Youth Culture Lesson: What’s in a Name?

By Paul Asay | July 25, 2011 | July 25 2011

College Ministry Gets a Cru Cut

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What Happened:

Campus Crusade for Christ International, one of the biggest evangelical ministries in the world, has decided to change its name for its U.S. Operations. Beginning early next year, the organization will be known simply as Cru.

According to officials within the ministry, it was time for a change. Research showed that 20 percent of non-Christians, and even 9 percent of Christians, were turned off by the name. For some, the word crusade carries a connotation that harkens back to the medieval crusades, when some were converted to the faith at the point of the sword. The organization has been considering a name change for some time.

"When [founder] Bill Bright started the organization, he told his wife that someday they would have to change the name," Steve Sellers, vice president of Campus Crusade, told Fox News.

The mission of the organization—to lead college students to Christ—hasn't changed a whit. "We were looking for a name that would most effectively serve our mission and help us take the gospel to the world," reads part of the ministry's website. "Our mission has not changed. Cru enables us to have discussions about Christ with people who initially might be turned off by a more overtly Christian name."

That hasn't quelled the ire of some critics. "Take Christ out, and you become just another crusade," one person wrote on Campus Crusade's site. "How repulsive can you get?"

"It is true that we care more about effectively proclaiming the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ than we do about having the word Christ in our name," Campus Crusade responded on its site. "The only name that matters is Jesus, and what matters most is connecting people to the name that gives life."

Talk About It:

No matter what you think about Campus Crusade's new name, the ministry's decision to change its name reflects one of the biggest tensions all Christians encounter today: What's the most effective way to express our faith and lead people to it in a country growing more suspicious of Christianity?

We know we should be proud of who and what we are, but we also know some people might tune you out the minute they know you're a Christian. We know we're supposed to lead people to Christ, but we're conflicted about the best way to do so.

How do you express your faith when you're with non-Christians? Do you tell people up front? Do you preach to them? Wear telltale signs of your faith? Do you not talk about being a Christian at all?

What do you think is the best way to lead someone to Jesus? Can it be effective to stand on a street corner with a bullhorn and preach directly to the passing masses? Can it be effective to talk with people about who Jesus is and what He's about? Can you lead anyone to Christ without saying a word—just by being an example of what a good Christian's supposed to be?

Are you proud of being a Christian? When people learn that you are a Christian, do you think it changes how they think about you? Do you they judge you? Does the Christian label make you uncomfortable? Why or why not?

What the Bible Says:

"I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes; first for the Jew, then for the Gentile" (Romans 1:16).

"But when I speak to you, I will open your mouth and you shall say to them, ‘This is what they Sovereign Lord says.' Whoever will listen let him listen, and whoever will refuse let him refuse; for they are a rebellious house" (Ezekiel 3:27).

"Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I become like a Jew, to win the Jews…to those not having the law I became like one not having the law…I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some" (1 Corinthians 9:19-22).

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