Changing Your Name

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This week my former employer, Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC), announced they were changing their name to cru in 2012. Sadly, typically, the announcement has brought out a torrent of angry, untrue, and ungodly responses from “Christians” who are opposed to the change. CNN, Fox, Washington Post, and the Huffington Post have handled it better than “Christian” sources. An important moment has been turned into an online game of attack the motives and eviscerate the leaders. The best blog headline I saw; “Campus Crusade now cru; Angry bloggers still angry.

Why Change?

Nobody changes a name randomly, except for professional athletes (nod to Metta World Peace). An acquaintance once changed her last name from Rape to Raye. Companies change names all the time for effectiveness (Kentucky Fried Chicken -> KFC), to escape some bad press (ValuJet -> Air Tran), or because the original no longer worked (Lucky Goldstar -> LG).

Ministries and churches change names too. Usually it’s to better reflect their mission or to be more effective. A great Durham church changed their name from Homestead Heights Baptist Church to The Summit in 2001. They were not compromising or “ashamed” of their denomination, nor less committed to Homestead. Their growth, baptisms, and connection to the SBC are far greater now than under the old name. The name change facilitated greater effectiveness.

Change to enhance accomplishing the shared mission of proclaiming Christ should be cheered, not jeered. Missional ministries should change anytime it helps them spread the gospel, including changing a name. Yes, even if it means the word “Christ” or “Jesus” is not in the name.

What company or ministry has the same name they used 60 years ago? I suggested they updated their 1951 name to 21st century chic by calling it Global Jesus Ventures or Gospel for Dummies (surprisingly, they didn’t call back).

CCC feels their original name no longer works. They are right. They started as a college group but have myriads of other ministries now, so the word “campus” is misleading. “Crusade” may have been acceptable for Billy Graham in the 40’s and 50’s but even his ministry dropped the word in 2000. This is long overdue. In Europe, CCC has been named Agape for decades. In Canada, the same group is named Power to Change. Changing the name to enhance public acceptance of the gospel is godly, moral, and positive.

Regardless of how you feel about Campus Crusade for Christ becoming cru (it’s not my favorite), changing anything that hinders your mission is essential. Believers should be hoping the name change helps spread the gospel and fulfill the Great Commission.  That’s their mission; it’s our mission; and should be our passion.

So I’m praying cru is even more effective at helping to fulfill the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20) by the power of the Holy Spirit, so that everyone knows someone who truly follows Jesus.

  • Have you seen ministries or churches change names well?
  • What is the role in believers critiquing an announced decision?

15 thoughts on “Changing Your Name

  1. Pingback: Top Posts of the First Year | churchaccomplished.com

  2. Thanks for the link and the compliment on my blog post title “Campus Crusade now cru; Angry bloggers still angry.” I thought it was appropriate and funny, but some of the “angry bloggers” did not think so as much. ;)

  3. Sounds like a good idea to me. We can’t remain the same and think we will continue to reach a changing culture and people.

    Sad some leaders don’t undertand that.

    • @Artie – Hey man, I didn’t know that you my buddy Dave. Great time with you in Tanzania, brother. You kept me laughing.

  4. Pingback: Cru. | 2:48

  5. Dave, I was in leadership at a baptist church when we made the decision to leave “baptist” out of signage, logo and any marketing efforts. We didn’t legally change the name in the constitution or bylaws. As you discussed, we felt that the term “baptist” was a huge stumbling block to many people we were trying to reach with the Gospel. However, a vocal minority in the church made many of the same arguments we’ve heard in the “cru” controversy. It’s such a shame when we allow ridiculous arguments like this distract us from our mission.

  6. Patch, couldn’t have said it any better, thus I’m just cutting and pasting your blog link to save time replying to those asking about it.
    Blessings! West

  7. Thanks for your reasoned words, Dave! Helen and I are not all that excited about “cru”, but we did not choose the first name, either. Our Staff Conference here in Colorado has been all about reaching the world with the Gospel, as always, so focused on the task of proclaiming Jesus and giving him glory. Nothing has changed there.

  8. Nice post, Dave. I’m sad at how much pushback we’re getting, mostly from believers, likely most of whom who’ve never had our name be a detriment to sharing Jesus with anyone!

    • Sue..in 2002 I had a first and last conversation with a neighbor the day after she moved in behind us. She asked what I did, I told her I worked for CCC. She ended the conversation quickly. She moved 2 years later without ever once having another conversation longer than a wave. The name prevented me from ever showing love or sharing the gospel.

  9. I don’t think there is anything wrong with them changing their name, but I confess, “cru” baffles me. One wonders what their marketing people were thinking.

    • Beth..it’s been the informal name used by students for 15 years. Sorta like when Federal Express became “FedEx” because that is what everyone already called them.

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