As a nineteen-year-old college sophomore at Central Michigan University, I reached a crisis of belief. I had been raised in a Christian home but had come to the point of questioning much of what I thought I believed. I came to the realization that my parents believed strongly in Jesus, the Bible and the Church but I came to the conclusion that I didn't think I did.
And then, to borrow a phrase from author Brennan Manning, I was ambushed by Jesus Christ. A friend had given me a book published by Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC) that explained the concept of having a personal relationship with God in a way that I couldn't ever remember hearing before. I read the book and a four-point outline in the back (commonly known as The Four Spiritual Laws) and invited Christ to be the Lord of my life. I have never been the same since and I have Campus Crusade for Christ to thank for it.
Over fifteen years ago I joined the staff of Campus Crusade because I feel that there is nothing more important in life than seeing a person's life transformed through a relationship with Christ. So it is with keen interest that I have followed the discussions of the past couple years in which our organizational leaders have explored the possibility of a name change for CCC. Earlier this week at our biennial U.S. staff conference, it was announced that we will be changing our name in the coming months to "Cru."
Since I had the privilege of learning of the new name with a small group of leaders in the organization a couple days before the announcement was made, I was prepared when the new name was shared with over 5,000 of our U.S. staff. What I was unprepared for, though, was the amount of coverage in the mainstream media that this news would generate. Mainstream outlets such as CNN, USA Today and The Huffington Post have all posted front page stories of the change in the past couple days. On the day of the announcement, "Campus Crusade" was a trending topic on Twitter.
Over the past number of years, it had become apparent to many within our organization that our name was not helping us in what we feel our primary calling to be -- sharing the life-changing message of Jesus Christ with those that are far from God. The word "crusade" carries a significant amount of baggage and had become a hindrance in many circles because of its historical connotations. In fact, many of our campus chapters had begun using a different name locally years ago in order to increase effectiveness on campus.
For many within the Christian community, our name is a benefit and brings credibility to those with whom we interact. For most non-Christians, however, our name is a turn-off that limits conversations before someone has even had an opportunity to interact with them. Our name change has nothing to do with being ashamed of the name of Jesus Christ. It is because we want to proclaim Him that we believed that this change was necessary. To help illustrate this point, please check out this video that vividly demonstrates how the change of words can make a difference:
Words do matter and because we felt like the words within our organizational name was preventing us from doing what we are called to do, we have decided to change it. The question is not how this affects those who are already Christians but how it affects those we seek to reach. There has been a backlash from some in the Christian community who feel like we are kowtowing to the political correctness movement and that we have left our calling. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our name may be changing but our mission stays the same. We are still committed to sharing the gospel, building believers and sending them into the world to establish spiritual movements everywhere so that everyone knows someone that truly follows Jesus.
There are some Christians that have legitimate questions about the decision making process in changing our name and those questions can be addressed by following the link near the end of this post. But for those that identify themselves as Christians and are overly 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.
It is far easier to sit within the four walls of a church and talk about ministry than to actually go out and do it. There can be no argument that the staff members, volunteers and students of what will now be known as Cru are wholeheartedly committed to the Great Commission. There are critics in the mainstream that think we're too evangelistic; now there are critics in the Christian world that think we're somehow ashamed of the name of Jesus. No matter what others say, we will continue to go to the four corners of the earth to let everyone that will listen know that "God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life."
For further information on the Campus Crusade for Christ name change, please check out these resources: