Thinking Out Loud

July 23, 2011

Campus Crusade? No, Just Plain “Cru.”

Campus Crusade for Christ International (CCCI) is embarking on a nine-month mission to change its name to Cru, years after its founder, Bill Bright, wondered whether the evangelistic ministry should alter the brand. ~Christianity Today

They’ve taken the military theme out of Campus Crusade.  Can the hymn, “Onward Christian Soldiers” be next?  That’s a discussion for another time.  Right now it’s about one organization.  And Campus Crusade (CCCI) has been taking some heat for this decision as indicated on its website:

Recent media reports have questioned our commitment to Jesus and our calling as ministers of the gospel. Those who know and partner with us realize that this is simply untrue. As an organization, we are unswervingly committed to proclaiming the name of Jesus Christ in all that we do. We are committed to the centrality of the cross, the truth of the Word, the power of the Holy Spirit and the global scope of the Great Commission.

As Christianity Today points out in an article this week, it’s a change that CCCI founder Bill Bright had talked about making but never implemented.  The move is part of a general trend:

Campus Crusade is not the first organization to distance itself from the term. In 2000, Wheaton College removed its Crusader mascot and eventually became the Thunder. Only this year, the school unveiled a physical mascot, “Stertorous ‘Tor’ Thunder,” a 2-person mastodon costume weighing 99 pounds (the largest mascot in the NCAA). In 2002, evangelist Billy Graham began using the word “mission” to describe what he always called “crusades.” His son Franklin Graham and evangelist Luis Palau call their gatherings “festivals,” while Greg Laurie uses “crusade.”

But many of the 80 people who left comments after reading the story aren’t convinced that “Cru” is the best they could come up with, even though the name was used internally by staff for many years; while some of the same respondents freely admit that it was time for “Crusade” to be retired.

  • If the problem is that the word Crusade is offensive, how does just shorting the word help?
  • So…we get rid of an organizational name that had name recognition that is the envy of almost every other Christian organization…Name recognition on par with World Vision or Red Cross….AND, we remedy all of this by SAVING three letters out of the offending word…and, make THAT our name?
  • What is with the trendy names? My own denomination the Baptist General Conference changed their name to Converge Worldwide. I guess I am now a “convergist.” What is that? What does it mean? What an idiotic name. “Cru” is another name that communicates NOTHING.
  • The thing about tattoos is that by the time you realize they’re stupid… its too late. Fortunately, this is not so with a stupid name. Change it; never should have had the dumb name to begin with.

Meanwhile, over at Faith and Reason, the religion blog of USAToday, Cathy Lynn Grossman focuses more on the dropping of the “…for Christ” element of the former name; a point which CCCI (or Cru) addresses at its website.

We were not trying to eliminate the word Christ from our name. We were looking for a name that would most effectively serve our mission and help us take the gospel to the world. Our mission has not changed. Cru enables us to have discussions about Christ with people who might initially be turned off by a more overtly Christian name. We believe that our interaction and our communication with the world will be what ultimately honors and glorifies Christ.

This is of course the thing that the “discernment blogs” are jumping all over.  I checked out a few of them.  But we’re not linking to them here, and we’re not posting their comments.

But Cathy Lynn also raises a point about the “Campus” element of the name:

And it turns out that “Campus” had become passe. The web site touts that the movement launched by Bill and Vonette Bright as a campus ministry in 1951 is now on 1,029 campuses. The group claims 37,900 new souls for Christ over the last five years.

That sounds exciting until you do the math — about seven converts per campus per year. However, the campus side of “Cru” — as it will be known next year when the re-branding is finished — is not the primary focus any more.

So what’s your take?  What’s in a name?  Do you like the sound of “Cru?”


  1. Navigators, Awana Clubs, Campus Life, Young Life, Church Youth Groups, Pioneers Clubs and a great host of Godly outreaches do not have the name of Jesus Christ in their name. On the other hand, The Latter Day Church of Jesus Christ and a great many religious organizations on Campus (good and bad) use the name of Jesus Christ in their name. Christians like to hear the name being used in the signature logo name (Jesus, Christ, Christian). To a non-Christian there is too much confusion as they do not have the knowledge we do to discern which organization is good as so many use the name of Jesus Christ. Also, religionists/ritualists/cu​lts use the name of Jesus Christ freely and represent mindless faith, ritual and a boring or dangerous lifestyle. The truth about CRU is that it is singleminded in always presenting a living relationship with Jesus Christ based on grace through faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross. I usually find the name callers to be people who hardly ever do that and dislike CRU for its dynamic relentless pursuit of souls to come to know Jesus as Savior and Lord. Methods are not sacred and can always be changed, but CRU was critized mainly because they got to the Gospel message too quickly. CRU is about a relationship with the Lord and Savior. It is the name the students across the USA have used on campus since the 1990’s – the link above is jus one example. The result is that students are drawn first to the believers and not to the spiritual confusion which does exist big time today. Then soon enough, Jesus becomes the issue. If CRU is critized for anything, it is that it gets to the message too quickly. The new name harkens back to the old. CRU has a dynamic ministry to Muslims as well. Using terms like “ministry” “fellowship” speaks to Christians, but non-Christians today need to see a lifestyle as well as hear the Gospel message. The Doobies sang, “Jesus is just alright with me”, but that does not mean they had a relationship with Christ. I know the brothers and sisters at CRU and know that they are truly singleminded and desire more than ever to make the real JESUS the greatest issue of life.

    The name Campus Crusade for Christ was just fine for me, especially in the sixties, but today the world is talking about a Muslim Jesus, Hindu Jesus, Universal Jesus, and even the Dali Lama is preparing for a Buddhist version. It was also special for me as a former member of my Chicago Church gave the name to Bill Bright back in 1951 (Wilbur Smith). Smith was a famous professor back then who was one of Bill Bright’s favorite teachers. Wilbur was a boy wonder at Moody Church in Chicago.

    It is also true that hundreds of missionaries use the Jesus Film which is faithful to the Gospel of Luke and if you knew the staff members, you would know that they are all about sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ according to the Bible and building disciples who in turn will go out to reach others..

    Comment by joe losiak — July 23, 2011 @ 9:37 am

    • Thanks for a clear, informative and insightful comment.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — July 23, 2011 @ 10:04 am

  2. I have nothing against the change of name, although I do wonder why Cru was chosen and believe they could have come up with something better. What explanation can be given when asked what Cru stands for? (Having been asked countless times what Awana stands for, I’ve seen a positive impact on inquirers when told “Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed” taken from a Bible verse)

    Years back we changed the name from Vacation Bible School to Holiday Club. The Holiday Club leaflets clearly state lessons are from the Bible, but the term is more much acceptable to non-Church families and about two-thirds of the children come from non-Church backgrounds – something we did not see in VBS times.

    Comment by meetingintheclouds — July 24, 2011 @ 6:18 pm

  3. Campus Crusade for Christ/cru stil has its military ministry. I am a bit confused at why you think they got rid of it…I talked to someone yesterday about getting a “Rapid Deployment Kit” to a Marine who just went to training.
    The “campus” part isn’t passe, it just doesn’t fit. Basically because there are non-campus ministries under the umbrella of Crusade. It doesn’t describe them.
    At first when I heard cru, I was like ehhh. But now I like it. I saw a student post on a staff member of Crusade’s facebook wall. She asked. “What is the new name of Cru going to be?” You see the campus students already call it that, so to them it is a group of people committed Jesus guided by the Holy Spirit in fulfilling the great commission.
    As for the numbers…I could say what are yours? But I am incorrect in thinking that. Why? Because Bill Bright always said. Effective evangelism is taking the initiative to share the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit leaving the results to God… With that said. I invite all of you who are for cru or antagonistic towards cru to call up a staff member on a campus near you and volunteer to go share your faith. In the fall there are TONS of incoming freshman to follow-up and the laborers are few.

    Comment by Heather — July 25, 2011 @ 10:36 pm

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