Sin Gathers; God Scatters

Building one’s own kingdom. The sin of every man—including Christians—is to build their own tower of Babel (Gen 11:4). They gather and centralize the power and authority to themselves and to their oligarchy and inner circle. This inadvertently subjugates, binds, disempowers and emasculates those around them, since they are expected to mainly do as they are told. Is this not a major reason why so many people have left UBF over the years? They do not like being subjugated under some authoritarian human figure, nor do they like building up another person’s kingdom and ministry (or building up the kingdom of UBF), in the name of building up the kingdom of Christ. After one, two or three decades of feeling oppressed and subjugated (in the name of (over)shepherding), they either leave UBF outright, or they “go out to pioneer.” Though I love my brothers and sisters in my original UBF chapter where I was for 27 years, I finally also had to “go out to pioneer.” I shared about this previously in explaining from my perspective how West Loop UBF began.

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Two Kinds of Shepherding

GoodShepherdBadChristianThis might be a redundant article in that I had recently written related articles: guidelines for best shepherding practice, how the Apostle Paul “feeds sheep”, and leading without lording over others. Also, there have been thousands of comments about authoritarian shepherding practices from countless UBF chapters–dating back to the 1960s. This article compares and contrasts 2 kinds of leaders, or 2 kinds of shepherding in a table. Hopefully, this may be useful as we prayerfully and seriously reconsider our shepherding practices going forward.

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A Korean Critic

cCritical thinking. Can a Korean do it? Could a Korean display the healthy attributes of a critic? After spending tens of thousands of hours with Koreans in ubf ministry for over two decades, my conclusion was, “no way”. But once again, I am proved wrong! Koreans can and do think critically. Here is one good example. In 1998, a Korean man named Yo Sup Lee wrote a seminary paper that reviewed the discipleship methods of Korean parachurch groups. One of the groups he studied was ubf. I find his analysis remarkably accurate.

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Changes or Just Illusions?

i1I want to suggest all UBFers to consider this piece from an article Control Mechanisms in the ICC and to answer the question: Are changes in UBF real or they are just illusion which serves for keeping UBFers in? I am not claiming they are not real as I don’t really know. I myself just can not consider the changes which are going in my chapter (Kiev UBF) to be real because of the fact that reconciliation with my family has never happened yet. So please read this article about the ICC and ask the question, are the changes real or just illusions?

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Not So With You

jRecently I shared the conclusion of the study group my wife and I attended for about nine months. Today I am sharing about the beginning of the Emerging Journey study. The first lesson, and the foundation of the study, is rooted Jesus’ words “not so with you”. The “not so with you” theme was woven throughout the lessons and permeated our group discussions and writings. The big theme for me was that Christ-followers are distinctive. Yes Christianity has much in common with philosophies and religions, but there are some unmistakable marks of Christians. One of those is “not so with you”.

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Guidelines for Best Shepherding Practice

ShepherdLoveA friend asked me (paraphrasing his question), “How may UBF communicate the best practice of shepherding?” This is my short reply.

When “shepherding sheep,” the shepherd should repeatedly and primarily employ persuasion, reason and gentle appeals. The shepherd should never resort to coercion, intimidation, shame, threats, guilt-tripping, punishment, humiliation, retribution, silence treatment, etc. Why not? The sheep/junior will feel that they have no choice but to “just obey” their shepherd—or face consequences. This is spiritually abusive. It is control and manipulation. Primarily, it miscommunicates the gospel which gives freedom (2 Cor 3:17; Gal 5:1; Jn 8:32). Continue reading →

The 10 Commandments of UBF

10commandmentsI am the LORD your God who delivered you from human systems that keep you in bondage to slavery (cf. Ex 20:2; Deut 5:6).

  1. You shall not put your church (core values, methods, legacy) above my Word and my Son.
  2. You shall not make your church an idol in Asia or the Americas or anywhere else in the heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.
  3. You shall not be Lord over your sheep or replace the Holy Spirit in their life.
  4. Remember to find rest in God alone, and not be burdened by many church-driven activities. Continue reading →

Good Leaders Lead Without Lording Over Others

obeyNo growth = Deficiency of leadership. Good leadership is a major key to any healthy growing organization or church. If a church is not growing you can almost always find that the deficiency lies with the “old” leadership of the church. They are not able to reverse the decline, likely because they want to maintain the status quo. They do not know how to delegate to different dynamic leaders, often because they still want to be the controlling authority, rather than allowing the Holy Spirit to be the head of the church. Instead of judging fairly without partiality, their decisions are often based on their strong sense of community solidarity. This comes across like showing favoritism and protecting the leadership, instead of caring for “the least of these.”

All four gospels emphasize “no lording over others.” According to Jesus, good leaders lead without lording over others, which is what worldly leaders do. Continue reading →

Good Leaders Delegate Without Control

Deut1.9-15DelegationA key to successful leadership is delegation. Last Sun in Manila, I preached on The Words Moses Spoke (Deut 1:1-46) in my gradual attempt to grasp “the whole counsel of God” (Ac 20:27) by studying and preaching on books of the Bible that I am not familiar with. I was particularly impressed by Moses the leader who wisely delegated his leadership to other capable leaders (Deut 1:9-15). John Maxwell, the “leadership guru” expounds on this rule of delegation as a key to successful leaders both in the corporate world and in churches. In theory and principle all church leaders will agree that they delegate their leadership to younger leaders. But…

“Gopher delegation” and controlling leaders. There is a form of delegation that does not work. Continue reading →

How Does Shepherd Paul “Feed Sheep”?

paul_the_apostleHow does the apostle Paul shepherd God’s flock? To emphasize mission and Bible teaching, UBF has loved Paul’s imperatives from 2 Timothy: Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus (2 Tim 2:3). Do your best as a workman who correctly handles the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15). Preach the word (2 Tim 4:2). 2 Tim 2:2 is also a great imperative (“entrust to reliable men”), but is not stressed in UBF.
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