USA (MNN) — For the last twenty years, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship has been committed to reaching a group to whom few other organizations have attempted to minister: the Greeks.
"Greek" to a college campus ministry like InterVarsity, however, doesn't refer to a person from the ancient nation, but rather someone who has pledged themselves to a fraternity or sorority on a United States university campus.
InterVarsity's outreach to this group–which is often stereotyped as pagan party-ers who are uninterested in spiritual things–has stretched wide, but one consistent building block implemented to reaching Greeks has been Greek Conference.
In 2011, the kick-off conference for the school year is in Long Island for students at schools in the northeast region of the U.S.
"The Northeast is an interesting culture group," notes Lauren Mann, the main speaker for the September conference. "It's really post-Christian, very similar to the West Coast, where a lot of students don't grow up with any church background–or if they do have a church background, it's usually being hurt in some way from having a negative experience."
Mann adds, "They need to hear who Jesus really is. I think a lot of them have different perceptions of maybe things that they've heard, or even inaccuracies of who Jesus is."
Greek Conference Long Island will allow students to hear this primarily through Mann's daily sessions, which will focus on giving an accurate perception of who Jesus is according to the Bible. Students will also participate in daily seminars of their choice, which include topics ranging from leadership as a Christian in a fraternity, to what it means to follow Jesus for those who never have.
Music, testimonies, games and fun will top off the weekend to provide a fun but Christ-focused weekend, which primarily exists to train Christian Greek leaders.
Mann says, "[These] are my hopes: that we would have students that leave the conference beginning a relationship with Jesus and starting a whole new life from there on, and [that we would] equip and give students confidence to reach out to their loved fraternity brothers and sorority sisters with the message of the Gospel."
The conference is both evangelistically-focused and discipleship-minded. At a Greek Conference in October of 2010, 17 students came to Christ. Those who were already Christ-followers were able to take back practical ideas on how to better share with their brothers and sisters.
"It's a beautiful picture, when you think about it, because [Greeks] already have genuine relationships with one another, whereas many Christians can feel like, ‘I don't know many non-Christians; I don't have many true relationships.' Our fraternity and sorority students would say, ‘I'm surrounded by non-Christians.' And we think that's great: you already have the relationships, now you just need to bring in the faith component."
Greek Conference trains Greeks how to do that. Greek Conference Long Island will be September 30 to October 2 in Melville, New York. It's $120 per student, but InterVarsity is working hard to raise funds to underwrite the costs for students to go who wish to grow in their faith, or who are just interested in what it means to follow Christ.
Anyone in the Greek system–or even those thinking of joining–is welcome at the conference. "We've seen God powerfully use this as a catalyst to start ministry on campuses when even just one student comes to this conference," notes Mann.
If you or a student you know would like to join Greek Conference Long Island 2011, or any of the subsequent 2011 Greek Conferences, visit gc.greekiv.org and register today.