My 10 Favorite ‘Christian Organizations’ and Why I Love the Crap Out of Them

Let me just be honest here: I can spend way too much time in my mind and on this blog focusing on the things the Church is missing out on or doing wrong.

I think there’s a place for thinking and talking about those things. If we’re too scared to talk about how we screw up, what are we really accomplishing? But there’s also a huge place for encouraging and praising the work the Church has done in this world. That’s why I’m going to list my 10 favorite “Christian organizations” and why I love the crap out of them.

Note: I say “Christian organizations” because, while some of these organizations are comfortable with the “Christian” label, others wouldn’t necessarily want themselves to be called a ministry but they discuss the things of God, Jesus, the Bible and the Church. And I want to respect that.

So here we go!

The Anima Series | “Giving local artists a global platform for Christ” | theanimaseries.com

Started in July 2013, the Anima Series is a group of young guys and gals who make music, spoken word videos and other ministry tools to reach out mainly to young people. Their YouTube channel has over 162K subscribers and their most popular video – “Who You Are: A Message to All Women” – has over 4 million views. anima

My favorite piece of ministry of theirs is a spoken word called “Not Qualified.” It typifies their work: reaching out to the youth or other believers who may feel like they’re not enough. The Anima Series recently went on a brief tour around America, and post videos on their channel regularly of either funny happenings or spiritual messages.

Bad Christian | “A thriving community that focuses on interacting with culture from an alternative Christian point of view” | badchristian.com

They would hesitate being called a ministry, but what they do has ministered to me. The main outlet of Bad Christian – started by Emery (the band) guitarist Matt Carter and lead vocalist Toby Morrell and their friend and pastor Joey Svendsen – is their twice-weekly podcast where they talk openly and honestly about different issues in Christian culture as well as their own lives. One episode each week includes an interview with someone in the Christian or music scene.

bad_christianMost Christians wouldn’t like some of the things they do – they cuss openly, talk about drinking and sex and have some different views than most evangelical Christians. But it’s their openness and honesty that has drawn me in to loving what they do. They also have a blog and have started a music label with artists like Emery, Kings Kaleidoscope and The Classic Crime.

Cru | “A caring community passionate about connecting people to Jesus Christ” | cru.org

Formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ, Cru’s main ministry is on college campuses, but also does work in military installations, churches, sports teams, politicians and across the world. There’s something inspirational about a ministry that seems to want to take every opportunity possible to spread the Gospel around the world. I love it.Cru-10-24-11-MASTER-TM

I mainly love them because of their college ministry. Along with other organizations such as Campus Outreach and InterVarsity, Cru is reaching students in one of the most vulnerable places in their lives with the most important message. I was involved in CO in college, but what Cru did was known on campus. Those kids were some of the most joyful, most passionate kids who were involved in their community and involved in encouraging and building up one another.

HeartSupport | “A raw and authentic community where no music fan has to struggle alone” | heartsupport.com

Begun by August Burns Red lead singer Jake Luhrs, HeartSupport is an online community that has grown into a ministry to music fans who need a place to share stories of their addictions, abuse, depression and related things without fear of judgement. It’s a place where mostly young people can find love and acceptance and help for their struggles.

heartsupportA lot of bands are invested in HeartSupport, mainly in the hardcore scene. Bands like Family Force 5, Sleeping Giant, Emery, The Devil Wears Prada, Hawthorne Heights, A Day to Remember and For Today are all a part of the Heart Support community, offering support for people’s hearts, as the name implies. I heard about HeartSupport when Luhrs was interviewed on the Bad Christian podcast, and loved what they do.

NewSpring Church | “Exists to reach people far from God and teach them how to follow Jesus step by step” | Anderson, S.C. | newspring.cc

Yes, a church is a “Christian organization” too. Founded by lead pastor Perry Noble, NewSpring has 19 locations, six of them house churches, across South Carolina with a mission to see over 100,000 South Carolinians give their lives to Christ. Noble’s preaching is open and honest and isn’t afraid to get blunt and honest, and ministries within the church include KidSpring (for kids), Fuse (for youth) and small groups to help people grow in their relationship with Jesus.Website-EVENT-SPOTLIGHT-602x348-NewSpringChurch

I visited NewSpring in Anderson a couple months ago with my now-fiancée and really enjoyed the service. It’s super laid-back – I wore an Arsenal jersey and they played “Can’t Feel My Face” by The Weeknd over the speakers when the service ended – and the topics are relevant and faithful to Scripture. Noble has come under fire from some in the Christian community for some of the things he’s said, but I love his heart and his message.

One Fair Chance | “Each One – Reach One, Each One – Teach One” | Hyderabad, India | onefairchance.org

The next three will be smaller, lesser known on a national scale but each have been very personal to me. The first is “One Fair Chance,” started by my friend Billy Judson. Billy, named after Billy Graham and Adoniram Judson, came to Sanford a couple years ago and completed a seminary degree in Cary, N.C., for the purpose of being equipped to give each Indian “one fair chance” to hear the Gospel. It’s connected to Good News Bible College and Seminaries in Hyderabad, run by Billy’s father, a school which has graduated over 11,000 students. Sixty percent of those graduates have their own ministry.

one-fair-chance-sceneI love the heart of this man, one of the most joyful people I’ve ever met. His passion for his people is unmatched. I wish every Christian could talk to Billy for 15 minutes just to get a glimpse of the vision that he has for his homeland. I miss having him here in America, but I know what he’s doing in India is far more effective for the Gospel than him being here.

Snowbird Wilderness Outfitters | “A Gospel-centered, high adventure discipleship camp in North Carolina” | Andrews, N.C. | swoutfitters.com

This camp for students located in the North Carolina mountains is one of the few places where I have been seriously shaped spiritually. Their main ministry is their summer camp, where college students come and work for the summer to invest themselves in the lives of the middle and high school students that come for a week. There are also year-round retreats and conferences focusing on missions and purity for youth and men’s, women’s, marriage and student ministry conferences for adults.snow

I went five summers as a camper, worked one summer on staff and have been as a chaperone twice. I can’t say enough about the amazing Gospel-centeredness of the teaching and the staff. Their passion for Jesus and for seeing students’ hearts changed is amazing. I certainly plan on hitting up their marriage retreat when I get married, and I see the effect of their ministry on the youth group I hang out with every week. I love that place.

Turner’s Chapel | “A non-denominational church that emphasizes Biblical teaching, missions, prayer, discipleship and family” | Sanford, N.C. | turnerschapel.org

This is my home church, and I love my church. I love the personal ministry from my pastor Bruce MacInnes, I love the community that I have, and I love the youth group that I help serve in. I don’t always agree with everything the pastor says (wrote about that here), but that’s totally OK. It serves the Sanford community with outreach to the homeless and needy and runs Connect Groups where members meet and talk about the sermon and pray for one another. It also gives a significant portion of its budget to missions each year.

Turnerschapel.org_misc_image19512I have the privilege of helping out with the youth group, the same youth group that I grew up in and learned how to be a Christian in. It’s where I’m getting married next summer. It will always have a place in my heart. And as much as I might get frustrated by certain things, I can’t help but call it home. It’s where God has brought me, and I can’t complain about that.

Wycliffe Bible Translators | “Translating Scriptures in more than 70 countries” | wycliffe.org

Wycliffe is by no means the only Bible translation ministry, but it was the first one that came up when I searched “bible translation ministries” on Google. Other ministries include Biblica, The Seed Company and Elam Ministries. These ministries focus on translating the words of Scripture into other languages so that those who don’t have the Bible in their native tongue can get one and read it and grow and know Jesus. wycliffe-logo351

I’ve always been pumped about Bible translation. It started back when I was in high school and I learned about how the first Bible translators who tried to put it in English were martyred for trying, and how much of a blessing it is that we have the words of God in our language. So for me, the value of these ministries is really hard to measure. I love what they do.

XXX Church | Helping people with porn and sex addictions find healing | xxxchurch.com

XXX Church is a ministry focused on helping people battle addictions to pornography and other sexual sin through a number of areas. They’ve created a filtering software called X3 Watch that helps people who want to avoid porn. Their website has a blog that is updated daily with helpful tips. They have small groups called X3 Groups where small groups of people meet online weekly to discuss their addictions and seek freedom together.

UtaIcIm_I’ve given several times to their ministry and have written several times about how much I love what Craig Gross and his team do. The same people also run outreach ministries for porn stars and also provide guidance in areas of sex, marriage and family. They’re blunt, honest and real. I’m so thankful for their ministry. It’s one I would love to be involved with some day.

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What’s in a Name

“It is true that we care more about effectively proclaiming the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ than we do about having the word “Christ” in our name. The only name that matters is Jesus and what matters most is connecting people to the name that gives life.” – Campus Crusade for Christ website 

A lot of attention has been swirling around what is now called “Cru” since the Christian organization changed their name from Campus Crusade for Christ in late July. The quote above is the point of the controversy; the blatantly Christ-proclaiming group (the statement under their name reads “A caring community passionate about connecting people to Jesus Christ”) took the name of Christ out of their name and changed it to “Cru.”

Glenn Beck especially made a big deal out of it on his radio show. Check out the video here: http://www.glennbeck.com/2011/07/21/campus-crusade-for-christ-drops-chris-from-the-title/.

Former prime-time bloviator and conservative Glenn Beck

Despite the fact that his webmaster left the “t” out of “Christ” in the URL, Beck is completely out of line and flat out wrong in his statement. He completely ignores the reasoning from Cru and hones in on one falsehood he claims is truth: they’re no longer proclaiming Christ.

It’s a flat out shame that he and others are taking this at surface level and think that, for instance, Cru is no longer Christian, as some Facebook commenters said on the post Beck made on his Facebook page. What’s disappointing is that they ignored the reasoning from Cru.

I am friends with several Cru employees and students. I was skeptical when I heard it and texted a Cru staff member I knew very well. He pointed me towards the Q&A on ccci.org (you can find it here) and all my questions were answered.

This is in response to question 2: “Why is Christ no longer in the name?”

Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru) is unswervingly committed to proclaiming the name of Jesus Christ. We are committed to the centrality of the cross, the truth of the Word, the power of the Holy Spirit and the global scope of the Great Commission. We care more about effectively proclaiming the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ than we do about having the word “Christ” in our name.

Although the words Campus and Crusade served as hindrances, there was never any intentional decision to remove the word “Christ.” Yet as we considered hundreds of name possibilities, our experience confirmed that Cru would provide greater opportunity to connect men and women with the heart of Jesus, and to help them consider the good news of the gospel.

For those who may be concerned we have lost moorings, please rest assured that we are the same organization with over 6 billion exposures to the gospel through the JESUS film, and who on any given day counts up to a million exposures to the gospel via the internet and face-to-face contacts around the world.

As an organization, we exist for the sole purpose of helping individuals experience the transforming grace and forgiveness of the gospel through Jesus Christ.

Beck, like others, is ignoring the facts in his rant. And it frustrates me that I feel like I have to write this to clarify a position already clarified. People are getting frustrated with Christ being out. If we are getting mad at that, we should put the name “Christ” into every church’s name in America. How unreasonable is that? Paul didn’t call himself “Paul of Christ.” Peter didn’t call himself “Peter of Christ.”

By no means am I downplaying the name of Christ. I, like Cru, put His name before all other names where it should be.

James 1:22 and 2:8 say,

But be doers of the word, not, hearers only deceiving yourselves…if you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.

That latter verse is in a passage about not showing partiality. I believe that was one of the main points of changing the name; Cru was no longer just a college ministry and the name needed to reflect that. And it is assured that Cru are doers of the Word.

The quote I put at the beginning of this post is the best explanation I’ve seen. Sometimes we get too caught up in the semantics of things like names that we forget what the real question should have been, and that was answered without being asked: are you still committed to serving Christ and making His name famous?

The answer: yes. Our names will not be remembered in heaven. It won’t matter. We will only be known by whether or not we are Christians. It’s clear that Cru is Christian by reputation. Would you rather be known as a Christian by name or by action? DO people know us as a Christian by name or by action? Is our name written in the Book of Life, because if not, “he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15)?

Those are the questions we should all be asking ourselves.