meantime, Toolbox Ministries and the Man Up Movement may be exactly what you are looking for. Both of these ministries are for men, by men. Year-round they offer tools for men to use in daily life, as well as accountability, prayer and godly friendships.

Mark Hardman, a member of South East Church of the Nazarene, and a man with a contagious enthusiasm for God says this weekend's conference was "a success".

"God was front and center through our speakers!" he said, referring to both key-note speakers as being "Dynamic".

Hardman, who started out as a conference attendee, has now teamed up with Bill Thompson, President of Toolbox Ministries, and Jonathan Greer, Founder of Man Up Movement, in their quest to reach the hearts of men.

After attending an Iron Sharpens Iron Conference for the first time 4 years ago, Hardman says his life has never been the same. It was there he met Thompson, and later Greer, forming a unique partnership in ministry, and a friendship that will last a lifetime. This is the type of relationship and ministry building that the event hopes to achieve once they leave our town for another on their 60 city tour.

Iron Sharpens Iron

Changing His View

"It took me a long time to get on the 'man train' because I was one of those guys who said 'I ain't doin' that (church activities) on a Friday or Saturday night. That's nuts, I've got other things to do!'" Hardman laughed.

"But the conference came along and it was life changing," he continued, "It was a God thing."

This gave him momentum to dig in deeper with God and find ways to reach men in his church and community.

Hardman's advice to men who want to push off church events where they could grow spiritually is "Don't work (your schedule) around the football game!"

"Where are your priorities in Christ?" he asks, referring to the countless men that won't set aside time in their schedule to make a commitment to the church.


Men, Ministry and the Church

"Men have really fallen short over the past 10 years or so. And when a lot of things become optional, when discipleship becomes optional, that trend makes men fall off and not be the spiritual leaders they need to be," Hardman shared.

He mentions the problem of complacency in men and brings up the movie Courageous.

"It's oriented towards men, but it's a family thing and for all to see. The bottom line issue is that men need to step up to the plate and be spiritual leaders for their families. If the man is in the place where he needs to be, all else will fall into place. If mom's taking the kids to church and dad's sitting back, that's a bad witness," he said.

On the topic of discipleship and Bible study he says "Men aren't likely to come into a situation where they're going to have to admit all of this stuff and the problems that exist. Women tend to have little group sessions and they can relate a little better. Men don't want to do that until you get your hard core group that's hit rock bottom, then they want to talk."

But he wants to change that.

Involvement in men's ministry and Bible study at his church helps him do that, and encourages other men to step up as well.


Knows What it's Like

Hardman admits he wasn't always the best example. Living as a functional alcoholic while running a business, his life changed drastically during a turning point not too long ago, in his early forties.

He says he believed in God, but it took a tragic event to really open his eyes.

"I came into the church about 6 years ago. I wasn't raised in it. A long story short, my mom was murdered in 03'. It was a horrible situation, absolutely despicable. And that's when Christ came into my life," he explained.

"You sink or swim in tragic events. You can get clinically depressed or forge forward with your life," he said.

Transformational Belief

"I think a lot of people will be believers, but don't come to the transforming point in their life. Transformation is a critically important part," he shared.

As for his alcoholism he says "I really feel that Christ delivered me from that type of stuff."

"I might be a little fanatical (about my faith) sometimes but I think that's necessary because you can fall back and go different ways. You can choose to go down a different road," he said of backsliding.

What he finds is most important in the life of a believer is to "Love God, love people and serve the world."

Without the conference and making godly connections, Hardman's life might not have been as impacted. Iron Sharpens Iron strengthens the faith of men and gives them the courage to stand up and be the men God has called each and every one of them to be. It's changing lives – be part of it!

To team up with the men in Toolbox Ministries, Man Up Movement or to find out more about Iron Sharpens Iron please visit or . You can email Jonathan Greer, Leader of the Man Up Movement, at .

Conference Feedback:

- "Inspiring and practical - looking forward to next year!"
- "Breakout sessions were helpful with things I am going through in my life right now."
- "Rod Cooper (keynote speaker) is one of the most dynamic speakers I have ever heard."
- "Every man in my church should have been here."
- "We men need this."
- "This workshop (The Jesus Experiment) was the catalyst to get me back in the word."
- "Going the extra mile to bring other guys next year."

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