Reg Grant: How I Preach

July 15th, 2014| Topic: aBeLOG, How I Preach | 4

Reg Grant: How I Preach

Reg Grant: And this is How I Preach 

[I’m delighted to showcase my DTS colleague Reg Grant on How I Preach. He is a renaissance man with wide and exotic interests in homiletics, aesthetics, drama, film, literary theory …. So he is a preacher, a media buff, actor, director, and author. And you should see him play the congas! A fun guy to be around, so … y’all have fun!]

Reg Grant
Chairman and Professor, Department of Media Arts and Worship
Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas

Current gig (preaching, teaching, etc.) and years at it:
Teaching preaching at Dallas Seminary since 1982.
Doing first person dramatic presentations (either extended memorized Bible passages or vignettes I’ve written) in churches in the U.S. and abroad.

Most used English Bible version:
New English Translation (NET).

Use of Greek and Hebrew (light/moderate/heavy):
I’m not very good at either Greek or Hebrew, but I use both every week.
I believe Hebrew, in particular, is the language of the artist. It is a visceral language that resonates across the years and cultures to remind us of how real, how sensate, the biblical characters were.
I wish I were a more gifted scholar so I could understand more of the nuances of both Greek and Hebrew. They make a tremendous difference in my own study, whether or not I’m preaching the passage I’m studying.

Current computer(s)/device(s) that you use for sermon prep:
Accordance occasionally, but mostly Logos Platinum (on my iPhone and iPad).

Who or what made you want to preach:
Howard Hendricks was instrumental in my desire to preach. I ordered all his tapes and listened to them repeatedly. I loved his style (especially his humor), and the way he privileged the text in his exposition.
Haddon Robinson was also influential, especially in the early days.

One word that best describes how you prepare to preach:

One word that best describes how you preach:

Who are you most indebted to for making you the preacher you are (besides God)?
John Reed was my mentor at DTS. He encouraged me to keep working to reveal the living Word through the written word.
My friend and colleague, Timothy Warren, has also had a long lasting impact on my preaching. His integrity combined with his compassion serve as twin beacons to me to this day.

What tools/aids for sermon prep can’t you live without?
My Hebrew and Greek Bibles.
I also rely heavily on a variety of exegetical and literary commentaries.
The work of Adele Berlin and Robert Alter in the poetics of biblical narrative are resources I’ve returned to again and again.

What does your workspace look like when you are prepping?
I’m pretty messy. I have a lot of resources open on my computer, and my desk has numerous commentaries and other resources strewn about, all open upside down to pertinent passages.

Illustrations: Where do you go for them and how do you store them?
The best resource I’ve ever used is Readers Digest. I turn to it often.
I go to the newspaper on the day I preach in order to see if there’s anything (usually a catastrophe of some sort) that I need to address in the message.
I also read fairly widely in a number of genres, and glean a lot of material from those novels and non-fiction resources.

Average numbers of prep hours per sermon:
I aim for 10 hours but usually am satisfied with 12.

What’s your best time-saving trick?
Prayer. I try my best to immerse myself in the character of Jesus and ask him to guide me in my study and in the composition of my sermon or presentation. It keeps me off rabbit trails.

What time of the day are you most effective?
Early morning, though I enjoy really late nights (between 12:00 midnight and 3:00 am) the most. I find that if I want to keep to my workout schedule, the late night option doesn’t work.

Tell us your sermon-prep routine?
I rise at 4:35 am five days a week (I know, weird), go to the gym where I listen to music, a book, or a lecture that helps prepare my heart for study. I’m in Book 8 of Paradise Lost now—best recording I’ve ever heard.
After breakfast, I read my passage over several times in my easy chair.
Then I study the text in either Greek or Hebrew. I take a lot of notes.
I try to discern the theological movement of the text—what is the author trying to accomplish theologically in this pericope?
I outline the text exegetically, then theologically.
The next step involves asking questions of my audience (audience analysis) in order to fashion the sermon to communicate clearly to the particular congregation I’m addressing on that Sunday morning.
I look for support materials that will provide me with a dominant metaphor—an image that is both true to the text and that will leave an indelible impression on the congregation.
Then, I usually manuscript the sermon, but not every time. It depends on the complexity of the sermon. I tend to preach cinematically—working with images and within the semantic field of the dominant metaphor so that the message coheres aesthetically, as well as theologically.

Any props used regularly in sermons? PowerPoint? Handout?
Never handouts.
Hardly ever PowerPoint.
Occasionally, I’ll use a prop, but that’s almost always when I’m doing first-person presentations.

No notes/some notes/extensive notes (manuscript)?
I prefer not to use notes, though I have on occasion used them, especially when I’m called on to fill a pulpit at the last minute, or when I’m doing a funeral for someone I don’t know well.

Who critiques your sermon, besides yourself?
Since I travel a lot, I don’t often have someone I know who can listen to my material.
If I’m in a context where I have fellow DTS faculty members in attendance, I will ask one of them to give me feedback.

How has your preaching improved over time?
I have learned to be myself and not worry about comparing my style to anyone else’s. That frees me up to create more of a conversation/dialogue with the congregation. No masks.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
I have a recipe for thick sliced peppered bacon that would make an Aggie wear burnt orange.

What do you listen to while you work?
Usually nothing. I like the silence. If I play anything, it’s Bach.

Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?
Extrovert. People energize me.

What are you currently reading?
Why Poetry is Important, Jay Parini
Better Preaching, Daniel Overdorf
Visual Faith, Bill Dyrness
The Father Brown Series, G. K. Chesterton

Exercise routine? Sleep routine?
Up at 4:35 am.
I work out five times a week for a little over an hour; mix of cardio and weights.
In bed by 10:30 pm.

What do you wish you had learned when you were in seminary?
Negatively: to be content not fitting a traditional/conventional ministry profile.
Positively: to learn how to channel my creativity in a way that exalts Jesus and his word.

Spiritual disciplines?
Pray through the armor of God and an expanded version of the Lord’s Prayer—first thing in the morning, and last thing before retiring.
Consciously remind myself of the Lord’s presence during the lunch hour and evening hours, and invite him to work in my heart to mold me into his likeness.

Favorite food?
My wife’s chocolate icebox pie.

What you do when you aren’t involved in preaching-related activities?
I play with my grandson, Evan (just over a year old now)!

Fill in the blank. I’d love to see _____ answer these same questions.
Ed Quillin of Plainview Bible Church, Plainview, Texas.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Consciously yield to the control of God’s Spirit all the time!

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
My thanks for the opportunity to reflect on these good questions—especially, my favorite food. I spent more time on that one (my wife is a great cook)!

[For the archives of this series, How I Preach, see here.]


  1. Luc Ladry August 29, 2014 at 10:13 am

    I’m thankful to God that I have had Dr Grant as a homiletics teacher while in seminary. I still clearly remembers one of his sermons in chapel: “State of the heart… not state of the art,” contrasting the poor woman tithing in the temple with the Pharisee. Such a blessing, Dr. Kuruvilla, to be able to be in “contact” with those men of God who love God’s Word. Thanks again for featuring them.

  2. Jarod Walston August 4, 2014 at 11:20 am

    I agree with Dr. Grant. Ed Quillin of Plainview Bible Church would be a good preacher to answer these questions.


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