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At Moody, local pastors get preaching tips

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Pastor Don Sunukjian speaks at Moody Bible Institute-Spokane
Pastor Don Sunukjian speaks at Moody Bible Institute-Spokane

Today about 25 local preachers joined Moody Bible Institute-Spokane faculty in a presentation with well-known pastor and author Don Sunukjian to learn ways to improve their ministry.

Sunukijan, professor of Christian ministry and leadership, homiletics at Talbot School of Theology delivered a free lecture, “Lessons Learned from My Mistakes in Preaching,” in what the Institute hopes will be a regular educational series for local pastors.

He has been preaching for 14 years and shared four tips with the group on what not to do when behind the pulpit.

First, he said, to be sensitive to special occasions — like Christmas, Easter and Mother’s Day. Sunukijan said it’s easy to for pastors to ignore holidays when preaching a series.

He also said it's not hard for a pastor to compare himself to his predecessor and become competitive or defensive. Sometimes, he explained, the congregation may agree with the former pastor, and not with the current pastor. When it comes to disagreements, Sunukijan said, one needs to be sensitive in dealing with it.

“You can speak the truth, but if you don’t do it with love and grace you’re going to suffer the penalty,” he said.

Sunukijan also urged the pastors in attendance to understand the difference between written and oral clarity, and to preach with that in mind. He’s currently teaching a weeklong course at Moody where that issue will be explained further. Though the course has already started, guests are still welcome. For details call (509) 487-1769.

His final tip was to take the time to understand the cultural and ethnic demographics of one’s congregation and preach in a way that they are comfortable with.

Campus Dean Jack Lewis said this lecture was the first of many the Institute hopes to bring to the Institute.

“We want to do this for the church and for the region as long as it’s profitable to help churches grow,” he said.

The next program will be geared for youth pastors. Details, Lewis said, are still being determined.

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About Tracy Simmons

Tracy Simmons is an award winning journalist specializing in religion reporting, digital entrepreneurship and social journalism. In her 15 years on the religion beat, Simmons has tucked a notepad in her pocket and found some of her favorite stories aboard cargo ships in New Jersey, on a police chase in Albuquerque, in dusty Texas church bell towers, on the streets of New York and in tent cities in Haiti.
Simmons has worked as a multimedia journalist for newspapers across New Mexico, Texas and Connecticut. Currently she serves as the executive director of SpokaneFAVS.com, a digital journalism start-up covering religion news and commentary in Spokane, Wash. She is also a Scholarly Assistant Professor at Washington State University.

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