The Greek Effect
As I got started doing FOCUS Greek work the last couple years as a staff member at University of Illinois, I have done a lot of research on this population of college students and graduates. I didn’t know much of this information when I was a member of Alpha Phi during college, but I am glad I know now. Many people have asked, “Why is Greek outreach so important?” I wanted to compile some of the stats I have gathered from various websites and books for your knowledge and enjoyment. I don’t know how recently they’ve been updated but check some of these facts out:
Wow. That was a lot of information! Some of the facts are more impressive than others, but I think the most noteworthy fact is this - Less than 3% of the United States is Greek. This one really made me sit back and re-read the above statistics. All those influential people are coming from such a small pool of college graduates?! No, just because you are Greek doesn’t mean you will be doing everything listed above. The facts remain though, and they’re impressive no matter if you like or dislike Greek life.
In carrying out the mission of FOCUS, one of those statistics above stood out to me more than the others. I believe it can also be helpful for all of you out there doing Greek ministry as well. Over 85% of the students in campus leadership on 730 campuses are members of Greek-letter organizations. What does that translate to in my brain? On several colleges across the nation, Greeks are the majority of students running the show. What does that mean, then? If I desire to make a strategic impact for Jesus Christ and His Church on the college campus I am serving at, I need to look at the Greek system first to assess its strength on campus. If they are a strong Greek system, I have just found a great place to begin my ministry that will maximize my outreach to the entire campus. If you are a student in one of those Greek systems, you can stand confident knowing God has placed you where you can truly have a multiplied effect in your house and on campus for the Gospel.
Greek life can be a great place to reach with the Gospel message…but I won’t lie, it may also be the hardest. Anyone in Greek life knows this. Maybe you are part of an exceptionally awesome house that is genuinely open to the Catholic faith. If so, this advice won’t apply to you. For the rest of us, we must embrace the phrase, “Eternity is worth the awkwardness.” Or hostility…isolation…etc. depending on your house. Walking around your house, knocking on doors, inviting people to attend the house bible study in the living room…lots of awkwardness. Announcing at a chapter meeting that you are getting a group of people to go to Mass on Sundays together or to a FOCUS Greek event…less awkward but still awkward. Telling someone at a kegger you don’t get drunk because you love Jesus Christ and He’s radically changed your life and they can come to know Him too…I can see the sweat beginning to form at your brow. Standing up during a grotesque house “tradition”, stating that it’s unbecoming of human dignity and that you will be waiting in the other room until it’s finished if anyone else wants to join you…I can see God cutting your purgatory time in half as your stand there shaking. All this awkwardness, and you’re actually IN the Greek system surrounded by your own brothers and sisters! Imagine being a non-Greek trying to make an impact! As much as there can be pain or even humiliation at times, at the end of the day people typically respect others who stick to their guns, whether they agree with you or not. Your brothers and sisters may not agree with your choices but they will respect you for being authentic and true to your beliefs.
Whether you are Greek or not, this sub-culture of students on campus cannot be ignored. With all the flaws that are easy to point out in Greek life out there across the nation, these statistics show something is being done right. There are so many opportunities to grow as a Greek. I love how I was encouraged to pursue involvement, leadership skills, and my best GPA! I also love how I was surrounded by countless opportunities for friendship and networking. I want to continue to be part of the “something right” that’s happening. Through FOCUS Greek, my hope is to see Jesus Christ become the foundation of Greeks’ lives across our nation. I know that when He is the center, the effect these students can have on campus and in our culture is truly limitless.
So, who’s ready to embrace the awkwardness with me? Or how have you already?
The Greek Effect
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Since the pontificates of Pope Paul VI and John Paul II, the Roman Catholic Church has been commissioned to engage and embrace the world with God's message of love once more with ‘new methods, new ardor and new expression.’ It has come to be phrased, 'the new evangelization.'
For FOCUS, this means meeting college students across the nation where they are and challenging them to examine the meaning and purpose of their lives. Through personal relationships and friendship, we offer college students the true peace and fulfillment they seek in the good news of Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Catholic faith, inviting them to answer His calling in their lives.
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