Sunday, August 28, 2016

Dealing With Many Languages

In urban ministry, we needed to negotiate a Church with many languages. Our Church's lingua franca was English. However, English was a minority mother tongue. Afrikaans was the largest mother tongue. Then came various languages after English, among them Chichewa and Lingala. In general, we dealt with it like this: If there was a familiar item (the benediction, say) then the use of another language was fine. If there was an original item (the main prayer, say), then another language could be used in part. Alternatively, a non-English item could be introduced in English, so that all would know what it was about. OBSERVATION: In short, it could be summed up as "love" -- love for the whole congregation through the way we used our language(s). This was an aspect, incidentally, of a bigger idea: that the Church unites old and young, Black and White, rich and poor -- and Afrikaans, English, and so on. It is what the New Testament achieved.

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