Vision for Fraternity Service
By Jason Hoyt, Executive Director
Robert Bember, Senior Communications Advisor
“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”
Each chapter of BYX is required constitutionally to provide an outlet for service projects. Each member of BYX must complete at least one service project per semester to remain an active member. These are minimum requirements. In thinking about choosing a service project, I would like to recommend you think about a couple of things.
1) How is the service or philanthrophy facilitating brotherhood and unity in Christ?
That is our purpose and thus everything we do as a fraternity should fulfill that purpose. Ask yourself if the service projects we have lined up this semester fulfills our purpose as BYX.
2) Does our service or philanthrophy promote the Gospel?
This doesn’t mean that we, as BYX, are sharing the Gospel through our service project. It does mean that we must strongly consider whether or not the philanthrophy or service project we support is advancing Christian truth. For example, if your chapter is considering supporting water wells being built in Ethiopia through World Vision, then do a little research to understand World Vision and their purpose. World Vision certainly promotes Christian truth through their ministry, and thus BYX supporting someone through World Vision advances the truth of the Gospel. There are many many opportunities for service and philanthrophy projects in your local community for which you are free to choose from. Think about how our impact as BYX is working to advance the truth of the Gospel through these opportunities.
The officers have a responsibility to instill a proper vision for service and provide consistent opportunities for the brothers to serve together. While planning for the semester, consider the following points.
Required service hours are standard in most fraternities. They can be a great test of commitment for our men when handled properly. The emphasis put on service hours should indicate that it is a priority, but not the top priority, of the fraternity. Nationals recommends between four and 12 hours a semester, though there is no constitutional requirement. A service requirement in this range should enable brothers to build brotherhood and unity as a fraternity without neglecting other aspects of the fraternity.
Weekly Service Opportunities
Look for organizations in your college town that the fraternity would like to adopt and commit to. There is not a national philanthropy because we want men to be able to impact their immediate community however they feel led to do so. Many chapters have homeless shelters, after school programs, etc. in which they are a consistent presence and blessing to the organization they serve. Finding an organization like this makes it easier for the men to just show up and serve. It takes away the trouble of trying to find somewhere to invest.
Most campuses have no shortage of major, campus-wide service events. Participating in these as a chapter allows BYX to carry out our call to serve as men of God while being involved on campus as a fraternity. These projects may not involve the entire campus. Instead, the fraternity could commit to spend an entire day serving together on a fixed project, such as Habitat for Humanity. Find something that gets your men excited about serving together and will yield good attendance.
Some chapters have distorted the vision for service. Below are a three ways in which chapters tend to skew their perspective on service.
Undervaluing service goes beyond faltering fraternity to disobedience. We’re called to serve as Christ followers, yet many chapters do a poor job of providing opportunities to their men to serve together. There should be no shortage of chances to serve the chapter or serve with the chapter. Service chairs should explore weekly opportunities for men to serve and build relationships at a fixed organization. On top of that, a chapter-wide service project is required each semester by Article 10 of the Constitution.
To say that we can serve excessively is almost oxymoronic for the Christian. However, BYX is not a service organization. Our intention is to build brotherhood and unity in Christ. One of the ways we do that is through community service as a chapter, but we have a number of other outlets for brotherhood and unity that need not be neglected. The problem here isn’t serving too much. It’s requiring too much service. When you put a high number on service hours, what is intended to be a consistent part of our Christian walk and a test of commitment to the fraternity can become joyless legalism.
Service Hours as Punishment
Some chapters assign service hours as punishment for absences and conduct issues. This applies a negative connotation to what should be a joyful outpouring of love. There are better ways, such as social suspension. When men are required to serve as punishment, their heart is not likely to be in the right place while doing so.
“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”