Tasty New Sauces from Tired Old Pots: Factors Influencing the Use of African Proverbs in Ministry by Leaders of the Church of God in Côte D’ivoire

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This study grows out of a desire to see Christian leadership that is culturally appropriate and effective developed in and by the African church through African methods of values transmission—particularly the method of African traditional proverbs. The research reveals that various factors impact how proverbs are used to transmit values within the context of the church and wider society. My central research issue is to identify those factors that impact the effective and appropriate use of African proverbs in ministry by African church leaders in Côte d’Ivoire.

Part 1 examines literature regarding African traditional proverbs and their significance in African society. Following a survey of literature on leadership within an African context, I examine the literature on the use of African proverbs in church contexts. The findings suggest that while considerable literature is available from Africa’s anglophone contexts, relatively little is available from the francophone contexts and particularly from Côte d’Ivoire. This attests to the need for such research.

Part 2 presents the research accomplished using three methods: direct observation, a survey of pastors, and focus groups of pastors, preachers, and laypeople within the Church of God in Côte d’Ivoire. I divide findings into two categories: those relating to proverb use in general society and those concerning proverb use in church contexts. From the data analysis, I have drawn five prevailing themes indicating factors that impact proverb use.

Part 3 presents my proposal for integrating proverb use in more effective ways within the Church of God in Côte d’Ivoire, beginning with IBAO, the Bible training institute of the church. The model of change dynamic proposed and applied to IBAO students and teachers is Peter Senge’s Five Disciplines of Learning Organizations.

The study concludes with missiological implications and recommendations for both Western missionaries and Africans. These include further steps within the current context as well as proposed areas of further study in related contexts. I close by acknowledging the great extent to which African proverbs merit further study, as they offer a deep well of insight into African worldviews and cultures that is often neglected by Western scholarship.

Mentor: Elizabeth L. Glanville, PhD

Degree Name

Doctor of Intercultural Studies (DIS)

First Advisor

Glanville, Elizabeth L.

Document Type





Church of God, Christian leadership, Côte d'Ivoire, Proverbs, Ethnology, Africa


Missions and World Christianity


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