Die kleuters van die Ned. Geref. Kerk Stellenbosch-sentraal se persepsies van lidmaatwees

Du Toit, Paul Albertus (1997)

Thesis (MTh)(Practical Theology and Missiology)--University of Stellenbosch, 1997


ENGLISH ABSTRACT:The church is commissioned to make disciples by baptising them and teaching them what the Head of the church, Jesus Christ, taught his disciples. One of the accents in recent literature is that faith development (making disciples) is also a socialising process. The church is one of the socialising agents and plays a special role in the faith development of each individual member, and especially in the faith development of the child. According to developmental psychology a special developmental task of the pre-school years is socialization. These years are very important for socialising in general, and therefore for faith development as a socialising process. How successful is the socialising process when the pre-schoolers comprise a very small part of a congregation? The Dutch Reformed Church Stellenbosch- Sentraal has an aging congregation; pre-schoolers comprise a mere 3% of its members. If they do not experience that they belong to the congregation and if there are insufficient opportunities for them to take part in congregational activities the necessary faith development (in so far as it'comprises socialization) is impaired.The body of the church should communicate to pre-schoolers that they form part of the body. In our era of electronic communication it may happen that communication between congregation and pre-schooler is unsuccessful when the congregation do not communicate purposefully and in the language and in the range of perception of the pre-schooler of this era. The question is therefore posed: How effectively does the Dutch Reformed Church Stellenbosch- Sentraal communicate to its pre-schoolers that they are part of the body of this church? In order to answer this question one should study the results of the communication process of the pre-schoolers. One should look at the cognitive contents already established in the pre-schoolers, but this alone can be misleading. The author holds the opinion that pre-schoolers form perceptions about the congregation in the process of communication. Their perceptions form a positive or negative filter through which all further communication is sent. If the pre-schoolers have positive perceptions of this congregation, it will be conducive to further faith development. The problem is therefore posed: Do the perceptions of the pre-schoolers of the Dutch Reformed Church Stellenbosch-Sentraal on the congregation show that they associate themselves positively with the congregation? An answer to this question will enable the local church to evaluate whether it understands its role as socialising agent in faith development. This may lead to adjustments in its ministry. For the Christian church in general the processes taking place and being described in one specific congregation may lead to reflection and evaluating of similar processes taking place within every Christian church. Such reflection is even more necessary in our secularised pluralistic world, a world in which the Christian church wishes to maintain the uniqueness and necessity of the Biblical salvation message. With the aim of discovering and describing their perceptions, all pre-schoolers in the congregation born between 01-01-1989 and 31-12-1990 were selected and methods were designed to reveal and describe their perceptions about the congregation. Their perceptions were revealed and described through kinetic drawings (interpreted by more than one person), the design of a projective measuring instrument with pictures and reporting (conversations). At the same time the attitude of the congregation towards these pre-schoolers were gauged by means of participant observation and in a random opinion poll. Conclusions Although the researcher had (thanks to the research!) very good relations with most of the pre-schoolers and they probably were inclined to give answers which they would regard as having a positive influence on that relationship, their answers during conversations with them point to positive perceptions of aspects of the congregation of which they are part. Their good relationship with the researcher is one of these positive aspects. It does not however necessarily follow that positive perceptions are in the majority. There are negative perceptions as well. Some positive remarks made by the pre-schoolers were cancelled in part by remarks by their parents indicating that they objected to going to some of the meetings of the church. They used some surprising concepts about the congregation. In so far as faith development contains a knowledge component (faith = knowledge + trust) it can be accepted that the concepts that they use at the moment will form an important basis for further faith development. Perceptions, unlike concepts, suggest something about the relationship between subject (child) and object (congregation). The concepts do not necessarily point to the existence of positive perceptions about the congregation. However, the researcher found that the cognitive basis was supported by a moderately positive affective component. It seems that there are several elements of enjoymenU pleasantness in • the socialising (fellowship) of the smaller primary gatherings such as family prayers and get-togethers of a few families, • the service aspect of outreaches to small children in squatter camps at secondary meetings such as "kinderkrans", the weekly children's meeting (empathy, compassion, missions) • and the festive elements such as singing, lighting of candles, and going to the pulpit in family services as tertiary meetings. Whether these positive experiences resonate sufficiently in the words, deeds and attitudes of other (adult) members of the church remains to be seen. The research has shown that the congregation is making adaptations in order to heighten the effectiveness of its communication and that the pre-schoolers point to these elements as pleasant congregational experiences. The research also showed that pre-school children need symbols to express their identification with the congregation. The church council should therefore stress representative symbol communication and rituals in a building without important symbols such as a tower and bells, and where the neighbouring church building is rich in symbols. However, effective communication within a congregation is not only about visible symbols and rituals, but are about communication which is born in the heart of a loving Father God. In union with Jesus Christ, his Son and Head of the body of the church, members are involved in a great communication process of which the content may be typified as gospel (good news). In order to talk about effective communication, the congregation should listen to and search for the vision of God, and they should expect the Creator Spirit to grant the congregation gifts that can be used in the new communication era in order to further the evangelical dialogue between God and the pre-school child (amongst others) and between the congregation and the pre-school child. Should the congregation not grasp that each member is there for the sake of others, the congregation is in danger of breaking up in generational or other groupings, not grasping the benefits from inter-generational gatherings where each group can contribute towards the faith development of other groups. When harmony, reconciliation and supplementation are pursued in a pluriform way in the worship and service programmes of the congregation, the pre-schooler should not be absent. When the pre-schooler forms part of this kind of worship, he finds his own meaning. The congregation is the setting where this glorification of God is realised in the temporal. If this research contributes towards empowering the congregation to incorporate the pre-school children of the congregation in congregational activities in honour of God, to glorify Him, then this research may be regarded as the practice of successful practical theology.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING:Die gemeente het die opdrag om dissipels te maak deur hulle te doop en alles te leer wat die Hoof van die gemeente, Jesus Christus, sy volgelinge beveel het. Een van die beklemtonings in die meer resente Iiteratuur is dat geloofsvorming (om dissipels te maak) o.a. 'n sosialiseringsproses is. Die gemeente is een van die besondere sosialiseringsagente en speel 'n spesiale ral in die vorming van die geloof van elke indiwiduele lidmaat, en in besonder die geloofsvorming van die kind. In die kleuterjare is sosialisering volgens die ontwikkelingsielkunde "n spesiale ontwikkelingstaak. Die kleuterjare is dus besonder belangrik vir sosialisering in die algemeen, maar dan ook vir geloofsvorming as 'n sosialiseringsproses. Hoe geslaagd is hierdie sosialiseringsproses wanneer die kleuters 'n baie klein persentasie van 'n gemeente uitmaak? Die Ned. Geref. Kerk Stellenbosch- Sentraal is 'n verouderende gemeente waarvan slegs 3% van sy lidmate voorskools is. Sonder die ervaring dat hulle aan die gemeente behoort, en sonder genoeg geleentheid tot deelname aan die aktiwiteite van die gemeente, word die nodige geloofsvorming (in soverre dit sosialisering is), benadeel. Die gemeenteliggaam behoort aan die kleuters te kommunikeer dat hulle deel is van die gemeente. In die nuwe elektroniese kommunikasie-era mag dit egter gebeur dat die kommunikasie tussen gemeente en kleuter nie staag nie, omdat die gemeente nie doelgerig, in die taal en belewingswereld van die kleuter van hierdie era kommunikeer nie. Die vraag word dus gestel: Hoe effektief kommunikeer die Ned. Geref. Kerk Stellenbosch-Sentraal aan sy kleuters dat hulle deel van die gemeenteliggaam is? Om hierdie vraag te beantwoord, kan 'n mens probeer kyk na resultate van die kommunikasieproses by die kleuters. 'n Mens sou kon kyk na die kognitiewe inhoude wat reeds by die kleuters gevestig het, maar dit aileen kan misleidend wees. Die navorser is van oordeel dat die kleuters in die kommunikasieproses persepsies oor die gemeente vorm. Hierdie persepsies vorm 'n positiewe of negatiewe filter waardeur aile verdere kommunikasie gestuur word. Indien die kleuters dus positiewe persepsies van die gemeente het, kan dit bevorderlik wees vir verdere geloofsvorming. Daarom lui die probleemstelling: Dui die persepsies wat die kleuters van die Ned. Geref. Kerk Stellenbosch-Sentraal oor die gemeente het daarop dat hulle hulleself positief met die gemeente verbind? 'n Antwoord op hierdie vraag kan die plaaslike gemeente help om te evalueer of hy sy rol as sosialiseringsagent in die geloofsvorming verstaan. Dit kan lei tot aanpassings in die bedieningspraktyk. Vir die Christelike kerk in die algemeen kan die prosesse wat in een gemeente gebeur en beskryf word, lei tot besinning en evaluering van dieselfde prosesse wat binne elke Christelike gemeente plaasvind. Hierdie besinning is des te meer noodsaaklik in 'n gesekulariseerde pluralistiese wereld, waarbinne die Christelike Kerk die uniekheid en noodsaaklikheid van die Bybelse verlossingsboodskap wil handhaaf. Met 'n eksplorerend-beskrywend doel voor oe is all die kleuters wat aan die gemeente behoort en wat tussen 01-01-1989 en 31-12-1990 gebore is, geselekteer en metodes ontwerp om hulle persepsies oor die gemeente aan die Iig te bring en te beskryf. Deur kinetiese tekeninge (wat deur meer as een persoon ge'interpreteer is), die ontwerp van 'n projektiewe meetinstrument met prente, en selfrapportering (gesprekke) is die persepsies van die kleuters ontbloot en beskryf. Terselfdertyd is die houding van die gemeente teenoor hierdie kleuters gepeil deur middel van deelnemende waarneming en in 'n steekproef-meningsopname. Gevolgtrekkings: Alhoewel die navorser (danksy die navorsing!) op baie goeie voet met die meeste kleuters geplaas is en kleuters in gesprekke waarskynlik ook antwoorde gegee het wat hulle as bevorderlik vir die verhouding tussen hulle en die navorser kon beskou, wil dit tog voorkom asof die kleuters aangename persepsies oor aspekte van die gemeenteliggaam het. Die positiewe verhouding met die navorser op sigself is een so 'n positiewe aspek. Dit beteken egter nie noodwendig dat daar 'n oorwig van aangename persepsies is nie. Daar is ook negatiewe persepsies. Positiewe opmerkings deur kleuters oor aktiwiteite word gedeeltelik uitgekanselleer deur opmerkings van kleuterouers wat aandui dat hulle protesteer teen sekere soort byeenkomste. Die kleuters het In aantal verrassende konsepte rondom die gemeente gebruik. In soverre geloofsvorming ook 'n kenniskomponent het (geloof = kennis + vertroue), kan daar aanvaar word dat die begrippe wat die kleuters tans hanteer 'n belangrike onderbou vorm vir verdere geloofsvorming. Persepsies, anders as konsepte, suggereer egter iets van die verhouding tussen die subjek (kleuter) en die objek (gemeente). Die konsepte dui dus nie sonder meer die bestaan van positiewe persepsies oor die gemeente aan nie. Die navorser het egter ook waargeneem dat die kognitiewe onderbou ondersteun word deur 'n redelik positiewe affektiewe komponent. Daar is genoeg aanduiding dat daar heelwat elemente van genieting/aangenaamheid is in • die sosialisering ('fellowship') by veral die kleiner primere byeenkomste soos by huisgodsdiens en wanneer 'n paar gesinne bymekaar kom, • die diensgerigtheid en uitreike na kleuters van die nabygelee plakkers-area by die sekondere groeperings soos die kinderkrans (empatie, barmhartigheid, sending), • en die vieringselemente soos die sang, aansteek van kerse, beweging na die liturgiese ruimte by die gesinsdienste as tersiere byeenkomste. Of hierdie aangename ervarings genoegsaam resoneer in die woorde, dade en houdings van ander (volwasse) lidmate, bly 'n ope vraag. Die navorsing het aangetoon dat die gemeente aanpassings maak om die effektiwiteit van die kommunikasie te verhoog en dat die kleuters juis na hierdie vernuwende elemente verwys as aangename gemeente-ervarings. Die navorsing het egter ook aangetoon dat kleuters visuele simbole nodig het om uitdrukking te gee aan hulle gemeente-identiteit. Die kerkraad behoort erns te maak met die representatiewe simboolkommunikasie en rituele in 'n kerkgebou waar belangrike simbole soos die toring en klokke ontbreek, en waar die buurgemeente se kerkgebou besonder ryk is aan simbole. Effektiewe kommunikasie binne gemeenteverband het egter nie net te doen met uiterlike simbole en rituele nie, maar met 'n kommunikasiegebeure wat ontspring in die hart van die Iiefdevolle Vadergod. In verbondenheid aan Jesus, sy Seun, die Hoof van die gemeenteliggaam, is die gemeentelede betrek by 'n groot kommunikasieproses waarvan die inhoud as evangelie (goeie nuus) getipeer word. Om dus te praat van effektiewe kommunikasie sal daar meer geluister en gesoek moet word na die visie van God, en meer verwag moet word dat die kreatiewe Skeppergees sy gemeente sal begenadig met gawes wat in die nuwe kommunikasie-era gebruik kan word om die evangeliese dialoog tussen God en kleuter (onder andere), asook gemeente en kleuter te bevorder. Indien die gemeente nie verstaan dat elke lid daar is ter wille van die ander nie, kan die gemeente in generasiegroepe of ander groepe opbreek sonder dat hulle verstaan dat die gemeente baat by intergeneratiewe byeenkomste waarbinne elke groep 'n bydrae lewer tot die geloofsvorming van die ander. Wanneer daar egter op pluriforme wyse (baie style, vorme, smake) in die aanbidding en diensgerigtheid saam harmonie, versoening en aanvulling gesoek word mag die kleuter se plek nie leeg wees nie. Wanneer die kleuter in hierdie aanbidding deel kry, vind hy ook sy eie sin. Die gemeente is by uitstek die ruimte waarbinne hierdie verheerliking in die tydelike bedeling realiseer. In soverre hierdie navorsing 'n bydrae kon lewer om die gemeenteruimte te help vul met die sinvolle inskakeling van die gemeentekleuters wat God saam verheerlik, in soverre was die navorsing die beoefening van geslaagde praktiese teologie.

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