Why should UBF stop their one-to-one Shepherding program?
UBF has an identity crisis. Are they a para-church group? Are they a Christian church? Certainly they are not a "mainline evangelical church" as they often like to claim because they have zero ties to the seven mainline Christian denominations. UBF, in reality, runs a recruiting program called Shepherding. Members cannot be members unless they have a personal shepherd who is responsible for the moral choices made by the sheep ("sheep" is UBFism for Bible student).
This shepherding program creates long-term, lasting harm when applied to an adult who is just joining college at 18 or 19 years old. The Bible student ends up with an identity crisis similar to the UBF organization. The student wonders, Is UBF my shepherd? Or is Jesus my shepherd? When the student reads passages in the Bible about obedience, their mind subconsciously links that obedience to their UBF shepherd. Life choices become narrowly focused on maintaining loyalty to the UBF shepherd and UBF group, often to the point of damaging relationships with family and friends.
I must admit UBF has changed--they have reportedly stopped the physically abusive practices of Samuel Lee (the deceased co-founder of UBF). They no longer give "Skokie training" or "dead dog training", where student leaders had to walk several miles in the snow in Chicago for not writing testimonies, or where student leaders had to bounce a ball a thousand times off their head to prove their repentance. They no longer will demand women to have abortions for the "glory of God" in order to become missionaries as Samuel Lee and others did.
So that's good. UBF stopped those abuses (reportedly). That does not make them a Christian ministry it just means their leaders have escaped jail time.
If UBF is indeed a viable Christian ministry, why do people continue to reach out to me for help understanding why their sons or daugthers or friends have cut off ties with them?