I'm just curious about something, pastors.....

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by Scarlett O., Jun 3, 2010.

  1. Scarlett O.

    Scarlett O.
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    Yesterday, I attended the funeral of the father of my best friend. He was 88 years old and he was lost.

    He was a wonderful man - kind, took care of his family and neighbors, loved his children and grandchildren, and he and his wife loved each other for more 56 years. But he never came to church and refused to acknowledge Christ as Savior.

    The children are saved and except for one, are active in church. The wife and mother is saved and she is active in church.

    I can remember when we were in high school and my best friend and her sister would weep in church over the lost condition of their father. It was because they loved him so dearly.

    I, myself, have prayed for that man for decades.

    But he died a lost man.

    Here is my question and my curiousity. How would you preach a sermon in this instance - where the deceased is lost and the family is saved?

    I thought the pastor did a good job. He did both parts. The first part, he told all about the good things about this man. And after the song, he preached a sermon on how we all are "appointed once to die and then the judgment". He never mentioned the man's name in the second part as he usually does with saved people. I know personally that the pastor visited him dozens and dozens of times over the last 20 years.

    It must be hard to preach a sermon like this.

    I know it was hard to attend.
     
  2. Tom Bryant

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    It is especially hard as in this case where I have witnessed to the person over and over. The Pastor sounds like he did a great job. A funeral is for the living and to share God's Word about eternal life. But it would be hard to bring comfort to the family in this kind of circumstance where the man died lost and the family knew it.
     
  3. GBC Pastor

    GBC Pastor
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    I make it a point never to place anyone in heaven or hell in my funeral sermons, that's simply not my job as I see it. I talk about the life of the individual if it is appropriate, and then I focus my message on Jesus Christ and salvation.
     
  4. rbell

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    When I feel confident of the salvation of the person--I share about the person's walk with God, the promise of heaven for believers, the fact that we weep for ourselves, but not for them, the and of God's comfort for us during our grief and loss....probably in pretty much that order.

    When I'm unsure, or doubtful of the deceased's salvation--I start with comfort for us, and remind all that God offers us "strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow" when we put our hope and trust in Jesus. Much more in these cases is said to "us," and I am very careful to not refer to what "uncle Joe must be doing in heaven right now."

    I guess, boiling it down, with a saved person, I share about comfort, joy, and assurance. With a lost or unknown...I share about comfort the most. With the saved, I can talk a great deal about our loss and their gain...and how God is at work through both processes. With the lost, it's more about how God helps us in our loss.

    But in both...there will be a plan of salvation. I've never done a funeral where I didn't present it in some way.

    We must be so very careful. Some of the worst imaginable theological errors I've heard have been at funerals...coming sometimes from ministers who, in trying to say something nice about the dead, basically walked down the path of, "He was a good ol' boy...I'm sure the Good Lord made room for him in heaven." Yikes.
     
    #4 rbell, Jun 4, 2010
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2010
  5. rbell

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    We have an oft-repeated phrase at our church.

    We will often say (with explanation): This is an easy funeral to do.

    We immediately follow that up with what we mean by "easy"--not that there isn't grief, tears, or emotions--but because the person lived a life that testified to God's work in their hearts, the words of comfort and assurance come easily to those who officiate the funeral. And, speaking as a selfish and finite human, those who God blesses with a full, long life to boot...well, funerals aren't easy, but these are as easy as they come.
     
  6. SBCPreacher

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    I agree with what the rest o these guys have said.

    As for an "easy" funeral, I agree with rbell. I did one yesterday - a 93 year old godly lady. It was an easy funeral to preach - it was a homegoing!

    But, I have heard far too many sermons at funerals that try to preach a lost man into heaven - that's a shame.
     
  7. Scarlett O.

    Scarlett O.
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    Thank you all for your answers.
     
  8. Crucified in Christ

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    It truly does sound as if your pastor handled the situation about as well as it could be handled. I have had few situations that have saddened me more (or cost me more sleep) than preaching the funeral of someone who is lost. It is true that we greatly ere if we attempt to preach someone into heaven. Still, I understand the temptation that they fall into. There are few situations as difficult as ministering to a family in this situation.
     
  9. Crucified in Christ

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    rbell- I just wanted to amen your post. Thank you for the wisdom you posted here.
     
  10. Dr. Bob

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    I have often started the message (after the typical falderal that accompanies funerals) with talking about "the other side" and "what should WE - the living - know" about eternity, etc.

    I have even said, "If Uncle Joe (deceased) were able to talk to us today, he would want everyone here to know . . . "

    Message of hope for the saved
    Message of comfort for the grieving
    Message of impending doom for the unconverted

    But I agree - never "preach" someone into heaven or hell.

    (Sad note - last funeral was of a "good ol' boy" whose kids I had married some years back. Guess I was the only "clergy" they knew.

    They had his ashes in a Folger's Coffee Can, a picture of him, a can of beer and a rod/reel on the table. Many gave "testimony" of what a good man he was, sharing fish, swapping lies, probably up in heaven fishing right now and complaining it wasn't as beautiful as Wyoming.

    Then I was to "say a few words" (not preach per se, the family wanted me more as an MC to supervise the proceedings. One of the testimonies was from his buddy who took the beer can, opened it and drank, belched, then poured the rest into the ashes. Was glad NOT to have to preach a traditional funeral sermon).

    I read some verses, and then focused on "It is a appointed to man to die once". Everyone was nodding in agreement. Then I added, "After that, the judgment". Sobered up the crowd in a hurry.

    Sorry to ramble on, but that was NOT as "easy" one.
     

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