Sunday, January 31, 2016

Collects and Post Communions (Children's Reboot)

When it comes to children and Common Worship, I believe there's a need for a reboot (switch off and start again) of Collects and Post Communions. My rebooted prayers sit next to my work Redubbing existing Collects and Post Communions.

The principles for rebooting are similar to those for redubbing:
  1. Gender neutral and inclusive language;
  2. Great simplicity;
  3. Reduction in use of metaphor;
  4. Earthing the text: i.e. making sure creation gets a look in;
  5. Making them prayers for as many possible, not just those in church;
  6. Keeping children and empowerment as the primary focus.
The prayers will appear on this blog, ideally, at least a few days before the following Sunday so that people who feel compelled* to bring a bit of equality theology into their worship can.

I'm choosing Collects and Post Communions because they sum up the church's theology each week for lay and ordained, young and old—especially the Collect. Unequal thinking in these prayers is something I want to challenge. Thinking that children can understand is something I want to provide.

Having tested the original and my redubbed prayers against the Gunning Fog index for readability, I realize the original prayers have such high reading ages i.e. the number of years of formal education required to make sense of a text on a first reading. For example, 40+ years of formal education is needed to understand the Collect for the First Sunday of Advent at first glance! When I redubbed that prayer it was still inaccessible to a child wasn't possible (I got it down to about 10+ years). It was time for a reboot!

I'm hoping that what I write will be useful for children and for child spirituality practictioners. I hope it will be a prompt, too, for those working to design liturgies so children can understand a fair amount a first hearing.

If you want to use* the prayers, an acknowledgement of myself as author and, if there's space, the url to my blog, would be much appreciated.

* CofE clergy who have taken a vow of canonical obedience may recall that using non-authorized Collects at a CofE Eucharist as 'The Collect' is not authorized (in a typical, church, non-ecumenical or non-LEP setting). CofE clergy may also recall that it's optional as to what Post Communion prayer is used at a eucharist. [CofE clergy may not be aware that an authorized Post Communion can be used instead of a Collect since it is an authorized prayer.]

Index of Prayers


Jonathan Clatworthy said...

I've just found this as a result of your letter in the Church Times. Just what's needed! Well done.
As it happens I'm one of your predecessors. Lived in 119 from 1985 to 1991.

Jem said...

Thanks Jonathan for your encouragement, much appreciated. Yes I'm conscious that you were here (and one of you family dropped in to see how it looks now a year or two back)!