Friday, April 30, 2010

Funeral Sermons

The best way to tell what a church believes is to attend a couple of funerals. Is the focus on Jesus' redemption of sinners? Is the focus on our feelings? Is the focus on upstanding character of the deceased? What the pastor and the congregation believe --the message is given to the bereaved-- is seen clearly at a funeral.

Unbelievers come to church more for funerals and weddings than they do for any Sunday service. It's the pastor's chance to preach the gospel to those who usually don't bother to listen. What does he say about the Faith when we're staring death in the face? What kind of conditions does the pastor attach to the forgiveness Jesus won? At funerals we see how a church "does evangelism."


  1. I attended a funeral yesterday here in our little town at the local Christian church. a friend's father had passed after a life of difficulty from Polio as a child. good man by all accounts. (The regular pastor there didn't conduct the funeral due to the loss of his youngest son...the boy's service is today).

    One of the church's elders conducted this funeral. It was annecdotal, lacking in everything we would be expecting, it seemed to me... I felt sad for the family, but accounts of this event on Facebook praise it as a wonderful service. So here on your blog I am venting my frustrations...

  2. Oh, Brenda, that's so sad. Thing is, if the pastor had been had not been in the midst of his own grief and had been conducting the service, it might have been different. Because faith lives from the word, I tend to think it's more accurate to evaluate a church by what's going into the members ears more than what's coming out of their mouths.

    But yeah, when you see people talk about what a wonderful service it was... it can be confusing. I have heard people say "What a wonderful service!" about weddings and funerals that directly contradict what they believe (regardless of whether the service was heretical or spot-on orthodox), so sometimes I wonder what it is that makes a service seem great to people.

  3. We also have a rule, my husband and I, that we attend one congregational voters meeting before we transfer. Now, that doesn't speak to beliefs of the pastor and the congregation so very much, but it does show how they all treat each other.

  4. EC, I like that idea. Not long after we moved here, I went to a voters meeting. I didn't realize it was voters; I thought it was an all-congregation discussion of what to do about the new flooring. There was some real disagreement, but everybody was polite, kind, loving, respectful, etc. Later, Pastor let me know that this was the most heated voters assembly they'd had in many many years. I laughed! THAT was heated? You're right -- voters meetings can really be a demonstration of how they treat each other all-round.