Campus Crusade for Christ's name change to "Cru" has forced a number of donors to withdraw their support from the ministry.
While the exact number has not been specified, Mike Adamson, director of Communications for CCC, told The Christian Post that only "a very small percentage" of donors have pulled out.
CCC is one of the largest and most prominent Christian organizations in the world with more than 25,000 full-time staff. The Orlando, Fla.-based ministry announced last month that it would be dropping its 60-year-old name and adopting "Cru" instead, starting in early 2012.
For some, the name change has come as a shock.
Ken Connor, chairman of the Center for a Just Society and who was once involved in CCC, believes the ministry is making the change to avoid offending people with such words as "crusade" and "Christ." He's calling on the organization to rethink its decision and not leave Christ out.
But Steve Sellers, vice president of CCC, has maintained that the new name had "absolutely nothing to do with being politically correct."
"We didn't decide to take Christ out of our name; we decided to change our name in order to be more effective at reaching people for Christ," he said on Fox News.
Sellers further pointed out that the new logo contains a cross, thus showing that they are not bowing to political correctness or being ashamed of the Gospel.
The issue with the old name is not "Christ," but rather "campus" and "crusade," CCC leaders have said.
"Crusade" carries negative associations and "campus" does not adequately represent all of CCC's ministries.
Besides the college campus movement, other CCC ministries include FamilyLife, Here's Life Inner City, and the JESUS Film Project.
While some have speculated that "Cru" is an abbreviated version of "crusade," the new name does not hold any specific meaning. It is simply a nickname that was coined on an unknown campus in the mid-90s and spread to other campuses over the next decade.
"Interestingly, it does not carry any of the negative baggage of the word 'crusade,'" said Adamson. "It’s used in the most challenging environment of the university campus without the historical connotations."
CCC leaders are hoping that Cru will come to gain a certain meaning much like other abstract names such as Google and Starbucks have.
But some of CCC's ministry partners consider the change a mistake and have chosen not to partner any longer, Adamson said.
Notably, influential evangelical John Piper has come to the ministry's defense.
He contended in a blog post that "the Christ-exalting faithfulness" of a church or ministry should not be judged by the absence of “Jesus” or “Christ” or “Christian” in the name.
The Minneapolis pastor went further to say, "In my judgment Campus Crusade seems to be more doctrinally awake and sound today than in decades gone by. But in the end that is not decisive when it comes to whether I would support any particular Crusade staff. What the staff believes is decisive in the end."
"Therefore, I encourage you: Don’t drop your support from Crusade staff simply because the organization made a decision you disagree with. That would be like saying to a fellow-soldier on the frontlines: I’m not giving you any fire-cover because I don’t like the new name the Colonel gave to your unit. Is the soldier faithful and fruitful? That is the decisive issue."
Despite some backlash and loss of support, Adamson said the majority of CCC's ministry partners are excited about "the opportunity to more effectively proclaim the name of Jesus without the difficulties of the words 'Crusade' and 'Campus.'"
He acknowledged that some are not fond of the name choice, but stressed that they "trust our track record and know that the staff they support are faithful and fruitful."
In the U.S., 57,000 college students attend weekly CCC meetings or small groups and all are being encouraged to grow in their faith and share their faith. Over the least two years, the organization has sent more than 7,000 students on short-term missions projects. And during the last five years, nearly 600,000 students have made decisions for Christ.
"In the last several years we are experiencing some of our greatest results," Adamson commented.
While the organization prepares to formally adopt its new name next year, Adamson made it clear that their goal remains the same: "to effectively proclaim the gospel and to give more people the chance to say 'Yes' to Jesus."
When asked to what extent Christians should adapt to changing times, he commented, "Just as Jesus took on flesh out of love, we must look for ways to communicate that which never changes inside cultures that are always changing via geography and generations. May God give us all the sacrificial love for the lost to look for every Christ exalting way possible for them to hear about Him."