Opening a funeral service can feel as awkward as those first words you speak to the family who has just lost their loved one. Yet, because of the attentiveness people give in those moments, we must seize the opportunity to choose carefully these words as they will set the tone for the entire service. A good rule of thumb is to always allow God to speak before you do. Keep in mind, though there are different kinds of people attending the funeral, they are all in their own way asking the question, “Why God?”
Choose a passage of Scripture that cuts through the questions, sorrow, and skepticism to declare the unchanging character of our great God. Prepare in such a way that you can stand up, move to the pulpit and then say, “Hear these words about our great, unchanging God. . . .”
The Lord is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His deeds. The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desires of those who fear Him; He will also hear their cry and will save them. The Lord keeps all who love Him, but all the wicked He will destroy. My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord and all flesh will bless His holy name forever and ever. (Psalm 145:17-21)
God’s words will always be more powerful, profound, and pervasive than our own. Begin by allowing God to pierce through the doubts by speaking first. After you have prepared a welcome for those attending and state why you have gathered, prepare the rest of the funeral service around five areas, asking how the gospel can be accurately portrayed in them: prayer, music, Scripture readings, eulogy, and sermon.