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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