Recently, I was honored to deliver a eulogy for the adult son of one our eldest church members. After the memorial service, I had 2 conversations with another minister and the funeral director that inspired me to write this post. Here are 4 tips to consider when you’re called upon to preach a eulogy.
1. Remember, it’s a eulogy. A eulogy is a speech that praises or speaks well of a deceased person. It’s about that person’s life and is designed to help the family and friends of the deceased to have a positive, lasting memory of them.
2. Keep it short and sweet. Many times, families and loved ones are facing a trial of grief before the funeral or memorial service. They’ve had to conduct the final affairs of the deceased under duress. They’ve made the program, entertained guests and out of town relatives, and in some cases fought among themselves. The day of the funeral is the longest day in the longest week of their lives. So preaching any message that is over 30 minutes is inconsiderate. Ideally, the message should range between 15 and 25 minutes.
3. Be gracious. I’ve heard ministers say they preach more directly to the crowd when they notice a large amount of assumably unchurched people at the funeral. There seems to be some feeling of urgency to call them out because they may not come back. Actually, calling them out will cause them to not come back. They came to a spiritual service to pay respect to their deceased friend. The visitors didn’t come to hear commentary that condemns their lifestyles or culture. Instead, we should introduce them to Jesus Christ and the hope of salvation. Being gracious to them will make it more favorable when they are encouraged by others to attend your church.
4. Speak well of Jesus. So what do we do when we don’t know the person well enough to speak about their lives? We can interview the family members during our time of visitation before the funeral. We can also “think on our feet” and glean information during the expressions part of the service. But I’ve found speaking well of Jesus never fails and never gets old.
Here’s a simple eulogy outline that connects the deceased person to the people and the people to Jesus:
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”
Titus 2:11-14 NKJV
I. Every Person Must Die
Death is inevitable. We were all introduced to death when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden.
Sometimes we forget about death. We aren’t near death. We aren’t around death. We’re even surprised by death. But the reality is, everyone will die some day.
“And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,”
Hebrews 9:27 NKJV
“But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.””
Revelation 21:8 NKJV
II. Salvation Has Come
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,”
Titus 2:11 NKJV
Even though death is a reality, salvation has come. Thank God for his amazing grace. Thank God for his precious gift.
We are thankful for life just as we are thankful for eternal life. Once we receive this salvation from our sins and the penalty of our sins, we must also receive salvation from the power of sin over our lives.
“teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,”
Titus 2:12 NKJV
We need saving every day. We need to open the gift of salvation daily. We need to use it. We need to prove it.
III. We Have A Blessed Hope
“looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”
Titus 2:13-14 NKJV
We look forward to a great appearing of our savior. There is more to life than what we see. Eternity is real.
We have …
Hope of seeing Jesus.
Hope of heaven.
Hope of eternity.
Hope of seeing our loved ones again.