My Reaction to the 2014 Staff Conference

sDid you attend the latest ubf staff conference? What is your reaction to this conference? How do you feel about it? Here is my reaction to the Sunday lecture by Daniel Lee.

“Pastor Abraham Kim asked me to prepare a message on campus mission with reference to Stephen Lutz’s book (College Ministry in a Post-Christian Culture) along with my own sense of problems and visions.”

Here is a question I’ve wondered for many years. Why is this Korean director in Pennsylvania repeatedly considered the expert in campus discipleship among ubf leaders? This is not the first time Daniel has spoken on this topic. This doesn’t make sense to me because his ministry is very small and disconnected from the rest of ubf. Anyone know why ubf leaders look to him for expertise in “making disciples”? Perhaps he “raised” some famous ubf person?

“One motivation to think about this topic is that some of us have asked whether we should continue to make college students as the main focus of our ministry. The UBF is more than 50 years old. We have many young children in our ministries who need our attention. We have many coworkers who are in retirement age, some with no financial nest egg. And it is becoming more and more difficult to reach out to college students in this post-modern society. So it is natural for us to ask what we are doing.”

Yes you all need to ask these questions! Is ubf a church? If so, then you must start acting like a church and actually care about the needs mentioned here. Is ubf a network of para-church groups? If so, then you need to release the families and stop binding them to live like single college students. But of course, ubf leaders never make up their mind about this. They just plod along, hoping families don’t leave. If the American, German, etc. families left ubf, they would have just the Koreans remaining. If ubf is a college ministry, they should have mostly single non-Korean college students among them, especially single college students leading most of the ministry. But they don’t. Instead the audience at this staff conference is made up of married couples whose average age is likely about 40.

“And it’s important to note that such question is asked by those who love our ministry. The fact is that some of us have devoted our life to campus mission for 10, 20 or 30 years but with very little to show for (humanly speaking). Like men going through a mid-life crisis, we may be wondering what has happened to our life.”

Correct. Such questions are asked by those who love ubf ministry. Such questions are asked by people like myself who also love ubf ministry even though I am no longer part of the ministry.  Ubf does have something to show for their effort. They have earned the cult label from several organizations and from their public image. They have earned the responsibility to bear the burden of abusing people around the world for five decades. Such things are what cause your ubf staff to have moments of crisis. And they are also dealing with the real mid-life crisis of wondering what you did with your life. When you turn 40, it is normal to experience such things. It is harmful to your psyche to suppress or ignore such emotions.

“We all agree that the Bible is at the core of our ministry. It is in our DNA. It’s in our bones and marrows. We believe that the word of God leads us to Jesus. It leads us to eternal life in the kingdom of God.”

Correct, the bible is at the core of ubf ministry. Is that a good thing? I say no. ubf has made the bible into an idol, like many fundamentalist groups have. Being biblio-centric doesn’t automatically make your ministry honoring to God. Perhaps you should spend some time thinking about whether the bible should be at the core. Should not Jesus, the living God, the Person, the Shepherd be there? Does not Jesus our Lord want to be the core? Assuming that because you spend many hours reading the bible you automatically also have Jesus at your center is a very bad assumption.

You say that the word of God leads us to Jesus and leads to eternal life in the kingdom of God. Technically that’s correct. But why emphasize the “going to heaven” message? Where is love for your neighbor, love for your families, and love for your enemies?

“Francis Chan, a pastor in California, said, “If Jesus had a church here (in Simi Valley), mine would be bigger.” What he meant is that Jesus’ preaching would not be very popular today. It’s his critical observation that people today want to hear something that tickles their itching ears. The pure, unadulterated gospel may sound quaint and uninteresting to them. They would rather turn to something new, something more interesting. So some preachers tend to quote a Bible verse or two and then quickly move on to something people want to hear.”

Can you hear the pride oozing from this? Wow! Ubf is a small ministry who spends a lot of time reading the bible. Therefore, ubf is better than Francis Chan’s ministry! Ubf is just like Jesus’ ministry. If Jesus were here today, surely Jesus would set up an unpopular ministry like ubf….

Speaking of that “unadulterated gospel”…. What is the gospel? Why do ubf Koreans get so nervous and even angry when I ask this question? Maybe we could talk about this wonderful gospel? Or is that a waste of time?

And speaking of preachers quoting a few bible verses and moving on to what their audience’s itching ears want to hear… isn’t that what you are doing here Daniel? You quoted a bible verse but don’t speak about it much. You move on quickly to affirm the glory and rightness of ubf ministry, soothing the ears of your audience for a moment.

“In our campus, there is a Christian group that attracts a large gathering each week. I sometimes envy them. Some of our Bible students would leave us to join them, because they can have more fun there and also because they have a better chance of meeting a girlfriend or boyfriend there. On the other hand, only a few students come to our campus fellowship meetings. So again this summer, our student leaders are seeking God’s wisdom on how to reach out to more students. We’ve discussed having games, music, dance, and café after each meeting. But we know that whatever we do, we should always let the word of God be the main focus.”

Ah those darn, unspiritual, mamby-pamby, weak, licentious Christian groups! Argh, if only they wouldn’t attract so many students! Then ubf ministry would flourish! We need much wisdom about how to get students away from such evil influences and get them to attend our boring, mundane, flawed bible study! But just wait another 50 years… we’ll figure it out eventually. Just show us grace.

“We consider our Bible study ministry so precious because the word of God led each of us to Jesus and eternal life. At the beginning of each semester, I ask my students in my economics classes what their life goal is–what they hope to do after college. A majority of them would say: “to make a lot of money and be happy.” They have no idea on some of the important questions in life, such as “Who am I?” “Where did I come from?” and “What will happen when I die?” Instead, their interest is on how to have fun and pleasure.”

Well ok, we get it. Students just want to have fun. That’s bad. Ok fine. But to say ALL students are just unspiritual, unchristian pagans? Really? So it is ubf against the world afterall? Give me a break!

“I believe that the focus of our ministry on preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ is pleasing to the Lord. However, there is one point that Steve Lutz makes, which we may need to heed. He describes a campus group known for its strong biblical, doctrinal, and teaching emphasis. Their students know the Scriptures inside and out. The problem, he says, is that they are ill-equipped to have a meaningful conversation with someone who doesn’t know or follow Christ (p. 32). “

Yes! That’s correct! Ah so Lutz makes one valid point that you should listen to. That’s good. Now we are getting somewhere. Or are we?

“This is serious. Lutz cites statistics that a majority of college students today (85%) identify themselves as non-believers. Some are downright hostile toward God. We need to understand their way of thinking and culture. We need to know their language in order to serve them more effectively. Studying the Bible with them once a week is not enough. This takes us to our last name in our identity—fellowship.”

Oh so ubf has already solved the problem Lutz speaks about. All that amazing fellowship at ubf creates such eloquent, world-class communicators! Ubf people can have such wonderful, graceful conversations with other people outside of ubf? So I would expect a boat-load of ubfriends articles and comments here, engaging all of the pagans like myself? Don’t hold your breath folks.


Now we get to what Daniel Lee really wants to talk about: UNIVERSITY BIBLE FELLOWSHIP. Such a glorious name! Such a glorious ministry doing God’s work the best ways!

“Several years ago, one Bible student left our ministry, saying, “This church does not have love.” I was shocked and deeply hurt. We had served him with the word of God and prayer. We also shared many meals with him. But clearly he didn’t feel our love. St. Paul said, “If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing” (1Co 13:2). Since then, our church slogan is “To love God and to love each other” based on Jesus’ command. Of course, we realize that slogan doesn’t make a difference until we practice it.”

Correct! There is no love at ubf, in most ubf chapters. Why? Because serving is NOT love! It took you 50 years to figure that out?


Wait, wasn’t this the title of part 1 and part 2? Oh but we must revel in the glory of UNIVERSITY BIBLE FELLOWSHIP some more. Did you get that? What is our identity? I forgot. Oh yea, UNIVERSITY BIBLE FELLOWSHIP.

“Should we continue to focus on college mission? Well, this is in our name–University. Before we talk about this, let me ask you, “Would you raise your hand if you met Jesus personally while you were in college?” (Most of us!) I think this is one of the powerful reasons why we all love our ministry and want to help college students to come to know Christ.”

Wait, no I did NOT meet Christ first at ubf! I was conditioned to believe that was the case, but many of us had already met Christ BEFORE that fateful ubf bible study appointment. What about us? Why does that diminish your ministry?

“Ever since our early leaders gathered together in college campuses to study the word of God and pray, God has blessed our ministry. He raised up many disciples and sent out many missionaries to all over the world. Just as the Holy Spirit blessed the early churches in the book of Acts, God has blessed our ministries. This is a compelling reason why we should stick to our college mission.”

Ah the nostalgia. Ubf is so much like the early churches in the  bible.  That nostalgia is why we should stick to college mission. Isn’t that the best reason really? We always have done this, our “ancestors” always did this. And what is more, we are doing just what the first churches did. We are so glorious.

“Still, some may argue that God didn’t specifically say we should go to college campuses. Instead, Jesus told us to go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creations (Mk 16:15). He said we should go and make disciples of all nations (Mt 28:19).”

Correct, that is a good argument.

“So why limit ourselves to college campuses? This sounds reasonable. But I don’t believe that focusing a particular population group for evangelism is unbiblical either. After all, college students are part of the world and part of God’s creation. Just as God has blessed some ministries focused on prison inmates, entertainers or athletes, God can and has blessed the ministries focused on college students.”

Note: All those other ministries did not try to become a church. Ubf wants to be both a denominational church and a ministry network. And that is one reason why ubf will fall apart and split in the future.

“What makes campus mission difficult is that it takes a long time to raise a disciple of Jesus. Most college students do not expect to be longer than 4 years on campus. They want to move on. This makes small town ministries especially difficult.”

Yes this is precisely why ubf developed the six stage training program, to fit mostly in 4 years and to condition and entangle students to stay at least a few years after graduating.

“What I personally learned early on is that we should help students with the gospel of Jesus whether they stay in the ministry or not. If they move on to another city, we are sorry to see them go, but the word of God planted in them will stay with them. We need a long term approach. Lutz says, “Campus ministry can’t be concerned only with programs, events or activities that are happening next week. We must focus on the spiritual formation of students for the missio Dei, a lifetime of following Jesus and joining him in his mission, making our goal to make disciples for the mission of God. After all, wasn’t that Jesus’s primary goal?” (p. 104)”

Correct. Good advice. Let the students go free!

“In conclusion, God has used our Bible study ministry to raise up disciples of Jesus from among college students. Thank God for blessing the sacrifices and prayers of our precious coworkers. We have many challenges ahead. But we believe that God will continue to bless our campus ministries as we take care of young students with God’s words and prayers, out of our love for Jesus. May God help us to hear Jesus when he says to us, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you”!”

Ok fine. But what about the families? What about the children? You speak as though your audience is made up of unmarried students.

Anyone think ubf will change? Think again. Just entertain the idea of a Christian ministry, but keep enabling, propagating and guarding the ubf heritage. World history is at stake and all of Christian history depends on it, apparently.


  1. Joe Schafer

    When I read the report posted on the ubf website, I was disappointed by the lack of meaningful interaction with the ideas in Steve Lutz’s book.

    Steve is a friend who lives here in central Pennsylvania and has preached in our church. One of my sons attends his campus fellowship group (Elements). When I told Steve that ubf staff were being required to read his book, he was surprised. Steve has some good ideas about campus ministry, he knows something about ubf, and on the whole ubf is NOT doing the kinds of things that he envisions. Perhaps in the future I will do an interview with him and post it here on UBFriends.

    • An interview with Steve Lutz would be a great idea. Everyone who attended that staff conference last weekend was supposed to write a book review. I wonder if ubf staffers would share their reviews here?

      I would ask Steve the following:

      1. How do you see families fitting in with college ministry?

      2. How can we respect college students who are adults who can think for themselves while doing college ministry?

      3. What qualities would you expect to see in a world class communicator and leader among college students?

  2. Mark Mederich

    I like the photo: it reminds me of a small carving of 3 monkeys on our kitchen windowsill (see no evil/speak no evil/hear no evil)

    • That is the image that came to mind after reading this lecture, Mark. Perhaps that is the best one line summary of KOPAHN theology.

  3. My overly simplistic thought is that the UBF staff who read Stephen Lutz’s book will think, feel or conclude something like this: “We are already doing most of what Lutz wrote in this book.”

    I say this because when I read Robert Coleman’s Master Plan of Evangelism a few decades ago, that is exactly what I thought! “We’re already doing what Coleman wrote.” Everyone that I shared this with more or less agreed in one way or another.

    The difference between a few decades ago and now is the jarring discordance of many indigenous leaders—who were once regarded as promising and committed “leadership material”—having left the ministry already, usually with varying degrees of frustration, anger and disgruntlement.

    Daniel Lee’s report says: “There is great work of God going on in places like El Camino, UIC, Lincoln Park, and many other small campuses.” I’m not going to question the veracity of the statement. But I do wonder if this is a comfort for UBFers at large (“there is great work of God going on”), or a wake up call to seriously examine in depth what we are doing (only these few campuses after 50 years!).

    Usually after half a century of doing something or one thing–campus mission–you get better at it.

  4. According to the Staff Conf. Report, Dr. Daniel Lee “stressed the importance of remaining on the campus and not abandoning campus ministry, because university students are the future leaders of the world.” (

    • That’s the message the reporter wanted people to hear. The actual lecture that is published publicly says nothing about remaining on campus or abandoning campus ministry.

      I’m SO glad I can see through such crap so easily now. No more guilt trips about abandoning my mission! But thank God for my 6 stage ubf training because now I can rule the world… from my folding chair that is…and with my most precious Konglish…

  5. “Correct! There is no love at ubf, in most ubf chapters. Why? Because serving is NOT love! It took you 50 years to figure that out?”

    Particularly serving is not love when it is done with ulterior motives (like increasing your ministry and honor and offering money or binding people to you and make them believe they “owe” you). That’s more like self-serving.

    • By the way, I also remember a member of our chapter whose final conclusion was “there is no love in UBF” when she left (actually she was divorced by her hard-core UBF husband when she started to become critical).

  6. Yes, Chris, the real issue is the baggage ubf leaders tie onto their serving you. And certainly serving others can be an expression of love. To simply serve some “sheep” and call it love is so superficial, and when serving becomes a means to gain loyalty, it becomes self-serving and wrong and certainly not of Christ.

    There is a book that speaks to this on a deeper level, “The 5 Love Languages“. Words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch can all be expressions of love. But they are not love in and of themselves. And just because some ubf shepherds do such things, does not mean they are so loving.

    Different people need to receive different kinds of love expressions at different times in their lives, and most people seem to have a built-in need for certain kinds of expressions of love. We can’t just express what we think is love the same way all the time to all people.

  7. bekamartin

    Thank you! Very good insights!

  8. forestsfailyou

    I was given Lutz book to read, although I have just skimmed though it. When I finish I might be able to articulate something better. One passage that stood out to me (that was underlined by the owner of the book) was “Christians are disciples, disciples are Christians.” You have to then wonder, which of these are you defining first. I think that many in UBF chose to define “disciple” first, which they take to be someone in UBF who has demonstrated commitment to campus ministry. Taken together with Lutz’s statement here we have a very, very dangerous issue of defining Christianity in the narrow view of UBF. I have heard this idea implicitly expressed before and I am sure many can attest to it. The way that Christendom has done this has been though the Nician Creed. It puts emphasis on belief in a God who changes and leads people.

    As for campus ministry, I spoke with my friend who is support raising to go as a full time missionary to India. He will be on college campuses in Mumbai. He said college is a time where people choose to give up their faith or keep it for the rest of their lives. He said furthermore campus ministry is important because by ministering to a college which draws people from many different places when they leave they go out to many places, fulfilling Mat 28:19. In India for example he disciples a young woman who had never even heard the name Jesus. She was able to take Jesus and the gospel back with her to her remote village.

  9. MJ Peace

    The incident with the Lutz book is a prime example of the difference between exegesis and eisegesis. These aren’t new concepts but the differences between them are so immense that I want to repeat them. Eisegesis is when we have pre-conceived ideas about the text before we read it. In certain Bible Studies, I have attended, I knew what the Bible teacher was going to say before we even started the Bible Study. For example, we would study John 4 because I was being a Samaritan woman or Luke 9:23 because I was going to be given a direction that would be unappealing to me. John 21:17 was studied because I didn’t love Jesus as evident by my lack of one-to-ones. Or retelling the story of Isaac and Rebekah’s marriage was to remind me the way believers get married is by arranged marriages from one’s Bible Teacher. This practice of taking apart the Bible to fit an agenda is so harmful. And I’m not speaking about it only in a UBF context. Any “church” that does that is dangerous, especially when people pick through certain verses to support their political agenda or social policies.
    We need to practice exegesis, where we discover the meaning of the text objectively from the text itself and with the help of the Holy Spirit. I remember studying with M. Barry and she said every time she studied a passage it was like studying it for the first time. That’s the attitude we need and not to read everything through a UBF lens. Campus ministry is not the focus; loving God, loving other, knowing Him and making him known is the focus, campus ministry is just a little part of that.

    • +1. I miss not being able to click LIKE.

    • My hope is that we will all engage in more conversation, explaining why and what we like or dislike, as well as expanding on various points.

    • “M. Barry and she said every time she studied a passage it was like studying it for the first time”

      I wished it was like that, but M. Barry was and is first in keeping and protecting the UBF heritage and abusing the Bible with these pre-conceived ideas. UBF leaders claim a lot of nice-sounding things, and people tend to believe it, but compare what they say and preach with what they really do. Mr. Samuel Lee even claimed that he invented “inductive” Bible study, i.e. to read things only out of the text, but not into the text. Just take any of these profound-sounding statements by UBF leaders, make a simple reality check and find that more often than not the exact opposite of what the claim is the case.

      To really do what M. Sarry claimes requires an open mind which sadly she never seemed to possess. As she admitted herself, she simply deleted any email coming from reformers without even reading it. This shows how close-minded and frozen in her UBF delusion she was and still is. I have zero respect of her, no matter how old she is, and how much people believe her to be “wise” and “humble”, because she tolerated all the spiritual abuse plus things like misappropriation of money and even forced abortions and helped covering them up, and then even helped in ousting and defaming those who tried to point out such grievances. What she absolutely needs is somebody close to her who calls her out for doing these things so that she can come out of her self-righteous delusion and repent before she dies. Since many see her as a role model, maybe that would also help others repent and change something in UBF.

    • I would tend to agree Chris. In 2011, my wife and I met Sarah B. for about 6 hours in Toledo. We had dinner and explained the problems my wife and I saw and experienced about ubf (all of which I’ve already articulated here on ubfriends).

      Her response was “I have no authority to do anything about the problems.” I told her that was not true, her influence could nearly instantly and profoundly transform ubf ministry worldwide.

      Her silence and continued defense of ubf heritage is like a plug in the bathtub holding the water in. One honest, public letter from SB could spark redemption and reconciliation at the ubf ministry worldwide. Now that would be glory to God.

    • I’m sorry for being harsh again, but if I read such statements from UBF leaders I just makes me sick. Just as the recent “abortion is murder” passage in a Chicago UBF message.

      On a more positive note, I want to say that I really liked what various people commented here in the last days. I wished I could press a big like button for you all.

    • “Her response was “I have no authority to do anything about the problems.” I told her that was not true,”

      Of couse this is not true, she even was general director of UBF for some years. And she knows that pretty well, so she is lying. She knows very well how much she is adored in the UBF world, with the official titles of “Mother” and “Reverend” and status as co-founder and missionary to Korea. She obviously enjoys this adoration very much, never told people to not call her “Mother” (so much about obeying the Bible). She knows very well that she has big influence, that she is the single most respected person in the UBF world, but she doesn’t dare to make this step because she wants to keep things like they are, and keep her self-delusion of UBF and her role in UBF. She should admit that instead of resorting to lies.

    • bekamartin

      MJ Peace, YES!! This is exactly how I feel and have felt for years, but UBF seems to not follow the Holy Spirit in anything!! I would pray and listen to Christian radio preachers and I believed I was led by the Holy Spirit, but when I shared what I learned with my UBF co-workers, they didn’t seem to get it. Maybe it was just Cincinnati UBF. But after I attended a Korean Bible conference my husband and I were sent to pioneer NKU UBF and things went downhill from there.

    • “I would pray and listen to Christian radio preachers and I believed I was led by the Holy Spirit, but when I shared what I learned with my UBF co-workers, they didn’t seem to get it.”

      Sharing that you learned from anybody else is somewhat of a faux pas in UBF. Share that you learned and “received grace” or “orientation” from your chapter director or a UBF lecture, and you’re welcome.

  10. MJ this is a great topic for more discussion:

    “The incident with the Lutz book is a prime example of the difference between exegesis and eisegesis.”

    My first comment is that we all have to recognize our default eisegesis. No one can escape eisegesis. That is why we must continually make a real effort for exegesis, not just with the Holy Scripture, but with writings of other people as well. It is very easy and human nature to read something searching for affirmation of our own ideas.

    That’s what ubf was for me in a nutshell: one giant journey searching for affirmation. Now that I have surrendered to grace, submitted to the Holy Spirit and welcomed input from many kinds of people, I no longer need affirmation.

    It was so wonderful and life-giving to embark on personal bible studies of Hebrews, Job, and Romans, as well as a personal bible study on grace. These became the foundation of my belief system, which I label as a lambhearted lion expression of outlaw theology.

    Never again will I see the world or my self or my friends or my family through the lens of ubf KOPAHN theology.

    • Just want to point out something… “Now that I have surrendered to grace, submitted to the Holy Spirit and welcomed input from many kinds of people, I no longer need affirmation.”

      This thought got cut off when I type it… Affirmation is “emotional support or encouragement”. I certainly do need affirmation in general :) But I no longer need affirmation in regard to my belief system.

      My epic surrender to grace taught me that it is very important for me to work out my personal belief system AND that it is equally important for me not to impose my belief system on other people.

      We will all end our lives with flawed and incomplete theology. The deeper question is will we live our lives expressing love, caring for the marginalized and working for justice?

  11. As many have shared, some in the UBF hierarchy have created a system and a paradigm where you look for approval, acceptance and affirmation from your leaders. This invariably causes some UBFers to live before the leader’s “noonchi,” rather than living before the presence of God. This also programs some UBFers speech and behavior patterns.

    I tangentially addressed this “artificially created need for a leader’s approval” in my sermon yesterday: based on 1 Cor 4:3-4.

    • That is a really good sermon, Ben, thanks for sharing. The only expansion I would make would be to include the reality of self-deception. I just started reading a book called “Leadership and Self-Deception“. This was on the reading list at my local church leadership cohort that my wife and I went through in 2013. I wasn’t able to read the whole book then so I’m revisiting it again. Being self-forgetful is good and healthy, but we need to be cautious of self-deception.

      These questions are very good. I wonder if such questions will ever be asked at a ubf staff conference?

      Are you easily hurt and offended by others?
      > My skin is very thick. But still words of others sting. Having thick skin just means the sting doesn’t last very long. I’ve learned to seek out criticism so that I can learn about my blind spots.

      Just how fragile is your ego?
      > My ego is very strong :) My forehead is like flint…

      What’s wrong with Christians?
      > Well that’s a vague question. I’m not sure what you are asking here?

      Is your heart radically changed by the grace of God?
      > Yes! My epic fight against sin turned into an epic surrender to God’s grace. Now I’m embarking on an epic search for goodness and developing an epic vision of glory.

      Why is there division in the church?
      > In my observation and reading of Scripture and in much prayer time spent listening for the promptings of the Spirit, the answer is that the church is divided because of the Law. The Law will never unite Christians. Only the Spirit can. Until we realize that striving to obey the Law, either partially or fully, is a cursed way of life according to the bible, we will continue to divide and separate. Who can agree on what parts of the Law we are to follow? Who can agree on what kind of behavior is holy? The answer lies in the gospel Jesus preached which is to live by the Spirit and the law of love.

  12. I posed the question, “What’s wrong with Christians?” with the thought or presumption that Christians should be “much better” than “godless” non-Christians. But is this the experience of many people who have encountered so-called “holy, spiritual Christians”?

    So, I wrote, “After becoming a Christian, we know we should love (God, others, enemies). Yet–if we are honest enough to admit it–instead of loving others we are upset, even by Christians who attend the same church. Two Christians attending the same church for three decades won’t look at each other or talk to each other, apart from shallow superficial meaningless pleasantries and platitudes.”

    • OK thanks, that clarifies. My answer is that many Christians are caught in the first stage of the genuine spiritual renewal that occurs when the Spirit intervenes in one’s life. The first stage seems to be an epic fight against sin. In the West we are conditioned by Christian leaders to fight against sin.

      We ought to move onward to more maturity, namely an epic surrender to grace, an epic search for goodness and an epic vision of glory. Too many Christians can’t move away from the supervision of the Law out of fear. But isn’t that fear part of what Christ dissolved on the cross?

  13. One story about this question Ben, “But is this the experience of many people who have encountered so-called “holy, spiritual Christians”?”

    Here is my experience. My encounters with people who intentionally claim to be Christian has been what you express; a sub-par experience that is easily superseded by beer buddy fellowship.

    But those who have a clear self-identity as Christ-followers have shown me exceeding love, care, attention, helpfulness and honesty. I found such a thing at your own WL church.

    The difference is just what I tried to articulate in my article, Why I am not a Christian. My main point is that we should have the mindset that we are following Christ, not that we are becoming Christ (regardless of whether that is true or not). Basically, those who realize the value of this statement act very differently from those who don’t know what I’m talking about: I am me. You are you. I am not you. You are not me. I am not Christ. Christ is not me. You are not Christ. Christ is not you.

  14. A major problem with us Christians is that we often fail to communicate to others and to the world what Christ communicated, which is a disarming humility and unconditional love, which we Christians might be afraid of expressing for fear that it might be abused!

    Can anyone articulate this any better than C.S. Lewis in his chapter The Great Sin in Mere Christianity?:

  15. “On a more positive note, I want to say that I really liked what various people commented here in the last days. I wished I could press a big like button for you all.” – See more at:

    Yes, Chris, I believe that something is happening, even from among those who are still in UBF. I believe the public forum and the social media is helping more and more UBFers to become more bold and vocal about issues and problems that were simply ignored, dismissed and swept under the carpet in the past.

    But now it seems that Jesus might be fulfilling his promise in Lk 12:3!

  16. Joe Schafer

    “Several years ago, one Bible student left our ministry, saying, “This church does not have love.” I was shocked and deeply hurt. We had served him with the word of God and prayer. We also shared many meals with him. But clearly he didn’t feel our love.” – See more at:

    Why didn’t that student feel the love?

    Perhaps because it wasn’t love.

    “Now there is a spiritual selfishness which even poisons the good act of giving to another. Spiritual goods are greater than the material, and it is possible for me to love selfishly in the very act of depriving myself of material things for the benefit of another. If my gift is intended to bind him to me, to put him under an obligation, to exercise a kind of hidden moral tyranny over his soul, then in loving him I am really loving myself. And this is a greater and more insidious selfishness, since it traffics not in flesh and blood but in other persons’ souls.”

    – Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island

    • +1. Excellent Merton quote. I bought No Man is an Island but have not read it.

      When a friend who attended the conference told me about the student who was served endlessly and yet left because he felt no love, I asked, “Does Daniel Lee or anyone else even know why the student did not feel loved, even though he was served in countless ways? Did anyone at the conference even ask this question?”

      I’ve heard similar accounts countless times over the years. Each time I seriously wondered if the “sacrificial shepherd and missionary” even knew or understood why “the sheep was so unthankful and ran away after we sacrificed so much to serve him.”

    • Joe Schafer

      In my experience, no one in ubf has seriously asked that question. Rather, it is just assumed that, if sheep don’t respond to the missionary’s efforts to serve them and raise them as shepherds, it is because
      * the sheep are ungrateful
      * the sheep have a beggar’s mentality
      * the sheep don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus
      and so on. Or sometimes they will say
      * the missionary didn’t serve them enough,
      * the missionary didn’t pray hard enough, or
      * the missionary didn’t have enough faith.
      But to my knowledge, no one has ever seriously questioned whether the kind of “love” that ubf missionaries give to their sheep is in fact love.

    • Joe Schafer

      Ben, here is an interesting story that I might never have told you.

      There was a missionary who pioneered his own chapter in the United States and eventually raised two shepherds. Both of these young men married by faith and appeared to be well on their way to becoming “Abrahams of faith” and so on. The ministry appeared to be successful, to about the same degree that Shippensburg UBF is seen to be successful.

      But this missionary became very ill and eventually died. On his deathbed, he was surprised that the two shepherds whom he had raised didn’t seem to show much concern. They didn’t seem to care that their “spriritual father” was dying. (I’m sure that, at some level, they did care, but they didn’t know how to express love or provide comfort.) At that point, the missionary began to realize that something in his relationship with these two young men was fundamentally wrong. He had followed the UBF narrative. He had served them and trained them and raised them as “spiritual leaders” and coworkers. But he hadn’t really connected with them as human beings, and whatever bonds of love existed between him and them were superficial. After the missionary died, neither of these young men remained in his ministry.

    • Joe Schafer

      So perhaps missionaries will begin to ask those fundamental questions. When they reach the end of their lives, or when they face a crisis that shakes their ideology and forces them to get real.

    • Thanks for sharing that story Joe. It is most helpful in shedding light on my family’s departure from ubf. Someone said we caused division that was like a sort of death. I don’t deny that; but I believe such “mini deaths” need to occur in order for some of us to wake up.

      Some ubfers can remain in the ministry and slowly work for change. But for hardcore KOPAHN ubfers like myself, the best option is a clean break and mini death/closing of my ministry.

  17. Ben, I promised a write up of my experience of the conference but I ended up not going. Anyway, my response to this lecture as a current member is that it is highly disappointing, incredibly frustrating, and often contradictory and assuming. I found it to be more of the same rhetoric to dupe yourself into continuing to do the same old things in the same old ways. It doesn’t honestly address any of the good questions/issues that are raised at times.

    Some comments I had to write down as I was reading the lecture.

    1. Lack of responsibility: The lack of / declining growth for the college ministry is blamed on “post-modernism.” Is there really not any fault on UBF’s part? If post-modernism really is the problem, then UBF ought to take responsibility for not having adjusted to help students who are “post-modern”. That’s a big “if.” Why condemn post-modernism in the first place? Why is it wrong to be post-modern? Should we be just “modern”? Was Jesus “modern”? Did his disciples not have any ideological conflicts with his teachings? Jesus found his generation to be adulterous and wicked (in asking for signs and wonders). Why can UBF not admit that it has failed to adjust to its target audience? Why must UBF be the standard by which all should conform to? Of course, the answer given is that UBF’s ways are biblical. But shouldn’t there at least be a question in regards to this? I’ve heard of the problem of post-modernism at so many staff conferences. Are we completely outside of our times and its influence?

    2. Pride and Victimization: The lack of responsibility for UBF’s effectiveness further shows me both pride and victimization. UBF is proud about what she has done for 50 years, and is also a victim: of the times, of other ministries, of students with bad attitudes and many questions, and so on. Instead of giving thoughtful answers or dialogue with the many good questions Daniel Lee brings up throughout the lecture, he goes back to pride and victimizing. The book is referenced only to show how UBF is either right or has been wronged.

    Another hint of pride: UBF could have made “ordinary Christians” but instead chose to make disciples. What the heck is an ordinary Christian? Actually, I do know what he is implying here. But what are the fruits, these “trained spiritual leaders”? For the most part, I continue to see the same people leading and the same people being led. He refers to students as potentially “world leaders.” This is also disingenuous to me because those students who do remain are taught to sacrifice everything for the sake of their mission. How many world leaders were “raised” in UBF? How does becoming a world leader fit into the UBF long-term disciples’ life? Rather, students give up the pursuit for leadership in the world. So what is UBF doing by focusing on future world leaders without encouraging them to be world leaders? (I will admit that in my chapter, our previous director often encouraged me and another American brother to pray to become president of the United States).

    Back to “ordinary Christians,” who are we to judge others like this? Based on my limited knowledge of one of the “small” ministries mentioned as a good example, I would not call it a good example at all. At least there should be some kind of audit or explanation or disclosure of what is exemplary beyond numbers. But my guess is that the only audits done are on the numbers of 1:1’s and Sunday Worship attendees while the same controlling UBF practices continue behind the scenes.

    I think we ought to take responsibility by listening to the criticisms from students and from each other. Justifying our actions and yet creating a new slogan imply that not much of anything is going to change or has changed. Explore the criticism. It doesn’t mean that the critique is correct, but it might be. Anyway it should be acknowledged that that student sincerely did not feel love was present there.

    3. Regarding the mindset of students: They are post-modern, hedonistic and “thoughtless,” yet the campus “is a place for discussing thoughts and finding out what to believe.” Students are taking all of the blame. They are both thoughtless, and discussing thoughts, believes and are on the way to being world leaders at the campuses. They also like to be entertained. What the heck is wrong with having fun and being entertained?

    4. Regarding continuing the campus ministry because that is how God worked in “my” life and “your” life. To this my question is, “So what?” Just because God worked in your life in this way doesn’t mean that you have to keep doing this kind of evangelising or that others have to have God work in their lives in the same way. Again, the focus is turned away from the target audience and understanding them or their situation, etc. Daniel Lee seems very confused. At the beginning he said that there are questions about what UBF is and should do now. Yet he said that God gave him a clear meaning and purpose in a way that others would resonate with that, say Amen, and agree that it is also clear for them (that is, that the calling they had when they were students still applies today to be 1:1 campus shepherds and produce such forever). Why is unreasonable to think that your ministry direction can change? Why do UBF people have such questions about their meaning and purpose yet their meaning and purpose are very clear?

    5. Regarding the use of the name UNIVERSITY BIBLE FELLOWSHIP: Daniel Lee said that God changed Abraham’s name and Jesus changed Peter’s name. Isn’t it fair game then for UBF’s name to change? Is not, why? My point is that the name was not questioned but used from the beginning to justify to keep on doing the same things. Maybe UBF should not change its name or practices. Maybe it should. Is it wrong to explore this question? The lecture already admits that others are questioning it.

    • Charles, your comment literally invoked streams of tears our of joy from me! I am speechless and breathless… if there is anything I want from ubf people, it is the kind of thinking you just expressed. I don’t give a rat’s patooky about whether someone stays or leaves ubf or whether the ministry stays open or shuts down.

      Even thought it has been 3 entire years since I closed down my ubf chapter, I care deeply about whether the community I gave my entire adult formative years to realizes the things you just expressed.

      In the words of the great lifted Lorax, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

    • forestsfailyou

      It’s possible a name change would be considered to throw off internet searches.

  18. forestsfailyou

    “The implication is that we could simply help students to be an ordinary Christian… But Lutz says every Christian should be a disciple of Jesus.”

    Dr. Daniel Lee must have read page 104 of the book he gave the conference on rather quickly:

    “A disciple is a Christian, and a Christian is a disciple. As a result of our modern obsession with compartmentalizing, we have acted as if there are two kinds of people in the Church- Christians (the ones who “asked Jesus into their heart”) and disciples (the ones who are more serious, more *disciplined* about their faith). But this isn’t a biblical distinction.”

    • MJ Peace


    • bekamartin

      forests, My parents belong to the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. But recently they changed it to Community of Christ Church so they are no longer associated with the Mormon church.

  19. This is really quite sad and unfortunate, though not really unexpected: “On his deathbed, he was surprised that the two shepherds whom he had raised didn’t seem to show much concern.” – See more at:

    Don’t you think the two shepherds were behaving exactly the way they were “trained”?

    They were trained to be absolute and uncompromising soldiers of Christ who will fight the good fight unto death (2 Tim 4:7), not be involved in civilian affairs (2 Tim 2:3-4) and to let the dead bury the dead (Lk 9:60), but no matter what they were to go feed sheep (Jn 21:15-17) and raise disciples (Mt 28:19) for UBF world campus mission.

  20. Joe Schafer

    Many of us were relationally challenged before we came into UBF. We can’t blame the training for that. But the training we received certainly didn’t help us to become whole, healthy, emotionally balanced, honest and loving human beings.

  21. bekamartin

    Joe S., The story about the dying missionary and his 2 raised sheep is so very sad!! It reminds me of how unconcerned my ex-husband was in the end of our marriage and how unconcerned Cincinnati UBF was during that whole time. I pray continually to be a concerned person in the lives of those around me, still working on that. :)

  22. “…how unconcerned Cincinnati UBF was during that whole time.” – See more at:

    This is not to defend anyone, but for 50 years most UBF leaders have primarily focused on only one thing (world campus mission, discipleship training), to the degree that everything else, including death, divorce and depression, etc, becomes relegated to “unimportant,” relatively speaking.

    Speaking for myself, I know that I did not know how to be holistic or whole as a Christian. I did not know how to relate to other Christians outside of UBF. I did not know how to relate to Christians who were not “studying the Bible one to one and feeding sheep.” Heck, I did not even know how to relate to my own family members and old friends for way over 2 decades after I became a Christian in Chicago in 1980!

    I’m not saying I know what to do now. But I think I realize that the way I was a Christian in the 80s’ and 90s’ was quite weird, unnatural, sectarian and cultish, to put it mildly and nicely.

  23. bekamartin

    Ben, EXACTLY!

  24. To sum the answer up to the main point from this post is very simple….

    Mobile | Internet society =’s
    – Lower Attention Span
    – All Information Access on anything at anytime

    UBF’S biggest downfall (especially because of the cultural disconnect) has been and always will be it’s inability to relate/connect with those they are trying to “fish”

    People at that age are going through the problems of youth.
    – sex | Love | Betrayal | Identity | insecurities | substances

    No “shepherd” is ever going to start a sentence to a “sheep” with – “I totally understand, I remember in college at my frat…” LOL

    The only reason or people that the UBF have success with are the young people who have large issues with neglect, depression, or abandonment. It’s pretty clear to see how the 6 step process can cause someone with these traits to feel appreciated and eventually committed.

    On top of that, we live in an age where we can google everything. So if a parent had concerns, they could just google it and show their college kid why their concerns are “validated”

    Why do you think the UBF has an obvious “low key” presence on Social Media. The last thing they want is for people to go online and google them lol. And the people that do, would never show up in the first place.

    As a whole, the internet now forces accountability on businesses & institutions. Plus, the speed and quantity of sharing that much information has mainly made this a progressive fast moving/evolving generation.

    Progressive and evolving are the last words to describe the UBF. They are the complete opposite.

    That point alone answers the article’s question…

    “Why is this Korean director in Pennsylvania repeatedly considered the expert in campus discipleship among ubf leaders?”

    Unfortunately, common Sense & the UBF don’t go hand in hand.