Original Research

A multilingual church leader for a multilingual world: A case study

Susan Coetzee-Van Rooy
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 48, No 2 | a1865 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v48i2.1865 | © 2014 Susan Coetzee-Van Rooy | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 17 July 2014 | Published: 19 December 2014

About the author(s)

Susan Coetzee-Van Rooy, Faculty of Humanities, North-West University, Vaal Triangle Campus, South Africa


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Abstract

The world is increasingly becoming more multilingual. South Africa has a long history of multilingualism. In the post-1994 South Africa, integrated organisations like churches where individual and organisational multilingualism are prevalent are growing. Previous and current studies of language use in integrated congregations indicate that multilingualism is a challenge to church leaders. In post-1994 integrated churches in South Africa where multilingualism is prevalent, congregations can foster innovative functional multilingual arrangements to benefit their ministry. However, evidence from research indicates that church leaders struggle to make functional multilingual arrangements and often monolingual English services are offered instead. The multilingual abilities and willingness of church leaders to foster functional multilingual arrangements for their churches is a core factor in this matter. The ability of church leaders to foster effective communication in a linguistically complex setting is important in the general interest of successful evangelisation. In this article, a case study approach is used to explore the latent potential present in the multilingual repertoire of a church leader to foster a functionally multilingual context in his congregation. The multilingual repertoire of a church leader is described and related to his perceptions of its usefulness to ministry as a profession. Descriptions of this nature are important in a context where the abilities and willingness of ministers to foster multilingual congregations have been acknowledged as core factors that determine the success of implementation. Improving the understanding of the nature of the multilingual repertoires of ministers would enable educators of ministers to as certain how these resources could be activated to enhance ministry in the post-1994 South Africa. The main findings from this case study are that the multilingual repertoire of this church leader is unique because of its scope and the exceptional abilities of this church leader in Southern Sotho; and the church leader displays enhanced levels of metalinguistic awareness. Based on the perceptions of the participant, the multilingual abilities of this church leader is related to his ministry in specific ways, viz. it is part of his general calling to become a church leader; it is part of his additional calling to be a bridge-builder between white and black people in his community; it enables him to craft a specific personal communication strategy where he uses his Southern Sotho abilities to start conversations with all people, that provide an entrance point for him to begin relationships, so that he could invite them into his ministry; and it is a valuable resource that enables him to minister effectively. From the description of this exceptional case study, it is possible to begin to consider the implications of the multilingual needs of a multilingual world for ministry in integrated churches in South Africa. The findings are useful because they provide a starting point for there consideration and exploration of implications for theological education and language policy matters in the domain of the church today.

'n Meertalige kerkleier vir ’n meertalige wêreld: ’n Gevallestudie. Die wêreld word toenemend meertalig. Suid-Afrika het ’n lang geskiedenis van meertaligheid. Geïntegreerde organisasies soos kerke waar individuele en institusionele meertaligheid die botoon voer, word al hoe meer in die post-1994 Suid-Afrika. Bevindings in vorige en onlangse studies wat op taalgebruik in die geïntegreerde gemeentes fokus, dui aan dat meertaligheid ’n uitdaging vir kerkleiers is. In die geïntegreerde kerke in die post-1994 Suid-Afrika waar meertaligheid prominent is, is daar die moontlikheid om innoverende funksioneel-meertalige oplossings te vind wat die sukses van evangelisasie kan ondersteun. Ongelukkig dui bevindings wat uit navorsing vloei aan dat kerkleiers sukkel om funksioneel-meertalige reëlings te implementeer en dat daar dikwels eentalige Engelse dienste aangebied word. Die meertalige vermoëns en die bereidwilligheid van kerkleiers om funksioneel-meertalige reëlings in gemeentes te vestig, is as ’n kernfaktor in hierdie stryd bewys. Die vermoëns van kerkleiers om effektiewe kommunikasie te vestig in kontekste wat taalgewys kompleks is, is in die algemene belang van suksesvolle evangelisasie belangrik. In hierdie aritkel word die benadering van ’n gevallestudie gebruik om die sluimerende potensiaal in die meertalige repertoire van een kerkleier te ondersoek, naamlik om funksioneel-meertalige reëlings in ’n gemeente te implementeer. Die meertalige repertoire van die kerkleier word beskryf en in verband met sy persepsies van die bruikbaarheid van meertaligheid vir sy professie as kerkleier gebring. Beskrywings van hierdie aard is belangrik in ’n konteks waar die vermoëns en bereidwilligheid van kerkleiers as deurslaggewende faktore vir die sukses van die implementering van meertaligheid in gemeentes aangedui is. Die verdieping van insig in die verstaan van die aard van meertalige repertoires van kerkleiers kan ’n bydrae tot die opleiding van kerkleiers maak deurdat dit kan help bepaal hoe hierdie bronne in die post-1994 Suid-Afrika geaktiveer kan word. Die hoofbevindings van hierdie gevallestudie is dat die meertalige repertoire van hierdie kerkleier uniek is vanweë die omvang en die uitsonderlike vermoëns van hierdie kerkleier om Suid-Sotho te gebruik; en die kerkleier demonstreer verhoogde vlakke van metalinguistiese bewustheid. Die persepsies van die deelnemer in hierdie studie dui aan dat hy sy meertalige vermoëns op baie spesifieke maniere tot sy roeping as kerkleier verbind, naamlik dat dit deel van sy algemeneroeping is om ’n kerkleier te word; dit is deel van sy bykomende roeping om brûe tussen wit en swartmense in sy gemeenskap te bou; dit stel hom in staat om ’n baie spesifieke kommunikasiestrategie te skep waar hy sy vermoëns in Suid-Sotho gebruik om gesprekke met alle mense te begin. Dit gee hom ’n aanknopingspunt om verhoudings te begin wat daartoe kan lei dat hy mense na sy gemeente nooi; en na sy mening is dit is ’n waardevolle bron wat sy evangelisasie meer effektief maak. Die beskrywing van die meertalige repertoire in hierdie uitsonderlike gevallestudie lei tot meer insig in die meertalige vereistes wat ’n meertalige wêreld aan kerkleiers van geïntegreerde kerke in Suid-Afrika stel. Die bevindings is bruikbaar, omdat dit ’n basis is waarvandaan die implikasies vir teologiese opleiding en taalbeleidsake in die kerk as domein heroorweeg en verder ondersoek kan word


Keywords

Multilingualism; Church Leader; Language Repertoire; Theological Education; Language Policy

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