What are 3 ways for a pastor to prepare his heart before conducting a funeral?

Because there are so many elements to plan and logistics to prepare for, it is not uncommon for the pastor to have all his words prepared, service planned out, everyone in place, processional details checked off, and realize an essential element had been neglected—the pastor’s heart.  Do not become enslaved to the tyranny of funeral preparation, only to stand and conduct with an empty, drained, and calloused heart.  Do not underestimate the emotional and mental drain in comforting the grieving while preparing and performing a funeral.  Thus, there are three areas for the pastor to take time and prepare his heart, mind, and soul.

1)  Prepare for the unexpected.

Just when you think you have seen it all—the next funeral reveals you haven’t.  Even if you have seen fights break out, arrests made, uncontrollable wailing, family members and pallbearers fainting, caskets dropped and knocked over, shouting conflicts between families and funeral directors, or funeral attire that would make most people blush,  these experiences do not mean at all the next funeral will fit these experiences.  Because of this, prepare to see anything.  Prepare to get the craziest response to something you say.  Prepare to watch families at their worst.  This will allow you to think clearly and wisely when the unexpected happens.

2)  Prepare to minister God’s word

Though there is much to manage, administrate, and facilitate, you are not the concierge of the funeral.  You are a minister of God’s word and a preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Prepare your heart, mind and soul however you must, so that when you stand before people at the beginning of the funeral service, you stand to minister God’s word, trusting God will work mightily through his word.

3)  Prepare to extend the hope of Christ.

You are not there to solve the family conflicts or to help the funeral home learn how to function more smoothly.  You are there to clearly present to each person the hope we have from sin and death because of Christ.  You can best prepare by thinking about who will be at the funeral service.  Consider what kinds of questions you could ask the family to surmise their spiritual condition as you talk with them.  Prepare questions ahead of time from the words you have prepared to share, so that gospel opportunities might show themselves in those conversations.

Wearing your administrator and facilitator cap through the process is necessary.  It will serve you as a helpful companion to maneuver through all the details and demands that always accompany funerals.  Nevertheless, you are ultimately a pastor and evangelist who is called upon by the Chief Shepherd to prepare and conduct funerals of dead men as “a dying man preaching to dying men.” Prepare and conduct funerals knowing the grieving are hurting, longing for tender care, and must look to Jesus as their only hope.

Posted in Funerals, The Pastor's Soul
3 comments on “What are 3 ways for a pastor to prepare his heart before conducting a funeral?
  1. Jason Mays says:

    I am a pastor /servent of God and I have been in the ministry six years now and saved by Grace for another twenty six years . but I never thought there was so much to being a minister for Jesus Christ until God called me ! And I surrendered ! But I digress ! I was informed that a very young lady had passed away from a drug overdose ! So I did what any faithful pastor would do I went to console the family the mother asked me a very hard question . she asked if her daughter was burning in hell since she was a practicing lesbian ! So I took a deep breath and told her what God had put on my heart ! I told her only God could judge her not me ! And I continued to talk with her and comfort her because that’s what my job was !

  2. Wayne Moore says:

    Thanks Brian. All of you posts are very helpful. Thank you for the important reminder to prepare my own heart before I minister to grieving hearts.

2 Pings/Trackbacks for "What are 3 ways for a pastor to prepare his heart before conducting a funeral?"
  1. […] Pastor Brian Croft shares his practical shepherding insights on 3 Ways for a Pastor to Prepare His Heart Before Conducting a Funeral. […]

  2. […] Croft is Senior Pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky. This article is from his blog, Practical Shepherding, and is used with […]

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