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02 November 2006


Monarch £7.99 (1-85424-712-3); Church Times Bookshop £7.20

THE death of preaching seems regularly to be announced somewhat prematurely. Just as we settle down to the idea that short attention spans, iPods, and the internet mean that no one will listen to someone talking at them for more than 30 seconds, someone else describes a Church in which sermons are so sought after that they are recorded and made available on the web, so that eager iPod-users can download them.

This book is clearly written from the point of view that preaching is anything but dead, and that the key task before us is not to start the embalming process, but to consider how to refine and renew the skills needed to keep it alive for generations to come.

With the words "stripping" and "bare" in the title, it is obviously designed to catch the attention of the browser in the bookshop (or on Amazon?) rather than to feature on the book list of a homiletics course.

It is not a weighty tome (just 160 pages of fairly big print), nor is it written by a weighty or ponderous person. Simon Coupland is clearly a man who loves to communicate, and it's his passion for preaching that comes across more than anything. Not everyone will appreciate his chatty and informal style (many exclamation marks), but it does make it ideal if you are looking for a book to give a would-be preacher who might be intimidated by the likes of John Stott's I Believe in Preaching or Yngve Brilioth's Landmarks in the History of Preaching.

It is the person new to preaching - perhaps a youth pastor, someone (especially a younger person) considering Reader ministry, or someone in the early stages of considering a call to ordination - who will benefit most from this book. It is not a thorough account (nothing here, for instance, on preaching in different contexts, such as evangelistic outreach or Sunday liturgy), but it is an enthusing book, and one that would establish some good basic principles from which to move on.
The Revd Mark Earey is Team Rector of Morley, Leeds.

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