Posts Tagged ‘performance’

Blogging plan for this year

January 14, 2005

Here’s a blogging plan for this year:

* More on moral relativism and moral apathy in UBF; how UBF tries to “rise above” the moral struggle just as it tries to “transcend” the need to help the poor; how “preaching the gospel” in UBF becomes an excuse to stop “wasting time” to think about morals and ethics; “that’s not our main ministry.”

* How the leader veneration culture and authoritarian structure of UBF is a natural extension of the works-righteousness belief system of UBF; the two go hand-in-hand.

* The crushing of healthy individuality in UBF; “message” and orchestra “training.”
** “message training”
*** spiritual abuse as “serving” or “helping”
*** CUBF’s “short-term missionaries” sent to oversea conferences mainly to make the “messages” more CUBF-compliant.

* The “cultural differences” rationalization and the assumption that cultures are equally good or equally valid.

* Recent traumatic departures (Patrick Chan and Sola Fide) and what this shows about UBF’s depictions of God and salvation.

* The “Cursed woman’s desire” crucial false teaching.

* “We must not love God less by not neglecting our children”; “giving up our Isaac”; “don’t make children your idols”; thoughts on biblical parenting.

* The sapping of Christian joy in UBF and why people burn out and leave.
** numbers obsession, performance preoccupation and resulting tendency to
settle for mediocrity, just do enough to survive another week.

* How it all comes down to the attitude of “I don’t care, I don’t care.”

* Exclusivism; Barry’s ignorance of Harvest BC and local Presb. church; UBF being “uber-Christianity”.

* UBF and Yong-Gi Cho.

* Signs of the UBF apocalypse: A World Buffet bash for Harriet, a 2ndgen is sent to seminary or Christian college.

* “The Perils of Obedience,” the Milgram Experiment.

* Paulus Eun on UBF and the facts.

* The ministry of numbers and the doctored Wharton Center photo.

* W. Jun, numbers enforcer.

* Stupid UBF defense trick #1: Everything is about subjective feelings; you FELT “hurt” or “offended.”

* Stupid UBF defense trick #2: Jesus did it that way, too.

* All “fruit” is external and of one kind in UBF.

* What’s So Amazing About Grace.

* What feeds abusive behavior? Performance preoccupation (ignorance of grace, numbers obsession), exclusivism (“God bless OUR ministry”, keep and hold and control a recruit at all cost, ties in with perf. preocc.)

* “Africa first needs the Ten Commandments” and http://religion.info/english/articles/article_154.shtml

* and more.

Drowning out the gospel

October 9, 2004

I grew up in Chicago UBF, but it was in the local Baptist church (Edgewater Baptist (*) on Chicago’s north side) where I first heard and believed the gospel as a teenager. If UBF did teach me the gospel, I don’t remember it. Maybe it was drowned out by the gospel of mission, where I first have to become “a normal human being,” get all “A’s”, “have great vision” for my country and for myself, “win the victory over many adverse situations”, and “do many great things” for God. In the Baptist church I heard the gospel of God’s grace; in UBF I heard the gospel of man’s mission. When my parents saw that I loved the Baptist church, they gave me an ultimatum and tore me away from genuine Christian fellowship that was based on the gospel, and they told me to have “gospel faith” without even knowing what the gospel was. Even at UBF Easter conferences I did not hear the gospel. The automaton conference messengers would say many dramatic words about the blood and the cross, and sometimes they would pretend to cry or even genuinely cry, but they did not dare to mention the finished work of Christ on the cross. The gospel they were preaching was meant to “motivate” me to “finish” the work that was already completed.

(*) Erwin Lutzer, now pastor at the Moody Church, was the pastor at Edgewater from 1971-1977.

John Engler resignation letter

August 6, 2004

The following are parts of a recent resignation letter written by a sometime defender of the International Church of Christ (ICC) and maintainer of the excellent Barnabas Ministry site. I include it here because of its relevance to current UBF problems:

Performance-Oriented Theology

http://web.archive.org/web/20070212214924/http://ubf-info.de/cts/icc/kriete2003.en.htmIn my perspective, the DCC has long practiced a performance-oriented theology, driven by its historic reactions against the “traditional” churches of Christ and centered around what I consider to be a well-intentioned but distorted concept of discipleship.

In this theology, man’s purpose in life is to please God with his works. Discipleship is the price of salvation. Yet, there are always more works to do, and man is never, ever good enough. The DCC would not explicitly teach that man is saved by works because the concept is patently absurd, but this is pretty much what is practiced. For example, conversion (as taught in First Principles) focuses almost exclusively on human performance with scant mention of the notion of grace or salvation. The ministry focuses on what we are “supposed to do,” as though that were the essence of the Christian experience. In our preaching, Jesus is rarely presented as a Divine Savior; far more frequently he is presented as a “perfect disciple.” The idea is advanced that if we just tried hard enough, we too could be perfect just like Jesus. Righteousness is something that is attained by trying harder, not the result of salvation. In my opinion, such a philosophy is at odds with passages such as 1 John 1:8 and Romans 7:21-25.

Performance-oriented theology brings a host of unhealthy side effects, most notably the pride and boasting in what one does, especially in favorite areas of religious performance. It makes certain works better than others, certain people better than others. It creates a false sense of entitlement and spiritual security for those who play the game well, and a corresponding false sense of guilt for those who don’t play the game quite so well.

Performance-oriented theology produces nice results for a short time, but it robs the cross of its power and meaning. In the end, it leaves people destroyed spiritually. (Not surprisingly, we then turn around and blame them for being destroyed. That’s like murdering someone and then blaming them for being dead.) I am persuaded that people don’t need to be told how they constantly fall short of perfection and God’s standards; they face this every day. What they need to know is that God wants a relationship with them and that he can work through their imperfections by his Spirit to accomplish his works in their lives anyway.

In my opinion, this performance-orientation issue permeates the DCC culture like toxic waste oozing from beneath the surface. It is everywhere, and it is insidious. Getting rid of it will not be easy for those who have lived under it and perpetuated it for many years. How much harder it will be for those who do not see its shortcomings or are enthralled with its short-term results.

Leader-Centric Ministry Approach

In my perspective, the DCC ministry model is fundamentally leader-centric. Things revolve around a leader, especially region-leader evangelists. I believe the http://web.archive.org/web/20070212214924/http://ubf-info.de/cts/icc/kriete2003.en.htmScriptures testify more to a Jesus-centered and body-centered (or sheep-centered) model.

In a leader-centered model, things are seen from a leadership point of view, and the leader must make things happen. Along with this come the undesirable side effects of control, favoritism, reliance upon personality and hype to extend the abilities and limits of leadership. Under such a model, the members never really mature but remain spiritual children to the leadership. In the end, the sheep end up serving the leaders. Then the leaders are expected to live up to the position they’re in, and resent it when people expect them to be perfect.

A sheep-centered model looks at things from the point of view of the sheep and how to develop and mobilize church resources for the benefit of the sheep. The ministry serves the sheep, for their benefit—just like Jesus who came for our benefit, not for his. A Jesus-centered model looks to him to make things happforceden. It is willing to accept his agenda, his timing, his working, and not the arbitrary goals of leaders who are eager to make a name for themselves or prove themselves worthy of greater roles in the church. A great example of this sort of a ministry is Paul’s summary of his ministry in Colossians 1:24-2:3.

We’ve seen the failings of a leader-centric approach first-hand, yet the DCC still seems entrenched in a leader-centric ministry approach. Leaders are important, but we would do well to remember that they are usually referred to in Scripture as “servants.” Does the name itself not suggest the model that should be used?