Thursday, July 21, 2011

What's in a name?

Glenn Beck recently commented on Campus Crusade for Christ's decision to change their name to Cru, saying,

"They decided Christ might be offensive. . . . They decided Christ could be offensive and Crusade has negative connotations. So what are they now? Campus? No. No, that was too focused; it was more global than local. So, after 60 years, what did the organization decide? The 3-letter word 'Cru.'"

He went on to joke about how they would no longer be talking about Jesus Christ or telling what He did because it might be offensive.

According to Cru's FAQs about the name change,
"Although the words Campus and Crusade served as hindrances, there was never any intentional decision to remove the word “Christ.” Yet as we considered hundreds of name possibilities, our experience confirmed that Cru would provide greater opportunity to connect men and women with the heart of Jesus, and to help them consider the good news of the gospel.

For those who may be concerned we have lost moorings, please rest assured that we are the same organization with over 6 billion exposures to the gospel through the JESUS film, and who on any given day counts up to a million exposures to the gospel via the internet and face-to-face contacts around the world.

As an organization, we exist for the sole purpose of helping individuals experience the transforming grace and forgiveness of the gospel through Jesus Christ."
"We were not trying to eliminate the word Christ from our name."

Yet on Glenn Beck's show, in the comments thread under his post titled, "Campus Crusade for Christ drops ‘Christ’ from the title" (which makes it sound like they just changed the name to "Campus Crusade" instead of completely changing the name), in posts from friends on Facebook and elsewhere, I have seen people in an uproar over what they believe to be a denial of Christ and a belief by the organization that the name and message of Christ is offensive.

Words like "apostacy" and "antichrist" are being used to refer to CCC/Cru, and many people have stated publicly that they are withdrawing their previous support for the organization--all over a name change!

People are quoting passages like "If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels." Mark 8:38 and "But whoever denies me before men, I will deny before my Father in heaven." Matthew 10:33

As far as I can tell, the doctrine and mission of the organization has not changed.

My church doesn't have the word Christ in its name, but that doesn't mean it thinks Christ is offensive or doesn't teach the Gospel unashamedly.

What do you think about this?

Has anyone seen any evidence that anyone speaking for CCC/Cru has actually stated that they changed the name with the specific purpose of removing the word Christ and/or that they feel the name of Christ is offensive?


purple_kangaroo said...

Here are a couple of comments from people claiming to be CCC staff in the Glenn Beck thread:

"Jayson Whelpley Just now
As a member of Campus Crusade for Christ staff (the name change doesn't go into effect until 2012), I can assure you that our commitment to Christ and bringing the Gospel to people has not dwindled in the least.

The problem with our current name is that it can be offensive on the first pass and we're less concerned with the first pass as we are with the long-run conversation and representing Christ fully within it. Just as many faithful churches (and almost every ministry on the planet) does not have the words "Jesus", "Christ", "Christian", "God", "Yeshua" or any other iteration of the names of the One we worship and proclaim - we felt that eliminating the hurdle to ongoing conversation where someone could EXPERIENCE Christ rather than just hear his title was worth it.

God continually expresses a distaste for people who simply worship Him in title or word, but lack the follow-through in their daily lives. The title of the organization using Christ's title in its name matters little, but the organization representing Christ in all that it does, says and works toward does.

It's not about political correctness. The Bible says that the Gospel is offensive enough, if the title of our organization is offensive to 20% of non-Christians (who is our key audience, not other believers) to the point where they will not even have a conversation past hearing our name then it is worth it to eliminate that extra offense (which lies, really, in the "Crusade" part). "

"Patrick Michael Chin Just now in reply to Kim Taylor McAllister
Kim, I am on staff with "CRU" (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ). These comments and the media ignorance has been really upsetting to witness, but I saw your comment and just felt the need to respond to you in brief. I can assure you and everyone else, that the name change had nothing to do with the word "Christ" it was about the associated with the "Crusades." This may not seem like the biggest challenge in America, but overseas this is a very strong hinderance to ministry. "Cru" for decades has been a popular shorthand for the ministry, in America and overseas, and it is my understanding that it just seemed like the best solution for now. We are trusting God to continue to guide this process, and I fully believe this is His will as well. I hope that you will talk to the staff person you prayerfully and financially support about this decision and about what is actually happening.
- Patrick Chin "

Kevin said...

"CCC drops 'Campus sade for Christ'" could be the title for The Onion's version.

So the goal is to make it sound cool ("crew") and inviting to people who won't realize they're at a Christian shindig until it's too late (gotcha!) and they're already making friends and enjoying themselves. Naturally.

But the motive only seems to be to increase the vagueness of that very first impression 'cause a few minutes in the newbie'll ask, "So, what does Cru mean?" and they'll have to answer "It's short for crusade" which is kinda funny for reaching people who don't like that word. So they'll hafta trap them fast.

PC name changes are annoying since it is a surrender to other people's interpretation and bullying sensitivities. But their reasoning is correct -- a lot of people dismiss all things "Christian". I see the word "Christian" attached to "movie" and I automatically think "not very good", "overt", and "preachy". I guess what I'm saying is, does God really prefer those movies? Really?

In the end, I think CCC changing their name is an admission of a bad, unattractive reputation, not really a cause of that.

purple_kangaroo said...

Here's an article from a secular branding blog about the name/logo change. There are some insightful comments on both sides of the issue in the comments below the post, with a lot of people who dislike the name as well as some who like it:

Plus a post from someone in the organization explaining how the name was chosen, which starts:

"I am on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ… er, Cru (to be). It seems that many of the criticisms here were recognized. In fact, the 1600 names were narrowed down to 4 top choices (by a team), and Cru was not one of them, since the team assumed it would carry the baggage that Crusade did, and other reasons.

However, the company (Prophet) who was to administer a survey about the possible name choices required 5 names for the survey (I assume for statistical analysis reasons), so Cru was thrown in, and expected to fail. Even Prophet replied something like, “Okay, we’ll add it. But it’s not going to win.” Ironically, Prophet was wrong and it showed the best response seemingly in ever category amongst each demographic tested (staff, volunteers, donors, Christians, people who aren’t Christian or religious, etc.). In that, the teams saw both logic and God’s sovereignty in recommending the name Cru to the board of directors."

I thought that was odd, but interesting. I wouldn't have thought it would be the top choice. It sounds like the name was selected almost completely based on the survey results. I wonder what kinds of questions were on the survey?

purple_kangaroo said...

Here's a blog by someone somehow connected with the organization who says, "Our mission is primarily to reach non-Christians. Experience and research both show that the word “Christ” puts them on the defensive. They don’t know who He is, after all; and they don’t always have the best thoughts about Him. We want to open doors, not close them, to opportunities to tell the truth about Jesus Christ."

Which sort of fits in with your comments, Kevin.

Except that I think the fact that there's a cross in the logo kind of undermines the "taking Christ out of the name" theory.

purple_kangaroo said...

In reading up on this, I also came across two ways to reach the organization to make your opinion about the new name known: 1-888-CRUSADE (1-888-278-7233) or a comment thread on their site here:​us/campus-crusade-for-christ-announces-name-​change/index.htm

If you have an opinion one way or another about the new name, this is how to make your voice heard.

purple_kangaroo said...

Oh, and the blog in the comment before this one contains a disclaimer that the opinions are that of the individual blogger and not CCC/cru.

Kevin said...

Yeah, that cross is a good hint. It's kinda unique, though. It's made of 'L's. It almost drops low enough to look like "crut". Maybe people will think it is a chef's convention, as in "salmon en croute". Yummy.

MarkC said...

Lots of organizations have had to go through transitions like this. Many have a long-standing acronym, and can get away with keeping the acronym and just changing what it stands for... I'm thinking of Sudan Interior Mission (SIM), which broadened well past the Sudan, and subsequently changed its name to Serving in Mission (still SIM).

Unfortunately, Campus Crusade for Christ is most generally known as "Campus Crusade". They aren't known as CCC or any such acronym. If they want to get rid of the word "Crusade" (which is pretty necessary if you are going to work anywhere in the Muslim world), they're really in a bind. Since their ministry has extended beyond just campuses as well, they probably want to get rid of that word from their title.

I wonder... if I was in charge of that process, and was tasked with removing the words "Campus" and "Crusade" from their organization's name, what would I do?

I think I might go with "Cru"... but make it an acronym, to distance it further from its origin as "Crusade". So, for example, the official title could be "Christ Redeems Us", commonly known as "Cru". Give it a few years, and a new generation will only know them as "Cru", and will think of that as a cool misspelling of "Crew".

Making "Cru" an acronym with Christ as one of the words might also disspell some of the "they're ashamed of Christ!" reactions.


MarkC said...

Also, I really love what Rachel Held Evans had to say about this issue. She looks at it from a different angle, focusing on a different aspect of the situation, and I couldn't agree with her more.


Kevin said...

Good idea to turn it into an acronym, Mark. I like "Christ Redeems Us". Though I wonder if they'd be obliged to use all caps. CRU is decidedly less cool than Cru. Actually, from the logo, I guess it's cru. all the cool kids sprechen sie lowercase.

Evans was articulate. I agree with her about the great risk of speaking for God and playing the God card. I observe that problem with Christians as well. Ironically, I even see people immerse themselves in Christianity in order to avoid their responsibilities. It sure looks a lot like Christianity but there's something decidedly un-Christian about it.

At the same time, it seems good to ask and seek what God wants for us. Yet it's disconcerting how little we can say about God's specific will in any of our lives. We strive to choose best and develop a close relationship with Him but our honest uncertainty highlights the distance between us. I chalk it up as requisite for free will and the importance of liberty, but it nevertheless it weighs on me at times.