This is one of a series of articles regarding the UBF chapter, [Shepherd’s Church] El Camino UBF in Gardena, California.
Most likely if you are new to this church, you were “fished” (recruited) on your college campus by a UBF shepherd who asked you if you were interested in studying the Bible. Some of the things you may have already noticed at this church is the “excessive zeal” that most of the members have in teaching the Bible to college students. Usually as a new member, you will be treated reasonably well[a.k.a love bombing]. Some of the current members are friendlier than others. As a new member, you will be referred to as a “Sheep”, which is the lowest ranking position in this ministry. Shepherd’s Church is very similar to a military organization. All members have ‘unofficial’ rankings that are based on their ‘spiritual condition’. Those who have been in the church longer are seen as having a higher spiritual condition than those who came later. As a Sheep, you are very much like a Private in a military system–essentially you have no authority and you are expected to obey instructions given to you without questioning them. How you are treated by the other church members will depend on a few factors.
The first factor is who your Shepherd is. If you are the Sheep of a prominent Shepherd or a Fellowship Leader, then you will generally be treated better than if you are studying under a younger or less prominent Shepherd. The second factor is your race. Sheep who are Caucasian (White), with blonde hair and blue eyes are the most desired type of a sheep that this ministry wants. The reasoning is that this group of people are the most ‘typical’ American. Since the University Bible Fellowship (UBF) is a Korean organization that seeks to evangelize Americans, therefore, this group is the target group that UBF greatly desires to have within their ranks. If you are one of these ‘mainstream’ Sheep, then you can expect to be treated VERY well by other church members. You will be love-bombed almost immediately. You will receive special attention from the church leadership and the pastor. You will be fast-tracked through the training process, allowed to speak at conferences almost right away, serve in important church positions, be given gifts, and even have opportunities to visit the UBF headquarters in Korea[or go on “mission” trips]. Another thing that you must be aware of when you join is the fact that you are being closely watched by your Shepherd and fellow church members. They are trying to figure out what your ‘spiritual condition’ is so that they can challenge you in certain ways as you progress through the training process.
Here at Shepherd’s Church, the congregation is divided up into groups, called “Fellowships”, each led by a Fellowship Leader. The Fellowship Leaders are all senior members who have gone through the marriage by faith process (arranged marriage with other members [that is conducted by the chapter director]). Therefore, the Fellowship Leaders and their spouses are very loyal to Shepherd’s Church and the UBF ministry. Their primary role is to oversee the spiritual well-being of each of their group members and to provide advice and authority. Very much like a military system, Fellowship Leaders are the equivalent to First Sergeants, who oversee a Company of soldiers. The Chapter Director (usually referred to as a Missionary or a Pastor) serves as a Commander (equivalent to a Captain or a Lieutenant Colonel), who manages the entire operation of a Battalion of soldiers. And just so that you are aware, the members of Shepherd’s Church see themselves as “spiritual soldiers” for God’s kingdom. This will be discussed later in a separate article.
One observation that you may have noticed about Shepherd’s Church is their heavy use of prayer. To put it simply, the people at Shepherd’s Church are always praying, oftentimes in ritualized patterns. The prayers are often long and drawn out and said in a rhythmic, predetermined order. Certain words will be emphasized and used repeatedly throughout the prayer. Once you become apart of Shepherd’s Church, you will pray too. However, you will notice that their prayers are longer than at most Christian churches. Some of the topics that the Shepherds pray about are as follows: 1) That God will bless “Missionary” John Baik abundantly, and continue to fill him with the “Holy Spirit”, 2) That God will bless themselves abundantly and send them more Sheep (students) to teach, 3) That God will bless Shepherd’s Church abundantly and send many lost, wandering, and demon-possessed Sheep into their church, 4) That God will wrestle with their current Sheep and give them the desire to undertake more commitment to Shepherd’s Church, 5) That God will use Shepherd’s Church to establish 50 house churches across California.
An important matter that you also need to know are the church rules on dating. Shepherd’s Church has an unspoken rule against members dating one another. You will never be told this directly, but you will be expected to figure it out on your own. Do your self a favor and DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DATE! This will land you in serious trouble and once you have been caught doing this, your image will be permanently tarnished in the eyes of the leadership. There is simply no way to redeem yourself after this. YOU WILL BE REBUKED (punished) over this. Therefore, do not interact in any way with members of the opposite gender unless you are required to do so in order to perform a church function. Do not try to establish a friendship, romance, or even a friendly gesture. Do not touch any member of the opposite gender, and do not stare at them. It will be found out very quickly if you attempt to do this. The church leaders are constantly scanning the room looking for members with [so called] “lust problems” [in a creepy manner]. As stated before, DO NOT engage in this behavior. It will only end badly for you…