Cru (Christian organization)

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Campus Crusade Logo.jpg
Formation 1951 (1951)
Founder Bill Bright and Vonette Bright
Type Non-profit 501(c)3 organization
Headquarters Orlando, Fla.
Steve Douglass
Subsidiaries FamilyLife
Mission Evangelistic Christian community
Formerly called
Campus Crusade for Christ International

Cru (known as Campus Crusade for Christ until 2011) is an interdenominational evangelical Christian organization. It was founded in 1951 at the University of California, Los Angeles by Bill Bright as a ministry for university students. Since then Cru has since expanded its focus to include adult professionals, athletes and high school students.[1] In 2011 Cru had 25,000 missionaries in 191 countries.[2]

Cru relocated its world headquarters from Arrowhead Springs, Calif., to Orlando, Florida in 1991.[3] The current president of the organization is Steve Douglass.[4]

In 2011, Campus Crusade for Christ in the United States changed its name to Cru, a shortening of "Crusade", since many members already refer to it as Cru for short, and also due partially to avoiding the negative connotation of crusade from the historical Crusades (particularly to Muslim communities) and that much of the organization's work was no longer limited to college campuses.[2]


Bill Bright (right) receives the Templeton Prize, 1996

Founded in 1951 at the University of California, Los Angeles by Bill Bright as a ministry for university students.[1]

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: Launched a $1 million advertising campaign that featured ads and bumper stickers saying "I Found It!"[3] along with an 800-number.[5]

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.[5]

2001: Bill Bright stepped down as leader of the organization and Rev. Steve Douglass would become president.[1]

The New York Times reported in 2011 that Cru has 25,000 missionaries in 191 countries.[2]

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.[2]


Campus Ministry[edit]

Cru has active communities on 1,740 college and university campuses.[6]

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.[7]

Among the events sponsored by Athletes in Action is the NFL-sanctioned Super Bowl Breakfast[8] 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."[9]


Main article: FamilyLife

In 1976, Cru began providing premarital and marriage seminars for its staff members and opened them to the public in 1978. Since 1976 more than 1.5 million people have attended marriage conferences.[10] 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.[11]

FamilyLife president Dennis Rainey hosts the daily FamilyLife Today radio broadcast.[12]

Inner City[edit]

Cru's inner city ministry (formerly known as Here's Life Inner City)[13] currently trains and equips churches in 17 cities to meet immediate physical needs, while also providing long-term development programs such as Holistic Hardware for life skills and WorkNet for career preparedness.[14]

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.[15]

McDowell's writings have concentrated on addressing challenges to belief, questions posed by non-Christians, doubts about faith, and non-Christian religions. World Magazine included McDowell's "Evidence That Demands a Verdict" in its list of the top 100 books from the twentieth century.[16]

Global Aid Network (GAiN)[edit]

Global Aid Network (GAiN) is the humanitarian aid arm of Cru.[citation needed]

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.[17]

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[18] 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[19] 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.[20]

Jesus was produced by John Heyman, and starred British Shakespearean actor Brian Deacon as Jesus, Rivka Neumann as Mary, Yosef Shiloach as Joseph and Niko Nitai as Peter.[21]

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.[22]

Project leaders claim that it has been viewed over 5 billion times by over 3 billion people.[23] This claim has been greeted with skepticism by an evangelical leader. Vinay Samuel, former executive director of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Mission Theologians has said: "These numbers are, to say the least, not gathered in a social-scientific way," and that "They have no way of knowing this."[23]


Cru publishes several books, booklets, and other materials for ministry. The Four Spiritual Laws booklet was authored by Bill Bright in 1952 and one hundred million copies have been distributed.[24]


  • Charter member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability .[25]
  • Ranks #107 in fundraising efficiency[26] 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.[27]
  • 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 2008, Chronicle of Philanthropy[28] ranks Campus Crusade for Christ No. 23 in private funding in its "Chronicle of Philanthropy 400," with annual giving of $514 million.[29]
  • In 2012, Forbes ranked it #19 in its list of the largest charities in the United States, with a total revenue of $519 million.[27]

Cru Around the World[edit]

Cru operates under various names around the world:

Further reading[edit]

  • Turner, John G. (2008). Bill Bright and Campus Crusade for Christ : the renewal of evangelicalism in postwar America. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 978-0-8078-3185-4. 

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "William R. Bright, 81, Founder Of Campus Crusade for Christ". New York Times. July 22, 2003. .
  2. ^ a b c d Laurie Goodstein (July 20, 2011). "Campus Crusade for Christ Is Renamed". New York Times. .
  3. ^ a b John Dart (September 7, 1989). "Campus Crusade for Christ to Leave Southland Headquarters for Florida". Los Angeles Times. 
  4. ^ "Viral evangelism; Steve Douglass describes how new media and an army of volunteers helps this evangelical organization grow globally.(Campus Crusade for Christ)(Company overview)". American Executive Magazine. July 1, 2008 – via HighBeam Business. 
  5. ^ a b GUSTAV NIEBUHR (March 7, 1996). "President of Cru Gets $1 Million Religion Prize". New York Times. 
  6. ^ Campus Ministry fact sheet
  7. ^ Athletes in Action Web site
  8. ^ Super Bowl Breakfast Official Site
  9. ^ Bart Starr Award
  10. ^ History of FamilyLife
  11. ^ FamilyLife products
  12. ^ FamilyLife Today Broadcasts
  13. ^ About Cru's Inner City Ministry
  14. ^ Huffington Post: Cru Inner City Helps American Children Facing Poverty
  15. ^ "GAiN USA". Operation Carelift Becomes Global Aid Network (GAiN) USA. Archived from the original on December 10, 2005. Retrieved June 16, 2005. 
  16. ^ World Magazine Top 100 Books of the Twentieth Century
  17. ^ Jesus Film Project Fact Sheet
  18. ^ Bill Bright (1970). Come Help Change the World. F. H. Revell Co. p. 143. 
  19. ^ Bill Bright (1970). Come Help Change the World. F. H. Revell Co. pp. 144–245. 
  20. ^ The Jesus Film Project History of the Film
  21. ^ Internet Movie Database
  22. ^ Shaila Dewan (August 16, 2005). "Putting Jesus in Every Mailbox". New York Times. Retrieved July 21, 2011. 
  23. ^ a b Franklin Foer (February 8, 2004). "’The Passion’s’ Precedent: The Most-Watched Film Ever?". New York Times. Retrieved July 21, 2011. 
  24. ^ "The Four Spiritual Laws". 
  25. ^ ECFA: Cru – Campus Crusade for Christ
  26. ^ "Forbes: The 200 Largest U.S. Charities". November 21, 2007. Retrieved July 5, 2008. 
  27. ^ a b "Forbes: The Largest US Charities for 2012" November 11, 2012. Retrieved August 22, 2013.
  28. ^ Chronicle of Philanthropy
  29. ^ The Chronicle of Philanthropy, October 30, 2008, page 10

External links[edit]