My thoughts on the 2015 Follow Me Conference

As many of your know last weekend America took one step closer to becoming a kingdom of priests and a holy nation at the 2015 Follow Me conference. Although I only attended two days I know that my opinion is held in high esteem by many who won’t read this- so I have in some degree of futility decided that my thoughts ought to be placed here. Since MJ expressed great admiration for the 3 part testimony this report will be in three parts.
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Group Bible Study
The high light of the conference for me was group bible study. For some very bizarre reason I was the “bible teacher” for a group that included 2 seminary professors, 2 UBF missionaries that had been Christians longer than I have been alive, and a missionary from South East Asia. I had mixed feelings about this, since on one hand I could do what I wanted, on the other hand I felt like Dr. Augustine or Dr. John Yoon should lead the bible study. I made it clear we wouldn’t be using the bible study questionnaire and things went very well. My friend Ivan said after this he would give Jesus another chance and I really felt that the Holy Spirit guide the conversation. At times certain people would occupy the conversation for a long time but then others would speak and overall it was one of the better (if not the best) group bible study I have had.

Testimonies
In contrast the testimonies were by and large boring and tiring. It was beyond obvious that they had been carefully scripted and edited. Of course when this is brought up it is denied but for everyone who has ears let them hear that nothing that was spoken from a stage this weekend wasn’t preapproved and checked. The Pauline Three Part testimony was in literally everything, from messages to mission reports, from reflections in the small group to the presider’s introductions. It led to a dry and tiring experience at best, at worst it implied that Jesus always works the same way in everyone, turning absolute terrible excuses for people with no redeeming qualities into people ready to throw their dreams and goals away for world mission. Some of these were truly moving, like John Peace and Philip Brown but when they were good it was because they broke the mold. Ivan (who later commented that he liked this conference) walked out on literally every single one of these.

Presiding
This leads me to my last point. I was asked to preside and was emailed with instructions to give a short life testimony and a description of where I was with God. As I started to read my testimony I was strongly convicted that this was the wrong thing to do. Although there are a lot of good things that have happened in my life, I simply did not want to share them. My life has been checkered in parts and as I looked at what was written I realized that it would create in many people a feeling of pity, pity that I did not want. If this makes me proud so be it, but simply couldn’t bring myself to say all those things to a group of strangers who would not be able to relate nor fathom what I was saying- to a group of people who (as I have experienced) do not understand how mental illness works.  I am not a product of my mother’s condition, and I felt like I did not trust people enough to tell them of my past. I was very sparse with details and when I gave where I was with Christ I chose not to simply say a list of activities I was involved in. For me this is not what following Jesus means. “If righteousness could be attained from the law Christ died for nothing.” At best these things are a glimpse at what Jesus was doing in me, and so I shared my true feelings- that I struggled how to be fearlessly humble. I struggle with loving my enemy as myself and how to love those who disagree with me.
Who was this conference for?
There was a claim that this conference was for new people. I realize now that there are different definitions of this word. Ivan was by anyone’s definition “new” but my pastor asked if he had a Christian background. When he said yes my pastor was relieved because “otherwise it may have been awkward.” This conference was not for “new people”. It was for people like me. “New” in the sense that they have been in UBF for a few years. It was a chance for them to show how they were “growing” in Christ by giving them tasks at this conference. It was evident from all that was testified, in the nearly singled minded emphasis on “making a confession of faith.” If a college student with no knowledge of Jesus had been taken off the street they would have left knowing they should follow Jesus and that they would have life, but no idea of who he is, what he is (beyond “The Lord”), why he is. They would know that following him leads to eternal life, but not why this is to be desired. They would know nothing of his great commands, nothing of the resurrection. They would know nothing of the Holy Spirit. So in that sense I feel that these (to give our conference creators the benefit of the doubt) were assumed to be known, and so this conference was for those who were given roles in the conference.

In closing, I had a fun time with lots of friends. I really loved the songs and music. I loved seeing my friends and the bible study was very inspiring. I am not sure if I will go again, especially since the next one is in Colorado. But I don’t regret going, as with all things it could have been better.

Forestsfailyou

40 comments

  1. Am I the only one noticing Lifton’s red flags in this latest conference, based on what we see about the conference from MJ and Forests? I hope every campus will get my latest book this Fall.

    • forestsfailyou
      forestsfailyou

      Cs Lewis in his essay on Learning in Wartime goes against this idea that we must make every hour of our day about bible study/ chruch activities, or work. When I read his arguement, which came from Paul famous “Whatever you do, do in the name of the Lord.” as well as his evidence of Jesus attending weddings- to my former roommate he said this.

      Bible study/ church is better than non church based actions. Therefore we must never do non church based actions. It reminds me of this:

      “The good and the pure are of course those ideas, feelings, and actions which are consistent with the totalist ideology and policy; anything else is apt to be relegated to the bad and the impure. Nothing human is immune from the flood of stern moral judgments. All “taints” and “poisons” which contribute to the existing state of impurity must be searched out and eliminated.

      The philosophical assumption underlying this demand is that absolute purity is attainable, and that anything done to anyone in the name of this purity is ultimately moral. In actual practice, however, no one is really expected to achieve such perfection. Nor can this paradox be dismissed as merely a means of establishing a high standard to which all can aspire.”

  2. I’m left scratching my head wondering how on earth omitting all of these things and assuming that people already know them is the right thing to do or helpful to anyone:

    If a college student with no knowledge of Jesus had been taken off the street they would have left knowing they should follow Jesus and that they would have life, but no idea of who he is, what he is (beyond “The Lord”), why he is. They would know that following him leads to eternal life, but not why this is to be desired. They would know nothing of his great commands, nothing of the resurrection. They would know nothing of the Holy Spirit. So in that sense I feel that these (to give our conference creators the benefit of the doubt) were assumed to be known, and so this conference was for those who were given roles in the conference.

    • forestsfailyou
      forestsfailyou

      I can only speculate but I suspect the answer would be “We just focus on discipleship for this conference.” Has there ever been a conference on the Holy Spirit, the Messiah, the Kingdom, or the Resurrection?

    • “how on earth omitting all of these things and assuming that people already know them is the right thing to do – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/07/25/9392/#comment-18917

      It is the “right thing to do” in the ubf system. The system is not rooted in building relationships, it is rooted in producing a product, i.e. house churches. In such a system, you can believe any gospel you want, as long as you help pass on the heritage by establishing house churches.

      The ubf system might be called BYOG-bring your own gospel. Ask the missionaries about the gospel. What do you find? They don’t care, in the end, what you believe about the gospel, just go recruit someone into the system because that is what matters.

    • Has there ever been a conference on the Holy Spirit, the Messiah, the Kingdom, or the Resurrection? – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/07/25/9392/#comment-18918

      At some Easter conferences we’ve tried to focus on these topics, especially resurrection of course. But the treatment was so superficial that I’m not sure that it helped anyone in the long run, though i could be wrong. I recall suggesting to the leadership that we go deeper on these subjects and perhaps focus on one topic at a time, but they felt it would be too complex for students to grasp. There was also a strong element of anti-intellectualism that pervaded the ministry. I think they felt that any kind of in depth study would be distracting, divisive or confusing. I would have to echo Brian’s sentiment in that making a confession of faith and taking on the identity of Shepherd X is at the forefront of most people’s minds.

    • Joe Schafer

      I agree with what DavidW said — UBF conference planners (of which I was one) imagine that they are doing nothing but presenting the pure, unadorned gospel. But the treatment of the gospel is superficial, and the actual content of the conferences is mostly exhortations to accept the gospel, to preach the gospel, to grow as a disciple by doing particular things, etc. Rather than a rich proclamation and immersion in the gospel, the program becomes mostly a sales pitch/infomercial for the UBF way of life.

    • Though the term sales pitch sounds cynical, that is a very apt term given the reality of the data. I wish that ubf leaders could actually step back and see what’s going on here; to look at the conferences and realize that the substance is sorely lacking. But do they even have the capacity to do so?

    • “But do they even have the capacity to do so?”

      Many do, yes. In fact they do step back and look at things. And the conferences are just the way they want them to be. The leadership is not ignorant. They are not naive, innocent little ones. They are directing the ministry activities exactly the way they want. They are losing control of people’s lives, the conferences are their last resort, the last thing they can control.

    • It’s hard to argue against that sentiment, Brian. The conferences are like a potent reset tool. It helps people to renew their vigor and participation in the ubf project in spite of the real doubts they may have concerning various aspects of the ministry. It’s an emotionally charged environment in which people become unusually open to suggestion. I know that this was the case for me while i was there. Those conferences made me feel as though i was taking part in something revolutionary and ground-breaking and participating in some activity made me forget about the failures and futility I experienced within my own ‘personal ministry’. Bringing someone new was such a relief because it further validated my efforts and calling as a shepherd. But when i began to see past the smoke and mirrors as well as my own ego, i could see that these events were simply a reinforcement tool for ubf’s ideals. The base material for the conferences, the same passages which are focused on over and over again, leave little to no room to think outside of the ubf paradigm. Also, those events bolstered the egos of the leaders, as though their mission to evangelize Americans was an unquestionable success. I’m sorry, but almost every conference message that I’ve heard by an American shepherd has pretty much been unremarkable. But their participation is evidentally a sign that the Korean missionaries succeeded in raising native leaders, who ironically still need to have their hands held by their Korean shepherds what with all of the editing and message training.

  3. MJ Peace

    3 Part narrative simplistic testimonies, bible studies, and daily bread have helped people grow in their relationship with God. Growing in one’s relationship in God is the definition of discipleship. Therefore UBF’s 3 methods: testimonies, BS and DB are the only ways of discipleship and the correct interpretation of John 21 and Matthew 28:18-20.

    Does anyone else see the blatant logical fallacy?

  4. MJ Peace

    And BK, about the Lifton Red Flags, I have experienced every single one:

    Milieu Control
    -What I read was controlled. I was not allowed to go on ubfriends and ridiculed for anything I posted there

    Mystical Manipulation
    -I was not allowed to leave the city. I was on the university futsal team and I couldn’t go on trips with the team because I wouldn’t get to church on Sunday. I also had money to go on a 3 week trip with a friend, but I was not given permission. It was the weekend of my bday, but since I did not have any one to ones, I was not allowed.

    The Demand for Purity
    When I began to lose weight, I was accused of “trying to get a husband.” Any desire to talk with guys was deemed as flirting.

    The Cult of Confession
    When I shared my testimonies weekly, they were scrutinized. Once I was not able to translate the daily bread from english into turkish, because I was a full time student and working, I was criticized for laziness. When my sister stood up to defend me she was verbally abused and burst into tears.

    The “Sacred Science”
    When I had disagreements I was not allowed to talk to my parents about it. I was directed to go to a corner and cry to God.

    Loading the Language
    “Deny yourself!”
    “Repent”
    “Feed Sheep”
    “Humble yourself”
    “Be a shepherdess”

    Doctrine Over Person
    I don’t know about this one. I always remained myself. That’s why I had so many issues.

    The Dispensing of Existence
    With this one too, I wasn’t sucked in all the way.

    It’s really scary reading about the Lifton Red Flags and resonating with each one.

    • forestsfailyou
      forestsfailyou

      Man talk about a double standard, when I begun losing weight it was seen as good because it would mean I wouldn’t be rejected as a marriage candidate due to my weight.

    • Joe Schafer

      There are many well known cases of women in ubf being told/trained to lose weight to make them more eligible for marriage.

      The standard is this. If you are a woman, then losing weight is good, provided that it was a direction given to you by your shepherd or chapter director. If it was your own idea, then it is sinful.

  5. Charles Wilson
    Charles Wilson

    So in that sense I feel that these (to give our conference creators the benefit of the doubt) were assumed to be known, and so this conference was for those who were given roles in the conference. – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/07/25/9392/#sthash.GzktcIHr.dpuf

    I was a conference planner for years in the LA chapter. Many, many conferences were designed to “help” or “train” those given roles–that is why they were given roles. I spoke against it often because it’s deceptive and so not beneficial. Those who were being trained or helped were not (as much as I know) fully aware of the reasons for them having been chosen for the roles given. They thought they were serving the larger body attending. But the larger body attending was doing so to encourage those being trained–ugh! No matter how the conference planning committees were split on designing specific and focused conferences, they always ended up about training and helping “disciples” through tasks and treating the gospel as something just to promote the UBF agenda. After reading these reports by MJ and forests, I’m so glad to be done with it.

  6. Charles, I’m so very glad to be done with such a facade-like spiritual life too.

    The ubf report of the conference is the same as always. This report could have been written in 1961. It is the same always:

    “From the beginning of conference preparation, we have prayed for 120 undergraduate students to attend this conference, hear Jesus’ voice, and follow him as his disciples. All together 136 came, including exactly 120 from the Midwest region. As we listened to their testimonies during and after the conference we learned that the word of God has worked in their hearts and the Holy Spirit lives in them. They are the hope of God as a new generation of spiritual leaders. We continue to pray for them and want to work with them to make disciples of Jesus on their campuses in this upcoming fall semester.” (source)

    Everything seems so perfect right? It is a little too perfect in fact. Those 100 or so undergraduates are not the hope of God, they are the hope of ubf. ubf missionaries are desparate to rebuild after trashing the lives of hundreds of the same “hope of God” type people the last few years. They threw out the “junk sheep” like me and hope to start all over again. Makes me sick.

    On the bright side, my book is poised to make a real difference in opening people’s eyes. The hope is that these new generation people all know all about arranged-marriage. The hope is that these new students know what they are getting into and have refused to agree to submit to their ubf shepherds for the rest of their life. The hope is that these new students will obey the Holy Spirit more than ubf leaders and will not succomb to wasting their life sitting on folding chairs every night for the next 20 years.

    Will any of them read ubfriends or my books and take heed?

  7. forestsfailyou
    forestsfailyou

    Voldemort made a showing

    “Life testimonies were shared by Yaejin Park (UI), Vin Nguyen (Milwaukee), Ben West (Minneapolis), and another person who cannot be named.”

  8. Joe Schafer

    “From driving cars to caring for the elderly, many of the tasks humans perform today will soon be taken over by robots and other forms of artificial intelligence, experts say.”

    http://www.livescience.com/47220-will-robots-take-your-job-by-2025.html

    Most of the conference program (messages, presiding, LTs, …) could have been automated years ago. Executing the conference by robots would allow people to relax more and enjoy themselves.

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      But then how else would people struggle with the word of God and receive it deeply?

  9. Joe Schafer

    Sarcasm aside — the statement from RW’s conference report that I find most troubling is this: “Each of the speakers were [sic] full of the Holy Spirit…”

    The Holy Spirit is not someone to be trifled with.

    I am no expert is pneumatology. But one thing I do know: When the Holy Spirit truly shows up and works among God’s people, the result is anything but scripted and predictable. He works in ways that are unanticipated, often shocking, even troubling. The Spirit upsets the status quo..

    I have seen the Holy Spirit work powerfully at a handful of UBF conferences during the last 6-7 years. In each case, it caused deep consternation and backlash by some ubf leaders. The work of the Spirit was not fanned into flame, but quickly snuffed out. I say that with deep regret and with great sorrow.

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      Agreed, it’s very troubling. The Holy Spirit is mentioned three times in that report, and the reader just has to take RW’s word for it. The evidence given could be attributed to any number of influences, not strictly the Holy Spirit.

      The wording is also misleading. He says that “we learned/were deeply moved…” as “we listened” as if he and many others did not know what was going to be said by the speakers, which isn’t true.

      My experience with conferences was largely that they were not about the work of the Holy Spirit, but people conforming to the UBF lifestyle. Whether a conference was deemed successful or not came down to whether people made decisions to live as UBF shepherds, and to the honoring of senior Korean missionaries.

  10. The report says they prepared for 1 year. This is common. Why spend so much time preparing for something that ends up being the same every time? Two reasons: 1) They want everything to be scripted to a tee. 2) They want to use the preparation time as training to break down people’s identity.

    Some of the most spiritually damaging work at the group is drama training and dance training. It seems ok at the time, but year after year, this training breaks down your personal boundaries and you accept intrusions into your life as normal.

    There were quite a few leaders gasping when this happened: “I was asked to preside and was emailed with instructions to give a short life testimony and a description of where I was with God. As I started to read my testimony I was strongly convicted that this was the wrong thing to do.” It seems the script was not interrupted too much.

    Joe is right. When the Spirit does work, you know it. My favorite memory of one of the only times I ever saw the Spirit work was when Joe went off script at a staff conference message. I could see jaws hitting the floor! And yet it was the most inspiring sermon I had heard in many many years.

    I won’t speak in the Spirit’s place, but I just have to wonder if the Spirit will ever disrupt the status quo there… it seems He has simply left the building. Is there anyone at the group left who will listen to the Spirit’s voice and obey it?

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      That’s my experience too. That training pre-conference is the real grind. The conference itself, the presentation, works as the final nail in the coffin, so to speak, to accept the teachings by way of public confession.

  11. And perhaps we can hear from some German shepherds who also became “hope carriers” and how that worked out…

    “They are the hope of God as a new generation of spiritual leaders.”

  12. Charles Wilson
    Charles Wilson

    So we have a problem. A church’s claim to the work of the Holy Spirit is highly questionable. How could a leader of a Christian organization be confused as to the work of the Holy Spirit of all things? It’s shocking.

    • A problem indeed. We discussed this a while back.

      “So Packer offers a solution. Focusing in what Jesus said John 16:13-15, he states that the ministry of the Holy Spirit is centered on Jesus Christ. The Spirit never promotes himself or draws people to himself. His purpose is to further the Father’s pleasure by glorifying the Son. While the ascended Jesus is enthroned in heaven, the Spirit will work to proclaim the gospel of Jesus, to draw people to faith in Jesus, to help us to obey Jesus, to promote the knowledge, adoration and love of Jesus – in short, to make it possible for us to have a vital relationship with Jesus until he returns in power and glory. Wherever Jesus Christ is being followed, proclaimed, worshiped and glorified, the Holy Spirit is present to actively direct and support that work. – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2011/01/31/is-this-an-authentic-work-of-the-holy-spirit/#sthash.SP0beLEV.dpuf

      So we just have to ask who was glorified through this conference? When they thought about “follow me”, who is the “me”? your ubf shepherd or God?

      The theology of ubf is steeped in dualism. It is a Spirit-less theology because ubf shepherds/missionaries get the glory. It is a Spirit-less theology because when they use the term Holy Spirit, they speak of Him as a force or magical power, not as a Person. Thus the phrase “full of the Holy Spirit” is loaded language for “full of spiritual energy” and many see this as “full of the spirit of Lee/ubf”.

      If something had gone off script too much, they would mention “Satan’s attack”. If there was some negative energy, they would say an “evil spirit” is in place. Such dualism is not of Christ. The triune nature of the Christian faith escapes the missionaries so they keep doing the same things over and over. They come from a Confucian/Buddhism background where god is like a Father/son combo.

      This is all clearly evident in the 50th Anniversary blue book. Before reading my books, this blue book is a must for every new student.

  13. So look at that loooong list of names in the conference report on ubf.org. Who got the glory? All those people. It reads more like a credits after a movie production than a report of what the Spirit did at the conference. Why do we even need a “report” of such things anyway?

  14. MJ Peace

    “In closing, I had a fun time with lots of friends. I really loved the songs and music. I loved seeing my friends and the bible study was very inspiring. I am not sure if I will go again, especially since the next one is in Colorado. But I don’t regret going, as with all things it could have been better.”

    I agree with you completely forests. And you weren’t even there on Thursday. I was there 2 days before you. I still think it’s shocking how the moment you walked in, was the moment I walked out. Honestly, I could sit through half the lectures and half the testimonies. It was painful for me to hear people bare their heart. their deepest secrets to people who don’t even know them.

    And yet at the same time, I also do not regret going because. 1.) WL paid for me. 2.) My boss gave me those days off even when I didn’t ask for them (I took it as a sign from God to go.) 3.) Relationships. I met a classmate from MBI and the drummer for VCB also studies at MBI with me. Plus I met up with friends from Russia, Ukraine, and all those people who raised me.

    Basically, sitting there the opening night. I looked around and thought these people are people who God loves. They are the church and if we don’t get along now, how are we going to spend eternity together? There’s so many things I can’t stand about UBF, but there are so many people in UBF I love.

    I don’t regret going to the conference at all either. But if I had had to pay 400$ for it, I definitely wouldn’t have gone. (I can’t believe families with kids had to pay 1000+ $ for it and the food even ran out.) And I told that to the conf planners ahead of time. That it is too expensive. There were good things, but as usual with UBF, why do we have to make things harder for ourselves and put people through so much difficulty. The conf was 7am -10 pm with no time to process anything.
    Anyways, just my 2 cents.

  15. I posted this two years ago today: http://www.ubfriends.org/2013/08/05/post-2013-isbc-reflections/ To those who care to check it out, don’t some post conference comments and reflections sound similar to these comments and reflections two years later?

    • Yea Ben, we could automate any blog that comments about a ubf conference. In fact, I can script out a program to generate the 2016 conference messages, reports and post-conference comments. I experienced the same comments after the 3 annual conferences in 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.

      BUT in 2011, for the first time ever, I shared my honest opinions of the conference. I shared in my report how I did not received “one word” from any of the messages, which were un-inspiring to me. And that was viewed as an “attack” and then suddenly I found myself being labeled as possibly “demon-possessed”. WTF!?

      This is the classic Sisyphus phenomenon where everything changes but nothing changes. I know why this happens, and I explain it in my 7th book.

  16. MJ Peace

    Wow, BK, you’ve been going to 3 annual conference from before I was born. That’s a long time of conferences, but I’m glad that that’s in the past now. I was looking at some old pictures with my cousin and there were no pictures of family vacations, not even one, only conferences…

    I really admire you and your books. You inspire me to write, blog, share my story and speak up.

    When I think about conferences I think about “Revolution in World Missions” by K P Yohannan, (anyone can get this book for free online.) Anyways, he talks about how the church in the West is overfed. We have 100’s of Bible translations in English. We have conferences and Christian concerts. We have ice cream socials and books on every topic possible. But there are others who are also our sisters and brothers in Christ who don’t even have the Bible in their own language.

    Conferences are so expensive and often mismanaged. How much money was spent in the conference for 800 people when only 600 went? How can we use our money wisely? That’s what gets me. There is so much time and energy spent producing something that looks the same year after year. Like forests said, he liked hanging out with his friends, he liked the music and GBS. We could’ve done that stuff in Chicago or St. Louis and saved $400.

    • Thanks MJ and good questions. We Anericsns are just lazy selfish wicked servants though because we barely handled 3 conferences (EBC, SBC and CWS). Germans endured 4 or 5 each year.

      Add in 52 Sunday services, 52 Sunday meetings, 52 Monday meetings, 52 Tuesday meetings for your spouse, 52 Friday meetings, 52 Saturday meetings, about 30 Saturday messenger meetings and a couple hundred daily devotion meetings, plus weeks of daily conference practice and prayer meetings….

    • Oh and 52 weekly felliwship meetings and 52 offering servant meetings plus testimony writing time and Sunday reporting time and HQ reporting time.,.

    • And multiply those numbers by about 17. The last 7 years at ubf in Detroit we stopped all those worthless meetings and just had Sunday Worship.

  17. Someone sent me a PM on facebook with the title “UBF heavy shepherding”… it made a lot of sense and brought back a ton of horrible memories we experienced as members of the NYUBF cult. I am sure many of you will appreciate this!

    What is UBF style “heavy shepherding?”

    “Heavy shepherding” (also referred to as the “Discipleship Movement”) is a method of psychological control used by abusive churches and cults i.e UBF, jehovah witness etc… “heavy shepherding” came out of the Shepherding Movement of the 1970s. The International Churches of Christ from the Boston Movement is perhaps the most well-known group that practices heavy shepherding. Another infamous group to come out of the Shepherding Movement was Christian Grown Ministries in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

    Heavy shepherding churches and cults can be identified by the following practices:
    • Submission to “missionaries” or “shepherds” and those in authority
    • Obligation to confess sin to “discipleship partners” or “shepherds”
    • Unquestioning loyalty and obedience to all those in authority
    • Obligation to intensively recruit others to join the movement
    • Authoritarian leadership and group experience
    • Conformity to the movement’s standards
    • Spiritual manipulation and intimidation
    • Hierarchical system of accountability
    • Legalism and control over members
    • Prohibition against reading any literature not approved by the leadership
    • Whistle-blowing on members suspected of being nonconformists
    • Total dependence on the movement and the leaders for approval
    • Fear of punishment or humiliation for questioning the leadership

    UBF leaders are false leaders:
    Any leader who demands blind obedience and submission is building on a false basis of authority. True authority comes only from God and cannot be seized by men who simply seek power and authority over others, who want to be in charge and admired. If a group or a person assumes authority based solely on role, office, or position, then he is abusing his position. Heavy shepherds are religious power brokers who control others through fear. They preach about authority, submission, judgment, prosperity and end-times. These false shepherds present themselves as the source of all knowledge and authority. They punish people who do not meet a certain standard and ostracize them as not earning God’s approval. They ignore the fact that Christians already have God’s approval through the shed blood of Jesus Christ – no person can “earn” God’s approval.

    There is a biblical basis for structure within the church. Hebrews 13:17 tells us to obey our leaders and submit to their authority because “they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.” But when leaders tell their flock not to think, not to ask questions and to ignore problems, they are abusing their position. When people who think, ask questions and confront problems are branded as un-submissive, unspiritual or divisive, then they are being abused by false prophets who “come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves” (Matthew 7:15).

    A church modeled after dictatorship not Jesus the Good Shepherd:
    John 10:1-18 shows that the church should be modeled on Christ Jesus, who is the good shepherd. When He calls His sheep, they recognize His voice and follow Him. And, most importantly, Jesus says, “I lay down my life for the sheep” (verse 15). A good shepherd leads his flock to safety and guards them from predators that seek to hurt them.

    Jesus instructs His disciples to obey His commands, just as He obeyed the Father. But there is nothing heavy-handed about this command! “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you… I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me but I chose you, and appointed you to go and bear fruit… This is my command: Love each other” (John 15:9-17). Nowhere does Jesus suggest that we have to blindly submit to men. Instead, we must submit to Christ, who is the head of every man (1 Corinthians 11:3). And in all things, we must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).

    This is how shepherding should be done: “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. . . . All of you, clothe yourselves with humility towards one another, because ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:1-7). A heavy shepherding pastor is the exact opposite of the humble servant-leader whom Peter endorses.

    UBF pride vs Jesus’ love and humility
    Jesus told His disciples, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves” (Luke 22:25-26).

    Christian leaders are under obligation to follow Jesus’ example of humility and compassion. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

    Beware of any religious group that practices “shepherding,” “submission” and “covering” concepts. We have been bought by the precious blood of Christ Jesus and “brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God” (Romans 8:21). “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).

    • Yes, good summary. UBFism is more dangerous because it has several additional toxic elements mixed into heavy shepherding. Still, this a a good place to start to untangle the UBFism mess in your life and mind.

      Note that the leaders of the Discipling/Shepherding movement in America repented and shared publicly how wrong they were. When will ubfers joins them?

    • Oh wait, ubfers won’t say they are wrong, they will just keep fighting the Wikipedia war and attempt to erase us from history. Check out the Wikipedia article for ubf… another do-gooder (this time from Korea) erased the “negative” statements. But a Wiki Admin reversed it :)

  18. MJ Peace

    “But when leaders tell their flock not to think, not to ask questions and to ignore problems, they are abusing their position. When people who think, ask questions and confront problems are branded as un-submissive, unspiritual or divisive, then they are being abused by false prophets.”

    I agree. Keep asking questions. I was reading an article on the danger of fundamentalism. I define fundamentalism as doing things religiously without knowing why. For example, a lot of people eat up everything their Pastors say, once the Pastor stands at the pulpit, no one questions anything. I am not saying be rude, but be aware.

    Also as you say, Jesus’ example of leadership is humility. The trinity is in a hierarchy of service. The leader serves the servant. This is how the trinity, the divine dance, moves, each serves the other.

    • “I define fundamentalism as doing things religiously without knowing why.” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/07/25/9392/#comment-18995

      In the ubf context, there is some of this to be sure. But this is not the main issue at ubf and I think we should clarify something.

      ubfers know exactly why they life the ubf lifestyle. We wanted to please God. We wanted to show our love for Jesus. We wanted to create a utopian KOPAHN society among all the nations of the world. And we were wiling to do just about anything to accomplish that goal.

      So the ubf problem is not that people don’t why they promote UBFism, the problem is that UBFism itself is not questioned and properly critiqued.