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Funeral Resources

by Tim Isbell, June 9, 2015
#funerals  #death

I still remember the anxiety I felt in 1993 when a parishioner died and I needed to lead my first funeral. I had just started serving as the interim pastor of a church, where I would spend the next 18 years as the senior pastor. From the time the person died there were only 3-4 days to prepare before the service. I had limited experience even attending funerals, and absolutely no idea how to officiate one. So I asked an experienced pastor for a crash course. Thanks to him, I survived... and so did the deceased's wife. In the 23 years since then I've done several more.

Earlier this year (2015) I did 3 funerals in 3 months, causing me to dust off my funeral and memorial service resources to put them into a shape that I can offer to you. They include an invaluable (to me, anyway) worksheet that frames the pastoral and planning meeting that I have with the family, usually 2-3 days before the service. The resources also include preaching notes for several homilies (short 10-minute Christian messages) suitable for a wide range of situations.

There are many pastors far more skilled at funeral and memorial services than I. But when I was getting started I would have loved to have this set of notes. Even today, if someone offered me such a set I'd scan it looking for ideas and things to add to my funeral service planning agenda.

Here are the funeral/memorial service resources:

This first link is the worksheet that I use when I meet with the family a couple of days before the service: Funeral/Memorial Service Planning.

If a family invites me, a Christian pastor, to do a service I assume the Holy Spirit arranged the invitation and that the family wants a Christian flavor. However, I will not trap a captive audience in a strongly evangelistic message, even if the family asks for it. People don't come to funerals to be force-fed the gospel. In fact, some come afraid the preacher will do exactly that. Instead, I try to provide some piece of the Good News, always finding a way to get to the resurrection. And I do it in a tone of gentleness and respect.

Below are several homilies (10 minutes or less) that you will find helpful. Though you could use any of these directly, I offer them as starting points to new pastors and as a collection of fresh ideas for experienced pastors.


Blessings,

Tim


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