In Defense of the Funeral Over the Celebration of Life … Why It Matters

"Scripture doesn’t prescribe whether we should call a service a funeral or a celebration of life or anything else, nor does it prescribe exactly what we should do during the service....But I believe we’ve lost something, and that we would serve ourselves and others well if we recover the time-honored practice of holding funeral services." - Christian Leaders

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Ed Vasicek's picture

Darryl Dash makes some really good points here.  I remember Rick Warren voicing concerns from the so-called "unchurched," --- "'Churches are always talking about death."  Of course that is probably because they only went to funerals and Good Friday services.

But it is easy to miss the boat and downplay death.  We need the "house of mourning" experience.

"The Midrash Detective"

Jim Welch's picture

I think that I understand the author's intent:  that after an individual's death, when we focus completely on the departed's life we lose the opportunity to confront one of Christ's enemies-death.  The point is well taken.  However, a funeral service can do both.  I try to expose the audience at a funeral to the enemy that death is and I try to rejoice with the audience in the good qualities of the dead person.

Over the past 3 months, our church family has lost two of our godly senior saints as well as a 15 year old teen who committed suicide.  The services took vastly different shapes.  During the teen's service our church's youth director spoke lovingly but firmly on suicide, some of its causes, the sinfulness of the choice, etc.  

On a practical level, this past Sunday night, I spent the entire service teaching our people how to prepare for their own funeral service.  I gave them a handout with questions about what they wanted to accomplish during their funeral service and how to achieve that goal.  I learned to do this from my pastor, Dr. John Barnett.