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Leading a Bible study in a Greek chapter


August 28, 2017
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“What 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

Leading a Bible study in a Greek house can be very intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be.

My goal in this article is to make it as easy as I can for you to invest in faithful men and women.

The goal of a Bible study is ultimately to produce godly men or women who can then go share with others and produce more faithful disciples.

When I moved to Ole Miss 23 years ago, I met two fraternity guys that I invested in. Gordon was a Sigma Nu and Bo was a Sigma Chi.

After meeting with me, they felt confident enough to invest in a few more faithful men, pouring out everything they had learned into them.

Twenty-three years later, there are still men pouring into men in both of their chapters because of their faithfulness.

There are several types of studies and I’ll divide them into five groups: co-ed studies, chapter or “house” studies, class studies, discipleship studies, and “stud” studies.

1. Co-ed studies

Co-ed studies are a great way to get guys and girls to come to a Bible study who normally would not even consider going.

Twenty-three years ago, when we started our Greek ministry at Ole Miss, we started with one co-ed study. Each year we added studies one by one until we grew to 11 co-ed studies. These studies have been growing and continuing for the past ten years.

One of the greatest benefits to Greek ministry is it only takes two years for something to become a “tradition.”

Students assume if they did something during pledgeship the pledges coming in the next year should do the same.

I recommend these studies to only last three to five weeks because guys and girls usually don’t go very deep with the other sex in the room. The best way to start is by pairing up fraternities with sororities with whom they naturally associate.

For example, the Sigma Chis spend a lot of time with Chi Omegas, so I would meet with the chaplains and pitch the idea for the study.

If they don’t have a chaplain, I would try to meet with someone who is the spiritual leader in the chapters.

If you don’t know anyone in the chapter that is currently walking with the Lord, I would try to give a talk directly to the pledge class and pitch the idea to the guys at the end of your talk. Then follow up with a few guys and see if they are interested.

Once you have two Greek chapters agree to the co-ed study, here are a few things to do:

  • Purchase Bibles that are the same translation or print out the scriptures on paper so students don’t feel uncomfortable trying to look up the passages. If they all have the same Bibles, you can say, “Turn to page 930 to start reading in John 1.”
  • Try to set the location at the sorority house. Girls can be nervous and intimidated to walk into a fraternity house while guys have no problem accepting the invite to a sorority house.
  • Try to set the time to be around an hour to an hour and a half before they have dinner. We do ours at 4:00 pm because dinner starts around 5:00 to 5:30.
  • I usually start with a 20 minute talk about a subject and then split the freshman up into small co-ed groups. It’s best to have the actives you trust lead the groups, but it’s not necessary to have leaders. For example, if I want to lead a study on “gray” areas, I would start off by asking the students what gray areas they see in their chapters, e.g. fake IDs or underage drinking. Next, I break them up into small groups and ask them to read two to three passages like Romans 14:13-23 and discuss what they think the Bible has to say about these gray areas. Finally, I offer some closing thoughts and wrap up the study. If I have enough upperclassmen leaders from each of the chapters, I like to have them lead the small groups. If nothing else, it’s a great way to get the freshmen familiar with the older spiritual leaders in their chapter.
  • Pass out comment cards and let them know that you want to get back together to answer any questions they have about the study. This is great for getting to share the gospel with them one-on-one. (Example of a comment card question: If you are interested in hearing more about spiritual things, please check this box).
  • If you are starting co-ed studies for the first time, consider pairing up two fraternities with two sororities; I have seen campuses like UK launch an entire Greek ministry from a four house study.

2. Chapter or “house” studies

Open house studies are a great type of “seeker” study that is open to everyone in the chapter. This is the most common type of study. Here are a few ideas on leading a study like this:

  • A good time to lead the study is either just before or just after dinner. We have also seen a lot of success by doing the study during lunch on the back porch.
  • Try to purchase Bibles that are all the same translation and from the same company so that guys are not intimidated to look up passages they are not familiar with. If I say turn to a certain page then it is easy for everyone at the study.
  • I usually like to read through a book in the Bible in the fall and then possibly read through an outside book in the spring. You usually have more guys coming randomly in the fall. When the spring rolls around, you will have a better idea of how many guys will be coming. The book of John is a great book to read through with first-timers because it is impactful discussing the claims of Christ each week.
  • If you choose to read through a book other than the Bible, I suggest reading a book like Thoughts for Young Men by J.C. Ryle. We have the discussion questions posted on GreekLegacy.org.
  • House studies are a great way to allow your young leaders to lead regularly or occasionally. I suggest that if you have a student lead the study that you meet with them to prepare the study and try and attend weekly. If you stop going, then the study can turn into a “dead end” study rather quickly. What I mean by a “dead end” study is that there is no real goal to the study and the guys will usually slowly become less involved in any outside campus ministry.

3. Class studies

These types of studies are when seniors lead juniors, juniors lead sophomores, and sophomores lead freshmen.

Sigma Nu at Ole Miss has had a 10+ year tradition of doing these types of studies.

Kyle Cole, a Sigma Nu from Ole Miss, graduated 12 years ago and then joined staff with Cru, and he has been overseeing the class studies in his chapter ever since. He says,

“You want the student to feel as if the study is designed just for him. The more effectively you fine-tune the study to a specific demographic, the more challenged the student will feel to come to the study. There is nothing more strategic than a student learning from his peer. Both the student attending the study and the student leading the study will benefit.”

4. Discipleship studies

I would view a discipleship level study as a study that is at a deeper level of content and commitment from the open house studies.

These are the most important studies for spiritual multiplication. When I lead a discipleship study, I am asking the guys to commit to a few things:

  • Attend each week and make the study a priority in their schedule.
  • Meet with me either every week or every other week to follow up freshmen and/or talk about purity and ministry.
  • Be involved in a local church.
  • Be involved in my local campus ministry and bring guys to the weekly large group meeting.
  • Help me follow up freshmen and help share the gospel with every pledge so that we saturate the chapter with the gospel.
  • Meet with me once a week or once every other week to discuss personal ministry in their chapter.
  • Talk to them about growing in personal purity and holiness.
  • Challenge them to disciple three others with the transferable concepts I have taught them.

5. “Stud” studies

Sometimes you can challenge one or two guys in each chapter to be in one study.

It helps the guys with very few Christians in their chapter to experience fellowship with other guys who are pursuing the Lord in the same way they are. Also, it’s good for guys to hear what the Lord is doing in other chapters.

If you do not have a weekly or monthly Greek meeting on your campus, this could act as your core leader group that will help you launch a large group meeting.

Finally I would pray for men and women who are faithful, available, and teachable. I pray every fall before rush that God would bring me just one or two faithful followers of Christ who are ready to help me lead the ministry in the fraternity house.

  • Steve Shadrach

    great job Paul!! Each greek house is a mini–unreached people group! We must pray and strategize and customize our approach to reach it. We must pray for/seek out a “person of peace” in each chapter that we can befriend and who will be our advocate and lend their credibility to us. In each chapter, we can move from a “toe-hold” to a “foot hold” to finally a “strong hold” in a particular chapter as we move a student/member there from a friend to a disciple to a laborer.