Everything you Need to Know about the Cru Name Change

July 22, 2011 — 46 Comments

Cru-10-24-11-MASTER-TMYou’ve probably heard by now that Campus Crusade for Christ has changed it’s name to Cru. I am strongly in favor of the name change as I think it will help us be more effective for Christ.

I am honestly shocked by the very harsh criticism of the name change (by a vocal minority) from inside and outside of the Church.

I welcome honest, fair critiques but most of the critiques have been slanderous and mean spirited – helpful comments like, “you might as well be Campus Crusade for Satan now” (seriously) and “they took Christ out to appease the Muslims”.


Cru has responded with this, New Name – Same Commitment to Christ.


I wanted to provide a thorough list of posts and articles on the name change to provide accurate information (from those outside the Cru organization and those within).

A couple quick thoughts and then a bunch of links.

  • It is bizzare that the name change is getting such attention from the mainstream media. I remember thinking it strange, when Bill Bright (one of the 3 or 4 most influential Christians of the 20th century) died, that none of the media even reported it. But the name change has been covered by all large newspapers and news channels and was even trending on Twitter (meaning it’s one of the 10 most talked about things in the world).
  • A friend on Twitter pointed this out: why do Christians take their cues on the church from Glen Beck and Fox News instead of respected, proven leaders in the church: John Piper, Tim Keller, Louie Giglio, Mark Driscoll, Intervarsity, The Navigators, Ed Stetzer, the Gospel Coalition, Francis Chan, David Platt. . . (the list could go on and on of Godly men and organizations that support both Cru and the name change)?
  • Rest assured:

God is moving in and through Cru and I’m really excited about what the next years hold for an organization that is on the leading edge of reaching young professionals, families, faculty, and college students of every ethnicity, and people in every tribe, tongue and nation with the gospel

You will be hard pressed to find a more committed organization to sharing Christ in every corner of earth

Here’s some thoughtful posts on the name change . . .

From outside of Cru:

Campus Crusade now Cru; Angry bloggers still angry bloggers

I saw it as a softening of the principles that defined the ministry for 50+ years. And I was wrong.


From within the organization:

“I find it highly ironic that our organization, which for 60 years has carried the reputation for often being too pushy and upfront about Jesus, has now, overnight, become too wimpy.”

“Alas, I digress. I think what I want to say, what I want to plead for, is to ask my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to not fan the flames of dissention. Ultimately, the name and reputation of Campus Crusade for Christ/Cru is not important. But the name of Jesus Christ is. Please help us lift His name high by giving our ministry the benefit of the doubt.”

“I know this might sound a little backwards, but it’s Jesus renown that led our leaders to make this choice.

Our name has been a significant hindrance to the Gospel. As CCC looked into the possibility of changing our name over the past three years, there was one fact that stood out that made us know that we had to change it – of people who said they were willing to have a conversation about Jesus 20% said they would no longer be interested when they heard the name “Campus Crusade for Christ.” That means that 1-in-5 people who might be open to the Gospel became closed to the Gospel when they heard our name. That is an incredible loss in effectiveness.”

  • Shawn McGrath has a helpful post looking at popular brands/names (Christian and secular). The article was written before the name change, before he knew what the new name would be. Especially helpful on why a non-descriptive name is good (very few corporate names describe the majority of “what they do” with their name).
  • Scott Crocker with some good wisdom:

“For those that identify themselves as Christians and are critical of this decision, I ask you to do a heart examination. If you have never personally stepped out in faith to share the gospel with another person, if you’ve never had the privilege to see another place their faith in Christ, if you’ve never personally invested your life into the spiritual life of another or have never left your family and home for the sake of the gospel, then may I suggest that you seek the Lord on how you can personally be involved in His mission rather than criticizing those that are already doing it.”

  • You can join the (maddening) “conversation” on the official Cru site

What are your thoughts on the name change and the backlash?


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  • To be clear: I”ve never been involved with CCCI ever. I have no bad feelings toward the organization and think that they most likely do good work for all I know.I had wondered for a long time why CCCI persisted with the metaphor of crusade while a large number of Christians wish to apologize for the atrocities committed in the name of Jesus during that period.

    Now the organization is choosing to (by their own words) deal with this unhelpful connection, but instead of truly going down a different path the only thing retained from the original name is the beginning of that dreaded word, crusade. I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around that.

    I’m equally amazed at how people have jumped on CCCI for removing the word Christ. That just is not an issue at all in my view. CCCI is very clear about their commitment to Christ.

    So if this new name is not to be associated with crusade (yet retaining the connection to that word) what exactly is it supposed to be associated with?

    Just really bewildered and would love a clear explanation. The faq that everyone links to does not address this side of things in the sightest.


    • Ryan Beneke

      Hi David, that objection was also raised by some of our staff. However, the explanation given was that, in the research that was conducted, people who were not previously affiliated with Campus Crusade for Christ did not make the connection. It was not an issue for them, and it did not carry any of the “crusade” baggage. We are not presenting “Cru” as a shorter version of “Crusade” (though that may have been the origin on campus). We are not going to introduce ourselves to non-Christians as “Cru, formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ.” It may take some time, but the hope is that “Cru” will eventually be defined by the interactions people have with its members, not by its origin.

    • Anonymous

      David – good thoughts. That was my primary concern as well when I heard the name change (and as Ryan alluded to below – this concern was probably the #1 question Cru staff had about the name change). Ryan has a good explanation below.

      It may take some time, but I think people will take the Cru name at face value (not as an abbreviation, an acronym or anything). The primary audience we are trying to reach will have never heard of Campus Crusade for Christ and so Cru will not carry any of the “Crusade” baggage. When they ask what Cru means or what Cru stands for, I think I would just say “nothing . . .” and then just explain what our ministry is about (without referring to the CCC name). Just like you would respond if someone asked: “what does Skittles or Apple or Starbucks mean?”

      I think something similar to this was in the FAQ (so you probably saw this), but I found this helpful:
      “a less descriptive name was made for the same reasons that Google and Starbucks chose their names. It’s the experience with the organization that will fill the word with meaning for every individual. Google and Starbucks now have meaning because of the experience that we have with them. We fully intend that Cru will soon be filled with all of the meaning of evangelism and discipleship that Campus Crusade currently has.”

      I appreciate your clear writing and for sharing your concerns.

      • anonymous

        I think David W. was lamenting the linking to the crusades–not the name of Campus Crusade for Christ. The name “cru” might be linked in the minds of some people (in his opinion) to that period in time. I think you missed his point. Just pointing out what I think is a miscommunication. I LOVE the work of CCC although I’m not affiliated with the organization. =)

        • Anonymous

          I may have not communicated clearly enough! But that was what I was referring to: my concern was the same as David W – with “Cru” not being far enough away from the main problem word “Crusade”.

          Thanks for your encouragement re: CCC!

          • Dave

            Many local campus ministry movements have been using the name “Cru” for years, and I’ve never heard of any doscussion that it was a problem as it was still an abbreviation of “crusade.”

      • Appreciate the response. I guess I’m not as optimistic about the loss of connection.

        You say that you want people to fill in their own meaning for Cru over time. But all of the examples you provide, while avoiding hitting the user or customer over the head with meaning, all begin with a nugget of meaning in the choosing of the name. They are ambiguous, yes, but not entirely. I’m not sure why Cru staff are so far reluctant to provide that nugget. Certainly there are metaphors in mind in the choosing, why not share them to begin the move away from crusade?

        thanks, david

        • Anonymous

          I’m not aware of any metaphors in mind in the choosing of the name. What do you mean – like “cru is the pronunciation of the latin word cross – crux”? Something to that affect.

          I can only speak for myself (and not all staff) but I’m not aware of a “nugget” of meaning to the word Cru (beyond its obvious roots in the old name). I think they truly want it to be just a name with no significance, in and of itself. When we say Cru, we don’t people to think of an acronym such as “Christians reaching universities” or a weak attempt at meaning (like the crux example). We just want them to think, “that’s the organization that helped me understand my need for Jesus and equipped me to be a laborer for Him”.

          Not sure if any of that makes sense?!

          Good questions – definitely helping me process as I answer!

  • Youdont

    The writer is clearly unaware that Beck is no longer with Fox News, an exit that has been public and widely distributed for six months; that kind of error calls into question EVERYTHING he writes. Quite simply, one CANNOT make that kind of blatant mistake and know what he’s talking about, period.

    • Tim

      The writer wrote “Glenn Beck and Fox News” and did not say Beck was with Fox News. That kind of error calls into question EVERYTHING you write. Quite simply, one CANNOT make that kind of blatant mistake and know what he’s talking about, period.

    • Anonymous

      As the other commenter noted, I did not say Glenn Beck was with Fox News, but “Glenn Beck AND Fox News”. I’m well aware of their split. They are two separate sources that both had sensationalist, unfair coverage (Beck’s was especially ridiculous).

  • lorijo

    Thank you so much for a thorough post and excellent explanation! the backlash is really disheartening and I’m very disappointed with all the naysayers, but I think as we continue to live it out and that they would know we are Christians by our love! 🙂 thanks for giving a positive and well written post!!

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for your kind words!

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  • Tommy Burgess

    While I respect many of the men who have endorsed this change, have you asked some of the more seasoned men who have probably supported this organization for years? How about Dr. Jerry Vines? Charles Stanley? Jim Henry, former pastor of First Baptist Church in Orlando, FL? His opinion would be of great significance since the main headquarters for CCCI are in Orlando and since it’s possible that some employees of CCCI attended his church. How about David Jeremiah? If these men were not consulted, is it possible that the organization thinks these men are too old for their opinions? Maybe they were asked but if they were, their names were not included with those supportive of this move. Or, maybe they were asked and disagreed with the move and their thoughts were left off for that reason. It would be interesting to see what these men think, especially since they are veterans of the ministry and have fought against liberalism and compromise throughout their respective ministries. Just a thought.

    • Anonymous


      I’m not sure if those men were consulted. I don’t think we can jump to conclusions on the if’s an why’s. They may be very well be vocal supporters of the name change – I am not in national leadership with Cru so my knowledge is rather limited in regards to who was consulted or who endorses Cru (and the list I compiled above was not exhaustive but merely a sampling of some respected Christian leaders who have chimed in).

  • Judyshub

    Would there be some wisdom in CCCI reviewing the comments and adding Christ into Cru as an acronym? I don’t believe an apology is in order if their process was purely motivated; however, I believe that a statement of refining the new name to mean something Christ-oriented could actually retrieve supporters walking away from them and to draw in others who have determined to keep their distance. One stream of comments online had a variety of suggestions as to what Cru could represent and, in my mind, I don’t have a clear suggestion to make. I do remember one saying “Christ Redeems Us”. This kind of idea may appear trite, but I think it would help calm some nerves. If leadership develops a tough-skin, don’t criticize our process attitude, I think it would create an unnecessary division in the Body of Christ and ill-will.

    One benefit of all of the ranker, both pro & con, is that CCCI can understand that there are a lot of people, supporters and non-supporters, vocal & non-vocal, who are aware of their work and have/had an appreciation for them. I think a lot of good will would be restored and created by acknowledging an oversight and including a descriptive by-line that includes the name Christ, in some fashion. The critics would be silenced.

    My first reaction upon hearing Cru for the first time was “What? Please say that again? Who are you talking about? The group in Orlando? Not possible.” When repeated, I had difficulty conceiving how a name like that would be selected. I have no background in the work of CCCI, so Cru had no significance to me. When I heard that it was derived from the nickname used on campuses, it made better sense. But, when I heard that it was an abbreviation of a word they were trying to avoid using, then I became confused again. It appears to me that this is a bad PR judgment. In the long run, reality may prove me wrong; however, I think another name, whatever that may be, would have served them better. I believe that if they would add a Christ-centered by-line, they could restore a lot of confidence in believers and eliminate the time they will waste in the upcoming months defending the choice of Cru.

    On another note, I have heard that a revision of The Jesus Film is being considered. What name will they give it?

    Thank you for your blog. Our prayers are with CCCI.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks Judy,

      That was a very kind and honestly-concerned response!

      Way to look at the bright side – “it shows there are a lot who are aware and have an appreciation for CCC”.

      I honestly don’t feel that an acronym or byline is necessary to prove that Cru hasn’t gone liberal or less Christ-centered or aggressive in proclaiming Christ. Tagging “Christ” on to a liberal organization doesn’t change anything. Likewise, groups such as Wycliffe, Navigators, and Intervarsity have shown themselves to be outstanding organizations without Christ in the title.

      A tree is known by it’s fruit. It’s perhaps a bit easier for me to say that since I’m on the front lines of college ministry and get to see literally hundreds of lives changed by the gospel every year on my campus alone. I get to see the fruit up close, every single week.

      It’s not an immediate fix but I personally feel that both Cru’s past “fruit” and future work will be sufficient to allay concerns that Cru is going the way of the YMCA or other formerly great Christian ministries.

      On a side note – the leadership of Cru seem to be painfully aware that history has shown it to be very difficult for large Christian organizations to stay the course and proclaim Christ boldly for many decades without sliding away. I think it scares them to death! So we are constantly checking to see if we are resting on our reputation or assuming the gospel instead of constantly pushing to boldly make Him known in every tribe, tongue and nation.

  • Thanks for the kind words and the link to my post. I appreciate your efforts in gathering various opinions and reminding us all of the main focus – the glory of Christ.

  • Tim, you are such a great blogger. Thanks for the post—well explained! As a student who came to Christ from being involved in this ministry and now serving with CCC for 11 years full time, I don’t doubt that God will continue to be at work. Those involved in this ministry truly lift up the name of Christ and that is what truly matters.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks Ali! You are a great example of life change thru Christ.

  • William Brown

    Honestly, I’m quite surprised at the backlash. I’ve spent way too much time reading about it. The 3 short articles I read at Huffington Post were not terribly negative. I personally think the change is great. Of course, many of my friends would be appalled to know that someone would be with an organization that had “crusade” in it’s name.

    • Anonymous

      Haha – I obviously have spent way too much time reading about it too! The HuffPost has been rather balanced and kind. And hopefully the removal of Crusade will enable us to better interact with some of your friends!

  • Tim,

    I appreciate you putting this up here and allowing discussion about this. Lets see if I can illustrate what this looks like to people such as myself and other people who at least consider themselves to be Christian. The culture we live in today is constantly showing a move towards secularism. In church’s, in Christian music, and in many other facets of Christian society. This movement of what I consider the “politically correct” movement is something that those of us that believe that in its own essence, the name of Jesus Christ is itself offensive to those who do not believe. I believe that the unintended consequences of changing the name, with the (I guess unofficial) backstory of removing offensive words from the name one of which is the name of Christ could be viewed as significant attempt to “water down” the name.

    I do understand the inherent negative connotation with the word Crusade because of its connection to the misguided wars declared by the Catholic Church on Muslims of that time. To me removing something from a name, particularly when changing the name to what appears to be a shortened version of that very word accomplishes nothing but negative publicity that you have seen. It is an offensive word, but a word that if used right can be a powerful one. It to me carries an important illustration of the reality that we face as Christians. The more we move through history towards the end the more the word is actually quite accurate. No, we are not advocating a physical war based on our religious views rather a spiritual and psychological war that goes on regardless of what it is called. “I come not to bring peace, but to bring a sword” Matthew 10:34.

    So being that in my mind, and while he carries everything too far by his nature (and the fact that his show is actually got a comedy element to it), Glenn Becks mind this is construed as a buckling to public pressure and public perception to be more politically correct and even if unintentional causes harm to the organizations very identity by a public perception of backing off the name of Christ, and the idea of a crusade for the heart and soul of every lost person. I have no doubts that the intentions of the name change were good, and I could be wrong and the name change could do exactly what you are speaking of it doing. My fear is that like other organizations over time that have secularized their name and ideals in the name of reaching more people that you do not follow into being irrelevant in the ultimate goal of any organization such as CCC or Cru as it is now called. I was bordering on angry when I first saw the announcement of the change. Now that I think about it I’m not sure I saw the organizations announcement or someone reporting on it. Either way the public relations whether fair or not was not good. I will pray for the organizations success in its endeavor and fervently hope that this accomplishes what was set out to accomplish.

    • Anonymous

      Joshua – thanks for taking the time to comment and explain. It’s clear you are approaching this in a Godly way. And we greatly appreciate your prayers!

      It has turned into a bit of a PR trainwreck.

      I strongly disagree that the word Crusade can ever be helpful. Though there is a spiritual war, the Crusades were anything but Godly or spiritual. And anyone who has done ministry on a college campus knows that word is an unnecessary roadblock to the gospel.

      I’m no fan of being “politically correct” but I’m also not a fan of Christians who pick these battles to fight. If we’re going to invest energy and passion into something, let it be in sacrificially loving our neighbors enough to boldly tell them about Christ. It’s bumper sticker, surface-level Christianity that is more concerned with semantics than actions.

      Again – thanks for processing this thru in a level-headed way and seeking to discern the wise, Godly response.

      • Well, there was a time when “crusade” was helpful, right? Otherwise, why did BB decide to use it? There’s a difference between “a crusade” and “The Crusades.” (think “Billy Graham Crusade”). A crusade is some Christian campaign or movement carried out with excitement and enthusiasm. That doesn’t sound too bad.

        It’s not as though “The Crusades” were celebrated and seen in a favorable light in the 1950s, either! 🙂

        It’s just that the basic noun has lost that positive (or neutral?) connotation. “A crusade” has fallen out of use and “The Crusades” is all one thinks of when hearing the word.

        Anyway, that aside, I agree with you… and am in favor of the name change. My wife and I are both former CCCers (student and STINT) who still enjoy regular ministry collaboration with CCC from our current ministry position through teaching and missions. We also financially support staff members. We will continue our support and are as confident in Cru’s leadership as we’ve ever been! I have been and will continue to go to bat for Cru over this name-change ordeal (I’ve been getting tons of emails and comments on social media over it).

        Bottom line for me: The name needed to be changed and Cru was the best option. I don’t *love* it, but can think of nothing better! Anything I think of either utilizes “Crusade” or “Campus,” which were both part of the problem. And coming up with something completely new would disassociate it too much from CCC’s history and current brand. I’m also excited because this decision shows that “sacred cows” are not safe. This may open the door to retool some other areas/materials for ministry effectiveness and the glory of God.

        Blessings in your ministry.

        • Anonymous

          Thanks for commenting Jason!

          I agree – I don’t “love” the new name but I’m very happy to be changing the name to lose the negative “crusade”. And, like you, I do like its connection to the historical name and am excited that Cru is willing to kill sacred cows and do whatever it takes to be more effective for the gospel. I DO think it’s a good indicator on that front- that the Leadership is willing to get hammered publicly in order to make a change that they think is necessary to further the gospel.

          Thanks for being an advocate for Cru and the kingdom and going to bat for us! It grieves me, not so much for Cru, but that some Christians’ knee-jerk angry reactions to this name could hinder the gospel going out- both from the watching world being appalled at how Christians are acting and a phenomenal org (Cru) being hindered (by losing supporters or being perceived negatively) from effectively sharing the gospel.

  • FormerStaffPerson

    Why is this logo so similar? Who knew something? http://www.pinelake.org/

    • Anonymous

      I agree – remarkably similar. A similar comment was made on the graphic design site I linked to. The commenter remarked that the Cru logo was a direct copy of the 1x.com logo. A few replies from their (Brand New’s site) designers:

      “Anyone who has ever done a healthcare identity has spent a fair chunk of time drawing abstract geometric crosses.
      This always make me wonder – how can a designer search through every logo ever created to make sure they aren’t repeating a work that has already been done? Anytime I see a “looks like” comment on Brand New, I always wish I was as omniscient as the accusers must assume we are.”

      and someone else responded (a bit harshly, I think):
      “Did it cross your mind that these designs are simple enough and geometric enough that two designers could come up with them independently?
      I find the suggestion that this organization found some random fine art photography site and decided to rip off their logo naive bordering on non-sensical.”

  • Phillip Snow

    I am personally surprised at all the backlash at the name change.

    I was involved in Campus Crusade for Christ/Cru for four years in college and credit that organization for helping me become further rooted in Christ and bold to share the Gospel to my fellow collegiates, and even then we affectionately termed it “Cru”.

    When I went on STINT with Crusade in France it went by another name entirely (Agape) because the word “crusade” does in reality carry a long-held negative connotation. We worked to share Jesus with many Muslims from North Africa, and they still carry the memories and scars of the crusades.

    If a name change helps facilitate the furthering of the Kingdom of God, then so be it. I have never known this organization to back down from the truth of the Gospel, and I doubt that this name change signifies anything of the sort.

    After all, in the first century church believers were called followers of “The Way” before the term “Christian” was in use.

    My church took the word Baptist out of it’s name (though it is still a member of the SBC) because of the negative stigma earned by historic southern evangelicalism. Does a name change necessarily equate a change in beliefs? Not unless you see a change in the organization’s statement of faith.

    • Anonymous

      Great thoughts Phillip. And great point on how Campus Crusade for Christ has long gone by other names (Agape, Cru) to avoid the negative “Crusade” association.

  • Stoneypath

    From the outside looking in we too often judge harshly.
    CRU, Student Venture, Young Life, YWAM…all amazing ministries. People, in the name of Christ, loving, living with, sharing, caring, giving, serving, teaching, leading, making disciples and so much more.

  • Stoneypath

    From the outside looking in we too often judge harshly.
    CRU, Student Venture, Young Life, YWAM…all amazing ministries. People, in the name of Christ, loving, living with, sharing, caring, giving, serving, teaching, leading, making disciples and so much more.

  • We’re only surprised because we have ignored all the people who have told us that Christians are the most judgmental people in the world.

    i hope this will result in the name of Christ being exalted

    And also cause us to consider how judgmental we are.

    • Anonymous

      It truly is eye opening.

  • Larry

    As Senior Pastor of a Southern Baptist church that changed to a DBA 12 years ago and with experience in marketing I know the importance in a name. The connotations are tremendous and let’s face it “a rose by any other name is still a rose” as long as the mission stays on track what difference does the name make to the that adhere to the principles?

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  • Maybe I missed it, but I really don’t see what the justification for the name change is

    • Anonymous

      The main justification was taking “Campus” and “Crusade” out of the name. The Christianity Today article explains it pretty well:

      And this quote from above is helpful (from Jason Whelpley’s blog):
      “Our name has been a significant hindrance to the Gospel. As CCC looked into the possibility of changing our name over the past three years, there was one fact that stood out that made us know that we had to change it – of people who said they were willing to have a conversation about Jesus 20% said they would no longer be interested when they heard the name “Campus Crusade for Christ.” That means that 1-in-5 people who might be open to the Gospel became closed to the Gospel when they heard our name. That is an incredible loss in effectiveness.”

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  • Doc

    Tim-thanks for your commentary. I disagree with the choice of “cru”. Consider the following:
    *They hired a brand consulting agency – eerily worldly in nature and something I would expect from a Fortune 500 company, not a Christian ministry.
    *Their website defends the decision by stating, “Like, Google, Starbucks and other abstract names we expect to fill Cru with meaning as it embodies all that we are…” Do you really want to compare your ministry to a public company??
    *They state that not every ministry or church has the name Christ in it. The distinguishing difference is that you removed Christ, after unashamedly identifying with it for 60 years.

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  • You could half understand CCCI taking the Campus for Christ out of their name thinking Cru is a fluke because it is a “nickname” but I believe It might stop being a fluke when CCCI is taking the “Christ” out of their Navy Ministry replacing “Sailors for Christ” with “Military Connection” which might only sound to me more like a dating group

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