My Reasons

In my previous post, entitled “Make It Clear”, I state that my leaving UBF is for the sake of unity in the body of Christ as presented by Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 12 (as well as several other places in Scripture). In order to further clarify my leaving of UBF ministry, I present the following reasoning.

Why is my leaving UBF for the sake of Apostolic unity in 1 Corinthians 12?

Reason #1: The first reason is because staying a member of UBF in my situation means supporting single-family church-planting (called pioneering in UBF terms). My leaving is a rejection of the lone housechurch pioneering idea.

Living as a single-family housechurch in America causes severe dis-unity. It is an arrogant way to live. It presumptuously tells other Christians that I am God’s gift to this city. Perhaps there have been times in history where single families could be a blessing, such as in jungle or remote communities of unreached people. I reject this method as a viable way to serve God in America because it adds to the mutlitude of splintered factions of Christian denominations.

Certainly someone will ask, well why did you go to Detroit in a single family pioneering effort? In 2003, after much prayer and discussion, I was willing to leave Toledo and go to Detroit to pioneer a new church. I did not want to go out alone however. I requested help from a committee of fellow believers. I was willing to wait until someone could be sent to join us. In the end we did indeed leave by ourselves, in hopes that someone would come soon. And by that time, my speaking up had shown me clearly that group communication and group pioneering efforts would not be tolerated in UBF.

Someone did come to Detroit that first year. A missionary I had never met before was introduced to us. He said his name was Matthew. After one year, he suddenly disappeared. I found out later his name was Paul. He himself was in the process of leaving UBF. Also one Bible student from Toledo came to Detroit because of her job. She and her family have become dear friends to us. But neither of these people’s coming to Detroit constitutes an intentional, motivated, organizational effort by UBF to plant a church in Detroit. Nothing was done in 8 years to purposefully build a community of faith.

Personally I am a hermit-type person, one who naturally likes being by myself. But even I know that I need healthy relationships with other people: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the one who falls and has no one to help him up!” – Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

As a Christian, I and my family need a place where we can use our gifts: “Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you…” – 1 Timothy 4:14

We all need a place where we can grow: “They joined with the other believers and devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, sharing in the breaking of bread and prayer.” – Acts 2:42

And we need to belong to something bigger than ourself: “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” – Romans 12:4-5

Why is my leaving UBF for the sake of Apostolic unity in 1 Corinthians 12?

Reason #2: The second reason is because staying a member of UBF in my situation means supporting a director-style leadership model. My leaving is a rejection of the benevolent dictator leadership model.

Most people love power. Imagine having the power and authority to build any kind of church you wanted! As the Director of Detroit UBF, I had almost no accountability. Once a year someone would email me to make sure all my numbers were reported for weekly Sunday service and Bible study attendance. Once a year someone would remind me that we had not sent any offerings to the central chapter. As long as I attended two or three staff conferences a year, I was deemed to be fit for service.

As a director I was expected to build my church by ambition. Numerous times I was encouraged to be ambitious, to go to a campus and find some students. I was directed to pray for and identify 12 families to join us. Yes, I knew how to get coworkers: I had to ask. I had to demonstrate personal ambition by publishing good things about my city. I had to do something to attract missionaries, making them want to come to us. The thing is, I am in Detroit. It is rare to find someone wants to come to Detroit, often named the most miserable city and the most dangerous city in America (Note: I have come to love Detroit and its people. It is truly an amazing and friendly city!). I also found that Koreans (and Asians in general) would rather do just about anything besides come to live in an African-American city like Detroit and build a church where it would most likely be filled with African-American students. I now want to stay in Detroit as long as possible because I love the African-American community.

I resigned as Director of Detroit UBF mainly because I do not have the selfish ambition required to be successful at such a leadership model. Apostle Paul once rejoiced even if some do preach Christ out of selfish ambition: “15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.” Philippians 1:15-18 (NIV)

Yet in the very next chapter, Apostle Paul also warned: “3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:2-4 (NIV)

I am willing to be a pastor, shepherd, missionary, coach or mentor, but I will never be a director.

Why is my leaving UBF for the sake of Apostolic unity in 1 Corinthians 12?

Reason #3: The third reason is because staying a member of UBF in my situation means supporting the idea that the Holy Spirit is an energy source as well as further grieving of the Holy Spirit. My leaving is a submission to the Holy Spirit, who is the Third Person of the Triune God and an act of repentance for resisting and grieving Him.

I truly belive the Reformed idea that the church can teach and exhort, but the matters of faith and practice are matters of individual conscience before God. No church governing body can compel or bind a person’s conscience.

As I look back on my Christian life, I see that I have resisted and even grieved the Holy Spirit by my actions. My leaving UBF is an act of repentance, a decision to submit to the Spirit and strive to no longer resist Him.

The following Bible study about the work of the Spirt and the sins against the Spirit continue to be most helpful to me. (

The Holy Spirit works in the following ways:
a. Revealing and confirming the Word of Truth – He 2:3-4
b. Convicting hearts of sin through the Word – Jn 16:7
c. Regenerating those who respond to the gospel – Jn 3:5
d. Indwelling those who obey the gospel – Ac 2:38; 1Co 6:19
e. Leading those who walk in the Spirit – Ga 5:16-18,25
f. Producing the fruit of the Spirit in those so led – Ga 5:22-23
g. Strengthening those seeking to please God – Ep 3:16
h. Serving as a seal, marking Christians as God’s own – Ep 1:13
i. Serving as an earnest (guarantee) of our inheritance – Ep 1:14

It is possible for us to sin against the Spirit:
a. We can resist the Spirit – Ac 7:51
b. We can quench the Spirit – 1Th 5:19
c. We can grieve the Spirit – Ep 4:30
d. We can insult the Spirit – He 10:29
e. We can blaspheme the Spirit – Mt 12:31-32

14 thoughts on “My Reasons

  1. Brian,
    I am thankful to God that i could have a chance to read your post. It is indeed deep and meaningful. I like it and I agree to it when you say “I truly belive the Reformed idea that the church can teach and exhort, but the matters of faith and practice are matters of individual conscience before God. No church governing body can compel or bind a person’s conscience.”
    May God bless you all the more…

  2. Enrich, thank you and God bless your own journey of faith. Please say hello to Abraham for me. I pray for God’s healing throught the Spirit.

  3. Dear Brian, every 6 months or so I type in ‘Toledo UBF’ to see how things are going. I came across your site and I was greatly encouraged to read about you and your family. Most of all to read about your submission to God the Holy Spirit. Hallelujah!! I have also met the Holy Spirit and accepted the truth in Romans 8, especially verse 14; “…because those who are led by the Spirit are sons of God.” Indeed, Jesus has given us the Holy Spirit, not to be used as a power source, but to lead us as our blessed ‘Director'(I stole that from you) and Supplier for the life and ministry Jesus has called us to. You know Brian I am still mostly computer illiterate and don’t navigate the ‘net’ too well. But I hope to read more of what you have written and to hear from you. Rhoda, Peter, Paul and Rebekah and I are doing well in the Lord here in Akron. We go to Emmanual Christian Assembly and are thanking Jesus for the Spirit’s control. How else could we live this blessed life! your brother, Art

  4. Art,

    Life has come a long way since that little Montebello house, eh? Those times of fellowship decades ago–that is Christian life! Thank you so much for your words of encouragement. They mean more to me now than you could possibly know. I’m glad to hear you and Rhoda and your children are doing well in the Lord at Emmanual. I suppose by now, Peter, Paul and Rebekah are not exactly children though! Please say hello to all of them. Mary says hello too!

    All six of us are attending Grace Community here in Detroit. Ruth and Anna are in high school. Ruth will be baptized at Grace soon. Noah (6th grade) and John (1st grade) love to attend Grace also.

    Speaking of the “net” and how it’s grown. It is so funny to me to communicate with people from around the world with technology. I remember back in 1992 or so being reprimanded for “cheating” during Bible study by using an electronic Bible. I was told that I was in danger of making my testimonies not as spiritual as others because I printed them out on a computer instead of handwriting them and using scissors and glue to make Bible study notes!

    Thank you again my friend, it’s good to hear from you.

  5. Dear Brian, yes that was the Christian life! Yeah they’re not kids anymore; only Rebekah is in HS. Peter finished his first year of college and is looking for work to pay for the rest. Paul just started working on a 2 year degree in Computer Engineering, and I’m just working (smile). Give Mary and hug and kiss from us. God bless your children. Praise God for Ruth and her baptism and confession of faith. Yeah I do remember you trying use modern technology to help your Bible study–you always were a rabble rouser. your brother Art.

  6. Art, wow, Paul in college! Now I feel about 50 years older than I am :) I can only thank God for what He has done, for me and our family. And yes, I’m pushing the envelope again (like using older technology such as email and blogs!).

  7. I understand your agony, but I came to a different conclusion. I have been in DeKalb since 1998. I have always prayed for a 1:1 Bible study, discipleship, campus based ministry. I still do. I am a single family housechurch. But I have come to a conclusion over the years…the cavalry is not coming to the rescue. I realize that DeKalb and NIU are not desirable destinations for most missionaries in America. And that is OK. Someone has to church plant. But my isolation drove me to network in two phases. First phase was to network with UBF chapters around me. And so, over the years I have been teaming up with Triton and DuPage UBF. But still this relationship is limited. Over the last couple of years I have realized my situation here is what I make of it. Jesus started to get me thinking outside of the box. I used to think I only had two options. 1) Stick it out and live as single family house church forever or 2) close up shop and move to a larger UBF church. I did not even think that there was a third option. The third option is co-work with other Christians in the area. And so we started supporting “open mic” night at a local church. We started to have Christmas eve with them. We now hold our worship services in a room in their church. We sing at nursing homes on Christmas.We sang at Christian music festivals. The possibilities are endless. My reality is what i make of it. God shows me possibilities and open doors and I need to get outside the box and go for it. And since joining the Wheaton Cohort with Dr Armstrong, I have realized that I can not survive without co-working with other area churches and Christians. it is actually wrong to not co-work. God is blessing these efforts. It took years to think about option number three. I am still a UBF shepherd. I my house church is still a UBF chapter.But what this means and how it looks is changing. Some of these changes make me sad and some make me excited about the future. But me and my family are being transformed by the Holy Spirit and guided by the Holy Spirit.

    • Kevin, it’s good to see that you and other UBF directors, at least those in smaller remote chapters, can start to do things such as cooperating with other churches (maybe even attend theological seminaries for further education) without getting problems with the headquarters. I think this has only become possible because the top leadership now has become weak and divided, and members are leaving UBF so they are happy about everyone who stays and ready to make compromizes. In the time of Samuel Lee, directors who tried to cooperate with other churches would have been ordered back to the headquarters to receive training and often would have been replaced by another director while being at the headquarters for training. That’s what happened to James Kim in Toledo, Augustine Hope Song in Moscow. The reformers of 2001 complained about these cases, and were eventually expelled from UBF, too. I think all UBF directors who now have such freedom should demand from the top leadership that the reformers of the past should be officially fully rehabilitated. They wanted to do the same things, but were not heared, called rebels and children of the devil instead, and eventually expelled for demanding reasonable things and complaining about serious existing grievances. Also, I wonder how long people like Kevin will stay in UBF. Once you get in contact with “ordinary” Christians you will start to see how strange and aberrant UBF and their core practices and methods are. I think that’s also the main reason why UBF leaders do not want cooperation with other churches. Aberrant teachings and abusive practices can only prosper behind a closed fence.

  8. Kevin,

    I am glad to hear about your situation and recent discoveries. In regard to your list of options, I saw #1 and #2 as not viable in my situation.

    Your option #3 is considered absolute blasphemy in my part of the UBF world. Networking with a chapter outside the Great Lakes region and not always networking with Toledo? Not a chance! To attend other churches and actually cowork with them? I would be told “How dare you!” I could have chosen #3, but in light of certain events, my conscience wouldn’t allow me to fight this battle.

    I think our situations are different in a significant way: We were sent to Detroit as training, not to do a church-plant. There simply is no concept of “church-planting” in my part of the UBF world.

    So I chose option #4: to become vocal and public about issues I saw, regardless of the risk to my “career” in UBF.

    And I say a hearty amen to this: “it is actually wrong to not co-work.”

  9. My one reason for leaving UBF was to hear the Lord’s voice clearly for myself.

  10. Maureen, Thank you for sharing! It really is just that simple. We need to hear the Lord’s voice clearly for ourselves.

  11. My reasons for leaving were a bit different. We left during the 2001 reform movement. In that time, so many obvious problems were revealed, including horrible things like forced abortions. Therefore we started to vote for UBF reform in our chapter that was hardline anti-reform. I wanted to give my chapter leader a chance and decided to stay for one more year to see if things changed. But after some months, my wife and I suddenly and on the very same day, independently of each other, felt a strong push by the Holy Spirit to not stay in such an unhealthy enviroment even one day longer. My wife said to me “I feel like we’re playing theater when going to UBF now” and I felt the same. The next Sunday after the service, we publicly declared at the members meeting that our conscience did not allow us to stay in that environment any more, and since then we did not put a foot into the UBF center any more. In hindsight, I still think it was the only possible and right decision in our situation. The sins and problems of UBF were obvious and laying on the table, yet our chapter director refused to even look at them and instead only tried to brainwash and “re-educate” us.

  12. So actually it was not much of a “decision”. It simply was not possible to stay any longer. We and UBF had become like oil and water. Until then, we had been living in a fantasy world, believing that UBF was something special, a place where angels lived, guided by good shepherds who only wanted to do Godly things according to the Bible. Sure, we noticed spiritual abuse done on us and others, but we had grown accustomed to it, were not very sensitive to it, and tried to rationalize it away, and tried most of the time to just not think about it (cult experts would talk about “thought stopping” in this context). So we more or less happily lived in UBF, believing to be part of a Christian community that was only following the will of God. In the year before we left, we slowly recognized that this was a delusion, UBF was not really following the Bible, leaders behaved in many sinful ways in the past, and the abuse we experienced was not the exception but rather the rule in UBF. We then naively thought that when these things were revealed, members and leaders would be shocked and start to repent and change. However, the opposite was the case. There was only cover-up, appeasement, denial, and a strict refusal to even talk about these things. The “angel-like” members did not even seem to be shocked to hear about things like the forced abortions. One missionary even tried to justify it by saying abortion was not disallowed in the Bible. Our director taught us to follow the big leader even if we do not understand his ways, like that leader was God. Reform was called rebellion; my director’s wife told me “you can wait for reform until we are all buried. It had become obvious that UBF did not want to do what is right, but what is UBFish. It became clear that they did not care about the truth and the Bible at all. So that was the end. To see our fellow UBFers and self-acclaimed shepherds behave in such ways was the second big disappointment for me. I cannot put in words how big that disappointment was. Until today it makes me sad and angry. In such an environment it was simply not possible any more to have Christian fellowship, to listen to sermons or share testimonies or sing Christians songs as if nothing had happened. All of that had become stale and bogus. That’s what my wife meant when she said it felt like we were acting up and game-playing when we were in the UBF center. We felt it was not only senseless to stay there, because change clearly was not going to happen, but it was also spiritually insane and dangerous to stay there. We had been in UBF because we believed it was our spiritual home. Now it clearly wasn’t our spiritual home anymore, so there was no sense in staying there.