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9Marks Explained : A Letter From Mark Dever

Conducting Gospel-Centered Funerals


Today I received an email from a woman to whom our church has been reaching out.  She was asking if I'd be willing to lead a memorial service for her friend's mother who had recently passed.

Of course, I said "Yes".  Who would pass up a gospel opportunity like that?  But then I had that moment (not uncommon in my expierience of ministry) where I realize that I'm not sure about the next steps to take. 

So, I was ridiculously glad to receive in the mail a new book by my friends Brian Croft (of 9Marks blogging fame) and Phil Newtown: Conduct Gospel-Centered Funerals.  I've already read it, and it's very, very good. 

Given the dynamics of my church, I do 50 weddings for every funeral that I conduct.  To be honest, I don't have a ton of experience.  And so I greatly appreciate how specific the book's counsel is.  If you want advice on how to appropriately eulogize an adult with mental handicaps who was not known to you, there's a section in the book for that.  I'm not joking... and it's good advice too!

If you're ever called on to take part in funerals, this is a great resource to help you think through how to love people and shine the gospel clearly in that moment.

Topics: Pastoring

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At our church, my ratio of weddings to funerals is about opposite yours! So I've had plenty of experience in the three short years I've been pastoring.

For me, my top priority is to make the gospel overly clear, so there's no way anyone could miss it. (Needless to say to a 9Marks crowd, that doesn't mean a wooden four spiritual laws presentation followed by a bow-your-head-and-close-your-eyes prayer at the end.) There are so many different ways to work the gospel naturally in to a funeral, I've rarely even found myself getting to it the same way in one funeral as I had in another.

Since I've done funerals now, I always pay close attention to how clearly the gospel is preached at funerals I attend. I'm sad to say the vast majority of them have had little to no gospel content, many have very anti-gospel content.

Certainly honor the life of the person who's died. And don't miss the opportunity when the effects of sin and death and decay are so vividly in front of our eyes. Only Christ offers any hope on that day.

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