What is the best funeral advice I have ever received?

This past week, I did two funerals of people I did not know.  This has many challenges, but the greatest of them may be how do you deal with the soul of that person you never knew?  In both cases, I was able to heed the best advice I have ever received in doing a funeral, especially for those I did not know.

“Don’t preach them into heaven; don’t preach them into hell; just preach the gospel for the people who are there.”

The funeral service is not for the deceased, but ultimately for those who remain and are trying to figure out how to deal with the loss of their loved one.  Our task is to help them grieve their loss, and make sure they know there is no hope when facing sin and death apart from Christ.

Pastors, don’t preach them into heaven.  Don’t preach them into hell.  We are not in a position to do either.  What we can always do is preach the gospel for the people who have gathered who are looking for answers and hope.

Posted in Funerals, Preaching
One comment on “What is the best funeral advice I have ever received?
  1. Hi!
    I struggle with this issue. As both a pastor, and as a chaplain for our volunteer fire department, it is something I have had to face. I have heard the advice your were given and shared and in a general sense it seems good, and I like it, until I see the faces in front of me of people who have asked me to shepherd them to a place of comfort. I am aware of all the arguments about not really knowing what a person might have said/done in their last breath, etc., but when you know a person has rejected God for decades and that their life bears zero evidence of any conversion (despite a sinners prayer recited at age seven or something), then in the hearts of everyone listening, including the grieving family who has asked you to help them, the words of the gospel inherently testify (or at least imply) that their loved one is probably in hell. I really, really struggle with my role and place in all of that. I am not ashamed of the gospel. It is our only hope. But I also know what I was asked to do by the people who asked me. It is a tough one for me. Thanks for sharing. I hope that God refreshes you from deep wells after what must have been a hard week. May He bless you and fill you this week with a deep awareness of His love for you and presence with you. God bless. —Erick

3 Pings/Trackbacks for "What is the best funeral advice I have ever received?"
  1. [...] Brian Croft shares The Best Funeral Advice I Ever Received. In part he notes: “I was able to heed the best advice I have ever received in doing a funeral, [...]

  2. [...] Brian Croft shares The Best Funeral Advice I Ever Received. In part he notes: “I was able to heed the best advice I have ever received in doing a funeral, [...]

  3. [...] Here is good advice for preaching a funeral for someone you do not know. [...]

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