A Light in the House
The Greek system is one of the most strategic ministry opportunities on campus. When we have campus ministers in the Greek system, it opens a door for us to bring our ministry to them. It’s more than that, though. It’s the Greek student who makes the difference.
I am an outsider. I can come meet with Greek officers and speak to pledges about spiritual things and even start a Bible study, but I can never gain quite the respect my students have. They are there with them and living among them. We need people living out the Gospel in fraternities and sororities.
Here’s some advice for encouraging students to realize their involvement in Greek life is a ministry itself.
The Only Bible They Ever See
In Matthew 9:10 we read Jesus went to Matthew’s house and dined with “sinners”. And in Mathew 11:19, Jesus says people say he is a “glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” Jesus spent time with the lost, so much that his opponents accused Him of being just like them. He did not just occasionally show up and give a sermon. He ate with the lost and spent time with them.
A chaplain friend went to chapter meeting to share devotion. When the head adviser stood up and said to the members, “I want to hear about your sexual escapades from formal this past weekend!”, my friend gave up. For the next 30-45 minutes, he listened to what Paul talks about in Ephesians 5:12: “For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.”
When he told me about this situation, I encouraged him, “That’s why you have to be active in your chapter! They need you to be there to be a light in a dark place!” He is still active in that chapter and I thank God for men like him.
Eat every meal at the house, attend every chapter meeting, and, yes, even go to the parties. Jesus was perfect, and knew how long to stay at parties. After a certain time, there can be things that go on that are not at all holy. It’s important to know when to leave.
For Such a Time as This
In Esther chapter 4, Mordecai learned the Jews were in danger of being destroyed and sent a note to his cousin, Queen Esther, saying, “Who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”
Challenge your Greek students. What if God was the one who placed them for such a time as now? What if they had nothing to do with being a ΣΧ or ΧΩ?
If we follow Christ, He has placed us where we are. These students are a ΣΑΕ or a ΔΔΔ for a reason. If they think they got a bid to that chapter because of who they knew, or how they look, or what they wear, they are forgetting that it all was a part of God’s greater plan to reach the actives who do not know Christ.
In every chapter He is calling faithful men and women to join with Him in drawing men and women to Himself. In 2 Corinthians, Paul charges the church to be “Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.”
I have learned from experience that if students do not become a light in their chapter, God will use someone else. He may raise up someone within the chapter, or He may bring someone in from the outside who may not even be Greek.
It is Worth It
When we develop relationships with people with the intent of ministry, often we forget why we are ministering to them in the first place. When you make those relationships part of your everyday life, it’s even more dangerous. Remind your students of the why: 1) introducing them to Christ saves them from an eternity away from God’s presence, and 2) calling them to live holy lives spares their brothers and sisters from the painful consequences of an unholy life.
When I speak to pledge classes about what it looks like to be a man, I always say, “If you act like Hell and live like Hell, one day your life will be a living Hell.” Our communities are full of former Greeks who cared little for godly living in college and are now paying a severe price for it with broken marriages and regrets about their past. With the light of Jesus living among them, however, they can escape the pull of unrighteousness and, therefore, its consequences.
Don’t Be a Lone Ranger
Encourage students to get involved in a local church and a local campus ministry. If they do not get involved with at least one, they have very little chance of maintaining their light in this dark place. Your students will likely either give in to temptation and blend in with everyone else or become a self-appointed Pharisee justifying leaving the chapter.
Besides, the chances of meeting a godly spouse are far greater if students are involved in the local church or campus ministry. In my 29 years of working in the Greek system, I have only met one couple that met in a bar.
It’s Not About You
When your students joined a fraternity or sorority, maybe they wanted to meet people or experience Greek life. And that’s fine. But if you are a follower of Christ, you should be looking less at how much you can get out of your chapter, and the more at how much you can give away of yourself and the Gospel to others.
Many students draw away from their fraternity or sorority after a couple of years. As upperclassmen they may have a boyfriend or girlfriend, they have a set major, and the chapter has less to offer. But the junior and senior year can be the most fruitful years if they stay active in their houses.
In time of great persecution, Paul wrote “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
Many followers portray an unrealistic image that makes it look like they have it all together. But we all know that is not real life. Encourage your students to always be honest about their short comings and failures, even in Bible studies, and you will gain the respect of the actives.
The most respected people in the chapter are NOT the ones who drink the most and hook up the most. The most respected people are the ones faithful to the chapter’s standards. As a Sigma Chi at the University of Arkansas, I was by no means perfect, and I made a lot of mistakes, but I tried to live my fraternity’s creeds and standards to my best ability. Because I gained respect from the men in my chapter, they would come to me when they were struggling and want my advice.
At one of my last chapter meetings, I read Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. ” I went on to explain their sacred vows to the fraternity did not make them Christians. They had to call upon the name of the Lord to be saved.
At the last chapter meeting, the house honored one brother with the Senior Key Award for highest respect. Usually this would go to the president or someone who had served in several leadership positions. Instead, they awarded it to me.
After my devotion from three weeks earlier, I could have been last on the list. But they knew I loved my chapter and my brothers, even if I did not necessarily agree with many of the actives.
Never Give Up
Students can launch a ministry of evangelism in your chapter that will last for decades. I know because it happened to me. When I graduated I left four faithful followers I had poured into. They, in turn, discipled a few more, and they discipled even more. For research for my book Leaving a Legacy in Your Fraternity or Sorority, I went back and found my discipleship chain in ΣΧ had gone on for over 18 generations!
At the end of the apostle Paul’s life, he similarly challenges Timothy to pour his life into other men: “And the things you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2)
The Greek community is ripe for the harvest, so we must send workers into the field. Encourage your students to realize Greek life isn’t just cool, it’s exactly where God wants them to be. If they follow Him, they will see a great harvest.
What challenges might students face when ministering to their Greek brothers and sisters?
How can we support Greek students?