Months after Campus Crusade for Christ stirred controversy over its decision to formally change its name to "Cru," the ministry's co-founder says the new name is actually helping bring more people to Christ.
Vonette Bright told The Christian Post on Monday that they have already tested and adopted the new name and said so far, "it's working."
The name change began early this year and already, Bright said, "We're finding that our meetings are larger on campus, we have found more decisions for Christ as a result, and already it's proving itself to be a very good decision."
Bright started CCC in 1951 with her late husband Bill. It was Bill's idea before he died in 2003 to change the ministry's name because the word "crusade" has a negative connotation.
The Orlando, Fla.-based ministry announced last July that it would be dropping its 60-year-old name and adopting "Cru" instead, starting in early 2012. The name Cru is a nickname that originated from the organization's younger members in the mid-90s.
"The students are always coming up with [nicknames which are] cutting words," Bright told CP.
The name was one of five names submitted for consideration. Bright said she had no idea the nickname would win the naming contest but it did.
However, the change has spurred some criticism from former members such as Ken Connor, chairman of the Center for a Just Society, for cutting Christ's name from the title. Last summer, some donors even withdrew their support from the organization.
Bright defended the name change Monday, saying, "The reason for the name change is to reach more people who will listen."
She said the shortened name is also "culturally relevant" and allows a quicker delivery of the message.
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.
Despite some criticisms, the name change has been backed by Minnesota Pastor John Piper.
Last year, Piper told those leery of the name change, "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."
He continued, "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."
The name change only affects the U.S. ministries. The company's official name, Campus Crusade for Christ International, will remain the same.