A Sample of Culture Specific Story
Freedom to Lead International® teaches principles of Christ-centered leadership primarily through biblical and culture-specific stories. Following each story are discussion questions to engage participants more deeply in the story.
A sample culture-specific story is provided below. This story is included in an introductory session of our module entitled Spiritual Leadership. The story and discussion that follows demonstrate that believers and churches sometimes don’t work together due to differing perspectives about the best way of spiritual growth.
Confusion Among Believers
Tesfaye became a follower of Jesus Christ at age 23. He poured himself into hearing more about Jesus and into learning more stories from the Bible. Tesfaye was thrilled to be part of this new spiritual family. He was excited to hear of many other believers scattered throughout his state. “It is good to share Christian fellowship with so many diverse people. God has truly done an amazing thing in making us to be one family,” he thought.
Tesfaye was mentored by his pastor, Worku. Over the next two years Tesfaye became a respected member of his church and a key leader. One day Pastor Worku asked Tesfaye to help coordinate a one-day festival. This festival would celebrate the arrival of the Christian gospel in his region thirty years earlier. Tesfaye replied, “This is a very exciting opportunity! Hundreds, maybe thousands of believers from all over this region of the state can gather to celebrate salvation and new life in Jesus Christ. Yes, I will help, Pastor Worku.”
However, as Tesfaye talked to leaders from other churches, he discovered that they had different practices from those of his home church. Pastor Tesema said, “We focus on sharing the gospel message with lost people. We don’t think spending a lot of time in prayer and meditation is helpful in planting churches.” Pastor Kebede said, “We are most concerned with caring for social needs in the community around us.” Tesfaye was troubled because his church had never done any social work. He wondered if other churches did social work because they had never been filled with the Holy Spirit and His power. Pastor Derefe said, “Our church emphasizes our new life that Christ provides through grace; we don’t emphasize human works like prayer, Bible study, mediation or social work.” Finally, Pastor Tilhun said, “We believe that God works best through those who are devoted to long hours of daily prayer and extended daily meditation on the scriptures.”
Tesfaye was confused. He discussed his concerns with Pastor Worku who reminded Tesfaye, “Remember, we are still brothers and sisters in Christ,” But Tesfaye still struggled.
Tesfaye contacted each pastor to ask for their participation. He discovered that some leaders were suspicious of one another’s church practices, and they were not sure they could participate in a celebration of Christian fellowship with other churches. Tesfaye told Pastor Worku, “Some leaders aren’t certain that the people in the other churches are true followers of Jesus Christ! Because of this conflict I’m not sure this celebration event is even possible!” he added.
Question 1: What did Pastor Worku ask Tesfaye to do?
He asked him to help coordinate a one-day festival that would celebrate the arrival of the Christian gospel in his region thirty years earlier.
Question 2: As Tesfaye talked with the leaders of other churches, what did he discover?
He discovered that these churches had different practices from those of his home church.
- Some churches seemed focused only on sharing the gospel message and conversion.
- Some seemed more concerned with caring for social needs in the community around them.
- And others were focused on prayer and Scripture reading, and less on evangelism.
Question 3: How did some of the leaders view other churches?
Some of the leaders viewed other churches with suspicion. They were not sure they could participate in a celebration with them.
Question 4: What was Pastor Worku trying to teach Tesfaye when Tesfaye came to him confused?
Pastor Worku was trying to teach Tesfaye that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ.
Question 5: Can you think of anything that is lost when congregations are not able to fellowship together in Christ?
-Appreciation is lost for the variety of spiritual practices that are found among others within the body of Christ.
Question 6: Do you know stories where Christian leaders could not come together for a special event? Share about that situation:
- Briefly describe the problem.
- What were the key points of disagreement?
- Were the leaders able to eventually work together?