Funeral Today

Everyday is an opportunity to learn something new or how to improve upon what we already know.

Yesterday's funeral had a moment of disorganization I have never experienced in all my years of pastoring. There was a final viewing placed smack dab in the center of the service.

Mind you, the arrangements and details of this funeral were organized while I was out of town in Colorado Springs CO.

Somehow the funeral director had arranged it so that everyone would view the body before the service began with the intent that only the family would view in the middle of the service. Well, things didn't work out as planned. The first floor of the sanctuary was virtually at capacity. The floor of North is able to seat 700 people. So, hundreds of people ended up getting up and lining up to view the body in the middle of the worship service! The folk started clumping up on one side of the sanctuary. Grandchildren broke down and got emotional around the body, which brought an already disorganized line to a standstill. When I tell you it was a mess, it was a MESS!

By the time I stood up to preach it was 1:02pm and the funeral began at 11:00 am!

Well, lesson learned! I will never ever ever leave town without giving some type of procedures manual to the person I leave in charge. It will spell out Step 1, Step 2 and Step 3. And I will encourage them to follow that plan without deviation.

We voted at the church business session some time ago to do all final viewings and close the bier prior to the start of the actual funeral service. If we had stayed with that voted church policy, we would have avoided the mess we ran into.

I believe Troy was right when he noted that we lost 60 percent of the congregation after that "final viewing" in the center of the service. Once folk viewed and things got so disorderly, many of them went outside into the lobby -- and others out to the sidewalk -- to chat while the service was still in progress.

Doing things decently and in order would have allowed more people to hear the Word of God. I am thankful that someone was there. But God calls us to do better than just speaking to a few because we lacked the discipline to hold onto the many. I want my ministry to make an impacts to as many as possible. I believe that we ought to tell as many as we can the truth of God's Word. I am grateful for those relative few who returned to their seats and listened to the eulogy. But I wish I could have told every young brotha and every young sista (many of whom did not regularly attend anybody's church) the truth not only about death, but also the truth about the gift of everlasting life (Romans 6:23).

The Lord knew it. It didn't happen that way yesterday. His will be done. But may I have learned my lesson to not let it happen like that again by preparing my leadership in my absence to follow protocol.


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