UBF Doctrine – Behavioral Slogans

m1How then shall we live? I heard that famous question many times in ubf. In fact, the first 7 ideological points of the ubf heritage were often quickly taught or skipped in order to jump into the last 5 points: the ubf lifestyle. In ubf I was judged by what I did. And then I was judged by how much control I could exert to get others to behave according to these last 5 slogans. How I felt or what I thought was generally dismissed or ignored. What mattered, I was taught, was how I behaved. The last 5 slogans tell you just that.

Here is a list of the second part of the ubf heritage. These slogans become a kind of hamster wheel for ubf members.

Section II – Behavioral slogans
the ubf lifestyle
8. House churches
9. One to one Bible study
10. Disciple-making ministry
11. Daily Bread
12. Testimony writing & sharing

House Churches

A house church is a family who has gone through the arranged marriage process (marriage by faith), left their home ubf chapter, and gone out to another campus through the process called pioneering. A house church often refers to a ubf member’s dwelling that is used for UBF activities. Many small ubf chapters meet in leaders’ houses. Leaders often make analogies between this and the practice of the early Christian church meeting in members houses. Note that “house church” can sometimes have a more specific meaning, namely it can describe the union of those who are married in ubf and have not actually “pioneered” yet.

One to One/1:1 

This is the core element of the UBF indoctrination and manipulation system. Bible study is always done in a hierarchical setting with one person acting as the Bible teacher (shepherd) and the other one as the Bible student (sheep). All initiates have to go through this one-to-one Bible study every week, often for many years, and often continuing with a senior missionary as teacher even after they have become shepherds themselves. In addition, there are also group Bible study where usually the chapter director acts as the Bible teacher. UBF Bible studies are always based on a questionnaire. UBF uses human effort (i.e prayers and repetition) instead of historical, intellectual or spiritual study of the Bible. In this way, Bible study often becomes an idol. After many years, a UBFer cannot stop Bible study even if a friend or loved one is in need.

Disciple-making ministry

“Raising up disciples” is what UBF considers to be their main task. This means parenting young converts like little children and giving them “obedience training” until they comply with how UBF expects them to behave. ubf shepherds and missionaries are taught to be the new parents of college students, often replacing the role of their natural parents.

Daily Bread

Daily Bread is the title of a UBF devotional that members are required to buy every quarter and that is used in UBF early morning prayer meetings. “To write daily bread” means writing a UBF type sogam based on a passage of the Daily Bread booklet. UBF likes to claim they have invented Daily Bread devotionals, but in fact the material was copied from the Scripture Union booklets, and even translated directly from the Scripture Union Daily Bread. Later, UBF replaced the Bible comments and prayers with their own Bible interpretations. UBF’s version of the booklets are sold to UBF members at a much higher price than the original booklets. Recently, UBF created UBF Press, a publication department, to publish and sell Daily Bread booklets and other material.

Testimony/Sogam/Reflecting writing/sharing

A sogam is a Korean term meaning one’s impressions, opinions, thoughts, feelings and sentiments about something. This term is used in UBF for the written statements based on Bible passages that UBF members are required to write and share every week (see testimony writing and sharing). The idea behind this practice is that members don’t just read a Bible passage, but interpret it in the sense of UBF and give a personal response in front of the group about how they intend to apply it to themselves. Usually this happens by repenting for not having done enough UBF activities or for not being obedient enough, and the promise to do better in the next week, often setting concrete targets. That way, members are able to indoctrinate each other, and leaders are able to closely monitor and control the spiritual growth of their members.


  1. David Bychkov

    Dislike. Sounds really eval and full of hate. Not sure if with such articles this website can bring anything good to UBF or to yourselves.

    • Hi David, so how would you describe these last 5 slogans without “hate” and with “love”? Are they really good? I express the facts of how the heritage was taught to me, minus all the flattery and “praise God” wording.

    • I wished you could point out exactly what is “evil” and where is “hate” in this article. I don’t get it. It’s just a truthful description of what is practiced in UBF minus all the religious hogwash. If it’s written in a non-religous language that you don’t like, then this still does not mean that it is full of “hate”.

      Even if UBFers are unable to see their faults in this description, ordinary people who are lured into UBF understand this simple and clear language very well, and for them it’s very helpful to know what UBF really is. Because in UBF nobody tells them these things like Brian is doing here.

  2. I do agree with David, but the reality is not pleasant. Please have an open mind to hear Brian out as he goes through each point in detail. Each one of us has had similar, but not the same experience. Always keep in mind the history of someone who speaks.

    That being said I will make a not so funny joke. Brian you forgot one more behavioral aspect to UBF. When you go to Germany, France, Russia, and America …… for a conference make sure you go out of your way to eat at a Korean restaurant. It makes the experience in that country authentic. (words of a former brother, not me)

  3. By the way, I did not make up the hamster wheel analogy. ubf teaches the heritage as a hamster wheel, and their pictures of it are better than mine:

    ubf hamster wheel/religious machine teachings

  4. Let me give a “positive” view to our “behavioral slogans”:

    House churches: The “happiest” aspect of my Christian life is my marriage. This is glory to God, and the fact that God led me to marry a woman I did not know, in his perfect sovereignty and providence. Sometimes, I dread that if God takes her home first, I wonder how I might do. For this, I need to repent.

    One to one: This helped me personally to love and treasure the Bible as the very word of God. I believe that I have done the same with those whom I studied the Bible 1:1 with.

    Disciple-making: This is good for me…but to a degree. As I myself began to mentor and disciple others, I am learning that I need to learn how to let go of those I disciple, so that God can take over. This is my new “favorite” quote: “God can work wonders if he can get a suitable man. Men can work wonders if they can get God to lead them.” E. M.Bounds

    Daily Bread: Personally, I stopped reading our DB booklets some years ago, because they tend to be repetitious and predictable. So, I have began to use other sources, such as: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/loveofgod/

    Testimony writing: This fueled my passion for writing. Thus, I can write blogs, comment on blogs, and prepare for my sermons and weekly gatherings with endless reading, listening, watching and writing.

    • Ben, if the heritage had been taught to me like that, or if I had joined WestLoop ubf in 2008 or later, I likely would have a different article. But it wasn’t taugth like that. And from the people contacting me privately, I can tell that the heritage is still NOT taught like what you say and no other chapter in ubf is like WestLoop. Maybe someday more chapters will imitate you :)

    • Ben, why can’t people in UBF just marry without calling their marriage a “house church”? This sounds as if an ordinary marriage is something not so good and holy, and becomes only acceptable and pleasing in the eyes of God if it is called a “house church”, i.e. when the primary focus on the marriage is mission. It’s a way to say that marriage in itself has no meaning.

      House churches have nothing to do with marriages. A single person could just as well use his or her house as a house church. Maybe some of the apostles did this. And the persons living in the house are not the house church, but all the people meeting in that privat house build the house church.

  5. Thanks, Brian. “Maybe someday more chapters will imitate you :)”

    Regarding imitating me or WL is funny to me in that from what I’ve heard through the grapevine (even as recently as last week) is that I am trying to either divide or destroy UBF, depending on who you speak to! Thus, I don’t expect any imitation happening anytime soon. :-)

  6. Thanks, Brian, for the article!

    Housechurch. I think that I personally could not live as a house church or as a family. I had no authority and time for “the housechurch” and for the family, at all. I had to sacrifice my family in order to live by ubf standarts. Again, I attended my children concert only after I left ubf (and they were 14 and 11 years old). No chance to do that before.

    1:1. I worked as a teacher for 7 years. And I gave personal (1:1) lessons. I found this method to be very effective. I like it actually. But as Dr Ben pointed out it is very important to “let go of those I disciple”. This method is good for evangelizing. After the “sheep”‘s new birth it must be stopped. Let the Holy Spirit take over and let Jesus be the Lord and the Director in the Christian’s life. If the 1:1 is not stopped after the new birth it becomes a complete abuse.

    Disciple-making. It is an absolutely heretical and cultish part of ubf. The disciples are not made! They are born, by the Holy Spirit.

    Daily Bread. It might be good for beginners. And again after the new birth it is good for a Christian to have many resources for his/her Bible study, devotionals and meditation. Let him/her go out of the ubf’s shallow and poor limits so that they might really become good servants for His church and true Christian leaders for their community and nation. In ubf it is a very manupilative part.

    Testimony writing. I find it very good to write personal reflections but I think they should stay personal. There is no need to “share” personal testimonies especially to those who can’t understand what the normal church is and who honour their own authority more than the Lord. In ubf TW has never been QT. Let the Christian close his/her door and write “in secret” and “share” with God and pray and grow in their relationships with God, not with the director. And if he/she wishes let him/her “share” what he/she wants in a natural form of communication with each other, with the church. Surely there should not be meetings (and conferences) which are not suggested and done by the members volantarily, from the heart. In ubf TW is very manipulative and abusive and destructive, unfortunately.

  7. David Bychkov

    Well guys. I think I will leave you. This website have brought many good to my life. And I’ve learned many things from most of you and was influenced by you guys. But now I can hardly keep the atmosphere on this site, I think it is mostly destructive then constructive and I think the name and the purpose of the website now can hardly reflect what really going on here and it is mostly mesleading. I believe I tried explain my mind in comments throughout the articles. So I believe for me it would be better to leave at this point.

    • I think it is a good idea for all of us to step away, some may need to be away for extended periods of time. I myself feel like I need another break; I really don’t have much more capacity to process a lot of this stuff after re-living all 12 points. I just hope there will continue to be those who carryon with open and honext expressions and discussions about all these things, whether ugly or messy or clean and nice.

    • After having spent (wasted) 10 years in UBF I can say that the articles on this site are not misleading, but spot on. The information like the one given by Brian is exactly what I wished I had available in my time of UBF. Handling UBF with kid gloves is the wrong approach. Sorry that I have no understanding for such sentiment and “holier-than-thou” attitude, calling a truthful article “evil” and “full of hate”. If the wording is not your style, then you can say so. But calling someone’s honest opinion “evil” and “full of hate” is over the top and also destructive. I think we can’t speak strong and clear enough. The time for sweet words is over. “Whoever rebukes a person will in the end gain favor rather than one who has a flattering tongue.”

    • I agree with Chris. The thing is……whenever a person receives rebuke it is done usually in blunt language. Sometimes Korean missionaries will use second language as an excuse to justify the direct language. Brian is making in blunt experience his time in UBF. I have seen enough in my own timeline to accept his articles. Even now I am personally getting softer in my speech than in my first writing here.

    • Mark Mederich

      @Chris: your time was not wasted, you learned both some good & bad religious things to do/not do rest of life, but i know what u mean (in/out here/there, let us who sincerely seek Christ Above All, keep going, i’m with ya bro!

      @David: i respect your feeling to leave, God bless you bro!

      @everyone else: all i can say is i’m at conference & despite some good, i admit i felt down (university bereaucracy more worried about getting sued for Sandusky’s sins: dtr senior in HS but needed treat like mbf age to get in; religious system more worried as usual about self/the program going on/etc)
      until i figured out internet access & was one of the lucky 1000 commoners per moment able to ever use it & took care of online business, used facebook which i seldom use anyone, & got on friends to read/write sincere comments about God (which sadly r hard to share in midst of live ‘religious’ program)

      oh Holy Spirit, come set us free from man’s religious concerns/constraints, into the freedom of your spiritual fruit/ways so that we can truly help one another in God (Show God’s love, more than Tell others how/what to do:)

      Hallelujah! God will win in the end! May His Spirit maintain our spirits when man’s ways/ideas weigh heavy on us.

  8. @David: “I can hardly keep the atmosphere on this site, I think it is mostly destructive then constructive and I think the name and the purpose of the website now can hardly reflect what really going on here and it is mostly mesleading.” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2013/08/01/ubf-doctrine-behavioral-slogans/#comment-9578

    Thanks for sharing, David. I think I understand your sentiment. I have also heard similar comments like yours from various people in Chicago. I do try to take to heart what they say and to be more prayerful and perhaps restrained in my posts and comments.

    I am sorry that some articles and comments come across as destructive and not constructive. Personally I apologize that it came across as such to you and to others as well.

    Without attempting to justify what we do, I believe that our attempts are genuine and sincere in seeking to address the painful and difficult issues that some/many have experienced, and that by addressing them, corrective changes may happen, by God’s mercy and grace.

  9. big bear

    Brian thanks for your labor to address the many issues about UBF and all those who made comments. It is great to see the differences and to see that progress is being made on all fronts. As a UBF shepherd for over 29 years, a director, and student and father and husband and most of all a Christian I agree with many of the views on this site and disagree on many as well. This is the blessing of us all being different and learned with UBF different. Here are my thoughts on house church, 1-1, disciple making, daily bread, testimony sharing and writing. Keep them all, but keep in mind the family unit and married couples and stop driving people to neglect their families and marriage for ministry and give more freedom in love of God for God to lead not UBF or its heritage.

    I truly believe there is much other churches can learn from UBF. I met Christ through the 1-1 Bible study and received many blessings that I am forever thankful to God. I have no regrets that I spent 29 years in UBF but I see that families and marriages are the biggest problem with UBF. This area must improve if UBF is going to get healthy and abuses will stop. The gospel work must be done in love not force or rules.

    House churches are beautiful if they are balanced and they are taking care of their children and loving their spouses first. I think that people should not be praised for neglecting their families and spouses in order to teach 1-1’s. The ministry begins at home.

    1-1 Bible study is great for a person to get to know God’s word personally but after disciple is born there should be freedom to read and study other theologians and to expand and grow spiritually and be encouraged and freedom to prepare own messages by the work of the Holy Spirit.

    Disciple making is biblical and needed in the church but help disciples to live in love not rules and UBF heritage. Help them to appreciate other churches and not look down on them but see that they to are apart of the body of Christ.

    Daily Bread is good. But leave this at the freedom of the UBF person and don’t make it duty to do daily bread but a privilege and a choice. Don’t look down on those who don’t do daily bread.

    Testimony writing and sharing is good if Director is participating too or he will only use your sins against you to make himself elevated though he is a sinner too. Give people the freedom to write if they want but no requirement. Trusting and believing in Jesus is our only salvation.

    I thank God for being in UBF for 29 years despite all the pain and abuse and only hope for there to be healthy change. I pray for the families and the marriages. It is true that every church does have problems because we are all sinners but abuse that is clearly seen must be dealt with so that others may not follow suit. I pray and hope that what happened to our family may be a great lesson for UBF and God may use it as a wake up call. God has blessed me and he has been with me since I was asked to leave UBF and even led me to my new wife through a video that a UBF chapter made of me sharing my life testimony to students. All you have to do is google Pastor Andrew Martin and you can listen to the video made by Dr. Samuel Lee. My wife fell in love with me after listening to the video in Romania. It is funny how God uses things for His glory even when harm is intended. I needed UBF for the years I was there but now God has embarked me on a new journey with a more family oriented ministry and a great Pastor friend to serve His work in love. I earnestly pray for everyone in UBF and those on this website. God is restoring our family and I believe in the end God will help me to be more compassionate for others.