Questions For The Next General Director

A new General Director of UBF is going to be elected this year. If I had the opportunity to interview candidates ahead of time, these are some of the questions that I would ask.

These are genuine questions for which I do not yet have answers. I hope that these do not sound like leading questions. A leading question is a question that presupposes what the correct answer should be. Of course, I do have some opinions of my own about how I would answer them. But I am willing to keep an open mind, and I am ready to hear the opinions of others and be swayed by them. I do not think that any of these questions has a single, correct answer, and I don’t expect everyone to agree with one another or with me. But I believe that the leaders of an organization like ours ought to be willing to consider and discuss hard questions like these. Or at least let us know where they stand.

1. On our official website, UBF is described as “a non-denominational, evangelistic campus organization.” But in most places, it has taken on the characteristics of a church. Members stay involved beyond their student years; they tithe; they do not attend other churches; they marry, have children, and bring their children to UBF; and so on. Yet campus ministry is at the front and center of our meetings, worship services, conferences, etc. to the extent that many members feel that, if they are not students or actively serving in campus ministry, UBF is not the right place for them. Is that the message that we should continue to send our members? Should that message be refined or modified in any way?

2. On a related theme: The sign above the main Chicago center says that UBF is “A Missionary Church.” It seems to me that this might be a reasonable way to describe who and what we are. But if so, what exactly does it mean? Does this mean that we are

a) a church planted by missionaries and run by missionaries?

b) a church that serves missionaries and their children?

c) a church in which many or most of the members are expected to become missionaries?

d) a church whose purpose is to train and send missionaries to other places?

If the answer is c), then is that a reasonable expectation? If the answer is d), then what is the relationship of the church to the community in which it sits? Does the church mainly draw resources (people, funds, etc.) out of the local community and use them for mission somewhere else? If so, will the attention of the church ever be focused on serving the local community, or will it always be looking elsewhere?

3. Consider a campus ministry started by Christians in their own country, and then consider a campus ministry started by missionaries in a foreign land. Should there be any significant differences between these two types of campus ministries? If so, what are the differences, and how should those differences be reflected in the qualifications and training expected of ministry leaders?

4. If missionaries plant a church in a foreign land, should the missionaries automatically become the leaders and managers of that church? If so, for how long?

5. If missionaries raise disciples in a foreign land whose culture is significantly different from their own, to what extent should the disciples be expected to adopt the lifestyle, attitudes, and values of the missionaries? For example, should they be expected to speak, dress and act as the missionaries do? Evangelize as they do? Marry as they do? Raise children as they do? Relate to the broader culture as they do? Attend meetings and events whose time, format and agenda are determined by the missionaries? Who should decide such issues, and how should they get decided?

6. If missionaries come to a nation, community, or campus that already has a Christian heritage and a significant number of Christian churches and organizations, what should the missionaries be doing? Should they be setting up their own independent ministries? If so, how should the leaders of existing churches and organizations feel about this? What is the benefit of having a ministry run by foreign missionaries operating independently of domestic churches rather than partnering with them?

7. Is it reasonable to expect that most or all of the committed members of a UBF chapter will be actively engaged in campus evangelism, fishing, Bible teaching, etc.? If so, then how can that be reconciled with the teachings of the New Testament about the variety of roles and spiritual gifts within the Body of Christ? If not, then what should our members be doing, and how will the value of their work be acknowledged?

8. UBF in Uganda has been operating a medical mission. Lately, some have been suggesting that UBF take new initiatives to build schools, training institutes, and so on. How does that work fit in to our understanding of the Great Commission? Are works of compassion to serve the local community something that we want to encourage because they have intrinsic value? Are they important only if they somehow contribute to our work of campus evangelism? Or are they seen as a potential distraction and hindrance to campus evangelism?

9. Most UBF chapters are financially self-supporting and autonomous; major decisions are often made by a single chapter director. How should a chapter director be held accountable to his members and to the larger organization? When conflicts arise between members and their director, how should those conflicts be resolved? When conflicts arise between local chapters, or between a local chapter and a national or regional director, how should those conflicts be resolved?

10. Does UBF have any accountability to the greater Body of Christ? If so, how should that accountability be implemented and realized?

11. What are the criteria by which the success of a ministry is judged? Are we mostly concerned about size and growth in numbers? What metrics should we use to evaluate the health of a UBF chapter?

12. What are we to conclude from the recent painful events in India? Were mistakes made? Are there lessons to be learned about leadership, conflict resolution, etc.?

13. Six years ago, we were given the prayer topic to double the ministry by 2010. With few exceptions, that has not happened in our North American chapters. Should this be regarded as a failure? If so, is it a failue of the leadership or the membership? Is it a sign that God is no longer blessing us? A sign that we need to rethink and retool? Or should we just ignore the fact and move on? (Memo to the next General Director: Ignoring this and moving on might be the easiest course of action. But it has a significant cost. It sends the message that the General Director’s prayer topics are just suggestions and don’t have to be taken seriously.)

14. As UBF approaches the 50 year mark, our attention has been turned to raising the next generation of leaders. Many have been talking about how to pass on the heritage, legacy and vision of UBF to the next generation. The term “pass on” suggests that the legacy is already fully understood, and the task is merely to educate, train and inspire the next generation with that legacy. Is it reasonable for one generation to decide what the direction and vision of the next generation ought to be? When, how and by whom should the direction of any given generation be decided?

15. UBF in Korea was not controlled, managed or funded by western missionaries. It was a self-supporting, independent and indigenous student gospel movement whose message and vision inspired Korean students. If we are to be faithful to the roots and heritage of UBF, shouldn’t we be making it our top priority to indigenize the UBF ministry in each nation, allowing the native leaders to find and develop the unique message that will inspire students? If so, what steps can be taken to move decisively in that direction?

16. If this is not the correct time, place or manner to raise difficult questions like these, then exactly when, where and how should they be raised?

Those are my questions for the next General Director. What are yours?


  1. Thanks, Joe, for these 16 thoughtful questions. I think they are quite pertinent, practical, relevant and important that they be answered, either in a public address, lecture or sermon, or perhaps in a letter, or on some official UBF website.

    I especially liked the questions regarding existing cultural differences between missionaries and indigenous people (Q3,5), entrusting indigenous leaders and the next generation with leadership and self governance (Q4,14,15), and conflict resolution (Q9,12).

    Conflict resolution might be the one single repeated collective negligence on our part, because our inability or failure to resolve conflicts has caused numerous divisions and separation due to countless damaging wounds inflicted by fellow brothers and sisters in UBF over the last several decades, most recently and painfully in India UBF.

    Rather than add to the questions, I have a general comment and a question: Though addressing or answering these questions would certainly help our church going forward, our leader(s) would perhaps regard the question(s) as an affront to their God ordained position of authority and leadership. It would likely not be welcomed, or simply dismissed, or disregarded. That would be quite unfortunate, for I and likely others would like the answers articulated.

    I’m sorry if the above assumption is incorrect; I based it on past experiences. Our leader(s), I believe are truly godly, God-fearing men. But perhaps because of long standing cultural conditioning in an honor based culture, it is implicit that the authority and decisions of the leader not be called into question. Thus, he should not have to answer questions from subordinates, or from a website.

    Nonetheless, might there be a way for these questions to be officially presented and prayerfully discussed, before dissemination to the rest of the UBF world?

    • Ben, thanks. I believe that you understand my intentions. But for the sake of others who might misunderstand, I would like to clarify.

      I  am not  demanding that the current General Director or  the next one respond specifically to  these questions or any other questions posed by any individual.

      But I  think it is essential  for such questions to be discussed, not just be top leaders, but by everyone, so that we have a greater sense of who we are and where we are headed. These are the questions that we ought to be searching to answer as we study the Bible together.

      In the case of a General Director, I think it would be wonderful if any candidate(s) for the position would make a general statement about their vision for the ministry, their concerns and priorities, etc.   Given that I am  supposed to vote  for the next GD in June (see my other comment below), it seems appropriate that those who are expected to vote on something or someone be given basic information about what and whom they are voting for. Over the years, I have been a member of various professional societies and have been eligible to vote for the officers. Before the elections, the candidates are listed in a newsletter along with biosketches and personal statements about what they believe and what they intend to do. I don’t want to see people vying for power and engaging in backroom politics to get themselves elected. In a church, that would be very distasteful. But do I want to see God’s people, all of us, prayerfully seeking his will and his wisdom. That becomes difficult or impossible when there is an information vacuum.

  2. Joe, you’ve presented a really good set of questions. Most of those questions have been on my mind as well.
    Ben, I have a lot of admiration and respect for our leaders as well. However, they need to get their cultural conditioning OUT OF THE WAY.  I feel that to do God’s work, we need to put aside EVERYTHING.
    From my observation of others, and of myself, I’ve come to realize that our social conditioning (especially for Koreans) doesn’t fit well with today’s (2011!!) western generation (gen Y). I feel that the Korean social conditioning of the older folks at UBF does not allow the Christian community to reach its full potential. Which is REALLY a shame because I personally know how much missionaries have sacrificed to live their lives in a foreign country.
    We (Koreans) grew up in a culture with a very vertical authority structure. What I mean is; the top leaders had a lot of power, and newer people had to “work their way up” to get respect, honor, etc.
    This manifests into a lot of pride for the top guys, subtle self-righteous behavior, the “don’t question my authority” vibe, all this useless gunk..
    Does anybody else think its WEIRD we’re talking about “HONOR” and “SUBORDINATES” in a CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY?!?! COME ON!!!!
    What we have to understand is that times have changed; vertical authority structures are being replaced by horizontal ones where individuals collaborate to help one another and have more equality and freedom of expression (like this blog). That’s why in the Western world, its hard for students (accustomed to horizontal authority structure) to fix their social conditioning to match ones structured by UBF which has a steep vertical authority structure implemented by missionaries.
    I’m not saying it’s the missionaries’ fault. NOBODY’S TO BLAME. It’s just how they grew up. What needs to happen now, is for people to realize this, and start to change. To let go of cultural belief systems, hierarchies, and other social conditioning that don’t help us to serve God.
    *By the way, I was generalizing A LOT to get my point across. Hope nobody gets offended.

  3. I like question #7. I’ve had an issue about this for quiet a while and I would really like to see this question addressed.   Also, and this is slightly off topic, who gets to vote for the new General Director?

    • Oscar,  your  question  is not off topic at all.

      It is surprising to me how little the members and even the chapter directors know about how this organization is run.

      The General Director of UBF is elected by a large  group (60 or so members) called the International Advisory Committee, and it  is composed of UBF leaders from around the world. (I am one of the members of that committee.) The committee will meet in Korea at the beginning of June following the 50th anniversary celebration, and the vote will be taken at that meeting.

      For the process to go smoothly, candidates for the GD position will have to be identified and vetted well in advance. Dr. John Jun has appointed a small  working group  that is supposed to identify one or more suitable candidates by early this year, perhaps by this month. I am not part of that working group. But there are at least a couple of leaders from the United States  on it. I believe that Jim Rabchuk is serving on this group.

      Now  please allow me to complain. I believe that the following  rant is justified.

      <begin rant>

      Last year, I was speaking to some chapter directors from the USA and Canada, and I mentioned the fact that a new General Director was to be elected in 2011. (To be precise, a new GD was supposed to be elected a couple of years ago, but at that time there was no obvious person to succeed Dr John Jun, and  he agreed to stay on as General Director until June 2011.) When I mentioned that a new GD was to be selected in 2011,  these chapter directors said, “Really? We didn’t know that.” To me, that was truly shocking. These  chapter directors  who have  loyally served in UBF for decades, supporting the ministry with their hard earned money, with huge amounts of time, with the sacrifice of their very lives, had no clue that a new GD was to be elected, and they had no idea how it happens. No one bothered to tell them. No one thought it was  worthwhile to let them know, even though the next GD will be managing the ministry, making big decisions, setting direction, etc. in ways that will deeply affect all of them. This is not right.

      If people are  continually sending tithes and offerings and laying down their lives to serve in this ministry,  shouldn’t they  be told what is going on? Should it be left up to them to approach the top leaders and  find out  how the decisions that determine their future are being made? Of course not.  The onus  must be  on the leaders of  an organization to  provide accurate, essential information to  its members. This  information  should flow in ways that are professional and respectable, not through back channels of private conversation, rumor and gossip. Over the years,  UBF members have  given their leaders a huge amount of trust. They have done what leaders asked them to do. They have served the organization loyally and honorably. When leaders announce that a conference will be held at such and such a place and time, the members show up, paying for it out of their own pockets. Why don’t the leaders trust or respect the members enough to give them such basic and essential information? At the very least, members  ought to  be told such things so that they can pray and ask God’s blessing on the leaders and the organization.

      About  a year ago,  I  made a suggestion  to Dr Jun Jun and the North American senior staff. I asked them to write an short, simple  open letter to UBF members informing them that some major decisions were to be made in the year ahead — notably, the selection of a new General Director — and to ask for their support and prayers. I even offered to help draft the letter. No one responded. When I pressed the matter, one person told to mind my own business. A couple of leaders were sympathetic and  agreed that an open letter was a good idea, but that’s as far as it went. Now it’s a year later, and still nothing has happened. No letter, no announcement of any kind on, nothing. Just silence.

      This is not rocket science, folks. All I am asking is for UBF to show  enough respect for its members to provide them with simple,  basic information about how their church is run.  Is that too hard? Is that too dangerous?

      </end rant>

    • Birgit (Heidelberg)

      Dr. John Jun himself announced at European Director’s Conference that he will recede this year and asked us to pray for an appropriate successor.
      It was no problem for me not to have known it before. I just trust in God that he will provide a GD of his choice. I’m afraid that to make public such informations too early would cause “political” discussions and ambitions. Maybe it’s better, that at first it remains in an “inner circle” of godly persons who first pray and expect the appropriate time to go to the public.

  4. Joe, I agree with your comments. Perhaps the reason we(you) didn’t get any response, is because our organization seems to lack the infrastructure to deal with these issues – especially since for nearly 50 years they were never addressed.

  5. Joe, these are some very good questions. i noticed that a number of these questions aim at our ecclesiological understanding of UBF.

    Not too long ago, i had the joy of speaking on Acts 11, the rise of the first Gentile church in Antioch. When i studied this passage, i noticed that if you look at the church anatomy of Antioch, it seems to be a reflection of Ephesians 4:11, where Paul talks about apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers in the church. These are distinctive roles and functions in the church and you can find all of them in Antioch. The persecuted Christians from Cyprus and Cyrene who crossed the culture to preach the gospel to Greeks in Antioch were evangelists. They received apostolic approval from Jerusalem. Barnabas, who was a man of comfort and encouragement seemed to have functioned as a pastor. Paul was a powerful, thorough, seasoned teacher. And this church was frequented by prophets, such as Agabus. In my perspective, the reason why the church of Antioch was able to bless the Gentile world in the decades to come, was because the Antioch church was a well founded, well sustained, well nourished, well pastored church.

    I agree with you that UBF clearly functions as a church. We are not just a missionary movement. Our self-description as “non-denominational, evangelistic campus organization” is misleading because, to the best of my knowledge, we don’t have any affiliation with university campuses, and as a church we are more than an organization.

    My question would therefore be: what is our understanding of church functions, especially with regard to passages like Ephesians 4:12? How do we make distinctions between evangelists, prophets, teachers, pastors and apostles? Are these roles still relevant for the church today? Why or why not?

    Another question: the bible clearly states that not everyone is called to be a teacher. But we pride in ourselves to be a ministry of bible teachers. How do we therefore deal with passages that clearly teaches that not everyone is supposed to be a teacher, such as James 3:1? How do we define a teacher?


    • Henoch, you hit the nail on the head. To gain understanding about these and other questions, we ought to go back to the Bible. I believe that the Bible can provide the best answers, but we need to be willing to approach it with sincere and open minds, not with the attitude that we already know what it says and are just looking for material to reinforce our current understanding.

      Here is a quote that I really like. The quote is from Robert Traina, who  mentored Sarah Barry at Biblical Seminary in New York. He wrote:

      “… the Scriptures are really authoritative only if they are used as the basis for formulating one’s beliefs, and not if they are are merely employed to support one’s dogmatic positions.”

      (from Traina’s book Methodological Bible Study, p. 169.)

      Over the years, I have seen a tendency for our Bible study to grow dogmatic. That is, we have been going  to the Bible to receive comfort, strength and support for what we  have been  doing, assuming that our focus mission and methods are already divinely approved, because the founders of UBF were inspired by the Bible to begin this ministry. That’s ok, but we need to do more.  There  are many questions that the founders of UBF did not ask, questions like the ones I posted in this article. As those questions come up now, we absolutely need to go back to the Bible and learn more, so that we can get greater understanding and refine our mission. God expects nothing less.

      Henoch, I am glad that you are studying Acts, because I think the basics of missiology and ecclesiology — two areas where our ministry is crying out for deeper understanding — are developed in Acts. Over the years, UBF members have studied Acts many times. But as I review the Acts Bible study material that we have produced, I sense that we have not even begun to scratch the surface of that wonderful book. I don’t think we have allowed God’s word from Acts to challenge our deeply held assumptions about the nature and mission of the church,  the role of the Holy Spirit, issues of church leadership and governance, dealing with intercultural issues, contextualizing the gospel, etc. The bottom line of our Acts study thus far has been an exhortation to go and preach the gospel to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). That is indeed an important point,  a point  that many churches have forgotten, and a point that has been the hallmark of UBF from the very beginning. But if we go back to Acts just to draw out that same point again and again, a point that we already have learned and accepted pretty well, and don’t ask the  tougher questions to which we do not yet know the answers, our Bible study loses its power  because we are no longer allowing it to be fully authoritative  in our personal lives or ministry.

  6. Yongha Lee

    Joe, do you know you’ve just touched something we’re not supposed to touch? I appreciate your boldness and truthfulness. Now that we’re an established organization (a legal entity), I am sure we have By-Laws by which we should be operated including elections and terms of GD as well as various committees. I am interested in what the By-Laws says about such procedures.

    • Yongha, you’re first sentence implies something that makes me uncomfortable. Are we not supposed to talk about such things? Were you saying that sarcastically? Speaking of bylaws, where can one see what the by-laws are?

    • Yes, Yongha, we have By-Laws which are a legally binding  document. The By-Laws  are not secret. They  are  publicly available upon request, by law, as required of any 501 (c)(3) nonprofit corporation. The procedures that UBF is following to elect the next General Director are fully legal and appropriate. And it is fully appropriate for those who support the ministry with tithes, offerings, prayer and participation to know what the procedures are. Not to particpate directly in the procedures, but to simply know what they are. The fact that so many of us seem to think that the process is secretive and off-limits for discussion is troubling.

      By the way, I do have a copy of the By-Laws. They are rather boring to read.

      Just to clarify: I do not think that the By-Laws or procedures being followed to elect a GD are wrong. I think the procedure is fine. But the description of the procedure should not be a secret. Indeed, by law, it cannot be secret.

      Regarding Yongha’s statement about “legal entity”: Yes, we are a legal entity, and that is nothing new. We have had legal status in the United States as a church for well over 30 years now.

  7. Oh yes Henoch, I think your last question is the key to solving ALOT of the other questions. When UBF has a clearer understanding of who should teach the Bible and who should be a leader according to 1Timothy and Titus, along with one’s own spiritual gifting, many things will change for the better. I think one of the main issues at UBF is the fact that everyone is forced into doing something  (ie bible teaching)  that they may not be able/gifted/qualified to do.
    So even though this is not really a question for the next director, more like a suggestion, I suggest that the entire structure of UBF bible teaching be changed in these (maybe more) ways: 1)  encourage only those who are qualified  as teachers to teach the bible (this includes doctrinal orthodoxy, personal holiness, proven ability etc).  2) develop a training curriculum to train bible teachers how to teach the bible. 3) Abolish absolute autonomy in 1to1’s, in other words, have accountability in Bible studies by requiring teachers either to all teach the same book at the same time, and or report to the overall leader about what they are teaching and studying. 4) appoint an overall 1to1 director that only oversees biblestudies. 5)  promote  other formats of bible study including small groups and lectures (I know that small groups happen from time to time with some teachers, but I also know that they are looked at by many as an inferior form of bible study). Just a few suggestions!

    • David, these are excellent suggestions!

      well, again… striking the fine balance is key, i guess. Because, some people are meant to be teachers but they don’t want to for various reasons. And so they need encouragement and challenge or a wake-up call etc. How do we get these people to become active? What UBF successfully avoided is becoming a church where 90% of the church attendants are rather passive and consumers. i think that this is great. But then in turn, we went too far by actively challenging people to do everything in church (such as teaching), even though it clearly does not correspond to their gifts and talents and to their calling.  And i have seen people suffering in UBF from bad bible teachers.

      i believe that NOT everyone should be a bible teacher because the bible says so. But everybody should be a witness of Christ. Every redeemed, born-again, Jesus-loving Christian has a testimony to give and a story to tell and they should pursue that with wisdom and courage. But not everybody should instruct, teach and educate people in the church.

  8. Hi All,

    My opinion regarding why we have a dearth of information regarding the new GD is also because we have been culturally conditioned, and this is deeply entrenched in one’s psyche, experience and unbringing in UBF,  I believe.

    I have observed that the most highly treasured and  sensitive issue/area in UBF is one’s position, tenure, ranking, authority, seniority, all of which touches on one’s strong sense of honor, which then becomes our core identity as to who we are. After being in UBF for 30 years, I know that this is true for myself, and I have been dying to myself the last few years (often unsuccessfully) to get out of this sentiment, because I know in   my head that my core identity should be in Christ, and not in my position or lack of position in UBF.

    Because of this strong sense of honor, the members of UBF should “just trust” the leaders of UBF as our expression of trusting God. This is true to a degree, but the cross has a vertical limb (God)  and a horizontal limb (church). We must trust God vertically, but we must also learn how to communicate trust both ways horizontally in the church, not only between members toward leaders, but also leaders toward members. This is so crucial because when trust is lacking, any friendship or relationship WILL WEAKEN.

    Regarding our by-laws, the GD or any UBF leader should be officially voted in  by the members. But some on the inside already have decided and already know who the GD is, and the voting process is just formality and  decoration and procedure and protocol, sorry to say. This sounds quite bad, but no church is perfect. But giving more information, such as praying about our new GD, who will affect all of us in UBF, is surely important, don’t you think so?

    • And to clarify what Ben (not Christy) has just said. The “members” who have voting rights in UBF are not the rank-and-file members who attend worship service, offer tithes, lead fellowships, and so on. The “members” are the members of the corporation who have been given the right to vote. I don’t think that  this is  wrong.  It is a perfectly legitimate way to run a church. There are different systems for church governance. Our system isn’t perfect, but no one is. There are pluses and minuses no matter how you do it. My ranting and complaining is not about the system, but about the shroud of secrecy that hides it from view. The secrecy makes it appear that UBF has something to hide. We don’t have anything to hide. So why are we hiding?

      Personally, I do not see the actual vote as mere decoration or protocol. The vote is very real. No one will be pressuring me to vote in any particular way. If I do travel to Korea and vote, I want my vote to be a wholehearted affirmation, prayer and blessing upon the next GD. If I don’t know anything concrete about where the candidate(s) stand on the nature and future direction of UBF, then casting that vote will be very difficult, and my conscience might require me to abstain. I hope that will not be the case.

      For logistical, cultural and historical reasons, it is not really possible for us to have a wide open public process to elect a GD this time around. That’s the reality, and I accept it. But the need to be moving in the direction of greater openness and transparency is acutely felt.

      One more clarification, if I may. I am not a voting member of UBF itself. I am a member of a body that has been empowered by UBF members to elect the GD. That might seem hard to understand, but I think it is a perfectly legitimate and appropriate way to proceed at this stage in UBF’s history and development.

  9. Sorry, the last post was by Ben Toh, not Christy Toh. She last posted her comment and her name was there and I didn’t see it until after  I clicked “Submit Comment.” She will be furious with me if she finds out that  I posted something with her name. This comment is just preventative for the sake of peace at home.  :-)

  10. I have a question for the next General Director of UBF: Will you be posting regularly on this blog? If not, why not?

  11. Very important questions, Joe.
    To provide some perspective on the process of electing a spiritual leader, I was reading up on how the Catholic Church elects a pope:
    Observations that struck me as being somewhat similar or perhaps relevant in the UBF case: 1) the high level of secrecy 2) a council of spiritual leaders (cardinals) that vote for the Pope 3) the current Pope determined the rules on how to select his successor (at least in the case of John Paul II and his successor, Pope Benedict) 4) when the pope was selected, the spiritual leaders (cardinals) pledged obedience to the newly elected pope
    Observations 1) and 2) strike me as similar characteristics with what seems to be the general process in UBF’s GD selection. Observation 3) seems to be the defacto, implicit process that may be occurring currently in UBF’s GD selection which I think Joe is arguing should be made more explicit and out in the open for the benefit of the rest of the UBF community. However, I find observation 4) interesting on various levels, but primarily it did make stop and wonder about my underlying heart attitude toward all of this.
    What will be state of my heart attitude when the decision for the next UBF GD has been finalized?
    Frankly, all the questions Joe raises, I’ve agonized over and over for many years throughout my time in UBF. As an American, I personally think they are very important questions that desperately need to be discussed out in the open–at least to provide some relief from hidden fears, concerns, and struggles one might have related to these questions. As a Korean, I can perhaps emotionally grasp but not quite fully appreciate why these questions feel very sensitive, almost too offensive to fling out in the open, as if the questions are meant to stir up tension and disturb community harmony and cohesion. Clearly, this is NOT the intention of the post.   But Yongha’s initial post seems to imply that, so I feel compelled to mention it, though I may be wrong about this impression.
    So I’m going to give the benefit of the doubt and assert that if many of us here have already thought of these questions at some point, then surely the next GD, or candidates for the next GD position have also thought of these questions in some form already and perhaps decided on some answers to them.
    The real question to me, is what will I do if the answers I receive from the next GD are not the answers I was hoping to hear, or the answers I might find hard to accept personally for whatever reason? What will be the implications for my own spiritual life? How will they affect my commitment to my ministry and calling? How will they affect my family and my relationships with others in the UBF community? What should my response be in all this?   I sort of wonder if these sorts of questions are really the underlying, unspoken questions that partly fuel this discussion on a deeper emotional level – at least for some. Perhaps just for me. Maybe that is why Joe wisely attempted to leave this at a somewhat rational level with his questions above, rather the kinds of personal, emotionally-laden questions I am asking.
    Anyway, allow me to share a hymn-prayer that I’ve recently discovered that seems appropriate for times like this important period of transition. (The words “me” in this hymn can easily be replaced by the word “UBF:”)
    Jesus, Savior pilot me, Over life’s tempestuous sea;
    Unknown waves before me roll, Hiding rocks and treach-rous shoal;
    As a mother stills her child, Thou canst hush the ocean wild;
    Wondrous Sov’reign of the sea, Jesus, Savior, pilot me;
    When at least I near the shore, and the fearful breakers road;
    May I hear Thee say to me, ‘Fear not–I will pilot thee!’

    Jesus, Savior, pilot UBF and pilot me…

    • John, you are a generous man. Thank you for giving me the benefit of the doubt and believing that my intentions are good. It is all too easy for people to think that these questions are dishonest, motivated by interpersonal conflicts, desire for attention and power, personal troubles and disappointment in my life, etc. Because you truly know me as a friend, you understand where I am coming from.

      And thank you for also giving the same benefit of the doubt to UBF leaders. You have assumed that many of  our leaders have  thought about these questions. Perhaps they have. But I have not seen much evidence of it yet. We  have not made  time to discuss these things at leaders’ meetings or retreats, either at the regional or national level. Our attention is  still so heavily  focused on planning the  next event,  discussing the next initiative, etc. that we do not take even a few moments to pause, reflect, pray and discuss what we are doing at  the most basic level. The few times that we have done this, it has not resulted in anything concrete. There are times when we must move forward, and there are times when we must stop and  struggle to see  the forest through the trees. We UBFers have made ourselves so  busy. It’s hard for  us to get together and discuss such things.  When I started this  website last year, I hoped that it would become a place where all kinds of people in UBF, no matter what their rank or title is, could share ideas in an nformal,  friendly, low-pressure way so that over time we can better understand who we are and grow in unity even if we do not always agree. I believe that quite a few leaders have visited this website. But with only a  few exceptions, they have chosen not to join in any of the discussions. It is personally frustrating. I know it will take time, patience and prayer. I am committed to doing this for the long haul. God willing, in due time, we may sit down and reason together in the presence of the Spirit and the Word.

      There’s one thing that I admire about how the Catholics elect the Pope. The cardinals come together and lock themselves in a building to pray, worship, argue, vote, eat, laugh, cry, pray, worship, argue, vote, and so on until they are confident that God has led them. After that process, they can pledge loyalty even to someone with whom they might sometimes disagree, because they have formed bonds of love and trust in the koinonia of the Spirit.

    • Joshua Yoon

      Joe,  Thanks a lot for your diligence in putting many important discussion topics. I also noticed that  few leaders (seniors or directors) joined the discussion. I kind of understand at least partially why they don’t put their thoughts here. This kind of discussion and trying to be HOT among us (I like Ben Toh’s term) is a kind of new culture in UBF ministry. Many of us, especially Korean missionaries are not accustomed to this kind of free and open discussion. However, I am encouraged to see the number of visitors. Some topics were viewed by more than 1000 visitors. More and more people are coming to this website and read the   writings.  At the USA/Canada staff conference someone will  present UBFriends in coworking and networking workshop. So there will be a chance for more  staff to hear about it and talk about it. I guess more people will visit and  share their thoughts  in the future. So please keep your good work with patience. The Lord who knows the desire of your heart will surely bring about much good fruit. He has already done many good works. You may have   happy agony  of getting too many writings someday.

  12. Joe has put up a  topic which has practical concern for all the members of ubf international. People like me would be difficult to give any suggestion on many of the important questions he has raised.  But here I just want to share a few thought of my opinion based in my past experiences.
    The question 7,  Should all ubf members expected to be the missionarie? In my opinion, this may not be possible  in the long run. Yes, initially it may be, but not at present  and in the future.  If we look at the history of church, many of them started like ubf called it  ‘sect, based on the conviction of one man. But in course of time it grew up to be large group and converted into a churh. Now in this grown up church with members of million, it would be too much to expect that all should be missionaries in the sense  unf think-fishing in the campus, teaching Bible, writing testimony etc etc. These are good things but may not be practical to many -specially old and bold headed man like me, right?   So I believe such idea that ‘all should be missionaries and those who do not accept it should be  branded as  rebel’  be abandoned.
    As Joe has rightly pointed out, if we accept the proposition that all should be missionaries, then it would clash with the different role Paul wrote in Cor. Therefore, my  suggest woulb be  ‘UBF must do with all our best to keep the  spirit of first love to God burning in any situation and at the same time allow different person to play different role for fulfilling our objective to reach out to campus students all over the world’. The role could be-financial contribution, leading in music, helping to build church or houses , teaching Bible or preaching or anything as per individual’s talent.
    Let me be honest, lay man like me who is weak to  understand the whole Bible despite repeated  studies,  will not be possible to run a church. To run a church one needs alot of kowledge in theological understanding, doctrinal and other  associated accleciastical matters.  Having knowledge on  four gospel does not  qualify one to adminster  a church.-the most complex and difficult instituiton.  To a shepherd as ubf is doing is, in a sesne, taking full  responsibility over a  man’s life. Unless one is  thoroughly  equiped with spiritual knowledge,  it will only spoil others.  Thus,  all ubf members should not  be expected to be missinaories but must participate in the mission  in different ways according to God’s gift. And for the  person who would take the lead in frontline like country’s director or chapters director, must  be equiped with  all the neccesary spieiutal knowledge  to run or administer the  church.  

    Regarding the matter of participation of other members in the  affairs of the minstry,  I  struggled in this matter for so long before I left.  Despite having serve for two decades, I was  never been taken into confidence in any important matter. The time I am being consulted was  when my sheep has problem with the minstry.  This made me feel  alienated  from the mainstream ministry consequent to sense of uselessness in the ministry.  

    Therefore,  UBF international must form a board of directors consisting of the most senior person from the native shepherds and have proper annual business session  or discussion session and take decision on the important matters. Otherwise, the minstry will remain a few leader centred and never grow up.  


  13. Dear brother Yaruingam,

    Thank you for writing this. I hope and pray that  people will take the time to read your words carefully and consider what you are saying. You wrote in such a reasonable way, overcoming the temptation to be angry and bitter. It pains me to hear that, even after serving two decades in this ministry, you felt that you were never taken into confidence or consulted on any important matter. Perhaps missionaries thought that you were not mature enough. To parents, children may forever  appear to be  children, even when they are in their 30’s, 40’s, or 50’s and have bald heads. But Jesus called his disciples friends and fully entrusted his earthly ministry to them after they followed him for only 3 years.  In reality, Jesus was entrusting  his ministry  to the Holy Spirit who was working through the disciples. The Apostle Paul did something similar. After he planted a church, he very quickly appointed local leaders and entrusted it to them and to the Holy Spirit. In Paul’s absence, the local churches struggled with many problems, as we see in the epistles such as 1 Corinthians. Paul watched them, prayed for them, and occasionally taught them, but from a distance. This is what allowed the young churches  to learn  from their mistakes and become mature under God’s training.

    Your description of a UBF shepherd is  a pastor  who tries to take full responsibility for the lives of others, directing them, teaching them, watching over them, etc. That is too overwhelming for anyone no matter how much training, education and Bible knowledge he has.  The most important  part of being a leader is to acknowledge one’s limitations, depend on God, trust the disciples, and believe that the Spirit of the sovereign God is real and working. If we maintain the false idea that a leader should be such a holy, spiritual, disciplined, educated, wise, knowledgable, loving, powerful, perfect, fruitful  shepherd  who gives everything and does everything for the sheep, then no disciple will ever  seem good enough to become a leader even after two, three or four decades of faithful service. Then the  only one who can  emerge as  a leader is the one who hides his weaknesses and pretends to be a man of steel, speaking with false confidence and acting like he knows things that he does not. Not even Jesus acted like that. Jesus revealed his full humanity and weakness. Paul preached the gospel with fear, trembling, humility and weakness. We cannot imititate Jesus in his divinity; we can only imitate his humanity. Then the Spirit of God  can work, even in the midst of our weakness.

    It is very helpful for us to review what the Bible — especially the New Testament — actually teaches about the nature of the church, about qualifications for leadership, about diversity of gifts, and so on. If we do not allow the Bible to continually challenge our preconceived ideas about such things, then we have lost the authoritative-ness of Scripture.

    • Jen Espinola

      In my daily reading yesterday, I came across a passage in Exodus where Moses’ father-in-law Jethro gave Moses good counsel on how to shepherd the Israelites.  Seeing that Moses was wearing himself out from mediating the Israelites, he proposed that Moses select God-fearing honest men as leaders over groups of 1000, 100, 50 and 10.  Moses would still continue to be the people’s representatives, but the godly men chosen would help in the daily affairs of the people.  These leaders whom Moses chose were not perfect men.  They were probably of the same generation of Israelites who failed to enter the Promised Land b/c of their fear.  But still, I think Moses set a good example for us in humility and leadership.  Leaders should be able to relinquish any sense of control and ownership of the flock to God, who will in time raise more reliable men.

  14. Hi All, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading everyone’s comments. Most think that the questions for the new GD are good, but… To try to nail everything down to 1 simple thing is hard if not impossible, but let me try.

    Our God is trinitarian. Among the 3 divine Persons, there is complete honesty, openness and transparency (HOT). We are created in the image of the Trinity to also be HOT with each other (though we can never do so perfectly), especially in the church and among friends. So, when we are not HOT, it communicates a cloud of secrecy and clandestineness that weakens relationships. When we are not HOT, it is inevitable that problems and issues begin to surface, as they have.

    With UBF celebrating her 50th year, and with the advent of a new GD, are we HOT with each other? Based on Yaruingam’s very unfortunate comments after 2 decades in India UBF, is it possible or even reasonable to expect our dear Korean missionary “pioneers”/”ancestors” to be HOT with younger indigenous people?

  15. Hi Joe, thanks for your timely posting. It is no surprise that this posting is generating such useful comments from UBF friends everywhere. Thanks everyone for your beautiful comments! I want to say the same thing with many others, many of the questions you raised are the same I have in my mind for the last 10 years or so.
    I would like to answer questions 1,2, and 4 together. mainly focusing on 4. “If missionaries plant a church in a foreign land, should the missionaries automatically become the leaders and managers of that church? If so, how long?” Let me answer this question in two parts: 1. The answer to the first part of the question is “no.” First, from a legal point of view, missionaries cannot become the owners of the ministry automatically because they are foreigners. Missionaries need local people’s help in order to do God’s ministry. Together, we can advance God’s kingdom much more effectively than by missionaries alone in a foreign land. Moreover, to disregard native leadership in the ministry would be an arrogant pride on the part of the missionaries. Unfortunately, evangelical Christian mission history witnessed to this fact throughout. 2. In the second part, for practical purposes, let’s suppose the answer is 3 years. In recent years there is a principle of mission practice among Mexican missionaries in Iraq. After 3 years in Iraq, one fine morning, missionaries announced that they were leaving the mission field. Obviously the natives were shocked and asked them to stay saying that they were too young to leave to themselves. “You came to us and taught us, but now you are leaving, who will help us to grow?” One missionary pointed his finger at the  native convert and looked toward heaven and said “Adieu” and left. These missionaries trusted that God who began a good work among the natives will continue to carry it on to the end. They understood that it is God who grows disciples, not them. They also understood that human needs are endless, and the missionaries cannot meet all their needs in this life. God can do better. Jesus, the son of God thought the same way when he left the young Peter and others for themselves.
    My personal opinion is in an exceptional situation, that missionaries can hang on up to 5 years. More than five years would be too long. The same 5 years limit can be applied to the term limit for the GD in UBF in the future. There is a good reason for it. We humans get bored quickly. We need new impetus and ideas and incentives. We cannot keep doing the same thing we have been doing for the last 50 years. Furthermore, staying in the leadership position for more than necessary leads to personal entitlement.

  16. Thanks, PAL. I agree with your answer because I think  it has support from the Bible.  Recently, I posted Paul’s Indigenization Policy from Acts 14:22,23, based on John Stott’s excellent commentary on Acts. Briefly, it is:

    Bible Study – Apostolic instruction (Acts 14:22).
    Entrusting Indigenous Leaders – Pastoral oversight (Acts 14:23).
    Trusting God (by leaving)  – Divine faithfulness (Acts 14:23), when the missionaries (Paul and Barnabas)  left the indigenous leaders to govern themselves and evangelize their own people, which would be E1 evangelism according to Joe’s recent post based on Peter Wagner’s book, The Acts of the Holy Spirit.

    Acts does not say how long the missionary should stay at his mission field before leaving. But for Paul it was only a few years at most before he left. Perhaps we could seriously pray about this going forward, as we pray for our future UBF missionaries to reach the ends of the earth.

  17. Joe, thank you for raising the questions in this post and others on this website.  Having an open discussion like this is very valuable, and long overdue.  Your efforts to improve communication in UBF also give me new hope for this organization.

  18. Hello everybody =)
    Reading the article and all these thoughtful comments made me feel quite strange…
    On one hand I was glad to see difficult questions like these discussed and the opinions of many people shared with each other. It made me think about them for myself and I do think everybody – not only the GD or the leaders – should try to find answers through intensive prayer and biblestudy, the help of the Holy Spirit and the help of other Christians. Questions like these are inevitably going to annoy or affront some people but that doesn’t mean one shouldn’t rise them at all.
    On the other hand I couldn’t get rid of the following thoughts while reading: What might people think about it who disagree and why? Aren’t we tending to judge them indirectly by strongly expressing our own agreement and supporting – even lauding the comments of others? We do expect more openness and confidence from our leaders and generally from other people. But sometimes I get the feeling discussing such important questions and themes on this site instead of e.g. on has got a flair of secrecy itself…
    I think David L’s question is therefore very important to deeply think about: ‘Will the next GD be posting regularly on this blog? If not, why not?’ And to add: What could we change or improve so that more people from the leadership for example post something? What can we do to create a more multisided discussion?
    Hope I’m not offending or judging anybody else with this comment now…

    • I don’t think it’s secrecy to post here and not on I went to the site and I didn’t see anywhere to post/comment anyway.   We also leave our names, so if anyone had a problem/comment they can leave us a reply.   As for judging, I don’t know if we are judging. I think of it as just airing out our thoughts. If we find people we agree with, cool, if we find people we don’t agree with, that’s fine too. The idea is to exchange ideas and thoughts openly and without fear. As Joe had mentioned in his Article “At the Wall, Part 3” (or something like that) he gave a report which was honest in what he really thought, and some people wondered what was up with him.   I’m very grateful for this website and the opportunity it gives us. I feel like it gives me a voice.

    • Yeah, I see…
      Maybe “secrecy” is just the wrong word here.

      I’d like the idea of organizing special (‘live’) meetings where not only people from the ‘leadership’ but also other people could  exchange suggestions with each other –  how to improve UBF (activities) or remove problems and gaps… something like that, kind of conference…

      Well, as it’s difficult to do on an international basis, we could collect propositions in the single ministries all over the world, collect  them again, discuss them  and try to transact the most important and most urgent of them. How do you think about it? Could this be  worth  a try?

    • Sua, in principle your idea is a good one. It’s not so different from what we hoped (and still hope) that UBFriends would become: a place where people could freely discuss things. By having this website operate independently of, we hoped that people in positions of leadership could even participate and give honest personal opinions without it being seen as official positions or decisions of the ubf organization. But that hasn’t happened yet.

      Before ubf leaders engage in open, free discussion with members of the ministry, they will have to start doing that among themselves, and even that has proved challenging, for reasons that I mentioned above in my previous comment. Some of our leaders think that open communication already exists. Some have cited, the official announcements and news items that appear there, as a kind of open communication. Others have cited the fact that, over the past several years, there have been panel discussions at  some of our conferences and events. Those are better than nothing, but in my opinion they fall far short of the kind of open, honest communication that we will need to achieve spiritual  unity and shared sense of purpose.

  19. Sharon Schafer

    Sua,I for one am not offended by your honest comment.   My struggle is the same.   My desire is for real conversation.   I believe that this is the genuine desire of everyone on this website.   But it does not come easily.   It is risky.   It is often shocking to the core.   Our God-given emotions aren’t easily acknowledged and understood.      Some may say it is better to push them down, to keep them under control.   But I think we do so at our peril. (for a very good discussion of this see  The Cry of the Soul, by Dan Allender)   How can we have an honest relationship with God or with others if we never listen carefully to our own hearts and to each other. So I think it is better to try to communicate, even though it is so hard and we do so imperfectly.  We have to trust each other, to try not to stereotype each other, and to allow others to broaden our own reality.   The shock we bring to each other may be God’s gift.   I like this quote from Bernard Adeney’s book Strange Virtues  ….”Real conversation is a treasure that seems all too rare these days.   When such opening of the heart occurs between people from radically different cultures, it is a miracle of grace.   This may be one of the highest aims for which we were created.   Each person, and each culture, has a unique secret.   Each is capable of knowing something of God which no one else knows.   In the meeting of strangers we have opportunity to share that treasure with each other.”     I hope that such communication is possible.   I too am asking how to achieve it.   I hope and pray for this daily.

    • Reply #3

      Thank you for the clarification! I was confused how to consider UBFriends. Your explanation about the “communication”/true conversation is insightful. But still, I concur more with Sua and Birgit (Heidelberg) than the mainstream UBFriends idea about openness of these topics.   Most definitely, time will tell.

  20. Joe,
    You mentioned that you get to vote in June.  Is there a ballot of names, or do you write it in?  I hope you’re on the ballot.

    • Surely you jest. With my horrible organizational and management skills, I would be an  unmitigated disaster. My God-given role is to hang around and stir up the pot.

    • BTW – When John Jun was formally elected to succeed Sarah Barry, he was the only candidate being considered, and he was approved by a show of hands. I do not know the mechanics of how it will happen this time around. It seems unlikely that we will go into the meeting without knowing what the result will be. In that sense, the vote itself will be a formality. But I do not say that in a pejorative sense. For cultural, logistical and historical reasons, I think it cannot be otherwise this time around.

      In my opinion, the next GD  will have to be fluent in Korean, because he will need to be in close communication with hundreds of Korean missionaries throughout the world. But that raises the next crucial question: What about American UBF? When Samuel Lee was GD, he was also acknowledged as the director of UBF-USA. When Sarah Barry became GD, she also served as director of UBF-USA. And when Dr John Jun was elected GD, the tradition continued, and he too became the director of UBF-USA.   But — and he has said so himself — he has not been comfortable in that role.  To me, it  seems unrealistic for the next GD to also serve as director of UBF-USA, because those dual roles are  too much for  one person  to handle, and it would be hard to find one person who has the skill set to do both well. Whoever the next GD is, this is one of the first big issues that he will have to consider, and I pray that God will give him wisdom.

    • Definitely not jesting!

  21. Joe, you are right on the target about the GD role in UBF. My question is should the UBF GD be the USA/Canada UBF director too? What is the position of our UBF constitution on this issue? What is the role of the position of USA/Canada UBF Coordinator? As you have pointed out the role of directing UBF International and USA/Canada is too large a responsibility for the GD to handle. I think we can do the ministry more effective by having two separate entities by separating these two offices. I am sure we are able to both financially and spiritually to do the ministry of USA UBF under the leadership of an American director.This issue has been in my mind for a number of years. I am glad you brought it out to the open. Thanks.

    • Hi PAL.

      This is my understanding of how the GD came to be the director of UBF-USA (or UBF in North America) and what the By-Laws have to say. If this understanding is wrong, I hope that someone who knows better will correct me.

      When Dr John Jun, the current GD, assumed his office, he also became the director of UBF in North America by default. The previous two GD’s had also acted as directors of North America, and because of this tradition, he did the same. This issue was not discussed when he was being elected GD; no one raised it.  Or perhaps  someone did; I do not remember. Either way, it was not something that was on our minds much at that time.

      But the By-Laws do not require the GD to be the director of UBF in the USA or any other nation. The By-Laws empower the GD to appoint directors  for local chapters, regions, nations and continents. The GD’s appointments must later be confirmed at a subsequent meeting of the International Advisory Committee. But the GD has discretion to delegate his authority by appointing directors. Dr John Jun used this authority to appoint Pastor Ron as “North American Coordinator” but not North American Director. As North American Coordinator, Pastor Ron took care of communication and other business, but he did not exercise the kind of decisionmaking powers that we would traditionally associate with a directorship. This was the GD’s choice, and Pastor Ron agreed to it. But as time when on, many of us began to see that the arrangement was not optimal. The GD felt that he needed someone to manage business in North America (e.g., planning of staff conferences), because his attention was often focused elsewhere. And Pastor Ron felt that he needed help to manage North America, because being pastor of Chicago UBF is already a full time position. So there is a growing sense that some other arrangement is needed.

      The next General Director will have authority under the By-Laws  to appoint a director for UBF in the USA and/or Canada if he chooses to do so.

      However, there is the issue of financial support. The establishment of a new staff position, payment of salary, etc. would have to be taken care of. UBF headquarters (the GD’s office) does not have a large budget for such things, and paying the salary of a director of UBF in the USA or any other nation lies beyond the scope of  what HQ currently does. Financial management decisions like this are traditionally made by the Elders.

      As important as it may be to consider having a director for USA and/or Canada, it is also crucial to define what the role of such a person would be. Leadership models developed in one  cultural context do not necessarily translate to another. As a matter of principle, I believe that American UBF should be run by Americans, Canadian UBF should be run by Canadians, and so on. And the understanding of how things are to be run needs to be worked out in ways that are culturally appropriate. Speaking as an American, the idea of having one director, one person, in charge of everything seems alien to me. American styles of governance tend to be based on leadership teams with power sharing and checks and balances. So if there ever was  going to be a director for the USA, the concept of directorship would need to be carefully worked out for the American context, and he would have to define his role by considering his own gifts and talents, the needs of the community, and the leading of the Holy Spirit.

    • One more thing that I would like to say. As a general principle, I think it is a mistake for churches and ministries to build large management bureaucracies, Those structures can suck the lifeblood out of a church and stifle its growth. I don’t think any of us would want to see that. We want to free ourselves to grow naturally, organically and locally, as the early Church did in New Testament times. Thus I am hesitant to think that UBF ought to create more organizational structure. But the growth of UBF in the USA has already been stifled by something, and large bureaucracy isn’t it. Over the years, so many potential native leaders have left us. Each person left for his or her own reasons. But there is a pattern of difficulty in establishing native leadership. The list of those who left us is staggering. How anyone could see the recent events in India and think otherwise is beyond me. We have stifled our own growth not by bureaucracy but by our character, by the way we treat people. What I long for is a chance for leaders to discuss these big-picture issues, the kind of questions that I raised in this article. The fact that we do not make  these discussions  a priority is, in my opinion, a mistake that is costing us dearly and will continue to cost us year after year until we wake up and start candidly talking to one another about it.

  22. Joshua Yoon

    I want to raise questions related to Joe’s NO 1 question. Joe mentioned that in most places, UBF has taken on the characteristics of church, more than a student evangelical organization. If UBF functions as a church, should it still limit the  ministry to campus mission only? Over the years the Lord has led UBF ministry to have the dynamics and characteristics of church beyond the initial intention of founders. What is the vision of New GD for the future UBF ministry? Is UBF going to focus on disciple making among the  highly educated  only, excluding all others who have different callings or gifts of the Holy Spirit? I  feel sorry that so many people left UBF with a  feeling of being unfit  in  elitism, not being able to meet the UBF expections  as  Bible teachers  or simply  not being  university students or out of school  long ago.    If God has made UBF ministry a church,  don’t we need  systems and infrastructures  that support different kinds of people God sends to this ministry? Do we have to keep the name “University Bible Fellowship?” Isn’t it  irony that even  those who serve community colleges run the ministry under the name of University  Bible  Fellowship?    If God wants to include people of differnt age groups and educational levels as valuable members of the body, shouldn’t senior leaders to be open to chaning the name according to God’s leading? Are  we afraid that UBF would become like a church? What would be be wrong if UBF became like a church? Isn’t it possible that the ministry functions as church while maintaining the campus mission as a part of the church mission?   I serve the ministry  with these and more questions in my mind.   I want to know  how others think about these questions.

    I hope senior leadership team or the current GD will share the information about election for GD.  The election  can be done  with  all UBF leaders and members’ awareness and prayer.  I did not know there would be an election in Korea in June until Joe shared this at UBFriends.   May God make this ministry  HOT!!!

  23. So….. what exactly did happen in India? India has been eluded to in more than this article and I’m curious to know what happened.

    • Oscar, go to the discussion for the recent article “May God Make America a Kingdom of Priests and a Holy Nation.” Scroll down to Abraham Nial’s comment and begin reading from there.

  24. William Carey has some pearls of wisdom regarding some of the questions Joe brought up:

    1. Set an infinite value on immortal souls.

    2. Gain all the information you can about “the snares and delusions in which these heathens are held.”

    3. Abstain from all English manners which might increase prejudice against the gospel.

    4. Watch for all opportunities for doing good, even when you are tired and hot.

    5. Make Christ crucified the great subject of your preaching.

    6. Earn the people’s confidence by your friendship.

    7. Build up the souls that are gathered.

    8. Turn the work over to “the native brethren” as soon as possible.

    9. Work with all your might to translate the Bible into their languages. Build schools to this end.

    10. Stay alert in prayer, wrestling with God until he “famish these idols and cause the heathen to experience the blessedness that is in Christ.”

    11. Give yourself totally to this glorious cause. Surrender your time, gifts, strength, families, the very clothes you wear.

    Listed in Christian History, Issue 36, page 34

  25. After coming back from the staff conference, I came across of Dr Armstrong’s article on “A myth too many of us believe”

  26. Abraham Nial
    Abraham Nial

    The official news of  election of the new Director of Korea UBF is out at the UBF HQ site. It says “God chose Sh David Kim as the new Korea UBF Director.” The reporting is as usual in glowing terms about the new  Director’s  successes and achievements and nothing is mentioned about his weakness or failures. For example it talks about his fruitfulness in sending missionaries, but does not mention anything about how many missionaries actually remained in the mission field or in UBF campus mission.

    I have great love  and respect for Sh David Kim as a leader and a person and I admit that I have received his love and blessings. But that does not automatically place him or UBF reporting style  above criticism. In my opinion, he has been responsible for the situation in India UBF. I am not saying he did not do anything to solve India UBF problem, he actually did many things directly and indirectly that made things more complicated and led to the break down.  

    • Abraham Nial
      Abraham Nial

      BTW the purpose of above comment was not simply to criticise Sh David Kim but because I care for him, the Church in Korea and especially Korea UBF. I pray that he may be personally led by God more than any other time to lead the Korea UBF during his term.

    • Brian Karcher
      Brian Karcher

      Abraham, I feel your pain and probably understand more than you might know.

  27. Brian Karcher
    Brian Karcher

    Abraham, please note that David Kim is not the General Director, i.e. David Kim does not replace John Jun as I understand it.   There is someone chosen for that already.

  28. I have read most of the postings and would like to add my thoughts on UBF which were not already discussed above:   The UBF organization is not a democracy with checks and balances.   UBF is a spiritual family discipleship  org with  family lines that span generations.   (I consider myself to be part of the family.)   Because of this structure, voting is a hard concept to incorporate in an ad-hack-way, every five to ten years when a GM is chosen, since very few of the other decisions within UBF are made in this way.    The problem UBF has in choosing the next GM is that the spiritual fathers and mothers of UBF (Dr. Lee, Mother Berry, and  Dr. John Jun) are all used up and the elders have to choose a GM from one of the  family lines within the ministry, which could cause some division.  Dare I say someone from outside the organization might be the best choice?  But I think this has a 0.05% chance of happening.  We need to pray for the next GM more than ever.                                

  29. Darren Gruett

    Now that the news is out regarding the new UBF general director, I wonder if anyone wants to weigh back in on this discussion. My first reaction when I heard the news was: Who is Dr. Abraham Kim? Since I have no idea who this is it is hard for me to feel anything about it. Maybe I do know who it is and I just do not know it.

    Still, I cannot help but feel that this is just a little outside of my world. And what will I tell those in my fellowship who are inevitably going to ask me about this person, knowing that I have no idea what to tell them?

    It also makes me wonder about all of our local UBF churches. Are they feeling the same way as me, being under the leadership of someone they do not know anything about?

    I hope I have not spoken out of turn, and I am sure all my questions will be answered in time. And being that I live in Chicago, I am sure I will soon be able to meet our new general director personally, something which many members in our smaller local churches may not have the opportunity to do for quite a while.

  30. Hm, judging by the first video I like the guy. I don’t know if I agree with everything in his message, but the jist of it is good. One question, towards the end he repents of being too “family centered” because he was hesistant to cut down his working hours for ministry while he has two daughters in college. Is it me or is he being a little too harsh on himself?

    • Oscar, I would say I like him too. I’ve heard others say they were glad he was chosen. I’m not sure about the family comment in the video. I will soon have two daughters in college (hopefully!), so I’d say the “jury’s still out” on that one.

      But I do have two big concerns about this:

      1) Why do we need to scourge the internet to find bits and pieces of information about this important event? I don’t want to think more highly of myself than I ought, but I technically am a “chapter director” and have been in the ministry 24 years, given nearly everything I have. And I don’t even know for sure what’s going on with things like this?

      2) Why is the Minneapolis UBF chapter not mentioned? Is there a succession plan for leadership there? Traditionally, there have been power struggles tantamount to the Godfather when Korean leadership changes. I would hope no one leaves the ministry over it this time.

    • Darren Gruett

      Brian, in regards to point number 1, I was thinking the same thing. I happened to receive an email from Pastor Ron about it that was apparently sent out to a lot of people, but it was not until today that I found anything at the UBF website about this.

    • Darren, it looks like the General Director will have a 4 year term, according to this update:

      So I wonder how the General Director will be chosen?

      It’s clear to me that UBF has directors and evangelists, not actual pastors.

    • Darren Gruett

      Brian, I was wondering, too, how the process works for choosing the next director. Thanks for clarifying that.

      In general, I have also wondered for some time about the leadership structure that UBF employs. Since we use a board of directors, regional/chapter directors, campus coordinators, and even fellowship leaders, it is really more of a non-profit campus mission organization rather than a church, where pastors/elders are the biblically-ordained model of leadership.

      Then again, in UBF, we regularly refer to most people as shepherd so and so, which is basically like calling them pastor. I am not really convinced that this is wise or biblically sound.

      I am not saying that there cannot be different models of leadership within the church, but I believe strongly in the local church, that is, that each church should be lead by a pastor and body of elders. By using a hierarchy of directors, UBF is using a model similar to that used by many mainline traditional churches (Lutheran, Presbyterian, etc.) and the Roman Catholic Church. Like I said, there can certainly be different models of leadership used, but this is just something I have pondered for a while.

    • In 1987, I loved UBF Bible study because there wasn’t really an organization that I could see. I had been in the Catholic church for 18 years and hated it.

      Now it seems UBF is creating something close to the Catholic church. I hope we don’t continue building a church like Catholicism. Perhaps we already have.

    • With the last comment about UBF and the Catholic Church, I’m Gerardo R will come out of hiding. :)

    • Interesting point guys, in my experience, it is almost like many shepherds and leaders are individual Popes! A “my word is Gospel” phenomenon…

    • Chuck Voght

      My Name is Chuck Voght and I’m from the Minneapolis chapter. I have studied under Pastor Abraham for 10 years. I have served as his co-worker for the past 6 years in Minneapolis with my family. Dr. Abraham Kim is a man of God and faith. He is a spiritual and mature man of God. I will surely miss him. He is a man with a “learning mind” about American culture. If he doesn’t understand something, he has asked me to understand it. I believe at this “crossroads” of our ministry, he is a wonderful choice. But we all must pray that he is always led by the Spirit of God and to listen to what the Spirit says. I love him and pray for the best for him and Missionary Sarah.

    • Thanks Chuck, that’s good to hear! And welcome to ubfriends.

    • Darren Gruett

      Chuck, it is good to hear from you, and glad to see you out here. Pastor Abraham was in Chicago this past Sunday at the worship service, and although I did not get a chance to speak with him, I look forward to getting to know him better as I did Dr. John Jun. Thanks for the feedback as well.

    • Thanks David. At least we’re making some progress as an organization. An official announcement is a good start. I still have my concerns though.

    • Practically speaking, what does this mean for you at the chapter director level, me, at the lowest level, and anyone inbetween?

    • Brian Karcher

      Well, I use the term “chapter director” loosely. I am an American, and my wife is American; there are no Korean missionaries or other shepherds here. So I consider myself at a lower level than you!

      I really don’t have a clue as to what this means to us. For me, I just keep living.

  31. William M. Pottenger

    Hi Darren. It’s nice to ‘see’ you. :)

    Your post about church leadership caught my attention – back in November I posted a response which referred to the writings of an American missionary to Korea on this topic. His view on this, which I find Biblically consistent, is that each local body of believers (church) should be governed by a “plurality of elders”. This can be seen in various ways such as Acts 14:23 where Paul and Barnabas “appointed elders … in each church”, or in the governance of the early church in Jerusalem, or historically in the 70 elders of Israel in the wilderness. The rationale for this “plurality of elders” can be seen in Peter and Paul’s lives – without this, elders can go astray. In fact this principle of a “plurality of elders” in each local church is exactly the reason that this missionary taught that churches – movements of the Gospel too – need to have healthy, vigorous interactions with each other – lest the body of Christ go astray. In short, having multiple elders in each (local) church is a form of protection for the church, and for the elders themselves. When I consider our chapter, although we have a ‘chapter director’, we most definitely operate as a “plurality of elders.” I can’t say for sure how other chapters operate, but when we as believers “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21), this “plurality of elders” model of church governance is very natural, and I know of many chapters (and churches) in which the elders (including the chapter directors / pastors) are sincere people of faith who practice this truth.

    • Amen! I vote for more plurality and no duplicity. The “benevolent dictator” model just has to go.

    • Darren Gruett

      William, thanks for the comment. I agree with you absolutely regarding the importance of having a plurality of elders as a means of building in accountability. In fact, I have seen this work firsthand at the campus I serve within our fellowship leaders.

    • Yongha Lee

      That’s a fair point. The next question wuold be: (i) what kind of elders do we have (or will have) in the plurality of elders”? How do we see their qualifications?, and then, (ii) do we elect those elders, or do we let the pastor appoint them? Just my thoughts. In UBF, do we have a healthy, spiritual body of the eleders who can challenge the leader/pastor when they see something wrong, or who can back up and support the leader/pastor even though they disagree with him? Although we seem to have a form of the elders, I would be hesitant to say we do have the system.

  32. Joe posted some excellent questions. Here are my top 3:

    1. For the next 50 years, could we not reward the “benevolent dictator” model of leadership?

    2. For the next 50 years, could we not send out 1 mission family by themselves, leaving them alone in the mission field?

    3. For the next 50 years, could we lift up Christ Jesus our Lord as our prime directive?

    • It appears that term limits are in place at the General Director level. But what about at the “chapter director” level? This is where real change needs to take place.

      A recent CNN article pointed out a few problems that occur when one leader is in power for decades: What if a President served 42 years?.

      Some excellent quotes we should heed:

      “In a healthy democracy, citizens see multiple leaders of government in their lifetime. Doing so allows them to compare leaders, form political preferences and to participate meaningfully in the political process by voting in truly competitive elections.” (Some chapters have no experience with various forms of leadership and accept dictatorship style as normal.)

      “Beyond Gadhafi and a close circle of confidants, there is only an enormous political and social vacuum. There are neither organized groups within Libyan society nor any younger leadership that can assume political duties.” (Some chapters may have a tough time transitioning leadership because no one has been trained to take over.)

  33. Has anyone gotten a response to these questions?

  34. A friend of mine was looking for this link, since he never received the letter from the General Director (even though he is a director in UBF). I’m posting it here for reference.

    One thing my friend pointed out: This letter indicated that all chapter directors are now under 4 year term limits that end in 2015: