What is the best funeral advice I have ever received?

I have done many funerals.  The overwhelming majority of them being 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 each of these scenarios, 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
One comment on “What is the best funeral advice I have ever received?
  1. This is great advice! Thank you, really. I’ve just finished a funeral outline for a person I’ve never met; a relative of a relative of an in-law at church. A sister (herself a practicing medium as I learned) of the deceased person met with me to share the details of the woman’s life. Most of it was outright depressing with very few joys. I mean really discouraging… My assumption is that the few people who are going to attend the funeral are unbelievers or “spiritualists”. So, I’ve learned to listen for “Echoes of Eden”. In this case, one positive was that the person “loved Christmas”. She appreciated the joys, quietness and hope of the season. I am basically going to appeal to that with Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration and gently argue that Christianity is the best answer for a heart that longs for a Christmas will never depart. I’ve been in my first solo pastorate now for only 6 months and this is my fourth funeral (2nd in two weeks). In sum, you learn how to creatively and uniquely craft the gospel for each situation but in the end, you don’t preach them into heaven or hell, you just preach the beauty of the gospel. Sorry for the rant. Thank you for the post!

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