Friday, July 22, 2011

Campus Crusade for (Edited)

There is a little stir in the Christian world regarding a well-known Christian ministry and its curious name change.  It seems as though Campus Crusade for Christ is changing its name to Cru.  Some are offended that they took Christ out of the name and some think that it is no big deal.  My issue goes beyond the name change.  I think the conscious decision to remove "Christ" from the name of a Christian organization is troubling in and of itself.  What troubles me even more, and why I now have great concern for the ministry, is the reasoning behind it.  I hoped that by reading their extensive reasoning provided on their website that I would feel better about their decision.  Unfortunately, it only made matters worse.  First, let me begin with a Scripture.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.  Romans 1:16 NKJV
Let me begin with some of their words.  I am quoting directly from their website.
Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru) is unswervingly committed to proclaiming the name of Jesus Christ. 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. We care more about effectively proclaiming the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ then we do about having the word “Christ” in our name. -- Cru
This makes no logical sense.  That would be like an individual saying that he loves Jesus and proclaims the Gospel to as many as who will hear, but he just does not want to be called a "Christian."  Furthermore, that is like saying that it is better to not say you are a Christian before you proclaim the Gospel. 
 
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. -- Cru
 
So they say they are not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus, but they are concerned that the word "Christ" is a hindrance to their ministry.  What is interesting in this little bit here is that they claim the words "Campus" and "Crusade" were hindrances but there was never an intentional decision to remove the word "Christ."  If they stopped here, one may even buy their reasoning, but by the rest of their reasoning I can not help but to believe that the word "Christ" was really the target in this name change. 
 
First let us address the first issue "Although the words Campus and Crusade served as hindrances, there was never any intentional decision to remove the word 'Christ.'"  There are several things wrong with this statement.  First of all, they directly contradict themselves later when they say "Cru enables us to have discussions about Christ with people who might initially be turned off by a more overtly Christian name." 
 
Leaving the glaring contradiction in their own explanation aside, let us look at what they say are wrong with those words.
Our name presented obstacles to our mission. The word “campus” does not adequately represent all our ministries in the United States and confuses our constituency as well as potential partners. The word “crusade”-while common and acceptable in 1951 when we were founded-now carries negative associations. It acts as a barrier to the very people that we want to connect with. It’s also a hindrance to many Christians who would like to partner with us but find the word Crusade offensive. -- Cru
I understand the reasoning behind the word "Campus" and that is there prerogative if they believe it is no longer entirely applicable.  I also understand that the word "crusade" as negative connotations.  I do not think it is really a legitimate concern as the people who will take offense are people who will find offense no matter what they do.  And what of "Christ"?  Here is their explanation:
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. -- Cru
Herein lies the true reason behind the name change, despite their prior confusing statements to the contrary.  It is not because of the word "Campus" as that word is generally innocuous.  It is not because of the word "Crusade" as their new name "Cru" is an abbreviation for "crusade."  They say that the name "Cru" has been field tested since the mid 1990's and has tested well.  Campus Crusade for Christ, though, has been around since the 1950's without a problem.  If "crusade" was a major problem, they would not just change the name to an abbreviation of the word.  The true reason for the name change is "Christ."  As part of their explanation, they say that they hired two consulting firms, accepted recommendations from its staff and volunteers, elected a select board to drive the process, and even the executive staff was very involved at every step of the way.  With all that purpose, how can the removal of the word "Christ" be anything but very deliberate?  More troubling, though, is not the laughable claim that there was no deliberate effort to remove "Christ" from the name, but that there was no deliberate effort to keep "Christ" in the name. 
 
Another issue is that they did hire two consulting firms.  Here is the reason they claim why:
Our primary and ultimate dependence is on the Lord. However, we enlisted the help of consultants because we don’t have the expertise in brand survey methods and testing that they do. Two agencies, Brandtrust and Prophet, facilitated a wonderful process of helping us understand what we best offer our stakeholders and how our ministries fit together. Prophet led us through an extensive naming process. The final choice of Cru testifies to both their wisdom and their humility. -- Cru
This is interesting.  It is interesting because previously they said this "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."  With that level of success and a name that just about everyone knows and recognizes, then why the concern now with "branding?"  They are a brand and the only reason I can think of the sudden need for re-branding is that the real motive behind all of this is a change in direction. 
 
What begins as a change in name, I believe will end in a change of direction.  The reason for that is the heart behind the change.  The following statement is very telling:
Our surveys show that, in the U.S., twenty percent of the people willing to consider the gospel are less interested in talking with us after they hear the name. We are changing the name for the sake of more effective ministry.  -- Cru
First of all, I would love to see how this survey was run.  Basically they are asking unsaved people how they prefer to hear a message they have so-far rejected.  Their leading is not the Holy Spirit, but by statistics and numbers.  I wonder why they chose this specific statistic to feature on their page.  It is a rather meaningless statistic to be honest.  First of all, this is among people "willing to consider" the Gospel.  This is not people who have any interest in being saved, but just giving the same polite answer we give to any salesman just to get him off the phone or away from our front door.  We usually just give up and say "fine I am willing to consider" and accept the literature.  It basically means people who will consider considering the Gospel.  It means people who maybe someday in the future might think for a moment or two on what they heard .  It does not mean people who actually plan to consider the Gospel.  Furthermore, the result is given in terms of people "less interested" in talking to them.  What does "less interested" even mean?  Especially coming from people who are only "willing to consider."   Note it does not say "uninterested", just "less interested."  Considering they were filling out a survey, they still listened.  What they do not tell us in the survey is how many people of those who were "less interested" in talking about something they were "willing to consider" actually accepted the Gospel.  In the end, I wonder if people more likely to accept a Jesus that is proudly proclaimed by an organization not ashamed of the name they represent or scared of the offense it causes or are they more likely to accept a Jesus who allows His followers to hide who they really are.  Furthermore, this basically admits that they are "suckering" people into hearing the Gospel by hiding who they really are.  Are we to be less than completely honest for the sake of the Gospel? Are we to hide who we are to trick people into hearing the Gospel? 
 
What's more, the line of compromise has been moved.  I can not emphasize enough the dangers of moving an immovable line.  Today, their surveys show that using the name "Christ" is offensive.  What happens when they learn that people are more likely to refuse to listen to the Gospel when the Bible is used to preach it?  Are we to then not use the Word of God to teach about God to make people more willing to hear the message in the Bible?  What if the name Jesus at any point of the conversation turns people off to you?  I mean, anyone who has ever witnessed knows that as soon as Jesus is mentioned, people get real uncomfortable.  Should they stop using Jesus in their preaching too so that people can hear the entire message?  Where does it end?  How watered down can the message get?  Perhaps you are thinking I am overreacting and that they will not sink so low.  Sadly, history teaches us otherwise.  There is a whole apostate movement of churches known as "Seeker Sensitive" who began with the same "noble" intention of making the Gospel more accessible.  Now Cru has began down that same slippery slope. 
 
The fact is that we can never be ashamed of the name Jesus and who He is, that is the Christ.  The Gospel was not spread through trickery and "branding."   The Gospel was not spread by hiding it behind clever marketing or by changing its name to something more palatable by a fallen world.  The Gospel has been spread by the blood, sweat, tears, and worn-out knees of the brave brothers and sisters of the Lord who brought the message to many hostile lands.  The Gospel was spread through martyrs tortured, beheaded, burned alive, boiled in oil, crucified, raped, enslaved, imprisoned, ostracized, beaten, skinned alive, and any other unimaginable horror you can think of all because they would not deny the name of Jesus.  It is perseverance through the persecution that spread the Gospel, not by cowering under it.  We must never be ashamed to be called by the only name under heaven by which man be saved.  We must not be scared of offending people with the name of our Lord.   We are Christians, first and foremost and more than anything else, we are identified with Christ and we must never hide or forget that.
For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His [own] glory, and [in His] Father's, and of the holy angels.  Luke 9:26 NKJV

1 comment:

  1. Another good article! I was so disappointed with "Cru" for this weird name change. You hit the nail on the head and backed it with the Truth. Thanks

    ReplyDelete