From Crusade to Cru: Adaptive Change in the Church

From Crusade to Cru: Adaptive Change in the Church

Today, I saw a tweet from @CTmagazine linking to an article about why Campus Crusade for Christ International was going to change their name from Crusade to Cru.

The article went on to list some of the reasons why the name change was so important to do at this point in time–reasons why many probably thought some kind of name change should have happened years ago. Namely, all the negative press/imagery/connotation that goes with “crusade.” [Think military conquests of the 11-13C]. For any organization, religious or not, the last thing you want to be associated with is a church-sanctioned military campaign that tried to claim land and people through violence in the name of the Church.

[What’s in a name?]

So it’s with good intention and desire to be relevant that CCCI took this step [regardless what you think of the name…and I’ve seen some interesting posts in the past hour] in changing the name. And from what I hear, the Crusade staff have been using the moniker for years.

All of this conversation around the name change reminded me of the message from this past Sunday [available here later this week]. It was the story or Rahab and how she was a model for the church in her ability to adapt to change. She saw a tide turning in leadership and took a risk to make sure she was poised for when this change took place. She heard about the Israelites and their God, and knew this was something she needed to pay attention to. The result: she and her family were spared and we later find her in Matthew in the genealogy of Jesus.

[Who Moved My Cheese]

I know. Jarring transition from Rahab to self-help/motivational book. Hang on. It makes sense. We hear a lot about managing change in the business sector. Adaptive change, if you will. You remember the 1998 best seller, Who Moved My Cheese? In a nutshell, it’s about two mice and two little people who discovered the cheese jackpot at Station C. One day, the groups discovered that the cheese at this station was gone. The allegory comes down to the choices one has when facing change: hold on to what you know because that’s all you know [where extinction is inevitable], or accept the change and venture on to find new ways of doing things.

[What Cru did right]

So, what do we have to learn from Rahab and Campus Crusade’s name change? Survival demands we adapt to change. Cru’s blog puts it this way:

“We’re convinced the mission demands it.”

Bold move to take 60 years of brand identity and change it because they recognized the name might actually be harming their mission. And it really didn’t completely represent who they are as an organization today [they do more than campus ministry].

That’s gutsy. But they’re a parachurch organization, some might say. It’s easier for them. The Church can’t do something like that. We’re wedded to our names and our denominations and our traditions and practices. Yeah, we think they can come off as archaic, but it’s who we are. We are wrapped up in this identity and we’ll hang on to it to the end. Right?

Yeah, Cru sounds kinda weird. And it’s not apparent that it’s a church organization. But maybe that’s the point? Have we wrapped up all of who we are as a church, as a worshipping community, in a name? In a denomination? In a program?

What kind of change needs to happen in the church for us to live out our mission? For those United Methodists out there, what needs to happen for us to live out our call to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world?