Something people ask me all the time is what it was like being a Christian in a non-Christian sorority.
It’s a great question — Christianity and sororities, at least at my school, didn’t always go hand-in-hand. So people are curious. Was it hard on your faith? Were you able to make an impact in your house? Were you a good example? Did you compromise your morals?
And the short answer to the question is that I have no idea what it was like to be a Christian in a non-Christian sorority, because I wasn’t a Christian at the time.
It’s true. I went into college without a Christian bone in my body. It wasn’t until I was a senior in college that Jesus got my attention. So really, for most of my college experience, I was sitting on the “everybody else” side of that Christian fence.
(To read the story of how I became a Christian, and how it all started in my sorority house, check out my book, The Lipstick Gospel! Click here, and I’ll send you a free copy!)
But even though I can’t exactly relate, I still love this question. I love talking about what it’s like being a Christian in a sorority, and specifically the impact we can have on our sororities as Christians.
I have to tell you — for most of college, I was pretty anti-Christianity. I thought Christians were out-of-touch with the life I was both living, and the life I aspired to live. I didn’t want anything to do with it.
For a Christian looking to have an impact on me, I was a tough crowd.
So from that perspective, I want to dive in today to what it really does look like to be a light in your sorority house — from the perspective of someone who both needed a light, and who was totally resistant to it all at the same time.
This is what girls did for me to show me Jesus during college, and what I would have responded to if someone had shown me Jesus in this way.
But before we dive in, I just want to say one more thing:
If you are a Christian in a non-Christian sorority, I am so glad. If you are a Christian in a largely secular college, I am so so glad. Because we need you. College is hard, and life is hard, and we need more people who are there to love, and listen, and care, and serve. And so if you are a Christian in college, I am so, so glad you’re there. You are important, you are needed, and if you let Him, God is going to do amazing things in and through you in this time.
Okay, here we go!
Here are 8 ways to be a light in your sorority house (and at the end, if you think of one I didn’t, I’d love for you to pop it into the comments!)
1. Don’t over-complicate it.
I think when it comes to “Being a light” someplace, we tend to get all weird about it. We’re worried about having the right conversation or saying the right thing, or how much or little we’re supposed to be evangelizing.
But really, it doesn’t have to be complicated or unnatural at all. One of my favorite pieces of scripture is when Jesus gives the two greatest commandments. He says love God with everything you have, and love your neighbor as yourself. That’s all we have to do.
When we make it complicated or formulaic instead of just a relationship, it makes it harder on you and more confusing and hard to receive on the end of your sweet sorority sisters. Just be yourself, love God with everything you have, and love them really well.
Focus on being a good friend to them — that goes such a long way in showing them what Jesus is like.
2. Remember: Actions speak louder than words
When I was in college, the last thing I needed was someone telling me what to do. Or maybe that’s the first thing I needed, but feeling so wonderfully rebellious in my newfound college independence, the last thing I would have listened to was a long list of rules.
What I really needed was someone a bit older than me living her life as a Christian in a way I could see.
I needed someone who walked around with the glowing confidence of knowing how much God loved her. I needed to meet her boyfriend — a really great Christian guy to show me that those actually existed. And I needed to see how different and wonderful a relationship could be when it was founded on what God says love should look like.
I needed to see how she treated her friends, and how she treated me — how she’d listen and be there for people, how she’d love them, and take really good care of them. I needed to see that she didn’t talk about her friends behind their backs, but that she was loyal to them, and true.
I needed to see that there was something different about her life, something full, more beautiful, overflowing with joy in a way that life only a life with Jesus can.
But the point is, I needed to see those things. I didn’t need to hear about them. I didn’t need someone telling me what to do.
I needed someone not only showing me what to do by doing it with their lives, but I needed to see an example of what God could do in a life that was surrendered to Him.
So as you’re trying to be a light in your sorority, remember that your life is like a walking-infomercial about Jesus. Your actions will speak so much louder than your words, so live in a way that shows them the wonderful, loving God we serve.
3. Be honest about your struggles
One of people’s chief complaints about Christians is hypocrisy. The world hears us say something and then sees us do the opposite. And we all know how gross and seedy this feels.
So as you’re trying to make your actions speak louder than your words, also be really up front about the fact that you screw up sometimes.
It’s scary to allow people to see us in the depths of our mess, especially when we’re trying to be a good example. But you know what people will think if they see that you’re human? They’ll be relieved because they are too.
So when you mess up (because we all do) don’t try to hide it or cover it up. Do what you know to do, repent, apologize, make amends, make a different decision, and accept the grace, mercy, and freedom God has for us through Jesus.
You will show your sweet friends more about Christ by how you screw up and how you accept God’s grace and forgiveness than you ever could by pretending to be perfect.
4. Have fun!
When I was thinking about becoming a Christian, I was studying abroad with my two best friends, who also happened to be Christians. And I had more fun with them that semester than I’d ever had in my life up to that point.
We ate great food, and explored new parts of town, we went dancing at clubs at night sometimes, and had a few glasses of wine together over dinner. I’ve never laughed so hard in my life as I did that semester.
And while some people could think, “Oh my gosh, they were Christians, they compromised their witness! They shouldn’t have been drinking with you!” I am SO glad they did.
So many of the fears and doubts I had about becoming a Christian were broken down by the fact that I could play, and laugh, and have so much fun with these friends of mine.
We weren’t wild, or crazy, or irresponsible, but we were having fun, and that made all the difference for me.
If they would have condemned going to bars, or decided that they were going to set a good example for me by not having a single glass of wine, they would have confirmed everything I’d always thought to be true about Christians. They were no fun, out of touch, and I for sure didn’t want to become one.
So join in the fun. Laugh, play, show your sorority sisters your faith through your joy and your love — not through your strict adherence to a set of rules.
Quick note on this: Do whatever you need to do to be safe, and to keep your heart in a good place. If you don’t think you can handle going to parties without going nuts, then maybe don’t go. But if you can, go! Be with your sisters. Have fun with them!
5. Be open to conversations whenever and wherever they happen
As one of your sorority’s resident Christians, girls are probably going to approach you with questions from time to time. They might crop up in the middle of a political discussion around the dinner table, when someone puts you on the spot with a broad-brush assumption and says, “Suzy, you’re a Christian, you hate gay people, right?” (Those moments of being the resident Christian were never my favorite, but they do happen occasionally.)
They also may happen in quieter moments when someone’s having a hard time and feels safe coming to you for advice.
This is the best part about being a Christian in your sorority house.
While some girls may have negative opinions about Christians, there’s also this feeling that if you go to a Christian with your problems, they’re probably going to be nice to you, probably going to listen to you, and probably going to have some pretty good advice.
So be open to those conversations. Meet girls in those places when they come to you. Talk to them, love them, listen to them, give them your best advice.
And also, don’t be surprised if some of those conversations happen in unexpected ways.
I’ve had more conversations about Jesus with drunk girls than I can even count. Drinking brings down our inhibitions, which makes people much more open about their thoughts, fears, insecurities, and questions. So be open to these conversations whenever and however that happen!
6. For goodness sakes, do not judge them!
Another fear people have about Christians is that Christians are judging them, and we have to be honest about the fact that sometimes we can be pretty judgmental.
But in your sorority house, there is no place in the entire world where it’s more important that you don’t judge.
Nothing will make girls shut down faster, push you away, and keep things from you than if they feel like you’re going to judge them.
So don’t. Please don’t judge them.
If you find out about something bad they did, or if they tell you, listen, ask questions, don’t act shocked (even if you are), and let them tell you what they need from you.
Don’t give unsolicited advice, don’t tell people what to do, and do not give them a “I can’t believe you did that!” look. It’s just not what they need.
It is more important than ever that you remember that ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. It will take you right off your high horse, and remind you that every single one of us is imperfect and in need of grace and forgiveness.
If you can approach your sweet sisters from a, “We’re in this together!” kind of place, you will be such a better friend, and a brighter light to them.
7. Use “I” statements when you talk about your faith
This is a trick my parents (both licensed psychologists) taught me when it comes to conflict resolution.
When you’re in an argument with someone and you start to tell them, “You did this!” or “You did that!” it makes people feel defensive and makes them shut down. Saying, “I feel hurt,” or “I feel rejected” is so much less combative, and really allows you to get to the heart of the issue.
I think it’s them same when it comes to talking about our faith.
Another big stereotype people have about Christians is that they’re going to shove their beliefs down your throat. I think this is why so many of us shut down when it comes to conversations about faith. We assume Christians are going to tell us what to do, tell us why we’re wrong, and try to convert us to their beliefs no matter what we may want.
So… this is why I love (and use!) “I” statements when it comes to talking about my faith.
Say for example that the topic of sex comes up around your dinner table, and someone asks you if you’re sleeping with your boyfriend. That’s a perfect time to say, “Nope, I’m not.” And tell them why you’ve made the decision you have for yourself.
You don’t need to make the conversion of “I did this, and you should too!” for your friends.
You’re just sharing your story. And when you do, the thoughts, advice, and wisdom are out there on the table. Your friends have seen them, they’ve heard them, and now it’s up to them if they want to pick them up and use them as their own.
When you’re talking about your faith, try using “I” statements. They’ll allow you to talk about your faith without your friends feeling pressured, pushed, or defensive.
8. As you plant seeds, remember the outcome is not your responsibility
I know for me, once I became a Christian, I all of a sudden felt like I needed to be the savior of everyone I knew that wasn’t. And I don’t want to dismiss this feeling of pressure at all. It’s a real thing!
It’s like when people start using essential oils and all of a sudden they’re not sick anymore, have kicked their insomnia completely, and have dropped 10 pounds.
They’d want the whole world to know about this thing that changed their lives.
But the problem comes when we try to engineer the outcome.
If your essential oil enthusiast friend decides that she’s only succeeded as your friend if you buy and start using essential oils, she’s going to pressure you, and push you, and its going to feel like she’s constantly trying to sell you something until you either cave, or stop answering her phone calls. And that’s what we can do as Christians.
We tell someone about Jesus, and then we invite them to church, and then we invite them again, and push them to come with us until they finally do, and then we do that every Sunday forever. Then we buy them a Bible and ask if they’ve read it yet every time we see them.
This is enough to make even the closest friend need some serious space from you. And this is what we can so often do as Christians.
As you’re being a light in your sorority house, remember that our job is not the outcome, that’s just not what God put us here to do.
Our job is to plant seeds — to be us, to share with people what God has done in our lives, to show them how awesome life with God really is, to love them, take care of them, and be a good friend. And that’s it!
And from there, we get to let God be God and take care of the rest.
Shortly after becoming a Christian, I was at lunch with a mentor of mine when I was complaining about how lonely it was to be the only Christian in my house. I probably wasn’t the only Christian in my sorority as a whole, but it certainly felt like it.
But instead of letting me off the hook somehow, my friend said something I’ve never forgotten. He said, “Stephanie, you may be the only Christian these girls ever know.”
And that stuck with me.
As a Christian in your non-Christian sorority, or as a Christian anywhere, you may be the only believer people ever know. That’s a big deal!
I don’t say that to scare you, or to put extra pressure on you, but to remind you how much you matter. You really may be the only example people have of what being a Christian is like. Your role in their lives is so important, and I can’t wait to see how God uses you.
Have you shared, or encountered Jesus in an un-religious environment? I’d love to hear about it! Also — if you have tips to share that I didn’t think of, pop them in the comments below!