Before taking my trip, I had long heard about Campus Crusade‘s “transferable concepts.” I never had the opportunity to be a part of Cru in college or afterward, but apparently even the “transferable concepts” idea is transferable, because it’s pretty widely known in ministry circles.

I think Crusade’s main transferable concepts focus on foundational spiritual growth topics – Lordship, witnessing, etc. But what’s quite evident is that this easily-learned-easily-shared mentality has helped Campus Crusade transfer concepts concerning the nuts and bolts of ministry, too.

It was powerful (and a little freaky) to hear the same concepts repeated all year long, beginning with the Chicago staff’s “Integrity Skills & Leadership Training,” and then in interview after interview with Crusade staff members. Both old and new Cru words, phrases, and ideas have clearly spread throughout the individual “Movements” with amazing consistency. That was clear both behind the scenes in chats with leaders AND when sitting in a Campus Crusade large group meeting.

Those large group meetings felt eerily similar whether I was at the Original, in Montana, or elsewhere. But while I’m sure Crusade occasionally catches flak about being too uniform, my guess is that they’ve found models and methods that simply work well in major areas of ministry – and those concepts have been transferred.

When most college ministries probably haven’t been in their present “version” for more than a couple of years, it was honestly pretty refreshing to see a group that has maintained such amazing consistency – based on collective wisdom borne from decades of ministry and transferred Movement by Movement.

(Wanna see it in action? I betcha Crusade is on a campus near you.)


  1. Benson,
    Did you notice any kind of regional delay with Crusade’s ministries? Did some parts of the country seem to be slightly “ahead” with the latest ideas and programs, while others took a couple years to catch up (like in rural areas)? Or was everyone pretty much synced up?

  2. I didn’t personally notice it, although with a little more digging, I might have. I did run across at least one (and maybe more, but one I remember right now) staff member who was particularly “innovative” and saw some other staff and regional or national people coming around to his ideas.

    My guess would be if there was a lag, it would be regional, like you said, because once a change hits regional leadership, then I would think it would be applied pretty uniformly in the region itself.

    The only other reason for lag would be if a campus itself wasn’t ready for OR didn’t need a change. You notice this difference pretty widely in how Crusade chapters are named these days, actually. Especially on campuses that might now be more sensitive to the “crusade” title, names are being changed. “Cru” is a regular pick, but other names are used, as well.

  3. I noticed the name change trend as well. Our local WSU chapter changed its name to CRU in 2005. The Idaho chapter (seven miles away) waited another two years. I’ve also noticed a similarity graphic identity across the country, and even website design (Montana, vs. WSU

    Would you say that there is an advantage to having “brand similarities” in ministries across the country? It seems that the advantages would be limited because most students don’t transfer schools all that often.

  4. I think you’re probably right about it being limited once people are in college – especially because we would hope that a student’s present ministry’s leaders might help them connect with the ministry at their new school (or at least a likeminded one). I would hope that each ministry would be free to “brand” based on their school’s culture and their particular ministry’s culture.

    BUT, I think there are two areas branding consistency matters a lot. First, I think branding (and especially names) have real importance before students go to college. What’s interesting is that Crusade is the best-known out there among adults. So name-changing will be particularly tough on Crusade, since students who have heard, “You should check out Campus Crusade for Christ” from youth ministers, senior pastors, and parents may be out of luck at their particular campus.

    The Southern Baptist Convention’s ministries may have been most hurt in this area – since many adults know it as “Baptist Student Union,” though that name only survives in a few areas. Meanwhile, the new names are all over the board (though helpfully tend to group by state) – Baptist Student Ministries, Baptist Collegiate Ministries, Christian Challenge, Priority, Crosswalk, and others.

    Interestingly enough, there are also American Baptists who use similar (or the same) names in some places, which causes even more confusion. (The beliefs of the two denominations can be pretty different.)

    I still like Chi Alpha’s name the very best, and I would assume that Assembly of God ministers are able to point students there pretty well.

    To a lesser degree, other forms of branding (logo, etc.) probably affect all this.

    The second problem with a name-change is connection between ministers. This probably isn’t much of a problem for Crusade, since they’re well-structured from the top down. But for others, you may not even realize that a fellow minister is like-minded (or like-structured). That doesn’t help with collaboration, connection, etc.

    Of course, both issues are more problematic in theory than in practice right now, because Collegiate Ministry is so underappreciated in general. Lots of high school students aren’t hearing about college ministry before they go, and lots of college ministers aren’t connecting / being connected well across their own denominations (or otherwise).

    But the difficulties tend to impact road-tripping researchers a lot, since they can’t figure out what ministries exist where. Or so I’ve heard.

    If the field becomes better developed, we’ll probably see these as bigger issues, actually.

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