What's in a name? What is "Cru"?

It seems having “Jesus” or “Christ” or even “Christian” on the signs of churches or logos of ministries – even long-established ones dedicated to spreading the gospel – has become passé.

Even evangelical and fundamentalist congregations have been jettisoning those reminders of the founder of the faith in favor of more palatable – dare I say, politically correct – terms. This is, after all, the age of the “seeker friendly/seeker sensitive” church.

“Hope” churches are aplenty. A Google search yields 82.8 million results for that choice. “Life” churches garner 56.3 million. “Faith” churches pull down 23.4 million, and “Journey” is popular, too, at 8.4 million. (Full disclosure: I worship at Lifechurch Utah, a name selected a couple years ago to replace the words “Valley Assembly.”)

There are lots of reasons for such name changes, of course. Some are simply to shed old names associated with dated geographical or neighborhood designations; others to represent a change in ministry focus or mission. But others? They shed “Christ” and “Christian,” often along with that gauche cross on the steeple or roof, so as not to be off-putting to visitors. (These are places, too, where you may never hear words like “sin” “salvation” or, heaven forbid, “hell”).

That said, I never expected that 50-year-old Campus Crusade for Christ – famous for its “Four Spiritual Laws” pamphlets and the

The Four Spiritual Laws: CCC classic

multi-language “Jesus” film – would drop the Big C. Well, they have. Call this international family of ministries simply “Cru,” now. (And no, even that is not short for crusade, which is, after all, a reminder of those embarrassing invasions of Palestine in the Middle Ages that so often had more to do with rapine, genocide, greed and grasping for political power than missionary zeal.)

No, “Cru” is just a nickname. This is how CCC/Cru explains it: The name, selected from a pool of 1,600 potential names, has a track record within Campus Crusade for Christ. Since the mid-1990s, it has been used locally on the majority of their U.S. campus ministries.”

As for dropping “Christ” from their name? Cru insists the message will remain the same: ““Our team understands that our name is really for the benefit of others. Ultimately, it’s not about our name, but how we live out our mission every day.”

Credit Cru for this, though – they invite comments on their website about the change. And, they are getting them. Some are favorable, but many more seem unimpressed; here are just a few:

“I don’t like it because when someone asks “what does ‘Cru’ mean?” you have to refer back to the old name . . . Then they ask, “so why did you change the name?” and whatever you say you either sound like a dweeb. . . .”

“Kind of liked the old name, It really shows what you stand for.”

“This reveals a uniquely American phenomenon in the “marketing” of Christ and the gospel, something that was foreign to the Apostles and most likely would have prompted a sharp rebuke from them.”

My personal favorite, though, is this one:

“At least put a J in front for “Jesus” and call it J-cru.”

. . . not to be confused with clothing and accessories retailer  J. Crew, I suppose.

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