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Preaching with All Ages: Twelve ways to grow your skills and confidence, by Ally Barrett

10 January 2020

Martine Oborne is inspired to give the dominoes another nudge

THE content of this book is clear from the title. It’s about all-age preaching and how ministers can get over our fears of this — even though they are often justifiable, having arisen out of past trauma.

I remember giving an all-age talk where I’d stood up a ring of dom­inoes on a table — to symbolise the wall of Jericho — and then asked the congregation to shout and stamp until the dominoes fell down.

No matter how much they shouted and stamped, the dominoes did not even quiver. In the end, I had to resort to giving the table a nudge with my thigh — so that finally the walls of Jericho came tumbling down.

An experience like this can put you off all-age preaching for life. But, reading through the many in­­spiring examples that Barrett gives in her book, I feel that maybe it’s time I gave it another go. The book’s title suggests that there are 12 ways to ap­­proach this. But the book is divided into 23 short chap­ters deal­ing with different aspects of the sub­ject.

You can, of course, easily steal a few good ideas here for your next Easter Day or Trinity talk. (And I may try sprinkling a few iron filings into my Christingle candle flame this year — to create what Barrett says is “something like a mini sparkler”.)

But, more importantly, you can be inspired by Barrett’s conviction that all-age preaching is good for us all — and that we have much to learn from our children. And that we are all missing out, if we don’t embrace it.

The whole idea, Barrett says, is to “make room, for questions, ideas, doubts and surprises”. I’m with her — if somewhat daunted by those “surprises”.

If, like me, you’re not a natural with stickers, playdough, and felt-tip pens, this book is for you. Read it and be re-inspired.

The Revd Martine Oborne is Vicar of St Michael’s, Chiswick, in London.

Preaching with All Ages: Twelve ways to grow your skills and confidence
Ally Barrett
Canterbury Press £14.99
Church Times Bookshop special price £11.99

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