What words should a pastor long to hear most after preaching a funeral?

Sunday evening, I preached a funeral of an unbeliever with many other unbelievers present.  When conducting a funeral in this environment, you never know what kind of feedback you will hear.  I hear a variety of statements that are met to encourage me and sometimes I am just met with a scowl.  But what should be the words we long to hear more than any others after a funeral?

I heard them from a very unlikely source.  A burly man with a bushy beard and a long pony tail had already left, but I saw that he came back in specifically to talk with me.  I must be honest, I had no idea what I would hear.  What I heard was a great, unexpected encouragement to me.  Let me first tell you what he did not say.  He did not say, “You spoke very well about the deceased, or you accurately portrayed him though you did not personally know him, or you spoke in a very articulate way.”  These are all encouraging words to hear, but should not be what most encourage us. The man said none of these things.  He simply shook my hand, pulled me close and said,

“Pastor, thank you for preaching the gospel.”

Then, he turned around and walked away.  A gift from God was this man.  In an environment you expect to anger some people, God was so gracious to bring this bearded burly man to minister to my soul in that moment.

Pastors, my challenge to each of us is this:  “What words do we long to hear the most?”  I will be the first to admit.  I like hearing strangers praise me for speaking well or creatively represent a man I did not personally know, or that I articulate words of which were easy to listen.  Yet, these all point to us and fed our ego often times in an unhelpful way.

Although my pride is always tempted to be fed in these moments of encouragement whenever they come, I can honestly say, by far the most meaningful words I heard came in the form of a really hairy servant of Christ who reminded me what really matters in those moments when the sting of death is so real and Christ is all we have.

Pastors, honestly, what words do you long to hear the most after a funeral or even after you preach on Sunday?

Posted in Funerals, The Pastor's Soul
5 comments on “What words should a pastor long to hear most after preaching a funeral?
  1. Dave Moser says:

    I am not yet a pastor so I haven’t had the responsibility of preaching at an unbeliever’s funeral. How do you go about presenting the gospel in a winsome way in that situation?

    • Andrew Klinck says:

      I was doing a funeral some time ago and after i finish the massaged , my wife came to me and said see hear one lady talk and said this guy must come and preach at my house as well . Yes i want to hear good not bad .

  2. Andrew Goldsmith says:

    Thanks for a thoughtful and helpful post, as always. Having just preached at a funeral, and being a regular preacher, I most want to hear words that indicate that people are engaging with God in response to the gospel. How that comes across, and whether they thank me for it (or convey that they are upset, challenged, surprised, comforted) makes a difference, of course, but ‘did they hear and respond?’ is probably what I’m wondering as they leave.

    Having said that, for some it will be the first time they’ve heard the gospel, and a funeral message with any sense of eternity or hope or Christ’s invitation to the living articulated for them, so I’m realistically not expecting ‘thanks for the gospel’ from most people, but a recognition that this was no bland message of vague hope in a vague future addressed to a divine nameless Being.

    Thanks for your blog Brian, keep it up!

    • Peter B. says:

      I hear the expression, “Having said that…” What does it really mean? Is it a filler? Is that a verbal parenthesis? Does it need to be said as it is an irrelevant statement in itself. Well, having said that, I’m glad I got it off my chest.

      • briancroft says:

        Good question. I am probably one of the worst people to ask about correct grammar. Depending on the amount of usage, it could be a filler.

2 Pings/Trackbacks for "What words should a pastor long to hear most after preaching a funeral?"
  1. […] came up to me and said something to me that has informed every funeral I’ve conducted since. Brian Croft’s post reminded me again. Sunday evening, I preached a funeral of an unbeliever with many other unbelievers present. When […]

  2. […] Pastor Brian Croft asks and answers the question, What Words Should a Pastor Long to Hear after Preaching a Funeral Sermon? […]

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