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?”

Create a free website or blog at