Monday, April 23, 2012
Book Review: Conduct Gospel-Centered Funerals
One of the most difficult things a minister can be involved with is a funeral. Yet at the same time, a funeral can be a very rewarding part of ministry. One of the challenges for the minister in preparing a funeral is in being faithful throughout the service, to proclaim the gospel.
In this little book by Brian Croft and Phil Newton, the gospel is front and centre (or should that be center?), as the subtitle puts it: 'Applying the gospel at the unique challenges of death.' The book is divided into four main sections - plan, prepare, preach, perform. For the younger minster this is a really helpful book, as it discusses both the practical aspects as well as the pastoral elements of funerals and bereavement. While there are some parts which are very American in terms of culture and context (such as the graveyard service with chairs etc), the reader can use discernment and wisdom to apply or reject the cultural bits, depending on their own situation.
The main thrust of the book is the most helpful, with the reminder that the gospel should be front and centre in every part of our pastoral and preaching ministry, not just on Sundays or not just in evangelism. There are useful tips and advice on how to explain and include the gospel in every step of the process, not just in the funeral sermon. The fact that the two authors are experienced pastors is also reassuring - they have been there and done that.
As a little bonus, there are helpful appendices, which give some sample sermons, eulogies, appropriate music, and orders of service. While it's a great little book, there were several times where it appeared that there was a lot of overlap and repetition - partly due to the separate efforts of the two authors, and partly even within the authors' sections.
All in all, it'll be very useful for student ministers and newly ordained ministers who are seeking to develop their gospel-centred ministry in the realm of funerals. Conduct Gospel-Centered Funerals is part of the 'Ministering the Master's Way' series of books for pastors, and can be bought at Amazon.