Childhood Memories Friday: Campus Crusade for Christ

The time: circa 1985. The place: Indiana University.

I went to a small church during college, but wanted more Christian fellowship with kids my age (the church was made up mainly of older folks), so where did I end up but a meeting of Campus Crusade for Christ.

I had been a member for just a month or so when one of the leaders invited me to their “Operation Sonshine” in Florida, during spring break. I thought that this would be neat — spending spring break in Florida (such a cool, college-y thing to do), but with a bunch of wholesome Christian kids, not a bunch of drunkards. I signed up.

campus crusade for christ operation sonshine 1985

Well. My week in Florida was not quite what I’d envisioned. Turns out, Operation Sonshine was a bit more involved than fellowshiping with other Christians under the palms. No, we were paired up and sent out two or three times each day to witness. On the beach. To a bunch of other college kids, scantily dressed, often drunken or in some other state of debauchery, usually not a bit interested in Christianity.

We were armed with copies of The Four Spiritual Laws, and were instructed to approach our targets with a question such as:

Hey! I was just wondering … if you were to die tonight, do you know where you’d end up?


Hi! I saw you over there playing volleyball, and I just wondered if you’d ever thought about where you’d spend eternity!

I give Campus Crusade a lot of credit for witnessing boldly. It’s a lofty goal, and I know that we need more laborers to harvest the fields, etc. It’s just that such an in-your-face approach wasn’t quite my style. I was intensely uncomfortable approaching total strangers period, let alone “assaulting” them with the gospel.

Nonetheless, one steamy afternoon I approached a girl with the where-will-you-spend-eternity question, and asked if she’d like to accept Christ, and was absolutely floored when she answered, “Yeah … I would!”

Just goes to show, God can work anywhere.  You never know where he’ll show up — just possibly, it’ll be on a Florida beach.

I’ve been thinking about Campus Crusade lately, because they’ve been in the news. Seems they’re change their name to … drumroll, please …


I am not making this up.

cru campus crusade for christ

Why the change?

According to the Campus Crusade for Christ cru website, “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.”

Hmmmm. I notice that, while they addressed removing “campus” and “crusade,” there’s no rationale given for removing “Christ.”

Reading further, I find “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.”

O-kay, then. You’re not trying to eliminate the word Christ from your name, but it just happened accidentally, maybe? You took out “Christ” because some people might be “initially turned off?”


They also share that they made this change after bringing in a brand consulting agency. Ah, how very current of them! My foray into publishing has taught me the importance of brand, platform, etc. to the extent that I am heartily tired of the terms. Seems everything these days must conform to one’s brand, identity, audience … it becomes quite tiresome, I think.

I haven’t followed Campus Crusade for Christ (I’ll insist on that name just awhile longer) since I left college, so I don’t know the changes they’ve undergone. However, I’m more than a little surprised and disappointed by this. Seems that the fearless organization I knew in the ’80s is going the route of so much of the mainstream Christian church today: let’s do whatever it takes to reach out, even if we might have to water down (or completely remove) Christ. Let’s take away the old hymns. Let’s take away the images of Jesus on the cross. Heck, let’s remove Jesus and the Bible altogether and just talk about values like tolerance and acceptance and love — isn’t that what Jesus taught? Jesus is a little controversial, you know, and we want our lessons to be “sticky” and our teachings to be “relevant.”

I can just see college kids during spring break, 2012. They’re wearing cru shirts with pride, and carousing with the masses, every now and then offering them a booklet, 5 Suggestions For a Better Life, Now!

Sigh. I’m almost nostalgic for a hot afternoon on the beach with a handful of The Four Spiritual Laws. At least, we knew where we stood.

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. Romans 1:16

What do you think about the Campus Crusade for Christ name change?

5 thoughts on “Childhood Memories Friday: Campus Crusade for Christ

  1. What a weird name for it. Like those Rob Bell videos–they try way to hard to be “hip” or “with it” or “(fill in the blank with today’s term)”…..

    I’m not against new music–after all hymns were once “popular” music, too. But, I understand a lot people feel strongly about it. I DO love them myself, but see the kids doze off and not get anything out of them. Now and again they have an “aha!” moment when the lyrics penetrate their over-stimulated brains and they realize it’s the same or similar to a CCM song they know or a Bible verse they’ve learned. But then, I’m a near-heathen to some because I read the N.I.V. and remind people that the KJV, while absolutely beautiful in tone, is incomprehensible to most people today. Why? It was written in the language of King James’ day! To be what? More accessible! I think if it introduces people to the Lord, to Salvation then I think that’s good.

    I never saw the point of evangelizing to drunks! Still, I can’t imagine which is worse–the straightforward rejection you guys got or the after-the-fact “I’ve been scammed” comments to the CRU kids when the drunks realize they are evangelizing!

  2. I hate the name change! Why are the Campus Crusade people so apologetic about who they are? Or ashamed/embarrassed or whatever it is? It just goes to show that “political correctness” is completely out of hand these days! This is yet another sign of our times…perhaps the end times when so many people leave Christ out of virtually everything. Pooh on Cru!!!

  3. I support them monthly but since they drop Christ I am dropping them .

  4. ooh I am NOT liking this new change for CCC. It just smacks of trying to “fit in” with the world’s philosophy. Thanks for sharing this. I’m not really an in-your-face-hand-out-tracts-go-door-to-door witnesser myself. But neither would I try to gloss over my Christianity with fancy marketing campaigns. Did they even use a CHRISTIAN marketing group? I wonder!

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