Insights from the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church
The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (EOTC) has exhibited exceptional leadership in the face of a leadership crisis impacting millions in Ethiopia. The church has a rich history in Ethiopia and Africa, having made significant contributions to the advancement of Christianity. This includes Bible translation and distribution, education, preserving literature and historical records, and defending the country from outside colonizers. The significance of the EOTC is further highlighted by UNESCO’s recognition as a World Heritage site, acknowledging its significant impact on Ethiopia's rich cultural and religious heritage.
I care for my country Ethiopia. I am deeply concerned about the ongoing crisis, which is fueled by ethnic divisions. In this blog post, I will share the four leadership lessons I observed from the EOTC's response to the current crisis from mid-January 2023 to the 11th of February 2023.
In his book Managing Leadership Anxiety, Steven Cuss defines leadership as knowing what to do. The EOTC leaders, through prayer and fasting, integrity, boldness, and clear communication, have effectively responded to the crisis.
The crisis in Ethiopia stems from an ethnic-based political structure that has divided the country, including its churches. In response, the EOTC, as a believer in the God of the Holy Bible, called for a three-day national prayer and fasting time, with its priests and members wearing black sackcloth. This drew large crowds to the EOTC church, overflowing to streets and villages throughout the country. The church made a clear announcement that her plea for justice and unity would continue unless the government changed its course and became willing to discuss the matter urgently.
Despite the government's initial cancellation of the peaceful public demonstration, the EOTC stood its ground and continued with her request. This led to the government opening its door for the leadership of the EOTC, led by Holy Patriarch Abune Mathias, to meet with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his cabinet, resulting in a swift change in the government's political and divisive agenda. The religious, legal, and political negotiations are ongoing, and the full results are yet to be seen.
The first leadership lesson from the EOTC's response to the crisis is the significance of prayer and fasting. The church rightfully called for three days of prayer and fasting with its priests and members wearing black sackcloth. This demonstrates the church's reliance on God rather than earthly power and drew support from other religious communities, including Catholic, Evangelical, and Muslim, as well as the Interfaith Council of Ethiopian Religions.
The second leadership lesson is the EOTC's upholding of integrity. The church upheld its integrity by following biblical principles and a peaceful, legal process despite the opposition of those in power. The EOTC also showed respect and dignity to humanity, as all people are created in the image of God, and opposed ethnic divisions, killing innocent people, and preventing self-appointed politically motivated groups from taking over part of the EOTC.
The third leadership lesson is the EOTC leader's boldness in the face of danger. As Darcy Eikenberg defines leadership as “The courage to do the right things even when they are hard.” The EOTC remained determined to stand by its faith despite the political turmoil. The church guided its members to practice spiritual and peaceful activities over violence, demonstrating exceptional spiritual leadership.
The fourth leadership lesson is the EOTC's clear and transparent communication. The priests communicated regularly with grace and favor to their members and the nation, unifying the members within the country and the diaspora and mobilizing support for their cause globally. Additionally, Abune Petros, the Secretary-General of the Holy Synod, redirected political issues outside the church and kept the church's business focused on spiritual matters. This approach aligns with Jesus's response to those who sought to twist his teachings and asked him, "Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar?" (Matthew 22:17). The EOTC's clear communication and separation of spiritual and political matters demonstrates how leaders can maintain their focus on their core mission and values, even in challenging circumstances.
In conclusion, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (EOTC) has demonstrated remarkable leadership in the face of a crisis that has impacted millions in Ethiopia.
1. Prayer and fasting
2. Upholding integrity
3. Exhibiting boldness
4. Clear communication, the EOTC has shown valuable leadership lessons that can be learned from their response to the crisis. By following the EOTC's leadership example, individuals and organizations can navigate leadership crises with wisdom, integrity, courage, and effective communication.
I pray this movement in EOTC brings a continued spiritual revival in the nation and leadership transformation in the country.
The New Normal
What will you do when everything you have worked on to achieve your goal vanishes?
We tend to set ambitious goals and strategic plans a year or more in advance. Things were “normal” until the end of 2019. In December I got married surrounded by many I loved, with no thought of social distancing. Then everything changed drastically and rapidly.
Faced with uncertainty, it can be tempting to continue to lead with the goals you set pre-COVID. Rather than waiting for things to go back to normal, however, you can take risks to pursue your dreams diligently with new innovative ideas.
I believe God has blessed us with digital strategies to continue striving for our goals despite an unpredictable 2020. The primary skill required here is not being technical, but being agile. Are you willing to pivot and run ministry as a continuous experiment to reach your audience?
We recently launched the Digital Academy 2.0 to equip you and your teams with basic digital strategy principles, tools and models. In a recent webinar, we discussed the need for innovation and digital transformation in Cru and gave a sneak peek of The Basics series as practical next steps for participants.
Take for example, Yomi Adeyinka, our digital champion in Nigeria. Yomi is going through The Basics with his 27 co-workers, including the Great Commission Movement Nigeria’s national team leader. After watching each training video individually, they come together on WhatsApp to reflect on the content. Yomi and his team are taking on new projects as they go through The Basics. His one-sentence description for The Basics is as follows: “It’s short, clear and straight to the point with a sample and worksheet.”
Why wait? Experience it for yourself like Yomi.
You can take risks to pursue your dreams diligently with new innovative ideas. - Miheret Tilahun
This blogpost was first shared on equipping4eministry.com
I’m sure by now most of you are aware of The Blessing by Kari Jobe and Cody Carnes. This beautiful song went viral in a short period of time. It was such a prophetic and anointed one right before the global pandemic. Singers from all over the world adopted this song into their languages, cultures, and music arrangements. I have seen city mayors, influencers, and people at every level engaging with this music as their own. It would be neat to see the impact through detailed analytics.
I have been reflecting on this song and what I learn from it. The number of views is huge . . . not just in English but in all the languages shared on YouTube.
The original video has 18,665 comments. All these engagements are organic (I’m not sure if there was any paid advertising by the music owners). I even saw some comments from people sharing how they received Jesus Christ.
I continued scrolling the comment sections and couldn’t believe what I was reading. People are choosing joy over their suffering. Others are still asking for justice, healing, and even favor from God in a humble spirit. People are sharing their stories with the World.
There are 368K thumbs up… and 7.3K thumbs down. I ask myself, “Why did they give thumbs down for this music?” I’m sure some viewers have more questions for God and for us.
So what, Miheret?
Watching the video encouraged me, but left me with more questions. I was frustrated. This video could be a great opportunity for deeper spiritual conversations and for building online communities. How can we seize these opportunities? The people commenting on YouTube matter to God. Many may need a community where they could grow in their walk with Jesus Christ.
How Do We Seize Viral Opportunities for Christ?
Several social media links are under the video description, but no invitations. Did any of the 23+ million viewers need and find answers or community?
Of course, this global engagement is bigger than one church could handle. How do we help the body of Christ to win, build, and send Christ-centered multiplying disciples? Do we have tools and strategies for this kind of opportunity or do we need new ones?
I imagined more but will stop here. I pray every person touched by this music finds a community where they can impact their world for Jesus. May this even be true for those who are still angry with God.
May we be the ones who help. Let’s face the new world today to be relevant for tomorrow.
Let's Go Digital - Here's How!
“...Has anything like this ever happened in your days?...” Prophet Joel asked this question to elders and everyone who listened. Joel 1:2
Just like in Joel’s time, we are asking ourselves, "What explanation can be given for what is happening around the world right now? Who thought a flu-like virus could shut down all regular activities almost everywhere in the world?" In our generation, this is one of the biggest global phenomena we are witnessing.
A few days after the Cru Digital Strategy core team meetings, we immediately started shaping our communication to help fellow staff members fully shift into digital ministry opportunities. This is the time where our global digital strategy team is stretching to serve all Cru ministries to pivot into digital space.
Together with your ministry partnership, in the last 7 days, we are seeing 197 countries reached with COVID-related articles to help spiritual needs (fear, anxiety, and suffering) in our global digital ecosystem. 92 decisions for Christ via COVID-19 pages across Everystudent.com sites
Starting tomorrow, on March 25-27, the Indigitous community will be hosting five regional webinars curated in five continents (Asia, Africa, Europe, North America, and South America) on practical digital ideas and tools that will help leaders engage in this challenging season. So far we have 1,500 people registered for all of these webinars already!
If you are interested, signup for one of the webinars to learn more about new ways of doing ministry during COVID-19 and answering these questions:
- How do we reach people online?
- How do we disciple people online?
- How do we do church online?
The relationship bridge of technology is more important than ever! You can care for the people of your congregation or network, and invite those who are far from Jesus to experience love, forgiveness, and community found in Him, using digital strategies. You can have a growing, effective ministry over distance and we want to help!
Please forward this to friends and church leaders you know by sharing the links on the left.
Satellite TV and the Church in Africa
Yes, God gives many gifts. The gift of healing for example. But do I need to travel to a specific place to experience those gifts? Do I need to know people who know certain “special” people so that Jesus would heal me? Do I have to give money so that I could get healed? Do I have to give money so that I will get back more?
I observe all these things when I watch some satellite ‘Christian’ TV programs in Africa. I have struggled with this topic for a long time but decided I could not keep my thoughts to myself.
Television, like other media platforms can be used to share the gospel with many. But the effectiveness of the TV platform is limited as it is mainly one way communication. TV is very useful to broadly sow the gospel. You can add texting, phone calls and social media platforms to increase the effectiveness. But the problem is NOT using Christian TV, but it becomes a problem when you use Christian TV to replace the physical church.
When you read a good book you get wisdom and information from the author. Even when the writer inspires you, in most cases it's impossible to consider the author your friend or your pastor. Because pastoral ministry is about shepherding the people known to the pastor.
The satellite TV programs are often filling people’s minds with confused theology and spiritual practices. Often the Christian programs suggests that whatever you hear and see on TV, is what God is saying. But we should listen carefully. Sadly I see preachers on TV who have selfish desires to become idols themselves. They use the platform for selling almost everything.
The first church in the book of Acts was known for:
Some years ago my friend invited me to an early Sunday morning service at his church. We finished the service around 10am and it was too early to go for lunch so he took me to another church that started 10:30am. I must admit I didn't listen to a single statement as my mind was full from the first service. I needed time to soak it in and reflect on it. After the second service we had lunch and my good friend suggested we attend an afternoon service in another church. I could not believe it. I declined.
I see that same principle when I see people switching channel after channel to hear from God. How do you grow and become a disciple like that? What type of fruit do you bear?
For me when a sinner, like me, comes to know God and becomes a child of God, that is a huge miracle. I am a miracle! I am a child of God.
I don’t have to spend money to see a miracle. I don’t have to wait until my mobile number is mentioned. The greatest miracle was when God became Emmanuel, and showed His unfailing love through Jesus Christ.
I love preaching the gospel to myself. If the gospel does not satisfy me, then nothing else would!
Lee Strobel describes John 1:12 like this and I agree with him.
Believe + Receive = Become a child of God John 1:12
Three things you can do
Share your story below.
Ministry Highlights in Atlanta
I taught about 20 young leaders and church pastors how they could create a digital strategy for reaching out to the Ethiopian diaspora community in Atlanta and beyond. Based on their current need and realities, I almost changed my entire training process to help them tackle their particular challenges. Read testimony by one of the participants below
"May God take all the glory for this group and for choosing us as His ambassadors to do the work of God through Digital Strategy, not because we deserve to be chosen, but because He loves us indefinitely. Thank you for taking your time to share with us and educate us about Digital Strategy, and thank you Fithe for organizing our meeting and creating this group.
I have actually learned a lot more than I have expected with only a single day that I have participated in the seminar. When we think about Digital Strategy before the seminar, the first thought that comes to our minds or at least to mine was more about the technology side and a computerized situation, but we have learned far more than just how to manipulate technology to our benefit (the work of the Kingdom). I have acquired the knowledge of how to actually preach the Gospel and as the Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit will teach us how, I believe this seminar was a means in which God used to speak to us on how we "really" should think about preaching the gospel and use every means possible including social media and other forms of technology that we utilize in our daily lives."
Finally, summer is on. I finished my spring in May with a lot of ministry opportunities. Thank you for your prayers; our digital strategy summit in Vancouver, Canada went very well. I am excited where the Holy Spirit is leading us into this cutting edge technology era. We discussed making sure that we are joining our online audience and helping them move closer to Jesus on each digital experience they may have with us.
Thank you so much for your prayers which made it possible for me to be part of this exciting ministry.
How to Get More Facebook Likes
How do you get more likes for your Facebook page? More importantly, how do you get people involved in your cause through a Facebook page? The number of likes on your Facebook page is as important as wanting people to join your cause in a physical offline ministry. In both cases, the higher the number, the higher the momentum will be.
Keep these key principles in mind
The Free Way: The following tips increase your circle for free, which will eventually bring you more likes. It may seem slow at first, but I assure you if you keep doing these you will get an amazing result.
Read my previous post : Keep your Facebook Engagement High
Indigitous Addis Continues to Inspire
I wrote this blog post on Indigitous.org
I have known Robel for a long time, and I am impressed with how the Lord is leading him and making him grow. He was one of the Indigitous Addis live-learning speakers. His talk was about a Church SMS (text) system. At the time, he was just developing the system but now he has finished and deployed it to his church in Hawassa, Ethiopia. He started receiving many requests from churches to use his Church SMS system. I interviewed him via email, and this is his story.
How and when did you start the ChurchSMS idea?
It was a sunny day, and our software team held its daily standup meeting in the morning. After the meeting we started working on our issues for the day… adding new features, fixing bugs and all sorts of things. One of the issues of our sprint (short-term goals) was adding the SMS notification module to a big governmental application we were assigned to develop. Our scrum master (product development coach) asked for a volunteer to take care of the whole SMS integration.
I immediately took the chance and did it successfully within a few days. As a developer you enjoy looking at your code in action; I was fascinated by the performance and simplicity of the module I had written. I soon realized that it could become a good product. Read more here
Miheret T. Eshete