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Waxahachie, TX

February 1, 2019 | Mikayla Heldt

Photo taken during the First Annual Preaching Festival in 2017

Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) is set to host its third preaching festival on February 22nd, from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The festival allows students of any major the chance to preach in front of an audience and receive constructive feedback on their sermons.

“What we do is create an opportunity for students regardless of their major to receive both training in how to prepare a sermon as well as feedback after having delivered it,” says Dr. Jeff Magruder, the coordinator for this event.

During this three-hour window, students are given about 12-15 minutes to preach a message in front of a few faculty members and additionally some of their peers. Students will be critiqued on things like delivery – which includes facial expressions, pitch, appearance – and the content of the message.

“I see this as a chance to not only show them how to put together a sermon but to develop the mindset to constantly improve,” he says.

Each student is given access to a sermon preparation called Sermonary , where students can organize their thoughts into the templates, and additionally watch a four-part video lesson on how to create a message by Dr. Magruder.

This festival is beneficial to young preachers because it gives them a chance to gain experience and grow in their speaking abilities before they graduate and enter the ministry field.

“In a small way, this is our attempt at trying to help create more opportunities for students and do it in an environment that is both genuinely helping them to learn how to prepare, but also affirming them,” Magruder says. “We really feel like it’s an educational experience all the way around.”

The first time giving a sermon can often be intimidating, but Magruder says that it’s important to gain experience in a comfortable environment. Students often come away from this event more confident in their calling and ability, whether they’re church ministry majors or just have a heart to preach.

Senior Jacob Duffin, a Church Leadership major, is excited to be speaking at the festival again this semester.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to exercise what we have learned and figure out what we still need to work on,” he says.

When asked to give advice on how to prepare for the festival, Magruder says to follow the process that is laid out on Sermonary, be ready to accept feedback, and create a message that you are passionate about.

“Let it be something you really enjoy, and not something you have to compete or perform or compare yourself with others in.”

If you’re interested in participating, please contact Dr. Magruder by clicking here .

Southwestern Assemblies of God University is a private, Christian university located 30 minutes south of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex in Waxahachie, Texas. The university was established in 1927, and now offers more than 70 associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees on campus or online. More information is available at

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