I spend a great deal of time on this blog discussing the right way to approach ministry within the context of a funeral. In fact, this is the premise of Conduct Gospel-Centered Funerals. Today, I thought it would be helpful to give you a very recent example of what not to do and how not to handle yourself as a pastor in a funeral context.
Last week, my wife’s unbelieving uncle committed suicide. This was an uncle beloved by not just the family, but especially my wife and kids. Because of the distance and cost, my wife was the only one able to go. However, it apparently was quite providential that I was not present for the funeral and discussions that ensued afterwards. My wife was a bit concerned how I would have reacted.
The pastor leading the service first and foremost did not preach the gospel in any form or fashion. This was tragic on several levels, but the most obvious was the overwhelming majority of those attending the funeral were unbelievers and needed to hear the gospel. It did not end there.
After the service as the family mingled and visited, the pastor proceeds to tell my wife and several of the family standing around that he thought this uncle was in heaven. Not only was this man an unbeliever, but everyone who knew him, knew he hated Christ to the day he died. This pastor first failed to preach the gospel and give any true form of truth that brings hope, but now he begins to argue with family members that he thinks this man was fine, with God, and shown mercy thinking we are all God’s children.
It is probably good that I was not in attendance as I may have been tempted to tackle this man who conducted the funeral. Since I was not, I thought I would try to muster some kind of good to come from this atrocious approach to conducting a funeral. Here is what I got…DO NOT DO THIS! Sorry, but that is the best I have at this point.
This is precisely the opposite of what any faithful gospel pastor should do in this moment. Convincing a family that all people are God’s children and go to heaven is not only a false comfort, but a heresy that I am convinced leaves the blood of those hearers on the hands of that deceiving funeral preacher. Dear friends and fellow pastors, much is at stake in these moments. Whatever you do at the next funeral, do not do this!