Cunningham to speak on marriage at Jackson church

Sunday, February 3, 2013
Ted Cunningham is the author of “Young and in Love: Challenging the Unnecessary Delay of Marriage.” (PROVIDED)

Southeast Missourian

Ted Cunningham doesn't pastor a typical church. The founder of Woodland Hills Family Church in Branson, Mo., Cunningham preaches in a facility that looks like a castle. Services are contemporary and the dress is casual, according to the church's website.

Cunningham has contributed to Focus on the Family, Life Today and Moody Radio. He is the author of "Young and In Love: Challenging the Unnecessary Delay of Marriage" and has written other books with mentor and friend Dr. Gary Smalley.

Cunningham will speak on Friday at New McKendree South Campus in Jackson. His Love and Laughter presentation will start at 7 p.m. Individual tickets are $25. Couples can attend for $35. To purchase tickets, call 243-8487 or visit www.newmckendree.org.

In this week's Ministry Focus, Cunningham explains who this event is geared for and offers some tips for a successful relationship, whether you're married or one day hope to get married.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself.

A: I was born in Naperville, Ill., and grew up just outside of Chicago. I became a Christian at the age of 8. I met my wife Amy at Liberty University on a blind date in 1995 and we married in 1996. We have two children, Corynn, 9, and Carson, 7. We started Woodland Hills Family Church in 2002 and continue to serve Branson, Mo., to this day. We love the Ozarks and enjoy raising our family here. We know the Lord has called us to serve marriages and families around the world.

Q: Who or what inspired you to become a pastor?

A: I was planning a life in politics, when I was called to ministry under the leadership of Dr. James Merritt at Liberty University.

Q: You'll be giving your Love and Laughter presentation Friday at New McKendree South Campus in Jackson. Tell us a little about what to expect from this event.

A: This is not a husband-bashing seminar. Plan on lots of laughs and tons of content. It is a fantastic event for singles, dating, engaged and married couples in all seasons of life.

Q: What inspired you to start speaking on marriage, particularly as it relates to faith?

A: Gary Smalley has been my mentor and friend for the past 12 years. It is no accident that the Lord has brought Gary into my life to help prepare me to minister to couples and families.

Q: If you could give one piece of advice to a married couple, what would that be?

A: Unplug from your spouse (and children) as the source of life. Plug into Christ as the only true source of life.

Q: If you could give one piece of advice to a single person, what would that be? And to those dating but not yet married, what's your advice?

A: Great marriages flow from character, not chemistry and compatibility. Avoid the unnecessary delay of marriage.

Q: What's the greatest blessing you've experienced in the ministry?

A: Being able to serve beside my wife in ministry. She keeps me sane and balanced.

Q: What's the greatest challenge you've experienced in the ministry?

A: Learning to be comfortable in your skin and to pursue your personal calling can be challenging. Don't try to be someone else. Be yourself and fulfill your calling. Don't spin your wheels trying to please everyone. You never will, even if your try.

Q: What's your favorite Bible verse and why?

A: My favorite text to encourage couples with is found in Ecclesiastes 9:7-9. Men, you do not need to choose between a life and a wife. You can have both and at the same time. You can enjoy life and marriage in the midst of the grind of life.

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