Generation: Found

lWhat was the originally intended purpose of Ubfriends? The mission statement of the site says:

Our purpose is to foster open interpersonal communication on spiritual matters that leads to Christian community:

Christ + Communication = Unity

Unity is not the same thing as uniformity. Christians do not all think alike. There are some basic beliefs that we hold in common, but there is a diversity of opinion on many issues within the Body of Christ. As the gospel welcomes people of every tribe and tongue and nation, it also challenges us to stretch ourselves beyond what is comfortable. The degree to which we imitate Christ is not measured by how much we love those who are similar to us, but by how much we embrace those who are different.

This website is not intended to promote or denigrate UBF or any organization. Our purpose is to serve people by giving them an independent forum to learn, to think, and to express themselves in a healthy and friendly manner. We hope that this website will

  • foster multi-way conversations among friends
  • open new channels of communication and friendships among people of different ages and backgrounds, overcoming prejudice and stereotypes
  • help members of UBF develop stronger connections to the broader Christian community
  • help us to see multiple sides of difficult issues and truly learn from one another, even when we do not agree

Though some in UBF, particularly long-standing leaders, will either denigrate or disagree with the mere existence of this site, I’m of the opinion that the four goals listed above are being fulfilled (albeit in a messy but honest manner).

While there exists a slew of silent readers who make their presence known through either ‘liking’ or ‘disliking’ articles and comments, the most vocal participants here are those from the so-called ‘lost generation’. These are current and former UBF members who were passed over for key leadership positions for a variety of vaguely-defined and, in some cases, unfair reasons. Though I am a perpetual pessimist, I don’t agree with the aforementioned moniker (and for the remainder of this article I would like to refer to the ‘losts’ as the ‘founds’). The reason being is that it seemingly invalidates everything that that particular generation went through. To the contrary, due to the sheer volume of composite life experiences and knowledge of the found generation, I believe that they are playing a vital role in the current, changing ministry landscape. From an ideological point of view, the conversations I’ve had with the founds on this site have been beyond eye-opening and helpful. In turn, these new ideological views have positively augmented my relationships with others in UBF. As conversations with others in my peer group indicate, I am not the only one who has benefited from the dialogues here.

As a member of the younger generation in UBF, I have a request or plea for those in the found generation. First, let me begin by stating that I’m thankful for those of you who are willing to communicate with those in the younger generation in an honest and discreet manner. Again, I’ve benefited greatly from such conversations. These conversations have consisted of serving as a sounding board for new ideas, providing helpful and compassionate counsel as well as biblically sound resources from other ministries.

One suggestion for the site is for those in the found generation to write articles geared toward the younger generation as to how to artfully, respectfully and courageously engage older members and leaders in UBF. My strong belief is that change in UBF will be a bottom-up approach. This is currently happening and in order for it to continue, those with substantial ministry and life experience have to continually invest in and inform the younger generation. This is obviously occurring on this website, but my hope is that it would become a more focused and balanced practice here.

I also understand that many who have begun to break out of the UBF paradigm, whether while remaining in UBF or leaving, are still grappling with overcoming wounds and negative thought patterns which were imposed by the ministry. Still, it is plainly obvious that you all have much to contribute to the younger generation, if only to point them toward good resources and gleanings from your own personal life experiences.

Lastly, I would ask that those who are writing books about their experiences in UBF consider blogging their books on ubfriends as well. This would serve to make the ministry more transparent. Additionally, blogging such material will reach a wider audience and thus perhaps promote even more dialogue.

For my part, though I have experienced the negative side of the ministry, I can also say that I have been immensely blessed by the genuine believers within the ministry. I came to the ministry in 2003, almost immediately after Samuel Lee passed away. Since my time here, I have seen many positive changes in some of the elders and older missionaries. I’ve also established some significantly deep friendships while here. My experience being what it is, my future publications will most likely be concerned with writing about the positive aspects of UBF. However, when need be, I will also be painfully and brutally honest about any negativity I witness in the ministry. And as one who is obsessed with the idea that ideological viewpoints play a vital role in informing healthy practice, I aim to publish articles on broad-sweeping topics such as hermeneutics, cultural contextualization of the gospel and the like. In my previous article, my aim was not to promote the idea that we should refrain from discussing the unhealthy practices of some of UBF’s key leaders. Instead, I wanted to take a healthy step back from the incessant railing against said leaders so as to frame our perceptions and accusations in a more objective and judicial light. At the end of the day, it is entirely your prerogative as to what you wish to publish. I’m merely presenting a request to have more focused dialogue which is in line with the site’s audacious yet attainable mission statement.

Though I am trying, I honestly struggle to understand those who came to the ministry in the 80’s and 90’s and stayed for a considerable amount of time. If I ever come off as unsympathetic or glib, please call me out and most importantly pray for me to understand the perspectives of others.

My hope is that the ‘losts’ may see themselves as the ‘founds’ who have much to contribute to a growing generation of leaders within UBF. To paraphrase Isaac Newton, the vantage point of the younger generation is either greatly reduced or heightened by how much they are able to glean from the generations that preceded them. As the younger generation in UBF engages in conversations with the biblical text, church historians throughout the ages and the visionaries and contemporaries of our day, we would be undeniably remiss to neglect those in the generation that, in some sense, paved the way for us. As I said, ‘lost’ is an ill-prescribed moniker and if anything they are actually the missing link or the key to understanding UBF in its current state. Let the lost then, as they pursue and engage the younger generation in profound conversation, become the serendipitously found.

12 comments

  1. Joe Schafer

    David, thanks for contributing this article. I hope it generates healthy discussion and leads to positive outcomes. I will just comment very briefly on something you wrote:

    “At the end of the day, it is entirely your prerogative as to what you wish to publish.” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2014/05/20/generation-found/#more-7934

    With very few exceptions, we publish whatever people submit. On a few occasions, we’ve asked authors to retool an article to make it more focused or more clear. But that’s very rare. If you send it in, we will publish it.

  2. Thanks, Dave, for regarding some of us “losts” (as in the lost generation, a moniker that actually appealed to me) as “founds”!

  3. David,

    I appreciate the sentiment here in this article. My only 3 reactions are this:

    1) I do not have enough cognitive dissonance left in me to consider myself “found”. I am glad you don’t quite understand us. That is some small evidence that you are healthier than us and in some small way ubf is a better place in some respects.

    2) In regard to blogging books… if you look back on my articles and comments here and on my personal blogs, you should be able to see that I already did that :) I blogged about the content of first two books over the course of the 3 years prior to publishing them. The content is messy and disjointed, but I had “clay” to work with.

    3) The “Korean way” is always the “yin and yang” philosophy. Every yang (positive/active/male principle) needs to be balanced by a yin (female/passive/negative principle). It’s even on their flag.

    So the only way ubf has been any sort of good blessing is because for 53 years there has always been a yin out there, in addition to what God has done genuinely through his word. The success of ubf is owed greatly to their ability to generate the balancing force of yin. Without ex-ubf, ubf would collapse, just as North and South Korea remain pitted against each other. ubfriends is the “yin” to the ubf “yang”, and perhaps even vice-versa.

    So like North and South Korea, ex-ubf and ubf remain locked in a symbiotic relationship that is difficult to end without destroying both.

    I believe the answer to unlock the yin/yang principle is the gospel of Jesus Christ. When we gain enough people committed to reconciliation instead of reformation or rebellion, we will witness the amazing, astounding, all-surpassing power of the Christian gospel. You see, yin/yang can be dissolved, melted away by the power of the cross of Christ.

    • All of which is why I will not leave the ubf conversation until I see the magnificent power of the gospel of Jesus Christ revealed.

      I refuse to participate in reformation. I will not be part of a rebellion. I will not go rouge. I will stand for redemption and reconciliation, resting on the divine promises in the Holy Scriptures.

  4. Joe Schafer

    David, you wrote:

    “One suggestion for the site is for those in the found generation to write articles geared toward the younger generation as to how to artfully, respectfully and courageously engage older members and leaders in UBF.” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2014/05/20/generation-found/#comment-13908

    With Brian, I have to say: I’ve done that. Check out the first two years of articles on this website. I don’t know how to do it any more artfully, respectfully or courageously than I already have.

  5. Charles Wilson
    Charles Wilson

    David, I’m not of the generation of BK, Joe, and Ben. I joined UBF much later, in 2000. But I’m afraid I’m seeing the next generation in the process of being lost. And I think, should they be “found” later too?

    About what you wrote,
    My strong belief is that change in UBF will be a bottom-up approach. – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2014/05/20/generation-found/#sthash.vbAfusdl.dpuf

    I used to think that this kind of change was necessary and at times exciting. But now I’ve grown pessimistic and tired of it. I can’t imagine the feelings of those who came before me. I try to do what I can for the sake of younger and newer people in our chapter. But I’m also young! I don’t want to grow old like this. I’d like to be out doing things, rather than sitting in meeting after meeting after these same discussions about things that need to change, with saying the same things to older members over and over again. I don’t want to miss my own time. Yet, the grating of the ongoing frustrations is leading to apathy. I also have found it difficult to empower younger / newer people in this regard. They want to feel out the ministry more. They feel more room to leave. They are not as regarded or listened to. They are aware of the conflicting atmosphere between older/younger / American/Korean. Some may be give more allowance, and this may appear to show changes, but allowance is still just an allowance, which can be revoked later according to the will of the top. The “found” generation are just an extension to the top, and in many ways are not even that. Even if the younger generation connect them more closely, in what ways do you see they could be empowered? I don’t know. It’s one reason I wanted to participate on this site, instead of remaining being a silent reader.

    I’m going to keep trying to consider your words here in the most positive way. At this point, I can’t help but focus on the top. Granted, I have seen some change at the local level. Still, more often it feels like the lid on a glass jar that you can’t open. After repeated tries, you just don’t want what’s in the jar anymore and you move on. Or, if you do happen to get the lid off, say, for example, of a ketchup bottle, but the ketchup doesn’t come out. You hit the side and get a butter knife to try to pry it out. It’s so unsatisfactory. When ketchup bottles were redesigned to be plastic and were turned upside down so that the lid was also the base, the ketchup flows out just as expected.

  6. Charles, being “young” is a matter of perspective, sentiment and opinion.

    I fear that (many or some) older ubf leaders and missionaries convey that you and those your age and even older are “young.” This sadly carries the implication that you are still inexperienced, immature and quite incapable of being entrusted to lead, WITHOUT their supervision, approval or disapproval, correction, etc. Heck, you are also totally incapable of finding your own spouse without their input or introduction of someone to you. If you even dare to date on your own you’re just proud and lustful.

    This goes against both scripture (1 Tim 4:12; Ac 14:23) and history, both biblical and secular. That’s why I screamed http://www.ubfriends.org/2012/07/31/let-local-leaders-lead/

    This unhealthy unbiblical paradigm of the missionary always needing to call the shots and always needing to be the final say is both bad for their disciples such as you, and also for them.

    • big bear

      Agree here with Ben…the spiritual order is broken if the older missionaries listen to the younger shepherds…..it is all about pride and power over others…..many in UBF lord over others with no respect for others….I witnessed so much in Cincinnati UBF…you are taught to believe what the older UBF members say is gospel….they are only keepers of the teisted theolgy but observe their families and their lives…interview their children…you will find something very ugly…

  7. Hi everyone, thanks for the insightful comments. I suppose this article expresses my desire that those in my peer group would join in the discussions here. There is so much potential to learn theological and experiential truths from you all. But for various reasons, which have already been stated, that is not going to happen in this particular forum. While this makes me a bit sad, I have reasonable hope that this kind of dialogue will eventually occur.

    I’m going to be signing off from ubfriends for a while in order to take care of some practical matters, namely finishing my dissertation. If you’re interested in any of my personal reflections, you can visit my blog by clicking on my name. We’re studying Mark’s gospel so I’ll most likely write blogs on that, in addition to some other good stuff. I’ve enjoyed the conversations here and I’ll keep in touch with you all through email. Thanks and God bless.

    • Thanks for participating, David, and good luck with your dissertation. Hope we will see you again here.

  8. MJ Peace

    Man, David W. I just missed you and I liked your article; I want to hear more! But I hope you finish your dissertation well. I’m sorry that ubfriends isn’t what you wanted it to be. (It can be though; life is what you make it.) And I’m sorry Charles Wilson for all the frustration you have with trying to change things in your chapter.

    I like that unity is not uniformity. They are completely different. We can have different views on certain non-essential topics and still be united. I consider myself from the “young” generation and from the “lost/found” generation. I only experienced the negative side of UBF for four years, but it has changed my view of Christian life radically. It was a painful lesson and it leaves scars. But now it gives me direction; I don’t want any person to go through what I had to go through.

    And I see ubfriends as a tool towards that end. I’m hoping that ubfriends will start to become an off-line thing too. So that these issues can be talked about face-to-face.

    • MJ Peace

      When I say face-to-face, I’m talking about in my home chapter, WL. I don’t know people from other chapters really well.