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Right target, wrong time

January 4, 2016

It’s easy to rush into what seems like a perfect plan for ministry, but without timeliness our best efforts fail.

One of my more memorable fails in neglecting this principle of timeliness is also one of my most embarrassing moments as a college minister.

We were just starting to catch ground in the Greek system and I really wanted to build some momentum. I got together with a few Greek students and started brainstorming. Within 15 minutes we decided to have a Greek Battle of the Sexes where members from sororities compete against members of fraternities and the winner would get a donation to their philanthropy. We thought we could get 125 Greeks to participate and hear a speaker present the gospel.

We put it on the calendar where we could leverage the momentum to build relationships and interest for our winter break conference. We worked hard talking with members from the top fraternities and sororities about being involved in the competition and gave flyers and announcements to every chapter.

On the night of the event we had everything set up hoping and praying that 125 Greeks would show up. As the start time came and went there where seven people in the audience. Including two staff members. It is then that I begin to learn of at lease four other Greek events planned that night along with our Ms. University pageant! To add to the embarrassment, we booked an alumni speaker to come in from out of town to make the event even more special.

We didn’t even have enough contestants to play our game! What a fail. To make things worse, I was stuck with the decision. Does our alumni speaker give his talk to seven people in the big room with a full sound system and PowerPoint presentation? Or do I just cancel it? Trust me, make sure you consider the timing of your event, study, or program!

In real estate the three most important things for any piece of property are… location, location, location! In Greek ministry there is a similar principle if you want to influence. It has to be…timely, timely, timely!

It’s easy to rush into what seems like a perfect plan for ministry, but without timeliness our best efforts fail.

What do I mean by timely? You must take the time to scrutinize when to ask these elusive, highly involved, students to attend your event or study. So you can pick the right date, day of the week and time for your events, studies or programs. Here are a few reasons why this principle is crucial in Greek ministry:

Big Man on Campus

Greeks have no shortage of events to occupy their time – chapter meetings, mixers, date nights, brother/sisterhoods, philanthropies, registered parties and mandatory university events. Then you pile on their class schedule along with a part time job and it’s easy for Greeks to feel overwhelmed. Every semester they feel the pressure to be at everything! I am not necessarily saying they actually have more on their plate than other students, but they feel that they are the busiest people on the campus. Many Greeks have the perpetual feeling that they don’t have enough time in the day to be everywhere they really want to be.

Understanding this will allow you to see a major barrier of many Greeks in making time to investigate Christ or investing in knowing Him deeper. Most don’t “feel” they can attend your Bible study or the weekly event. But if you take some time to help them it will pay dividends later. There are a few things I suggest with a student who “feels” they don’t have time to investigate the Christ. They differ due to how close of a relationship I have with the student.

  • Simply, help them walk through their week and see if they really have time to make it. There are 168 hours in a week. We all make time for the things we care most about.
  • Ask them when would be a good time and schedule the event/study around them…if possible.
  • Ask them if their brothers/sisters could make time for it? If the chapter attended would they be available?
  • Ask them to commit to come one time and offer to go with them.

These are just a few things I have found helpful in removing the time barrier for Greeks. There are tons a other great options but maybe these will get you thinking about how you can show college students that making time for Christ is always worth it!

Less is More

Be selective on which occasions you take out your relational deposits. Momentum builds more around one awesome time than several mediocre times. It is better for Greeks to have one incredible experience with your ministry that really helped them than to have several average experiences. Sometimes good is not good enough, so take the time and energy to make it excellent. However, it can be challenging to make every event outstanding and Greek relevant. Only do a few things, but do them excellently. Trust me, you will see more influence and impact this way. This principle always holds true but is more apparent when you are starting Greek ministry.

Always be Earning

In the business world they say to, “Always be Closing.” In Greek ministry I would say, “Always be Earning.”

Every time you interact with Greeks you are either increasing or decreasing your respect and relevance to their world and culture. Always be aware of whether you are gaining respect or hurting your influence. If you want to get Greeks to studies and events that will lead them to Christ then you have to build respect in their eyes. Be a relevant part of their life. Find out what is fun or adds value to their life. Here’s the hard part…this is mostly done on their turf in their world. So you have to learn what they enjoy and what they see as beneficial to their season of life.

Please don’t mistake being relevant as “being cool”. It doesn’t hurt to be cool but relevance and influence have more to do with respect than “being cool”. If you are unaware of the things that are going on in their world then you will lose respect. Things like which chapter had the biggest recruiting class or who won intramural championships. These are some simple things that will give you entry level relevance which you can build on.

The Unfair Comparison

When a Greek comes to your event or study they are comparing it to their events and programs. This can be good or bad news. Those of you at smaller schools may have some easy wins because the Greek system probably doesn’t have a huge budget to allow them to put on excellent events. Those of you at large universities with mega chapters that bolster enormous budgets may need to think and plan creatively.

Whether it is fair or not, Greeks are measuring your event against those they put on. They measure everything in comparison to their past experiences. Here are some questions they may be asking themselves without even knowing it. Is it as fun? Does it have as much energy? Are the people here those I want to connect with? Do I feel comfortable in this environment? Am I accepted enough to be able to contribute?

If you want to impact Greeks for Christ take the time to know Greek culture. And make sure to make it timely. This will save you from an embarrassment like mine and maximize your influence in the Greek system.