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Pastoral Etiquette


    1. The funeral as a service

    2. The funeral as a testimony and/or witness

    3. The biblical teaching concerning death (Involves your application of that toward the believer, non-believer, infant, youth, suicide, accident victim, murder victim, etc.)

When Death Comes

Be Prompt

    1. Go wherever necessary to be with the family

    2. Express your sympathy to the family

    3. Encourage the family to talk about it. ("Can you tell me what happened?")

Be Helpful

    1. Without going into great detail, help them to think through the next steps: funeral home, permission for autopsy, contacting relatives, etc.

    2. Offer and be willing to provide help. Offer to go with them to meet with the mortician.

Be Brief

    1. Read scripture with them and pray.

    2. Stay with them until things are under control.

The Day Following

    1. Assist where possible in preliminaries with the family and the mortician.

    2. Use the funeral planning sheet.

    3. Help them think through the type, cost and location of the service.

    4. If appropriate, help them plan the time, participants (ushers, musicians, pallbearers)

    5. Pray with the family (and mortician).

The Viewing

    1. Find out when the body can be viewed for the first time and be there one-half hour before so you can be with the family.

    2. Take your wife if at all possible.

    3. The evening prior to the funeral is a good opportunity to minister, often at an additional or final viewing.

The Funeral or Memorial Service

    1. Arrive at the church or mortuary well in advance of the service. 15-20 minutes early in order to:...

    a. Prepare your own soul
    b. Complete details (organist, mortician, etc.)

    2. Meet family as they are seated in the family room.

    3. Be ready on time! Either walk in with the family or from a side door as the funeral begins.

    4. Bring appropriate remarks.

    Perhaps start with a Scripture reading
    Solo or congregational hymn
    Bible Message

    5. At the close of the service, be available at the casket.

    6. At the close of the service, the funeral director will come to the front, and the pastor will lead slowly the pallbearers and the casket to the door of the hearse.

Committal Service at the Graveside

    1. At the cemetery, the pastor again slowly leads the procession from the hearse to the burial site.

    2. Stand at the head of the casket (ask the funeral director where the head faces before arrival at the cemetery.)

    3. Brief remarks, short scripture, word of thanks to mortician for the family.

    4. Committal prayer

    5. Go to the family and express your concern and availability.

    6. The funeral director will then try to get the family to return to their cars.

Social Time with Family and Friends

    1. Depending upon the time of the service, the distance the family travels, and other factors, this might include time before, after, or both before and after the funeral service.

    2. Church women may or may not be involved.

Post Funeral Contact

    1. Do not forget the bereaved after the funeral. Call on them at least once a week for six weeks.

    2. Take a devotional pamphlet on death to the grieving.

Related Topics: Funerals

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