The loss of a
loved one is one of the difficult experiences a person
can encounter. It is a time when all Christians need the
loving support of their pastor. Upon hearing of the
death, the pastor should go immediately to the family
and offer comfort and support. Be sensitive. Listen. Let
them know that God cares and that you care.
a few ideas to help as you minister through the funeral.
Make It Personal
When the funeral is
for a church member, you will probably be well
acquainted with the deceased. Even when this is the
case, review the details of the obituary carefully. This
is not the time for an inadvertent mispronunciation of a
name or place of birth.
Do not use the funeral
service to condemn the sins of the dead.
immediate family to help you prepare your comments for
the memorial service.
Traditions and Customs
The local funeral
director can be of tremendous benefit to the pastor as
he interprets local customs. Community traditions may
dictate the order of service and even where the pastor
should stand after the funeral. Don't hesitate to ask
you minister to a grieving family, you represent God and
the church. Be caring and warm, but also communicate the
quiet confidence of a professional who has been down
this road and can serve as a guide.
Sometimes a zealous pastor will,
inadvertently I hope, deny family members permission to
grieve. He says that since we will be together in heaven
someday, there is no reason to grieve. But the reality
of heaven does not erase the present pain death brings
to a family. Paul said that Christians should "not
grieve as others who have no hope" (1 Thess. 4:13). This
is not a statement to deny grief; it is simply to say
that Christians should grieve in a different manner.
Let the Powerful Word of God Bring Comfort
Here are some of the passages I use
Thessalonians 4:13-17, 1 Corinthians 15:51-58, Psalms
90, Daniel 12:2.
The Word of God is a powerful force
for comfort in times of loss by death. Choose Scriptures
that speak to the heart and communicate comfort. Claim
the promises of Scripture. Apply the medicine of the
Bible to grieving hearts.
Keep the Funeral
A funeral service is an
expression of the love of a family for the one who has
died. The family is tired, and the funeral service gives
them permission to begin the long journey to recovery.
This is no time for a long, drawn-out service. A few
well-planned comments will accomplish more than a long,
Prepare for the Graveside
In most places the pastor should
walk ahead of the casket from the hearse to the
graveside. There the pastor should read a Scripture,
offer a few words of comfort, and pray. Following his
prayer, the pastor should say a personal word of comfort
to the immediate family.
Contacts After the Funeral
Don't forget to
continue ministry after the funeral. During the
stressful days of the funeral, life is busy, and lots of
family members are usually nearby. Two weeks or a month
after the funeral, things are quiet, and reality sets
in. The wise pastor will realize that a contact from him
may be more needed then than it was on the day of the