What Is An Iron Man Group?
To promote Christian growth and maturity by being accountable to other like-minded men in being faithful to daily Bible study, Scripture memorization and prayer.
- 3-5 men agreeing to meet on a weekly basis.
- The textbook is the Bible; the Holy Spirit is the instructor.
- Simple Leadership - one man taking responsibility for the health of the group, assuring commitment to the “Iron Man Covenant.”
- Iron Man Groups (IMG) are composed of men at different levels of spiritual growth. Yet all men are accountable for the same purpose - continued spiritual growth.
- Each commits to memorize a portion of Scripture of the Holy Spirit’s leading; the portion of Scripture to be memorized is up to each man.
- The Scripture should be identified within 2 days after meeting so there is time to memorize and apply that Scripture.
- When meeting, men take turns quoting their Scripture word for word, then share insights that the memorization and meditation process has revealed.
- Accountability means:
- If no Scripture is memorized, men will attend regardless.
- You will inform your group if you cannot attend a meeting (no one should wonder where you are)
- Iron Men meet to share failure and victory, not criticize, condemn, or lecture.
- Confidentiality must be maintained; this is a closed group of men who will build tremendous trust with each other.
- All men will commit to the Iron Man Covenant
- Better fulfill our roles as Christian men
- Better fulfill our roles as godly husbands and fathers
- Understand the meaning and the need for responsible church membership
- Establish deep, effective relationships with other Christian men
- Grow the desire to make a lifelong commitment to small group accountability
- Start with as few as 2 men but target 3-5. Over 5 becomes difficult to limit the meeting to 1 hour and men can become “anonymous.”
- Seek to build the group with men demonstrating a range of spiritual growth; be about “disciple-making.”
- Understand and commit to the Iron Man Covenant
- Foundational Scripture - there is no right or wrong way to select Scripture since Iron Men are encouraged to allow the Holy Spirit to direct them. However there is high value to use “Foundational Scripture” as a starter.
- Psalm 1:1-6
- Proverbs - read one chapter in Proverbs daily. You will read through the Proverbs in one month.
- Psalms - 5 Psalms per day will cover the Psalms in one month. A guide sheet will show how to rotate through a cross-section of the Psalms (example: Psalm 1, 31, 61, 91, 121. Then Psalm 2, 32, 62, 92, 122, etc)
- Gospel of John, I John
THE IRON MAN GROUP COVENANT
- Nothing but the Bible
- Absolute confidentiality
- Continual commitment to accountability
- Word for word memorization
- No walk-ins (appointment only)
- No “bad mouthing”
- No untrained facilitators
- Weekly meetings
- One hour maximum IMG time
- No domineering behavior
Nothing but the Bible
The Bible is God’s Word; it is His Book. Books by human authors can lead to discussion of agreement or disagreement. Even if total agreement with an author is achieved, the author can be wrong. God’s Word can be misunderstood and misinterpreted, but the authors of God’s Word are never wrong!
The Word of God is unique in its power and appeal. Trust that power. Any book other than the Bible is the “kiss of death” to an Iron Man Group.
Confidentiality is non-negotiable. If you are of the persuasion that your relationship with your wife means “no secrets” and you believe this to be your duty to God and to your wife, being an Iron Man is not for you.
For men to share their struggles with other men requires absolute trust. When confidentiality is broken the result is a sense of betrayal. Should an Iron Man ever unintentionally break this rule he must immediately confess this to the one whom the trust has been broken. There are times when a victory or story is so encouraging that you may want to share it. The key is to always ask permission.
Matthew 26:52 reminds us that the one who lives by the sword will die by the sword… meaning if you reveal what is confidential that which you want to remain private will likely be shared. You just “rewrote the rules”!
Continuing Commitment to Accountability
There are only a few participation basics an Iron Man is accountable to.
- One hour per week
- One verse memorized word for word per week
- Commitment to inform before the meeting if you will be absent; an explanation the day of your absence if you forget.
- If you fail to commit a verse to memory you are still committed to attend and share honestly.
- A simple statement “Pass” will be understood and respected by all
Accountability to come and be honest about Scripture work is the key to getting into God’s Word. Should you find yourself making excuses why you do not call when you miss or are not motivated to find Scripture to memorize and meditate upon, it is a signal the time is not right for you to make this level of commitment. There should be no shame to withdraw from Iron Man for a season.
Word for Word Memorization
The point of Scripture memory is not to quote Scripture on demand. The point of Scripture memory is about reading it repeatedly until the words are imprinted on our brain. Only as God’s Word is in our heads can the Holy Spirit usher it into our hearts.
When Psalm 1 teaches us to meditate on God’s Word day and night, it assumes we have the truth so embedded that we can draw upon it and reflect upon it when it is needed. This allows truth to give us freedom.
For some people memorizing can be very difficult and one verse may take a whole week while others can easily memorize a verse while driving to the meeting. For those who find memorizing difficult we suggest staying with that verse for another week if necessary to fully absorb its value.
Meditation implies time. For those who memorize easily it is essential to memorize it early in the week so meditation is not overlooked. Understand those who memorize easily and wait until the last minute get far less out of Scripture than those who struggle to memorize. Why? Those who struggle to memorize often spend more time in the Word!
No Walk-Ins (Appointment only)
Iron Men live to see other men spiritually grow. Those of us who have experienced life change through commitment to God’s Word coupled with the support of other Iron Men want to share this blessing. However you must always remember that relationships as deep as those of Iron Men take time and sharing of personal struggle. You may be helping a brother through a difficult time of moral failure, challenges within the family, or financial stress. This is deep, private stuff that comes only through time and trust. There are times an existing an IMG can add a man but this must be done with full discussion and agreement by the entire group as to timing and chemistry. As strange as it sounds, some guys don’t mix because of varying spiritual maturity as well. Bad chemistry is rare but it can hurt a group.
No “Bad Mouthing”
Iron Men understand that gossip is not a failure unique to the opposite gender! A good test to what is proper or improper in an IMG is to ask, “Would we be saying this if the person(s) in our conversations were hearing this?” “Would I feel betrayed if someone was talking about me or listening to comments about me without my permission even if the information is factual?”
When this covenant is broken, there is an instant feeling of discomfort and silence. Often the Holy Spirit has convicted us that the direction of the conversation has turned the wrong direction. We simply acknowledge this and move back to a God-honoring track. An Iron Man must be brutally honest and willing to accept God’s slightest reminders so that we do not grieve the Holy Spirit and break the trust of our mutual covenant.
No Untrained Facilitators
Being part of an Iron Man Group is unlike anything else you can experience. Those who have led IMGs for nearly 20 years have observed IMGs fail when the group lacks a trained and accountable facilitator. While the structure is simple the intricacies supporting success are real. A facilitator must be trained in the principles of the Iron Man Group and be mentored and held accountable for the commitment and culture of these small bands of Christian brothers.
Weekly Meetings Required
Most men are wired to need and appreciate routine. The founding pastor of Iron Man Groups shares comments from Iron Man participants stating they need accountability as much or more than Sunday worship attendance.
Meeting less frequently breeds inconsistency thus failure in benefiting from the fundamental elements of an IMG.
One Hour Maximum
A clear understanding of expectations are essential for most men to commit.
Commitment to limiting the meeting to one hour facilitates several important principles.
- Focus - for 4-5 men to quote Scripture and share insights requires men to focus and not “chase rabbits.”
- Men who meet before work need to be assured they have time to share and participate without being late to work or they will get discouraged.
- One hour does not constitute a “long meeting.” Men will be hesitant to buy into an IMG if they are signing up to long meetings. They will commit to one hour.
No Domineering Behavior Allowed
The key to IMG effectiveness is God’s Word speaking into our lives. An overly talkative man is oblivious to the introvert who needs time and patience to speak. Men with impulsive comments lack self-control and self-understanding and will shut down the shy man at the time he is about to speak.
Tools are available to make you a more effective facilitator. If men live up to their covenant, a facilitator can address the balance. Most men when confronted ask the group to make them accountable for speaking less and listening more. This can be a special moment.