I am excited to announce that my newest book Conduct Gospel-centered Funerals is available for pre-order and will be released the end of March, Lord willing. This is a book I co-wrote with my dear friend and seasoned pastor, Phil Newton, Senior Pastor of South Woods Baptist Church in Memphis, TN. Here is a portion of the introduction that best captures the burden we have both shared for years in regard to funerals and the squandering of gospel opportunities in them:
Faithfulness to the gospel in funerals is obscured in the pastor’s words of comfort about heaven when how heaven is received is not made clear. The gospel is distorted when the pastor preaches the deceased into eternal glory with no credible evidence of gospel transformation in that person’s life. The gospel is likewise contradicted when the man entrusted to facilitate and conduct the funeral service is unloving, impatient, and uninterested in the souls of the family that remain. This book reflects the authors’ mutual burden from attending numerous funerals where each of these scenarios became the defining focus. On those occasions the gospel of Jesus Christ was lamentably overlooked as the primary purpose of the service and that upon which all true hope depends.
Therefore, gospel-centeredness is when the gospel of Jesus Christ is the primary purpose and focus of the funeral. It is making sure the foundation of any hope experienced is rooted in a holy God’s merciful plan to redeem sinners through crushing his own son on the cross in our place. We plan, prepare, preach, and perform gospel-centered funerals in the same way we pursue Christ to be our central focus in our churches, homes, marriages, and all other areas of our lives. The challenges in the logistics of funerals almost always pose very unique situations that can leave a pastor unsure how Christ is to be magnified in the fog of their details and demands.
Thus, the aim of this book is not just to inform you of all the different kinds of important logistics, challenges, and practicalities that often accompany any funeral, but so that you will know how to apply the power of the gospel in the midst of those unique challenges.
Phil and I are hopeful this book will fill a hole in the literature that has existed for a long time and will address an essential need in every pastoral ministry.