Cru (Christian organization)

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Logo of Cru, the Christian organization formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ.

Cru, previously known as Campus Crusade for Christ, is an interdenominational Christian organization that promotes evangelism and discipleship in more than 190 countries around the world. In 1996, USA Today called Cru the largest evangelical organization in the United States. Today, the organization employs over 25,000 full-time missionaries and has trained 225,000 volunteers around the world.[1]

Founded in 1951 at the University of California, Los Angeles by Bill Bright as a ministry for college students, Cru has since expanded its focus to include adult professionals,[2] families,[3] athletes,[4] high school students,[5] and more. The World Headquarters is located in Orlando, Florida, and the current president of the organization is Steve Douglass.[1]

Cru is also the publisher of The Four Spiritual Laws, also known as the "Knowing God Personally" booklet. This takes non-believers through the four steps of Christianity and sums up the Gospel in just a few short pages. It provides an overview to those who do not want to feel pressured by someone lecturing them. It's also an easier read for someone who finds the Bible intimidating.

On July 19, 2011, it was announced that Campus Crusade for Christ in the United States was changing its name to Cru in order to overcome existing barriers and perceptions inherent in the original name. [6]


Campus Ministry[edit]

Cru has active ministries on 1,064 college and university campuses with over 50,000 students actively involved in the U.S. ministry in 2007.[7]

While Cru continues to use one-to-one conversations about God to reach out to students, they also use mass meetings, film showings and new media, such as Google advertising with e-mail responses and social networking on Facebook. which shows a YouTube video known as "#FallingPlates" is also used extensively. [8]

The Jesus Film Project[edit]

Main article: Jesus Film Project
Main article: Jesus (1979 film)

The Jesus Film Project started in 1981 to translate the Hollywood film Jesus into other languages so that it could be shown by missionaries to peoples around the world in their native languages.[9]

The first translation was done for the Tagalog-speaking people of the Philippines.[citation needed] The organization equips thousands of missionaries to show the film, sometimes to audiences who have never seen a motion picture. Distribution in the United States has included direct mail campaigns sponsored by churches to deliver a copy of the film to every address in select zip codes across the country.[10] In 2004, the organization made the film available for viewing on its website in over 800 languages.[11] Both Jesus and The Story of Jesus for Children are available in DVD and VHS formats. Audio dramatizations in a number of languages are also available.

The origins of The Jesus Film Project date back to 1945 when a young businessman named Bill Bright wanted to privately finance a film about the life of Jesus Christ[12] that was entertaining, biblically accurate, and which could be translated into non-English languages. Rather than making a film at that time, Bright went on to found a Christian ministry to reach college students called Campus Crusade for Christ in 1951.

In 1976, with Cru's influence spreading beyond college campuses to sports, the marketplace and other aspects of society, Bright turned his attention once again to filmmaking. Hollywood producer John Heyman approached Bright to fund a project to put the entire Bible on film. The project would eventually be scaled back to just one book of the Bible, the Gospel of Luke, and be financed primarily by Campus Crusade supporters Bunker and Caroline Hunt[13] for a sum of US$6 million.

A team of 500 scholars and leaders from secular and Christian organizations began to research historical elements for a film about Jesus. Filming took place over the course of several months throughout the Middle East.[14]

Jesus was produced by John Heyman, a German-born Jew and starred British Shakespearean actor Brian Deacon as Jesus, Rivka Neumann as Mary, Yosef Shiloach as Joseph and Niko Nitai as Peter.[15]

The Jesus Film Project has translated Jesus into 1,006 languages and shown the film in 228 nations.[16] Project leaders claim that it has been viewed over 5 billion times by over 3 billion people, numbers which cannot be verified and have been greeted with skepticism by other evangelical leaders.[17]

Athletes in Action[edit]

Main article: Athletes in Action

Athletes in Action works with athletes and coaches who compete at both the collegiate and professional level to use the platform of sport to help people around the world with questions of faith.[18]

Among the events sponsored by Athletes in Action is the NFL-sanctioned Super Bowl Breakfast[19] which features the presentation of the Bart Starr Award "to honor the NFL player who best exemplifies outstanding character and leadership in the home, on the field and in the community."[20]


Main article: FamilyLife

In 1976, Cru began providing premarital seminars for its staff members. Following their success, married staff couples began asking for encouragement through marriage seminars. Demand for the seminars spread to community leaders and pastors so they opened the seminars to the public in 1978. Since 1976 more than 1.5 million people have attended marriage conferences. Today, approximately 100 "Weekend to Remember" conferences are held annually in almost every major city in America. FamilyLife offers multiple resources like The Art of Marriage, Stepping Up, LifeReady Woman, HomeBuilders Couples Series, HomeBuilders Parenting Series, Resurrection Eggs, and What God Wants for Christmas.[21]

FamilyLife president Dennis Rainey hosts the daily FamilyLife Today radio broadcast.[22]

Josh McDowell[edit]

Main article: Josh McDowell

In 1964, Josh McDowell became a traveling representative of Cru addressing campus groups about the Christian faith. Over the years his ministry has focused on Christian apologetics, youth issues such as relationships and sexuality, and international humanitarian aid.[23]

McDowell's writings have concentrated on addressing challenges to belief, questions posed by non-Christians, doubts about faith, and non-Christian religions. Notable works include Evidence That Demands A Verdict, The Resurrection Factor, He Walked Among Us, More Than A Carpenter and The Da Vinci Code: A Quest for Answers. McDowell has arranged his arguments by pleading for a cumulative case of evidences, such as archaeological discoveries, the extant manuscripts of the biblical texts, fulfilled prophecies, and the miracle of the resurrection.[citation needed]

Global Aid Network (GAiN)[edit]

Global Aid Network (GAiN) is the humanitarian aid arm of Cru.[citation needed] In 2007–2008 fiscal year GAiN distributed over $30 million worth of aid to countries all over the world.[citation needed] Global Aid Network exists to bring the message of God's love through tangible ways. GAiN is able to partner with many countries around the world, because of the wide network of Cru.[citation needed] GAiN also has several mission trips that go on year-round.[citation needed]

Christian Embassy[edit]

Main article: Christian Embassy

The Christian Embassy is a Cru ministry with offices in a number cities around the world. Its United Nations office is accredited as a Non-Governmental Organization.[24] Another office located in Washington, D.C., is geared towards the diplomatic community, including presidential employees, members and the staff of the United States Congress, and workers in The Pentagon. Its alleged influence among the military and in national politics has attracted attention from the media.[25][26]

Cru Military[edit]

Formerly known as the Military Ministry, Cru Military was started by Bright in 1965 and originally led by retired Colonel Jack Fain, USAF (Ret.).[27] In July 2009 Christianity Today noted the organization's Bridges to Healing Ministry, which specifically addresses the issue of PTSD.[28]


Chronology of events in Cru's history:[29]


  • 1951: Cru is founded by Bill and Vonette Bright on the UCLA campus.
  • 1952: The Brights accept their first six staff members.
  • 1958: Cru becomes an international organization, forming a ministry in South Korea.
  • 1959: By the end of the 1950s, Cru is active on 40 U.S. college campuses and in three other countries.


Cru begins new ministries to high school students, military personnel, and athletes, as well as a new prayer ministry.

  • 1962: Cru purchases their headquarters for the next three decades at Arrowhead Springs, a resort complex in San Bernardino, California.
  • 1965: Bill Bright writes Have you Heard of The Four Spiritual Laws?, likely the most widely distributed religious booklet in history, with more than 2.5 billion printed to date.
  • 1966: Cru begins The Music Ministry (now called Keynote), using music to communicate the gospel around the world.
  • 1969: By the end of the 1960s, Cru is active in 25 countries.


  • 1972: EXPLO '72, a conference featuring evangelism and discipleship training, premiers in Dallas with 80,000 in attendance.
  • 1974: EXPLO '74 premiers in Seoul, Korea, training 300,000 in evangelism and discipleship.
  • 1976: "I Found It!", an evangelistic billboard/bumper sticker campaign, is launched along with an 800-number.[30] 85 percent of all Americans are exposed to the campaign, and by 1978 campaigns are established in more than 100 countries. As a result, more than 3.5 million people become Christians.[29]
  • 1979: Jesus, a film based on the Bible's Gospel of Luke, is first released in 250 theaters across the United States.
Bill Bright and his wife Vonette in 1980


  • 1982: Cru's campus ministry sends its first team of students to the Soviet Union.
  • 1988: The first Thursday in May is officially declared the National Day of Prayer. Vonette Bright serves as co-chairwoman in its first year.
  • 1989: By the end of the 1980s, Cru is active in 93 countries.
Bill Bright receives the Templeton Prize, 1996


  • 1990: Delegates from 102 countries attend New Life 2000 in Manila. During the six-month period, the gospel is shared with more than 3.3 million Filipinos.
  • 1991: Cru celebrates its 40th anniversary. Its world headquarters moves to Orlando, Florida, from California.
  • 1996: Bill Bright is awarded the $1.1 million Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, and donates the money to promote the spiritual benefits of fasting and prayer.[30]
  • 1999: Cru International's Lake Hart campus is dedicated in Orlando, Florida.


  • 2000: Bill Bright announces Steve Douglass, executive vice president and director of U.S. Ministries, as his successor, effective August 2001.
  • 2002: The film Jesus is translated into its 800th language.[citation needed]
  • 2003: Bill Bright, founder of Cru, dies of complications from pulmonary fibrosis.
  • 2006: Led by Steve Douglass, Cru comprises some 60 different ministries and projects in 190 countries around the world.
  • 2007: CM2007: Cru held a global college student missions conference in Busan, South Korea, from June 30 through July 5, which had around 18,000 participants from different parts of the world. The conference focused on three primary themes: Christ Magnified, Connected Movements, and Completing the Mission.[31]


  • 2011: Campus Crusade for Christ announces its name will change to "Cru."[6] This decision draws criticism and causes a number of donors to withdraw their support from the ministry.[32]


  • Charter member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability .[33]
  • Ranks #107 in fundraising efficiency[34] among the top 200 U.S. charitable organizations, according to Forbes magazine (2007). Ninety-three percent of its funds go directly to programming, and 7% to overhead expenses.
  • The top salary for any Campus Crusade employee was $164,206 in the fiscal year ending 2011.[35]
  • In 1995, Campus Crusade for Christ was named the largest religious charity in the United States by U.S. News and World Report, with total annual income of $189 million. In 2012, Forbes ranked it #19 in its list of the largest charities in the United States, with a total revenue of $519 million.[35]
  • In 2008, Chronicle of Philanthropy[36] ranks Campus Crusade for Christ No. 23 in private funding in its "Chronicle of Philanthropy 400," with annual giving of $514 million.[37]
  • Ranked #156 in overall efficiency among all U.S. Christian charities, according to Ministry Watch.[38]
  • In 2012, Cru's Executive Director Bob Hawkes appeared in the Giving Library[39]

Staff members[edit]

Cru staff members raise funds for the organization to pay their salaries and ministry expenses. All staff have the same base pay adjusted by tenure, life situation (single, married, children), and geographic cost of living.[40]

Married staff members are considered a missionary team. In practice this means that if single staff members marry, their new spouse must join staff also if they are not on staff already, otherwise the existing staff member must resign. If a prospective member is engaged or plans to marry in the first year, their fiance must apply as well.[41]

Cru does not invite single parents to join, as they feel the demands of the mission would take away from the single parent's ability to raise their child.[42]

Around the world[edit]

In many parts of Europe, Cru is known as Agape Europe[43] or "New Life" in post-Soviet countries. In Israel Cru was known as ONE FOR ISRAEL until July 2013. The collegiate ministry is known in some parts of the world as Student Life (Poland, New Zealand, Australia and United Kingdom); Power to Change (Canada); Lembaga Pelayanan Mahasiswa Indonesia (LPMI) In Indonesia; or LIFE Ministry (southeast Africa). In English-Speaking West Africa, the organization is known as Great Commission Movement. The changing of the name of the U.S.-based ministry to Cru will not affect the names of overseas ministries.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b American Executive, July 2008
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Family, Help and Hope for Marriages and Families". Retrieved October 16, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Athletes in Action Sports Ministry". Retrieved October 16, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Student Venture – :: The High School and Junior High Ministry of Cru". Retrieved October 16, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b Press Release
  7. ^ Campus Ministry fact sheet
  8. ^ American Executive "Campus Crusade for Christ: Viral Evangelism," July 1, 2008.
  9. ^ Jesus Film Project Fact Sheet
  10. ^ Shaila Dewan (August 16, 2005). "Putting Jesus in Every Mailbox". New York Times. Retrieved July 21, 2011. 
  11. ^ World's Most Translated Film Makes Internet Debut
  12. ^ Come Help Change the World, by Bill Bright, page 143
  13. ^ Come Help Change the World, by Bill Bright, pages 144–145
  14. ^ The Jesus Film Project History of the Film
  15. ^ Internet Movie Database
  16. ^ The JESUS Film Project Translation List
  17. ^ Franklin Foer (February 8, 2004). "’The Passion’s’ Precedent: The Most-Watched Film Ever?". New York Times. Retrieved July 21, 2011. 
  18. ^ Athletes in Action Web site
  19. ^ Super Bowl Breakfast Official Site
  20. ^ Bart Starr Award
  21. ^ History of FamilyLife
  22. ^ About FamilyLife Today Broadcasts
  23. ^ "GAiN USA". Operation Carelift Becomes Global Aid Network (GAiN) USA. Archived from the original on December 10, 2005. Retrieved June 16, 2005. 
  24. ^ United Nations: DPI/NGO Directory, viewed October 14, 2008.
  25. ^ Washington Post Editorial
  26. ^ Christian Embassy Letter to the Editor
  27. ^ [1].
  28. ^ "When the War Never Ends". Christianity Today. July 2009.
  29. ^ a b Cru Newsroom
  30. ^ a b President of Cru Gets $1 Million Religion Prize New York Times
  31. ^ CM2007
  32. ^ Kwon, Lillian (August 4, 2011). "Campus Crusade for Christ Loses Donors Over Name Change". The Christian Post. Retrieved October 9, 2011. 
  33. ^ ECFA: Cru – Campus Crusade for Christ
  34. ^ "Forbes: The 200 Largest U.S. Charities". November 21, 2007. Retrieved July 5, 2008. 
  35. ^ a b "Forbes: The Largest US Charities for 2012" November 11, 2012. Retrieved August 22, 2013.
  36. ^ Chronicle of Philanthropy
  37. ^ The Chronicle of Philanthropy, October 30, 2008, page 10.
  38. ^ "Ministry Watch Reports". 2008. Retrieved July 5, 2008. 
  39. ^
  40. ^ [2] Cru Salary information.
  41. ^ [3] staff qualifications
  42. ^ "Qualifications and Standards :: Cru". August 13, 2011. Retrieved October 16, 2012. 
  43. ^

External links[edit]