One of the most helpful and revealing pieces of information about the UBF shepherding system is the knowledge of their strategies. How do they convince new students who are well-grounded and even strong in faith to join the system? How do they train new recruits in the system?
- Oversimplification is a major strategy the UBF leaders use to convince a young adult to join their system. They tend to reduce major life choices down to the binary choice of either praise God or abandon God. They teach this so that students feel compelled to stay. Leaving the system or staying in the system becomes the primary choice embedded in the students' minds. For example, To stay or not to stay? was the most commented article on the [ubfriends.org] website. Always leaving the system is thought of as bad, sinful and dishonorable. Staying, regardless of consequences, is seen as good, holy and honorable.
- The Bible teachers in the system will use the reduction strategy in their Bible teaches and Sunday lectures. They reduce the Bible canon down to about 10 or 12 books, and rarely study the other books of the Bible. This Bible reductionism can be easily seen by reading any of the hundreds of online lectures publicly available from the UBF websites.
- When confronted with the abuse or flawed theology of their system, the UBF leaders tend to resort to silence. They refused to answer, claiming to be justified by Jesus' remaining silent when accused by many people. The UBF leaders like to feel holy by being silent. They claim that the accusations made against them for over 50 years by thousands of people is just the work of 1 or 2 bitter former members, and that there is some grand conspiracy against them.
- The silent treatment is also a strategy used in training new recruits. They often will be silent when asked questions. To question a leader is seen as disrespectful and sinful. Those who go through the painful exit process from the UBF shepherding system find that silence is maddening. Those who claimed to be spiritual parents suddenly stop communicating in any way with former members, who are said to have run away and are now dead to the group.
- It is helpful to realize that UBF missionaries and shepherds are often thinking on a superficial level. As such, they rarely can outwit someone. Ironically, they can appear to be very clever at times, but the norm is that they intend to outlast you. They will teach about the importance of "waiting on God". If a student is not growing enough into the system, they will wait. They typically try to outlast critics by going silent for about six months at a time.
- Partly due to the strong influence of Korean ideas and Eastern religion in the UBF shepherding system, the UBF shepherds and missionaries will often use distraction. Without realizing it, a young adult in the system will make decisions they think are their own, but all the time they were being lead to do what the leaders wanted. This strategy of distraction is seen most clearly during the arranged marriage process, which they call marriage by faith.
- Insiders quickly recognized the phrase "be a blessing". This is a strategy derived form Genesis 12:1-3 primarily. The story of Abraham leaving his father's household is a near-perfect story for motivating young students to leave their family, since the young adults are away from home and usually living on their own for the first time. The blessing strategy is used to guilt trip student into making adverse or unusual decisions that demonstrate loyalty to the UBF system. The shepherds ask sheep questions such as "You want to be a blessing don't you?" and "You used up so much blessing from your shepherds! Why don't you repay that blessing by doing this new thing?".
- Also the blessing strategy is used as a dangling carrot. They claim you will get a future blessing, such as being sent out as a missionary or getting married to a "most beautiful" spose (called a co-worker). This is nearly the same as the cult control technique called love-bombing.