Archive for September, 2011

I found the below article from our friends at “To the Source” to be very interesting. I decided to post it below (used by permission) -Eric
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Reclaiming Fraternities and Sororities
 
Better known as bastions of partying and hook-ups, American fraternities and sororities were actually founded in the 18th and 19th centuries as Christian fellowship societies. In a return to those roots, a growing number of college students are holding Bible studies and prayer meetings at fraternities and sororities nationwide. As students return to campus this fall, Greek InterVarsity is mobilizing college students to transform lives and develop “world changers” in a system that helps produce many of the nation’s presidents, members of Congress, U.S. Supreme Court justices and business leaders.
 
September 14, 2011
by tothesource
 
The college students who established the first American fraternities and sororities in the 18th and 19th centuries – the earliest was Phi Beta Kappa in 1776 at the College of William & Mary – founded the societies as Christian fellowships.That may be surprising given the reputation of today’s fraternities and sororities – a notoriety stoked by movies like National Lampoon’s Animal House – as hotbeds of hard partying and “hook-ups.”In an effort to return to the Greek system’s roots – and fight the the tendency for faith to take a back seat and church attendance to drop off during the college years – an increasing number of college-age Christians are joining fraternities and sororities, holding Bible studies and prayer meetings and becoming a witness for Jesus Christ.”Fraternities and sororities have long been known for partying and sex, but this wasn’t always the case,” says Eric Holmer, spokesman for Greek InterVarsity, an interdenominational ministry that mobilizes college students through regional conferences and campus meetings to engage in Bible studies and similar activities within the Greek system. “A larger number of the largest social fraternities and sororities were originally founded as Christian fellowships – a place where men and woman could find community, friendship, social activities and personal development.”These aims and principles are still found in the bylaws and rituals of many fraternities and sororities, but are in many cases largely ignored in practice, Holmer says.”Greek InterVarsity believes that it shouldn’t be an oxymoron to consider yourself a Greek Christian – that is to be a practicing follower of Jesus within a fraternity or sorority house,” Holmer says.

In what is becoming a growing movement in the Greek system, thousands of college students are participating in Bible studies and prayer meetings at the nation’s fraternities and sororities. As students return to college this fall, Holmer says the vision of Greek InterVarsity is to see “lives transformed, campuses renewed and world changers developed.”

“The Greek system is often stereotyped, overlooked and written off, but Greek InterVarsity makes this community its focus,” Holmer says. “We seek to develop student-led movements in fraternity and sorority houses both by training leaders to minister to their brothers and sisters through Bible studies and prayer meetings, and by giving them encouragement to be a compassionate and available spiritual resource to their chapter.”

Greek InterVarsity chapters are located at 71 colleges and universities ranging from the Ivy League to the Big 10 to smaller liberal arts colleges. More than 2,700 students at 321 fraternity and sorority chapters are involved. Nearly 160 small group Bible studies took place at those chapters and 161 fraternity and sorority members became Christians through the ministry last year. The movement was featured in a recent New York Times story, “Where raucous is the norm, Bible study.”

“It’s not like a sweeping movement over Greek life, but there is a change being made in people and in the houses,” says Chelsea Richter, a 21-year-old senior at Central Michigan University who participates in a Bible study at her sorority. “It’s not like all of a sudden there are no more parties in Greek life, but there is a movement where there are quite a few houses where girls and guys have decided to turn their lives over to Christ and give up worldly things.”

Holmer says the Greek system is an incredible missionary field and offers an opportunity to reach tomorrow’s leaders for Christ. Greek alumni make up 48 percent of all United States presidents, 42 percent of U.S. senators, 30 percent of U.S. representatives, 40 percent of members of the U.S. Supreme Court and 30 percent of Fortune 500 executives.

“I thought it was the weirdest thing ever, but it is a great place to witness and minister to people,” Richter says. “It’s a place where most Christians on campus will shy away from, but in my opinion Greeks are calling out, wanting somebody to show them how to live out their faith.”

Joy Karl, a 21-year-old senior at the University of Cincinnati studying early childhood education, says she became involved in Greek InterVarsity after getting an e-mail from the president of her sorority. The president was passing along an e-mail from a Greek InterVarsity leader named Michelle who was coming to the university to start a Bible study for the summer.

“I was at a crossroads in my life and had really been feeling God tugging on my heart and to start a relationship with him again, so Michelle’s e-mail could not have come at a better time,” Karl says.

Inspired by Michelle, Karl started a Bible study at her sorority. The attendance has varied week to week, but every study has brought meaningful conversations with her sorority sisters.

“There are many people who reach out to me and say that they love that I started a Bible study and they want to come,” Karl says. “They have so many questions and would really like their faith reestablished, but they do not end up coming. I do not take this personally because I understand that it can be very hard to be vulnerable and put yourself out there and stand for something that is not necessarily popular or understood in college.”

Kurt Skaggs, a 21-year-old senior at Indiana University studying business, says he became involved in Greek InterVarsity after seeing a flyer on a bus. He attended a Bible study and was impressed that the message was not the “watered-down gospel to appeal to the masses like some Christian college organizations seem to be about.” Skaggs, a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, says being a Christian in a fraternity gives him a unique opportunity to live in a “witness field like no other.” He doesn’t judge his fellow fraternity brothers, but rather uses it as an opportunity to share Jesus with them.

“Getting drunk and having sex with girls is no different than someone idolizing his grades or someone else believing his own works make him a moral and good person,” Skaggs says. “Only Christ can bring true joy and fulfillment to one’s life, so witnessing to those brothers involved in drunkenness and premarital sex is actually a bridge to the Christian conversation of how Christ satisfies in the ways that those sins cannot.”

Cody Scott, a 20-year-old junior at George Washington University studying international affairs and international economics, got involved with Greek InterVarsity after learning about it on Facebook. Scott, public relations chairman for the Sigma Chi fraternity, now serves as a student leader of the organization, planning events, organizing Bible studies and developing recruitment strategies. Scott says an organization that tells students they can be both Greeks and Christians is “one of the most refreshing things a college student can hear.”

“It’s breaking down a stereotype that fraternity guys and sororities girls behave and act a certain way,” Scott says. “And what’s better is that it’s the very fraternity and sorority members who are creating this change.”

Scott says the first time he hosted a Bible study at his fraternity the house was abuzz with “a lot of hype and, unfortunately, and lot of disapproval as well.” But Scott held the Bible study, talking about passages concerning helping others and the bond of brotherhood. “It was a bit awkward at first to bring this part of my life up to my brothers, but it was worth it,” Scott says. “It sparked a lot of curiosity.”

Although it may seem “completely backwards and counter-cultural from the outside,” Scott believes Bible studies at fraternities and sororities are among the strongest ways to express and live out the values of “brotherhood” and “sisterhood” that Greeks profess. “Think about it: If everyone is hanging out at a party every weekend having a good time, sure it’s fun, but how is that showing that we care for one another on more than a social or physical level? Bible studies allow us to bring our challenges, our questions, and our lives together before one another,” Scott says. “As brothers and sisters we can examine what occurs around us, and look to a common source (Scripture) to see what we can do build up those around us. At the end of the day, we’re all seeking grace – I’m pretty sure throwing a huge party can’t give you that – no matter how much fun it may seem in the meantime.”

Scott says many students have become Christians or rededicated their lives to Jesus through the ministry. He heard many of these testimonies at the Greek InterVarsity’s Greek Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina earlier this year. Greek InterVarsity has been holding regional Greek Conferences since 1994 when a few dozen students braved a blizzard and gathered in a small hotel outside Indianapolis, Indiana. Since then, the conferences have been held in Charlotte, Long Island, New York and in Southern California. At the conference, students learn how to live as a Christian within the Greek system and how to lead Bible studies in their chapters. Other seminars address questions about privilege and power and about vocation, especially for seniors.

“I’ve heard several stories of people becoming Christians after they finally had the chance to sit down and look at what Jesus actually said about the people he cared for – not what people say he said – but what he actually did according to Scripture,” Scott says. “Once people encounter these truths firsthand, it changes their outlook on life. They either accept it, or they don’t. And it seems an overwhelming percent of the time, it forces them to look deeper into the Jesus’ words to see what it means for their lives – and it ultimately changes them.”

Holmer says it’s his hope and prayer that the ministry will ignite a spiritual awakening and a cultural shift on college campuses nationwide. In turn, Holmer hopes those Greeks who become Christians will exert a positive spiritual influence in the years ahead throughout the world.

For more information about Greek InterVarsity, log into http://www.intervarsity.org/greek.

© Copyright 2011 – tothesource
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Many of you already know there is a mainstream, Christian, feature film release coming to theaters very soon. The movie is entitled “Courageous,” and has been created by the same people who made “Fireproof” – with the theme this time being on taking courage to have a healthy family. The film will be released in many theaters on Friday, Sept. 30, with our own city (Chariton, IA) getting it shortly after that. I’ve been pleased that each movie produced by these film-makers has been progressively higher quality and more meaningful. The film trailer and particular scenes can be viewed by going right here – revealing it to be especially promising.

This is yet another excellent time to send a message to Hollywood by supporting a film that speaks positively about Christian values. Know that many inroads are currently being made in the entertainment industry with executives’ “pocket books” prompting them to work through their prejudices about what a mainstream movie release “should” or “shouldn’t” be. For a number of recent months I’ve been very pleased to see the “Courageous” movie trailer alongside the previews of other standard Hollywood films throughout various theaters.  

If you live in the Southern Iowa area, know that a “Courageous” themed emphasis will take place at Cornerstone Community Church, Chariton, IA, from Sundays, October 16 through November 23, and you and your family are invited to 10:15am worship and 9am classes which will feature the themes/subjects addressed in the film:

Cornerstone Community Church – 120 Northwestern Ave. Chariton, IA. 50049. (641) 774-LOVE (5683). www.cornerstonecommunitychurch.net

Take Courage,

-Pastor Eric

Joshua 1:9; John 16:33