Funerals for Lost People

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by uhdum, Mar 9, 2004.

  1. uhdum

    uhdum
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    A question for the pastors on the board: how do you approach a funeral service you are conducting where you are pretty sure that the person was lost? What do you say in this time?

    A professor I had for a preaching class told me that his advice for all funerals is this: "Don't bless them to heaven or condemn them to hell." I was wondering your thoughts.

    God bless!
     
  2. Bro Tony

    Bro Tony
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    When I do these types of funerals I use the same approach as that of your professor. In my experience pretty much all the family knows the condition and life and testimony of the person. I spend most of the time in these services focusing on the living who are there and emphasize, re-emphasize and emphasize again the need for everyone there to make sure of their relationship with God through His Son, Jesus. I want to focus on Him, because He is filled with compassion for those who have lost a loved one and only He can meet their temporal and eternal needs. That has been my approach.
    Bro Tony
     
  3. Jim1999

    Jim1999
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    One thing must be remembered. You are there for the moment, but you want those people for the future. Most of the family are numbed by the death of a loved one. They will scarcely hear what you say.

    I always handed a typed copy of my message to a family member for reading later, and they do. I then do a follow up visit exactly three weeks after the funeral.

    My message is simply telling what scripture says about God, about Jesus Christ and about what He expects of us in this life. No hard lines...remember, I want them in the future.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  4. Dr. Bob

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    Amen, Jim. Kind and compassionate. I am often called on for weddings of folks I do not know and have no clue of their spiritual condition.

    But sharing the Gospel and hope of heaven, comforting the grieving, and ministering to all there (there seems to always be freinds, neighbors, business assoc who are not "grieving" like the family and much more attentive to the Word).
     
  5. td

    td
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    I preached my first funeral quite by chance. The pastor was out of town and I was the closest thing since I was licensed to preach, so I was it. No training other than reading a short article on how to preach a funeral. The deceased was a former member that had not been to church in a zillion years. Didn't know her or her family. I talked with them and a few folks who knew her to get an idea of what to say. I really didn't focus on her spiritual condition but on the good qualities that everyone remembered about her. I mentioned the promise that God has for all believers. In the closing prayer, I thanked God for her life and what she meant to everyone. Later, they told me what I'd said was perfect.
     
  6. GODzThunder

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    When I cannot truthfully say that they are in heaven I have to consider that funerals are not really about the deceased but are a closure for the living friends and family. With that in mind the only thing that I can really do is give a tribute to the life and times of the deceased. Of course try doing that when he was a wife beater, drug dealer & a has had nothing to do with his children for the past twelve years. How would you preach his funeral?
     
  7. pinoybaptist

    pinoybaptist
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    uhdum said:
    Actually, good advice. What do you say to the grieving friends and families of a dead person, church member or not ? To say they will see each other in heaven might be laughable to some who knew the kind of life the deceased may have lived, notwithstanding all the good things being said about him at his funeral.

    To imply they might not see him in heaven will be callous and condemnatory.

    I think, correct me if I am wrong, it was Spurgeon who said he will not do funeral services, and I am inclined to agree with him.
     
  8. onestand

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    This particular thread really hits home. Last summer I attended the funeral of one of my very good friends who hung himself. He was only 21 and the guy had the most amazing heart and personality, would give you the shirt off his back.

    I don't believe my friend knew Jesus as his Saviour and I don't know how the funeral service itself went because I felt it was my responsibility to linger outside with his ex girlfriend who was also a very good friend of mine and help her to deal with the day.

    Many kids showed up to the funeral who were atheists and refused to step foot inside during the service and prayer. I didn't really know what to say to his parents because that day was one of the hardest days I've ever experienced. Prior to closing the casket, some of us were in the room and watched at his dad clung to his dead body crying and repeatedly apologizing to him. I just couldn't imagine what it was like being in his shoes at that moment, but my heart broke for him.

    A few short weeks later I got an email from my friend's mother asking me if I knew the reasons behind my friend's choice to hang himself, she knew he and I talked alot and he confided in me but nothing to really explain why.

    In moments like this, hearing words of comfort really don't do much to ease raw pain flooding your heart even though they are spoken with the best intentions. I waited and when I could find exactly what was on my heart to say I emailed his mom back. I told her while standing at the gravesite and hearing his friends and family of all generations speak of him the thing that went through my mind was this guy really made an impact on so many lives. He was a true friend and knew how to love others and I was deeply honored to call him my friend. I told her that many people view success as making alot of money or having a thriving business, house, car ect. but I view success as knowing one has made a difference in another's life. My friend made a difference in many lives so in my opinion he was a big success.
     
  9. Singing Cop

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    Funny you should mention this. I was asking a fellow officer yesterday who also pastors a local church if he ever preached the funeral for a lost man. He told me of a man he had tried to lead to the Lord and the next night he burned up in a trailer fire. They found him kneeling by the door. My friend told me that he preached on the thieves at the cross, how one was saved before he died and Christ told him that this day he would be with Him in paradise. He said that nobody knows if he was on his knees in prayer. This gave great hope to the family.
     
  10. North Carolina Tentmaker

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    That is a great topic for lost funerals Singing Cop. I would have to say that one of the best passages to preach at a lost person's funeral would be the thief on the cross. I believe that is one reason God gave us that account, so we would know that there is always that possibility of someone turning to Christ at the last moment.

    Another good passage is I Samuel 16:7 which says:
    I have used this passage before to give encouragement in cases where the deceased was clearly not living a Christian life. I am talking drug abuse, immorality, homosexuality and suicide. We want to judge these people by our standards but God looks on the heart.

    Remember when Princess Diana and Mother Terasa died? We had a young man in our community die that same week due to drug abuse. This man never did anything in his life to indicate he may have known Christ. I mentioned his name and then Princess Diana and Mother Terasa. I made the statement that these were not three people you would normally group together. Yet if any of them are in heaven it is for one reason, because they accepted Christ as their savior, and if any of them are in hell it is for one reason, because they rejected Christ. It is not the works of our hands that matter but the condition of our heart.

    I know that this ignores many passages like James where we can see that the condition of our hearts are evidenced in our works, but I will preach on that later.
     

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