My First Few Days in Chicago

cLast Friday Chicago held a campus mission night. I traveled from St. Louis to Chicago for the event. My pastor had the missionary meeting so he was not present. To be truthful I was not entirely sure why I went. It is prohibitively expensive to travel there, since I currently only make $100 dollars a week as a graduate student. I found that I could take a bus there for only $20 and my spring break started the following week so there was no homework to worry about. I left Thursday around 2pm and arrived late. I will try to be protracted in parts I think readers will want to hear, and brief in other parts. I encourage any reader to leave any questions in the comments, a lot can happen in three days after all.


I arrived late Thursday and had a very long talk with one of the students from the Hyde Park chapter. He asked how things had been. Honestly the messages in my chapter have greatly changed in the last year. I really see that God has worked on my pastor. He no longer adds world mission into places where I do not feel it is obvious. Our relationship is better these days, and he understands that our relationship is very different. I try to understand him more, and I try to communicate more with him. The student was glad to hear. We talked a lot and I got to sleep very late. I had requested to have bible study with the chapter leader the next morning so I was very tired by the time I awoke. He asked me to read the book of Ephesians and give a brief outline.


I brought my outline to the bible study. I outlined the book as such:

• Blessings of the Spirit
• Who Christ is and his role in God’s redemptive plan.
• Who Paul is and his role in God’s redemptive plan.
What the Church is and its role in God’s redemptive plan.
• How the church ought to act to carry out that plan and how its members should act to help carry out that plan.
• A call to persevere against Satan.

He showed me his outline which was much more detailed. We talked about how the church should proclaim the kingdom. And he taught me how the church should shepherd God’s people, but the context of John 10 needed to be carefully understood. He said that UBF has been given shepherds. I mentioned that while the sacrificial nature of UBF shepherds and their great love for their students was its strength sometimes it was had been over stepped. He corrected me “Many times.” He mentioned that shepherds proclaim the kingdom. It was a very good bible study. Later that day I went to campus night.

Campus Night

People were totally bewildered to see me. I think in large part because I was unaccompanied by my “shepherd”. I suppose it is also surprising to see someone travel such a long way when they are really obligated in any way. It didn’t escape my notice that Yvonne Lee stared for a long time. I eventually moved to the back and when I saw Dr. Augustine he was shocked to see me.

Later Dr. John Lee from Springfield joined. The first speaker was Jacob Lee. I remember he was funny. At one point he said “I was not good enough to called Abraham so they named me Jacob which means deceiver. But I came to like the name since he had 12 sons.” I was put off by his talk. The powerpoint read “Why UBF should remain in world mission.” I didn’t believe this was a point of debate, and furthermore his answer amounted to- because UBF always has. Just because something has always been done one way does not mean it has to. But eventually he made his point. He presented from Stephan Lutz book calling campus mission strategic. I won’t go into details but he gives an outline from that book.

Mark V was the next speaker. His talk was on the history of campus mission movements. Mark V spoke incredibly fast. I was having a hard time keeping up with him. He also had a pained look on his face. I later found out he was in extreme back pain, and I suspect he was trying to get through it as fast as possible. What really struck me about his presentation was that campus mission movements grew out of YMCAs and the student volunteer movement in the mid 19th century. That explains a lot. American imperialism and a drive to evangelize the world have often went hand in hand (along with all their problems too). And here we see it.

It was remarkable how so many of the ideas of the founders of the campus movement are so similar to the ideas that Samuel Lee would later speak of. Hearing these ideas from someone who doesn’t have the history of Samuel Lee gave them more of an air of legitimacy. The frequent quotes from the founders of the student volunteer movement and its role as a parachurch were very helpful for me to understand the core foundational ideas behind UBF and its relation to Christian doctrine and why at times this has been a weak point in campus mission movements.

Kevin Albright went on to give a survey of Intervarsity. He mentioned that they do a lot of the same things as UBF. They do inductive bible study for instance. He also mentioned that many people in their organization were not encouraged at times, and the author of the book he read on Intervarsity regrets that they were not given more help. One thing he mentioned that struck me was that Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) was more for new converts and Intervarsity was more for discipleship.

Here he meant “discipleship” as “become a more mature Christian”. But for me I have always understood discipleship as growing in Christ in whatever capacity the Holy Spirit moved you. For me I have been taught that a Christian is a disciple and a disciple is a Christian (Acts 11:26, Ephesians 2:19-22). So for me telling me someone is not a disciple is the same as saying they are not Christian. But one can be a Christian and not mature. Although it is dangerous to judge or label, a goal of maturing Christians is a noble one at the very least (this makes no mention of the methods however). To call UBF a “discipleship ministry” has always been redundant to me.

In the next article I will talk about the last few speakers. I was more than a little surprised (and inspired) by their testimonies. I also caught up to someone on Joe Schafer’s recent letter, so I will include that next time too.


  1. Joe Schafer

    Interesting article, thanks.

    There are lots of similarities between UBF and the Student Volunteer Movement. In fact, you could say that

    SVM + Confucianism + Abusive practices = UBF

    SVM started out strong but within a few decades it petered out. I wrote about the SVM a few years ago.

    I understand the desire by Mark, Kevin and others to talk about Cru, IV, and other campus ministries in the hope that UBF can one day be regarded as a peer. But UBF has a dark history that none of those groups have. Until UBF acknowledges its history of abuse and deals with it decisively, it will always be regarded as a fringe group, and for good reason.

    • Mark Mederich

      “SVM + Confucianism + Abusive practices = UBF”
      looks like a math equation to choke a horse/a recipe for disaster..

    • Mark Mederich

      “Until UBF acknowledges its history of abuse and deals with it decisively,” when Lord? it must be now or You must help the abused break free/move on leaving abusers alone in the pit/mud of brokenness/despondency..
      if leaders will not get right with God to really lead the way, followers must do it themselves & continue on to better things (not waste life with cyclical sludge): HALLELUJAH!!!!!

    • Joe Schafer

      On second thought, it’s not fair to discuss UBF and SVM in the same sentence, because UBF is smaller and less important by several orders of magnitude. SVM is acknowledged as an important movement in the history of modern Protestant missions. In comparison, UBF is a blip on the radar screen.

    • forestsfailyou

      It was mentioned because Sarah Berry went to Korea first as a member of that movement. I can only speculate on their goal, but hearing about campus mission as something that isn’t the sole invention of SL would have been highly boring and bad for a variety of reasons as you clearly understand.

    • forestsfailyou


    • “Sarah Berry went to Korea first as a member of that movement” – See more at:

      I was never able to confirm that Barry was sent by the SVM. I suppose she was.

      I would suggest reading more details about SVM. ubf rarely shares the facts that give the full picture. They tend to only share what glorifies them.

      SVM on Wikipedia

      “As problems accumulated, Movement leaders called for radical changes. In a December 1923 John L. Childs questioned the value of the Movement, pointing to ways in which the missionary situation had evolved past it. He suggested elimination of the declaration card on the grounds that “modern missionary activity has become so complex that merely to decide to become a foreign missionary is a step of doubtful value in determining what one shall do with his life.”

      “The 1966 dissolution of the Student Volunteer Movement in its guise as the National Student Christian Federation’s Commission on World Mission was the logical outcome of an increasingly prevalent theory of mission in liberal American Protestantism, one which stressed the worldwide ecumenical cooperation of the Church rather than focusing on frontier missions of the Western Church to the non-Western world.”

    • Joe Schafer

      As far as I know, Sarah Barry signed the SVM pledge card during the waning days of the movement, and that is the extent of her connection to SVM.

    • namuehling

      This article brings up something that has bothered me about campus mission organizations for a long time, the fact that they are strategic. Doesn’t this imply some people are more valuable than others? That we should spend our time with those that are likely to have the greatest impact? Jesus doesn’t seem strategic. In fact, he employs seemingly poor strategy. He angers those in power and spends time with prostitutes, soldiers, Samaritans, tax collectors, fishermen. I’ve heard the arguments that different ministries have different focuses and no ministry can do everything, but these explanations seem hollow to me. I guess I am struggling with a number of questions in regard to ministries in general. I wonder what non-strategic ministry would look like? I wonder what makes a ministry effective? It is certainly not numbers in my opinion! I wonder how a ministry can meet the needs of all the people in the community in which it exists? Society expects single public school classrooms to do this, so why can’t we expect a diverse group of Christians to at least attempt this? Am I just thinking idealistically? I think my questions just reflect my current re-thinking of church/ministry in general and I would love to hear how others are rethinking church!

    • forestsfailyou

      A strategy is a plan to achieve a goal. Jesus was strategic in this regard, since he his plan for his ministry was to leave it to Peter and then later Peter was used to bring the gospel to the Gentile’s through his vision. The general idea of strategy in campus mission is something that my friend who is a missionary to india explained well. He said that the goal is to bring Jesus to every corner of the world, but many barriers make this hard. Political, cultural, and the sheer amount of resources to bring the gospel to parts of india make it a monumental task. College, as he explains, is a place were people from all over the world come, and so we can reach places that are unreachable (due to language and cultural barriers) by evangelizing these students who go back to witness. This is why the “native” leader thing is so important.

      I think this all goes back to Paul’s instructions. He said that some are called to be teachers, others prophets, etc. Church’s cannot expect all to be missionaries, or all to be teachers (because it is not their gift). So most ministries usually sponsor a missionary family. Sometimes UBF leaders have been in UBF so long they don’t even know that this happens and concludes that other churches don’t make missionaries. Churches I have been in pay for their members who want to become “bible teachers” (read: pastors) to go to seminary.

      I am not sure that answers your question. But I think the word strategy comes with a cold single minded connotation. Jesus was part of God’s redemptive plan. His mission was to save mankind, and his strategy was to set up his Church to reach all people.

  2. Joe Schafer

    And I will add a note about Steve Lutz’s group. I am familiar with Steve’s campus ministry. They actually met in our Penn State UBF building for one semester, and my 19 year-old son has been an active participant for more than a year. There is very little resemblance between that fellowship and UBF. They are worlds apart in terms of culture, ministry activities, leadership style, and theology of mission. For UBF leaders to claim similarity is uninformed at best.

    • forestsfailyou

      To be clear, it wasn’t compared by Jacob Lee. He took material from chapter two of his book explaining why campus mission is important. The speakers on the whole did not really just stand around praising UBF, to my surprise. The last few speakers did the opposite in fact, which I will post about later this week.

    • Joe Schafer

      Good to hear.

  3. Mark Mederich

    “But one can be a Christian and not mature”
    especially if deluded by greed/power (or immature forces are working against you to keep where they want you for their own benefit/failed purposes..:(

  4. forestsfailyou

    Something I failed to mention, is that although the goal might be to make someone a “more mature Christian” we should not be tempted to think that means a set group of specific things. So that if someone is doing x,y, and z they are a “disciple” and if you are not doing those things they are not a disciple.

  5. “…although the goal might be to make someone a “more mature Christian” we should not be tempted to think that means a set group of specific things… – See more at:

    Forests, your statement is absolutely true. But as many know, many commenters here (I shall not name names, but you know who you are), were at one time regarded highly in ubf as “mature Christian leaders and disciples.” But the moment they began asking questions or making constructive criticisms, critiques and suggestions, they suddenly were no longer “matue.” Instead, they were gossiped about as being “immature, childish, proud, relativistic, worldly, abandoning mission” and what have you.

    So it is rather amazing to me how some so called “mature Christians” in UBF who have been Christians for several decades suddenly became regarded as “immature” virtually overnight. This is just so interesting to my observation.

  6. Mark Mederich


  7. The self-glory justifications that come by comparing yourself to SVM and IVF are nothing new. I heard such comparisons back in the 1980’s. MV’s report seems like deja vu for me, since ubf has always likes to think they are so glorious.

    In regard to SVM, ubf should indeed follow their example absolutely. After 80 years, SVM shut down and was dissolved. ubf knows this. Check out slide 3 of this “Fishing and outreach 101 by ubf”:

    ubf fishing 101
    priestlynation: copy of other official teaching material

    In regard to CRU and IVF, ubf is insignificant in comparision, even after 54 years. CRU used to be called “Campus Crusade”. But they were criticized for some wrongdoing and repented. They rebooted their ministry and made sure to avoid any hint of wrongdoing, renaming themselves “CRU”. My local church has CRU missionaries. I can tell you that after the superficial words like “campus ministry” and “students”, the comparisions between CRU and ubf are invalid. We should be talkinga about contrasts.

    CRU has $255,323,000 USD in assets and 5,300 growing ministries worldwide, with 2,088 of those being in the U.S.
    ECFA: CRU report
    CRU website

    IVF has $59,058,000 USD in assets and 40,299 core students and faculty with 949 chapters on 616 campuses.
    ECFA: IVF report
    IVF website

    The ubf store of $13 million USD in assets is small compared to these valid ministries. This is laughable because we were always encouraged to avoid contact with IVF and Campus Crusade (CRU) because they were so “ungodly, unspiritual, nominal” Christians.

  8. Thanks for sharing this firsthand account, forests. ubf people are very unaccustomed to such transparency and honest reactions. I’m glad for that.

    “In the next article I will talk about the last few speakers. I was more than a little surprised (and inspired) by their testimonies. I also caught up to someone on Joe Schafer’s recent letter, so I will include that next time too.” – See more at:

    I think our readers would be very interested in hearing about such things. From what I know, the later speakers did indeed share shocking, honest and genuine narratives. This might be part of the breakthrough we are starting to see.

    We try to keep one article per day, so go ahead and publish what you want. Also, I fixed your picture by adding it to our library and added some paragraph formatting to may this a bit more readable.

    • forestsfailyou

      For some reason when I kept adding the image to the library wordpress would fail, so I eventually got frustrated and just added it as a url.

  9. forestsfailyou

    I found this website that might be useful for somethings. It uses lingustics to analyze cognitive and social characteristics. When the first few paragraphs were entered from this it returned:

    Big 5
    Artistic interests
    Achievement striving
    Activity level
    Emotional range
    Prone to worry
    Susceptible to stress
    Openness to change

    • That is fascination forests. What text did you analyze?

    • forestsfailyou

      From the start to “He asked me to read the book of Ephesians and give a brief outline.”

    • Ah ok, this is really cool. I think we should all do such introspection.

      So your top 10 traits shown in that part of the article above are:

      1. Orderliness 100%
      2. Modesty 99%
      3. Uncompromising 99%
      4. Activity level 98%
      5. Sympathy 96%
      6. Trust 93%
      7. Self-enhancement 93%
      8. Achievement striving 91%
      9. Agreeableness 90%
      10. Susceptible to stress 90%

    • forestsfailyou

      There is no minimum on the text amount, so you could enter all of a persons articles into the program and get a rather comprehensive picture of what they view on the basis of the program. It also makes a cool picture.

  10. MJ Peace

    Thanks for sharing that website, forrests! I analyzed some of my writing and it’s very interesting. The picture is pretty cool too.

    Thanks for sharing your debrief of Friday night. I wasn’t there, but I asked a couple people about it. Some said the first couple speakers weren’t very relevant and not very interesting. But the testimony sharers were good. I thought it was strange that it was mostly older people speaking. I think it would be more helpful if it had been a night initiated by younger people too, like a multi-generational effort.

  11. Nick,

    You raise some good questions that should be discussed regarding strategy. What would a non-strategic ministry look like? The question of “what would it look like” in general is very helpful to me. Too often we claim we already know what ministry or family should look like, and then go about doing that.

    This is related to vision-casting. I’ve grown to dislike vision-casting very much. I think the organic approach is far healthier and much more enjoyable. In the end, it is the organic methods and thinking that blossom into something lasting. ubf is setup for failure one day because it is built on vision-casting approaches and strategies to accomplish goals that are too vague and uninspiring. So they have to resort to Goebbels-like speeches (like JL’s latest campus mission speech).

    So as a principle, I think casting a vision and developing strategies to accomplish that vision are deeply harmful and divisive for the church as well as other organization

    “Jesus doesn’t seem strategic. In fact, he employs seemingly poor strategy. He angers those in power and spends time with prostitutes, soldiers, Samaritans, tax collectors, fishermen.” – See more at:

    Now this sparks an entirely new discussion. Regardless of whether Jesus was strategic or not, means little to me as to how we should act individually or as part of a community. So what if Jesus had a strategy or not? He is God. We are not :) So many things now I realize were bound by KOPAHN theology that should not have been bound. What KOPAHN really aims to do is to make you into a god-shepherd. It teaches you to imitate Jesus exactly. This disrespects your conscience and who Jesus is and the work of the Holy Spirit among a community of people.

    But if I look at Jesus Himself, I do see a strategy in a sense. But his goal of that strategy was very different that most churches or organizations. Jesus’ goal was to die. Most groups want to grow.

    John the baptist had a good goal: Jesus must become greater, I must become less. John just wanted to get out of the way so people could see the Messiah.

    Just some rambling thoughts… these questions are worth more comments and cut to the heart of a lot issues ubf has never dealt with.

  12. Forests,

    My first reaction is that I would question this goal: “He said that the goal is to bring Jesus to every corner of the world, but many barriers make this hard. – See more at:

    Is the goal of the church to “bring Jesus” somewhere? Are we carrying a statue of Buddha around? Are we travelling with the Tent of Meeting?

    I think the goal of the church is to die. With Jesus inside us, we are motivated to stand for justice, to seek out the marginalized, to befriend the poor.

    Did Jesus leave His ministry to his disciples? I think we need to examine this more closely. In a sense He entrusted the ministry to them but He did not give up His authority. He did give them a certain authority but He is still Lord and King, and alive. Sometime it seems to me that the church acts as if Jesus is still dead and that the church is our King. Why do church leaders not realize Jesus disarmed them? Jesus did not come to arm the leaders as supervisors for communities. It is and always has been His ministry. But of course this requires more nuances and deep thought.

    • forestsfailyou

      While it is important to understand that Christianity has to be an individual thing, it also needs to be an outward thing. Merely making Christianity a relationship or merely making it a religion both are wrong. It is popular to here people say that Christianity is a relationship not a religion but the bible definitively says otherwise

      “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27

      Of course simple outward change with no inner love of Christ makes us like the Pharassies. Jesus observed special days and instituted sacraments. I am no scholar but there is a difference between what we as a person are suppose to do and what the church as an organization is suppose to do. Although, admittedly, I am lacking in proper instruction for the latter.

  13. namuehling

    Thanks Forest and Brian. Honestly, it’s a lot to think about. Forest, I was not thinking about campuses as multi-cultural hubs, but only as hubs of the elite and future elite. Brian, I appreciate you reminding me that Jesus’ goal was to die. Then, I found your quote about the church really appealing (stand for justice, seek out the marginalized, befriend the poor), as well as your last paragraph. I think I am still in the process of rethinking what individual Christianity looks like, and what corporate Christianity looks like, and so I appreciate your responses!

    • What individual Christianity looks like — My super-simplistic, unsophisticated, perhaps naive, proof texting response for myself as an individual Christian (which is always far easier stated than lived out is to):

      1) love God [Dt 6:5],
      2) love others (including enemies, yikes!) [Lev 19:18], and
      3) love Scripture [Ps 119:97] as my contemplative daily reflection of loving intimacy with God {not bibliolatry}.

  14. Note about SVM:

    It became part of another missionary movement based on missionary boards from established denominations.

    Christianity says of SVM: “The Student Volunteer Movement lacked a sophisticated missiology and was overly dependent on the optimism and idealism of a passing era.” Sound familiar?

    Everything in UBF works IF EVERYONE keeps optimism and idealism–but it is so highly susceptible to abuse and to the accompanying cynicism.

    Found at

    Note: American, western and postmodern culture are much more cynical than previous centuries, yet they are much more capable of many things. Perhaps if someone had the right vision, she/he could find a way to relate to the cynics and make a beautiful work of God.