By: Katie Sobiech
This November 7th marks the annual Iron Sharpens Iron Conference (ISI) where men of all ages (13 and older) gather to learn to become better equipped men in the Body of Christ. Highlights of this year’s conference include keynote speakers Bishop Joey Johnson, Senior Pastor of The House of the Lord, as well as Dan Seaborn, Founder and President of Winning at Home Inc.
“Bishop Joey Johnson is going to talk to the heart of pastors and shepherds. He has nearly 50 churches under his responsibility so he’s really well equipped to do that,” Bill Thompson, Founder of Toolbox Ministries, said.
Another topic of discussion will be family life.
“Dan Seaborn’s focus is on family and winning at home. He is going to talk about signs that your marriage is at risk. A lot of times guys just kind of put blinders on and go down the road and don’t see all of the indicators,” Thompson said.
This just barely scratches the surface of what this powerful event, bringing together national and local speakers, is going to include.
Raising Up the Next Generation
The purpose of the conference is not only to strengthen men’s relationships with the Lord, but to equip them to leave that legacy with the next generation.
“Often I’ll stand in front of a group of men and ask them ‘How many of you have ever stood at the nursery when your baby was born, looked at him and said ‘I’m gonna mess his life up?’” Thompson said, “Nobody raises their hand.”
Then he asks “How many of you have done that?”
“They all raise their hands,” he said, “Most of them have messed up their children’s lives. So what we’re about is helping men understand how they decide what things they need to do in this culture to get down the road and be successful before God, before family and before their fellow man.”
One of the biggest problems Thompson has seen is the absence of fathers in households.
“Nationally, 60% of children go home to mom only. So sons go out and try stuff that they think is right and when it doesn’t work for them they get angry and do stupid things,” Thompson explained, “We’re in our 4th or 5th generation where dad, grand dad and great grand dad just weren’t there for their kids.”
Thompson is currently writing a book “Why Kids Eat Dirt”, which focuses in on this issue.
The idea for ISI all stems back years ago when Promise Keepers came to town.
“They wanted to get down to the grassroots but weren’t able to,” Thompson said, “They became a marvelous event, but weren’t able to transition down to the individual pastors like they wanted to, so over the years different things came to the surface and were tried, and Iron Sharpens Iron is one that has worked very well.”
Now whenever a big event such as Promise Keepers or any other event comes to town there are 50 ministries around the nation that work with the Pastors to help them develop sustainable male leadership in the church following the event.
“The vision is that men learn to pursue God, learn to become spiritual leaders and learn to impact the world that they live in whether their world is a backyard fence or a soccer field,” Thompson explained.
Dealing with Real Issues
ISI identifies and brings to light many of the major issues that men deal with, such as anger, fathering, economics and moral integrity. Thompson says that 40% of godly men do not know how to express their anger appropriately in our society.
“We have Crown Financial Ministries talking to guys that make $15-30,000 a year. Not the guys who have the big bucks to invest, but the average guy. What does the average guy do this year to recuperate from what’s happened these last couple of months, even years?”
ISI compiles a needs analysis all year long, coming up with a dozen or so issues that men are dealing with that particular year. They then design different work shops to help them work through those issues.
Thompson hopes that through this conference, men will learn to impact the world that they live in.
“What I really hope is that this is the launch point for Pastors and men’s ministry leaders to take a look at what they’re doing to develop mature leaders in the church,” he said, “When Iron Sharpens Iron goes home, Toolbox Ministries is here 365 days a year, 24/7 to help men.”
This year’s conference will be held at The House of the Lord (www.thotl.org).