For the third time in as many years, one of the nation’s largest nonprofits will be dropping a reference to “Christ” from its name in an effort to simplify and make its message more effective.
The U.S. ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ International (CCCI) will become “Cru” by next year to overcome what the organization termed “existing barriers and perceptions inherent” in its name. The new name, unveiled at the ministry’s biennial U.S. conference in Ft Collins, Colo., was selected from a pool of 1,600 potential names and has been used locally on the majority of U.S. campus ministries since the mid-1990s. The board of directors in 2009 agreed to begin the process of evaluating the name and this year approved the recommendation of a new name.
Although the words Campus and Crusade served as hindrances, there was never any intentional decision to remove the word “Christ.” The word “campus” does not adequately represent all its ministries, according to the organization, while the word “crusade” 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,” according to a statement from the organization.
According to its surveys, 20 percent of people in the U.S. willing to consider the gospel are “less interested in talking with us after they hear the name.”
Founded by Bill and Vonette Bright in 1951, CCCI is headquartered in Orland, Fla. and has 29 different ministries, with more than 25,000 full-time and part-time team members in 191 countries. Bill Bright suggested changing the name as early as the 1970s, according to the organization, “although he could not find an ‘ownable’ name he felt was more effective.”
It’s not the first time recently that a religious organization has changed its name. While its legal name remains Young Men’s Christian Association, the YMCA of the USA last summer announced that it would be doing business as The Y, in what it said was an effort to simplify the name. Local affiliates are still required to use YMCA as part of their branch name.
ChildFund International has changed its name multiple times, most recently in 2009 when it changed from Christian Children’s Fund. Officials with the Richmond, Va.-based nonprofit at the time said the move wasn’t about removing Christian from the name because the organization shifted from an orphanage model and religious teachings decades ago.
All three organizations have appeared regularly in The NPT 100, The NonProfit Times’ annual ranking of the largest nonprofits (by total revenue) in the nation.