Posted by: Justin Wallace | January 26, 2010

It’s all greek to me?!?!?! pt2 :: by Rick Harper of CCF @ GT

I’ve been doing Campus Ministry for 23 years – and I am tired of hanging out with Christians.  Is it not the job of a Campus Minister to tear down barriers and quit focusing on who is in the Campus House and open our eyes to those folks outside our walls?   Seems “the Church” is the one organization that exists solely for the benefits of those “NOT THERE.”  So go ahead and have bible studies with incredible worship, raise your hands in praise, but have we ever stepped outside during Bible Study and looked around.

A while back I gave a rousing talk.  A kid prayed as I stepped outside for fresh air.  What I saw broke my heart.  Kids going to parties , kids laughing with each other – but I did not laugh because I knew they were lost.

My heart broke.  Does yours? Christ looked at the multitude and had compassion.  Most ministries never look or at best they offer up prayers for those on the outside while we break down scriptures on the inside.

I had a greek leader in my minisry.  He tried his best to get his frat brothers to CCF.  One day he came in my office and said, “Rick i am a dumb-ass.  For months I have been trying to get my friends  to CCF when I got it wrong.  Why don’t we take CCF to my friends. “

I laughed to keep from crying because that “Dumb Ass” kid got it while I never had.  So we started  “Theology on Tap”, and “BYOB(eer)”…Bible Studies at the Frat houses.  We talked issues.  I let them smoke and drink.  I loved it.  It was a way to overcome the perception at least in the south of Christians.  They were amazed I did not mind or condemn.

One kid was named Jerry.  He was gay and did not hide it.  But he admitted he was sad . We talked about the church . “They hate me.” We talked about CCF , “They look down on me.”  I asked him about his mother.  “They have disowned me.”  Then I brought up Jesus Christ and he said, “Oh I know Jesus loves me.”

He is right.  We are wrong.

I am tired of Ministries being all about Christians. You didn’t see Christ hanging out all day in the temple courts singing praise songs and arguing scripture.  Instead he was never in his office.  In fact he never had an office because in an office and a campus house you never find those kids who need Jesus.

Call them greeks, call them grad students and undergrad students.  If you do, then like me, you have missed the point.  Labels are for the food closet.  In the Kingdom of God – each kid has a name and he is a Child of the Almighty God.

But the problem – Christian ministries are too involved in mission trips to other countries with matching t-shirts …..And we overlook the mission field is right outside the door.

Rick and Beth Harper started GTCCF in May 1987. Rick received a degree in Business from the University of Georgia in 1983 and was also involved at the Christian Campus Fellowship at UGA. After graduating, Rick spent a year as an intern at CCF at Florida State. Rick completed his Master’s degree at Emmanuel School of Religion in 1987 and they moved to Atlanta to begin CCF as well as their family. Rick’s job as Campus Minister includes teaching at Bible Study on Thursday nights, leading the Big Sap Leadership group, and meeting with and counseling students.

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Responses

  1. You’re opening line made me lol.

    Aren’t we supposed to do both, that is, spending time with the disciples and spending time with “Matthew’s” friends? I get the problem you argue though; many ministries don’t reach beyond their walls.

    If we look at where Jesus spent his time I think we’ll see that he spent a fair amount of time teaching (rebuking) the religious. Those who were already supposed to be “in.” His own people.

    His interaction with the “outsiders”/ gentiles was very similar to your BYOB bible study. Talking, serving, loving.

    So how do we get those who are doing a great job on one side, walk thru “Samaria” on the way to the Christian Campus House, or Wesley Foundation, or Newman Center, or whatever?

    Last comment – I can’t agree more with the statement:
    “Christian ministries are too involved in mission trips to other countries with matching t-shirts …..And we overlook the mission field is right outside the door.”

    Great post.

  2. Great post indeed.

    As I read through the gospels in December, I kept coming across the moment when Jesus ate and interacted with the tax collectors, sinners, and the like. Whenever the Pharisees asked, “Why does he eat with sinners,” I wrote in my margins, “I don’t know that I ever give people the chance to ask that about me.”

    Aside from that probably unconnected point, I know that we are seeing a generation of students who love a cause they can attach themselves to. Christian or not!

    I wonder if we did more to partner with the greek societies to attack a cause or to serve together if they might recognize that Christians (and our organizations) really DO care about the same things they do.

  3. No doubt.
    I feel like I quote this survey all the time, but in the 2008 Ivy Jungle Network State of Campus Ministry Survey, the number one reason students connect with a college ministry was community.
    Part of community is about having a common vision, identity, or purpose. This is what the Greeks already have.
    I think PC makes a great point. And that kind of takes us back to the original question? So how do we do it?

  4. I don’t know if there are any broad-based primers on Greek college ministry out there, but here are a couple of good places to start:

    greekiv.org – InterVarsity’s Greek niche ministry. They also have 3 annual conferences (with a fourth coming) that might be worth checking out.

    CruPress also has a publication for Greek ministry: http://crupress.campuscrusadeforchrist.com/newmovements/becoming-an-insider-leaving-a-legacy

    Either would probably be really valuable for those who want to jump in here, whether you adopt their actual models or not. I would certainly suggest – for any niche, but maybe especially Greek ministry – that this be handled “gently and reverently,” as we’re commanded to be.

    Reaching Greek students effectively will require a lot more than just a few “best practices,” but where it’s done well, it could be REALLY effective.

  5. […] Then Rick Harper (director of one of the largest campus ministries in America, CCF at Georgia Tech) follows up with his own experiences among Greek […]


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