I was never a big fan of the campus Greek system while I was at the University of Alabama (1967-69). There was just too much silliness and nonsense for my tastes. And when I saw how the Greeks partied and how they "cheated" on exams I became less than impressed.

I was thus surprised to read in a recent AP report that a new fraternity and sorority exists at my old campus in Tuscaloosa. The Lambda Sigma Phi house, right in the middle of fraternity row, is a Christian Greek house. Here Bible study and mission projects trump booze and late night orgies. Lambda Sigma Phi is part of a wave of Christian fraternities and sororities that have gained a foothold on college campuses in America. There are 210 fraternities in this group nationwide. Some of these exist where schools have made it very difficult for them to be accepted. Members of these houses focus on prayer, Bible study and service projects as a part of membership requirement.

Founded in 2001 Lambda Sigma Phi hopes to show other groups on the college campus what following Jesus is really all about. Alabama chapter president Daniel Weaver says, "We want to be a light on this campus." Alpha Delta Chi, a Christian sorority with 14 active chapters, is just as straightforward about its requirements at Alabama. No smoking, no illegal drugs, no premarital sex and limited use of alcohol for those old enough to imbibe. The group features "sisterhood retreats" as well.

At the University of Florida such houses have been rejected and lawsuits have followed. The 11th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered Florida to recognize the groups on campus while the lawsuit winds its way through the legal system. At Auburn members of Alpha Kappa Lambda decided in 2000 to switch their fraternity from athletics to Christianity. Junior Drew Bonner visited the group and said, "I really like it. I'm active in a church here, too, but it's not the same as this."

I think this is a good trend but I would love to see how these students engage their non-Christian Greek peers. Have they withdrawn from the campus culture altogether or are they impacting those around them with the gospel? In my days we had Christians inside all the fraternities and sororities and they lived as light to those who were their Greek brothers and sisters. There is likely a place for both approaches though the darkness of secular fraternity life does present real problems for serious Christians.

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  1. James K November 23, 2008 at 7:29 am

    The story of the campus Christians in American college campuses is very encouraging in the midst of many bad economic news these days. Pray that they may be a light of the campuses and be a good example to other campuses.

  2. Rick Sholette November 23, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    Hi John:
    Interesting blog. I belonged to a social fraternity in junior college and became a Christian weeks after surviving “hell night.” I lived a distinctly different lifestyle than my fraternity brothers and (so?) they asked me to be the organization chaplain. I shared a three story frat house with around 40 other guys (and a couple of their live-in girlfriends), prayed before meetings, and looked for opportunities to witness to any of them by word or deed. I attended various social functions and would sip on the same half glass of beer all evening, would pass on the joints being shared, and privately told my roommates why God didn’t approve of nude pin-ups. I had a Bible openly displayed alongside a candle on a little table in my bedroom and occasionally shared tracts with fraternity members (with some complaint). There was at least one act of vandalism against my Christian property. However, I never acted like I was better than they (though I let them know I thought there was a better way), and I kept a good sense of humor and tried to be authentic. Thirty-five years later, in retrospect, I wonder if I made any difference. It was certainly a challenge for me. I would be curious to know how fraternities and sororities are today.

  3. laura November 24, 2008 at 10:24 am

    My college campus had a huge Greek system, with a wide range of houses to choose from. There was the druggie frat, the artsy frat, the “nerdy” frat, the football frat, the lacrosse frat, and one that people coined the “date rape” frat for horrid reasons.
    Parties were and still are an excuse for debauchery, where drinking and cocaine flowed freely.
    A Christian fraternity and sorority sound wonderful in their mission and purpose. I wish we had had similar groups at our school. I pray they can indeed be a light on their campus.

  4. Andy December 2, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    Hey John,
    Thanks for the post. I work with a lot of Greek students on secular campuses, and the whole Christian Fraternity/Sorority concept sounds really great at first. It can provide a great community that helps people grow in their faith. But there are lots of campus ministries that often serve this function already.
    What has happened in practice throughout the country with Christian fraternities and sororities are that Christian students are gathered together and keep the ‘salt in the saltshaker.’ Opportunities for real, authentic, honest relationships with non-Christians are lost and the rest of the Greek system often suffers because of it.
    In my campus ministry, we have a ministry designed specifically for Greek students that gathers Greeks from across the Greek system. Our model equips and empowers students to live in their fraternities and sororities as missionaries, where they gather together with other Christians in the Greek System to be equipped and empowered to minister among their brothers and sisters.
    What this does for the long haul is teaches students to learn to be fully present in two communities – after graduation, it becomes their church and a community of not-yet-Christians. We’re trying to teach them to be missional Christians as best we can in order to renew the Greek System from girls gone wild and boys behaving badly. I don’t know a tougher place to be a Christian on campus than a fraternity house.

  5. Travis February 14, 2009 at 11:43 pm

    I just stumbled across your blog as I was searching about Lambda Sigma Phi on the internet. I am actually an active brother and serve a couple of different roles in Lambda Sigma Phi, so I just wanted to give you a little more information about us.
    Even though we are a Christian fraternity, we do still take an active role in the greek system at the University. We still have parties and swaps, but we have a good time by remaining alcohol free and respecting women. We also follow Christ’s example by serving others and take an active role in community service. We do not just “withdraw” from the rest of campus and stay to ourselves.
    Our mission is to make disciples of Christian men by placing them into a group that will help them grow through accountability, small group Bible Study and fellowship. And I do firmly believe that all of these ingredients must be present or we will not be reaching our full potential. By helping one another grow in our faith, we will be able to outwardly display Christ. In doing so, I believe that as we interact with other Greek organizations on campus, it is apparent that we live our lives by upholding biblical principles. By letting our light shine, we will be able to make the most difference at The University of Alabama.
    We are in a very unique position considering that we are a very young fraternity, so I hope that you will remember us in your prayers.
    God Bless and Roll Tide!

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