Dr. Jeff Magruder: How I Preach

Dr. Jeff MagruderDr. Jeff Magruder is a Professor of Bible and Church Ministries at Southwestern Assemblies of God University. He received his D.Min. at Gordon-Conwell where his doctoral advisor was Haddon Robinson. He is in demand as a speaker and puts on sermon coaching clinics around the country. He has served as a pastor, youth pastor, and interim pastor. His research interests involve the intersection of an Expository Preaching Philosophy and Pentecostal Spirituality. He has presented papers at the Society of Pentecostal Studies and the Evangelical Homelitical Society. His articles on Preaching have appeared in Preaching MagazineEnrichment Journal, and The Preachers College.

  1. Current gigs (preaching, teaching, etc.) and years at it:

I have been teaching preaching at Southwestern Assemblies of God University for the last 14 and half years. I also put on sermon coach clinics around the country and speak in a variety of settings (pulpit supply, Christian Education functions, retreats, and camps)

  1. Most used English Bible version:


  1. Use of Greek and Hebrew (light/moderate/heavy):

Light use of the Greek/Hebrew translations, but heavy use of technical/exegetical commentaries

  1. Current computer(s)/device(s):

Macbook and Kindle Fire

  1. Who or what made you want to preach:

I didn’t grow up in church, but when I became a Christian at the age of sixteen; my pastor saw my potential and gave me a lot of opportunities. In my first Homiletics, I received a lot of encouragement from the instructor and my classmates. After that semester, I committed myself to becoming a student of communication.

  1. One word that best describes how you prepare to preach:


  1. One word that best describes how you preach:


  1. Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?

I am an introvert who can be mistaken for an extrovert.

  1. Who are you most indebted to for making you the preacher you are (besides God)?

I am indebted to my first pastor for my early opportunities and all of my preaching professors from Bible Institute through my Doctoral Studies for encouragement and guidance.

  1. What does your workspace look like when you are prepping?

Stacks of books, a notepad, a laptop and perched precariously on the remaining desk space a cup of coffee.

  1. What time of the day are you most effective?


  1. What’s your sleep routine like?

Down around 10ish and up around 6ish.

  1. What’s your best time-saving trick?

I make a weekly priority list of “have to’s” versus “want to’s.” and work hard to follow it.

  1. What do you listen to while you work?

Music and podcasts

  1. Illustrations—where do you go for them and how do you store them?

I do consult books and websites devoted to illustrations, as well as history, nature, startling facts, and stats, etc., but my best illustrations come from everyday experiences (especially those that are taken from the shared experience of me and the listeners). I file according to topic (alphabetically) and text (order the text appears in the Bible).

  1. Tell us your sermon-prep routine?

I refer to my sermon prep as Bull’s-eyes, Bodies, and Bookends.

Phase One-Painting the Bulls-eye: I answer three questions: 1. Who is my audience? 2. What will my sermon be about? 3. How do I want them to respond about what they will hear?

Phase Two: Developing the Body (mapping out the message inductively, or deductively, filling in the components of exposition: explanation, illustration, application).

Phase Three: Bookends: I create the introduction (which is influenced by my second question “what will my sermon be about?”) and the conclusion (based on the answer to third question” how I want the listener to respond?”).

I typically have one day in the week where I don’t work on the sermon at all, usually before I work on Phase Three. When practicing the sermon, I find two things especially helpful: I visualize the room I will be preaching in (practicing in it is even better) and I will record myself practicing and try to listen to it six to nine times before I speak this way I am not so dependent upon my notes when I preach.

  1. Average numbers of prep hours per sermon:

I usually give an hour or two to each of the phases. I prefer to think about sermon prep in terms of the right steps or phases rather than how long it takes. Put another way when asked how long it takes to write a good sermon, I reply that following the right steps are even more important than the amount of time you put in.

  1. Any props used regularly in sermons? Slides? Handouts?

Not usually, though I have grown more appreciative of how effective visual aids can be

  1. Use of notes (no/some/extensive)?


  1. Who critiques your sermon, besides yourself?

When I was a pastor, I used a creative team, now I will have my students critique chapel sermons and of course I always listen to my wife’s feedback.

  1. How has your preaching improved over time?

I now internalize more of my sermon and am no longer as dependent as I once was on needing my notes. Using Andy Stanley’s Message Mapping has been helpful in this regard.

  1. What are you currently reading?

I follow a six-fold reading path that encompasses books within my discipline as well as reading for fun. Currently I am reading A History of Modern Europe, The Boxer and the Goal Keeper: Sarte vs Camus, Guns, Germs, and Steel, The Future of Atheism: Allister McGrath and Daniel Dennett in Conversation, The Last Gunfight, Delivering the Sermon, Wool

  1. What do you wish you had learned when you were in seminary?

I wish I had paid more attention to what I was being taught!

  1. Exercise regimen?

I try to walk 3-6 miles a day four to five times a week

  1. Spiritual disciplines?

I read the books of the Bible devotionally that I plan to preach later in the year. It is so important to meditate and apply what you are reading, before you try preaching it.

  1. Favorite food?


  1. What you do when you aren’t involved in preaching-related activities?

In addition to Preaching, I also teach Philosophy, and I spend a lot of time reading in that area.   I am also a professional voice actor. I enjoy time with my family, travel, used book stores, long walks, movies, concerts and my weekly dose of The Walking Dead.

  1. Fill in the blank. “I’d love to see ________ answer these same questions.”

Haddon Robinson or Andy Stanley

  1. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

“Play to your strengths” “and “discipline is the gift you give yourself.”

  1. What advice would you give a young preacher?

Take every opportunity you can get up and speak and or preach in front of people. Try your best to get a mentor early in your ministry and be open to the process of learning from them, even (especially!) when it involves correction.

  1. What book do you recommend a pastor or preacher to read (Not necessarily preaching related)?

Oh boy, I typically value being concise, but when it comes to book recommendations, I could go on for a long time.   There are three books on preaching I recommend to all my students: The Art and Craft of Biblical Preaching edited by Haddon Robinson and Craig Brian Larson, Communicating for a Change by Andy Stanley and Preaching with Freshness by Bruce Mawhinney.   On pastoral leadership, I would recommend Pastor to Pastor by Irwin Lutzer.   For general inspiration and big picture perspective, I recommend Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture, David Foster Wallace’s This is Water and C.S. Lewis’s Reflections on the Psalms.

  1. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Have a plan to improve that includes consistent self-evaluations of your preaching (watching your videos, listening to recordings, getting feedback, etc.), People, who improve, have a plan to do so.

  1. Where can we find more information about you or listen to your sermons?

SAGUTV: Sermon Coach, SAGU Chapel, SAGU Practical Ministries page. Abundant Life Church Grand Prairie, where I pastored for six years, has many of my sermons available on iTunes.

  1.  How can we connect with you through social media?

I’m not on social media, but I respond quickly to email: jmagruder@sagu.edu