After a new Shepherd has consistently been teaching Sheep faithfully over a period of time, they will be chosen to speak at an upcoming church conference. These conferences are arranged by UBF chapters twice a year, usually in November and over Easter weekend. The chapters will also host two symposiums during the year, held at the church building–one of which is always centered around newly graduating students. The conferences are usually 2-3 day events that are held in remote locations deep in the mountains. UBF views conferences as very special holy events.
They are considered life-changing experiences where God opens the eyes of many lost Sheep. CONFERENCES ARE MANDATORY. THERE IS NEVER ANY EXCUSE FOR MISSING A CONFERENCE. Even if someone has a young child who is very ill, they will still be expected to be at the conference, and to leave everything else in God’s hands. The conferences will [always] be held at a Korean retreat center, where everyone will be provided with a bed and three meals a day. And, yes, conferences come with a cost, and everyone is required to pay.
As of recent times, the conference fee will fall between $40-$95, however the price will generally fall somewhere in between. The fees are “used” to pay for renting the retreat center for the weekend, buying food, as well as buying gifts for all of the visiting Sheep. The conferences serve two main purposes: 1) Inspiring new Sheep to join UBF, and 2) Motivating current church members, as the life of the Shepherd can become very difficult. Visitors to conferences will find these events to be highly controlling and tightly regimented. Each day is filled with messages and other events. Meals are rushed to save time. The days for conferences are very long, usually lasting very late into the night, and morning wake-up is around 6AM. All spiritually growing Shepherds will be required to speak at three conferences as they go through the discipling process.
The first is the Resurrection conference [based on 1 Corinthians 15], held at Easter. The second is the Genesis conference, centered around the first book of the Bible, and the third conference is “centered” around the novel, Pilgrim’s Progress, written by John Bunyan.
The preparations for the conferences are long and costly. If someone is chosen as a speaker, they will be assigned a select passage to preach about, followed by their life testimony.
Everyone’s life testimony is very similar and falls along this format: “Before I joined UBF my life was a disaster and I lived a sinful life in rebellion towards God. Then I got fished on campus by my Shepherd and God revealed himself to me through His Word and I decided to become a campus Shepherd myself. Now my life is good since I am living a life pleasing to God…” [All life testimonies in UBF follow this A,B,C format]
After someone has been chosen as a speaker and assigned a passage, they will write their own version of the passage and their life testimony. Their Shepherd will help in editing it. By the time it is finished, it will have gone through multiple revisions, and the final product will be completely different from what was originally written. This is an important part of the indoctrination process, as UBF wants the speakers to think that the interpretation came from them and not from their Shepherd (In this way, they will always think that they made a decision on their own and not under pressure from UBF). Messengers will also have a few opportunities to practice with the entire group of conference speakers, at least three times minimum. They will also have several private sessions with their Shepherd.
When delivering a message, speakers are expected to be overly dramatic, emphasizing certain words, and making numerous hand and body movements. Outsiders will also notice that their voice will change during this time, as they develop the “Shepherd Voice”. If someone is unwilling to go along with this format, they will be severely rebuked. This is also the time when their Shepherd will bring up past things that the speaker said in past testimonies in order to pressure them to include them or use them out of context. Once they have completed their message, speakers will be told to practice on their own for at least five hours a day (sometimes more).
Once the Shepherd has delivered their conference message, they will be showered with praise by the other church members [a.k.a love bombing] and will go through a period of being “spiritually high”. The purpose behind this is to deepen the Shepherd’s commitment and identity with the group. Once they have received a positive response after giving their message, they will continue this behavior in order to keep receiving praise from their church members.