“PLANNING YOUR FUNERAL”

Genesis 27.2

 

INTRODUCTION:

1.   Last week a wonderful man was promoted to glory, a man who had served his country in the United States armed forces for twenty years with distinction and bravery in combat, and who served as the pastor of his Church for twenty years.

2.   I went to his funeral Thursday, a most miserable affair, that did no justice to his 62 year span of life, that did no justice to his courageous military career, and that did no justice to his two decades of Gospel ministry.

3.   There were numerous pastors in attendance, many of whom drove longer than I did to get there.  And I drove almost 2 ˝ hours to get there.  And for what?  For a 45 minute funeral that was antiseptic and unfeeling, even though it was presided over by my friend’s brother, who is also a pastor.

4.   Now, you would think that the funeral of a preacher, which was conducted in the Church that he pastored, and which was conducted by his brother also a pastor, would have been a glorious, thrilling, heart-rending, spiritually uplifting, Gospel-challenging, emotionally moving affair. 

5.   But it wasn’t.  It was cold, unemotional, detached, clinical, without any semblance of life and vitality.  Methodist and Catholic funerals are more moving than this one was.  Yet all the basic ingredients for a memorable funeral were there:  The deceased was a war hero and dedicated preacher of the Gospel, the auditorium was filled beyond its capacity to standing room only, the two singers wonderful sang three beautiful songs.

6.   Now, perhaps the preacher just laid a huge egg.  Such things happen, as every preacher knows, though you do your best to pray and prepare and prevent such a thing from happening as much as you can.  But even if he’d preached a better sermon the funeral was generally a bust because it wasn’t planned properly.  It was essentially a throw together affair that summed up a 62 year old servant of God’s life in 45 minutes.  Forty five minutes!  Only a little child’s life can be summed up in 45 minutes.  A life takes longer to eulogize.

7.   My friends, I want to speak to you for a few minutes about planning your funeral, because as Isaac once said in Genesis 27.2, “I know not the day of my death.”  You know not the day of your death, so you’d better take a bit of time to plan your funeral, and plan on revising your funeral plan from time to time as the circumstances of your life change.

8.   Notice that I do not refer to the planning of your death, which is a much more involved affair, for which you must choose guardians for your children, establish a living trust to manage your financial affairs, properly assign the beneficiaries of your life insurance policies, arrange for the disposal of your personal things to prevent family members from fighting over them after you are gone, and such things as that.

9.   This morning I deal only with your funeral, that opportunity afforded in our culture for the eulogizing of the deceased and the appropriate evangelizing of the lost who are in attendance at the memorial service.  As well, understand that these are only suggestions and preference of mine, because you don’t have to do anything in preparation for your own funeral.  You can leave all the arrangements to your bereaving survivors, who will very much appreciate that you’ve left this burden for them to tend to during their hours of grief instead of tending to it yourself.

10. The suggestions that I make cost more money than the plain vanilla funeral, as the arrangements will suggest. But a funeral is first and foremost an opportunity to glorify God and present the Gospel, and the suggestions I make are made with the sole intent of advancing the Gospel and seeing your unsaved family members, your unsaved coworkers, your unsaved friends and neighbors eventually come to Christ.

11. Now, some of the things I suggest are personal peculiarities.  But I have reasons for my preferences that you may feel perfectly free to ask me about if you want to hear what my reasons are.  After all, you may agree with me and want to include such provisions in your funeral.  Or you may choose not to.  It’s your funeral. 

1A.   First, PLANNING YOUR FUNERAL

Folks, you have no business expecting that your funeral will be anything like you want it to be unless you plan it, and unless you make your plans binding in some way.  After all, your survivors can do anything they want to do unless you legally lock them into your plan.  Maybe you will want to lock them into your plan, or maybe you won’t.  By the way, I am assuming you have already picked out the funeral directors and arranged for their payment.

1B.    First, Plan Your Preacher

1C.   I say “Plan your preacher” because I don’t envision myself doing two preacher funerals ever again.  Conflicting sermons, conflicting beliefs, etc., create only confusion in people’s minds.

2C.   You can pick your preacher by arranging for a certain preacher to conduct the service, or you can arrange for the pastor of your Church to conduct the service.

3C.   As well, this needs to be done because it is very common for your family to have very different views on Gospel preaching and spiritual issues than you do.  Twice in my ministry I have been “interviewed” by surviving adult children who wanted me to be sure and “go easy” so their friends wouldn’t be insulted and they wouldn’t be embarrassed by what I said.

4C.   When someone tries to meddle with what I intend to preach at a funeral I let them know that they can get someone else.  But that’s just me.  Perhaps you want to arrange for a preacher who can be controlled by your survivors.  If so, go right ahead and do that.  It’s your funeral.

2B.    Second, Plan The Place Of The Memorial Service

1C.   I would advise in the strongest way I know how that you choose to have your memorial service, and the viewing of the body the night before, to both be in your Church auditorium.  This costs more, but it gets visitors and friends in the auditorium twice, which is far more significant than most people realize.

2C.   However, it would be inappropriate to expect your memorial service to be conducted in your Church’s auditorium unless your pastor presides over the service.  If I have retired from this Church and another man is the pastor, you should not even ask him for permission to conduct the memorial service in this auditorium with someone other than him presiding, even if it’s me you would want.

3B.    Third, Plan The Other Participants In The Memorial Service

1C.   Who will sing?  Who will be pall bearers?  Who will attend to the guest register?  Who will function as ushers to seat the mourners?  Maybe such things are of no concern to you.  Okay.

2C.   But on Thursday I stood at the back of the auditorium and a man said, “What do you think we should do?”  I told him, “Find an usher.”  He said, “I am an usher.”  I said, “Get folding chairs.”  When he got the folding chairs and began setting them up in back, I said “Start at the front and work your way back.”  You need good ushers, which is why conducting the service in your Church is a good idea.

3C.   Do you want family members to eulogize you?  Usually, it’s a bad idea.  It might be better to write your own eulogy with your pastor’s help, and arrange for a family member to read it.  Consider very brief testimonies at some point, though if they are before the sermon they can make the entire service too long, and if they are after the sermon they distract people from the message they just heard.  But it’s up to you.

4C.   Here’s a pet peeve of mine.  I hate it when women wear short cocktail skirts and dresses to a funeral, with gaudy makeup.  It looks trashy.  And it seems totally disrespectful to me when some guy shows up in blue jeans and an open collar at a funeral.  If a woman has no intentions of showing up at my funeral wearing an appropriate dark outfit, or if a man has no intentions of showing up at my funeral wearing at least a dark sports coat and tie over slacks and dress shoes, then they can stay home.  I don’t want them there.

5C.   What good is a funeral for someone who looks as if they stopped off at your funeral on the way to Wal-Mart or, worse yet, on their way to a saloon?  But if they dress like they respect you and mourn your loss they are far more likely to listen to the sermon that will be presented and the testimonies concerning your life than they otherwise would. 

2A.   Second, PLANNING THE VIEWING

The viewing can be more important in reaching the lost than is oftentimes realized.

1B.    First, My Suggestion Is To Have The Viewing At The Church

1C.   Maybe the auditorium isn’t available for the viewing.  Perhaps other things are scheduled.  Then the viewing can be held in another room that is properly decorated, properly lit, properly cleaned, with clean rest rooms nearby.

2C.   The viewing should never be unattended, but should be attended by someone well chosen for discretion and wisdom to allow people to grieve quietly and in solitude.  And this should be someone who has been kept informed of funeral arrangements, with maps to various destinations, and who can answer questions or make phone calls to obtain information.

4C.   The slightest bit of chit chat by the person or persons attending the viewing can fill in gaps so the family will later be able to figure out who that woman was, with the newly married last name that no one recognizes, who came to the viewing but who did not come to the funeral.

5C.   As well, some converted family members should be at the viewing.  You’d be surprised at how an unsaved family member can move in and begin to really take over a loved one’s funeral and the attendant details, unless there is someone around to provide balance and carry out your written instructions.  You don’t want two lost cousins to hook up and go drinking, only to show up for the funeral drunk, or with a hangover, or not show up at all.  Such things can sometimes be avoided with a discreet converted family member in attendance at the viewing.

2B.    Second, My Suggestion Is To Avoid Anything Like A Wake

1C.   My friends, there is a significant emotional factor associated with the grieving process, and wakes tend to siphon off that grief at a time that I think is premature.  I don’t think folks should be prematurely finished with their deep grief before the funeral, and wakes and big family get-togethers the night before the funeral tend to produce that effect.

2C.   As well, unconverted family members have been known to do a lot of drinking, use drugs, and do other things the night before a funeral.  I well member the behavior that my cousin, my brother and I engaged in the night before my aunt’s funeral.

3C.   Obviously, you can’t control what adult members of the family are going to do the night before a funeral.  But don’t contribute to the problem by creating a mix that will lead to drinking, that will lead to dangerous driving, that may lead to further tragedy for the family.

4C.   Some comments I heard at my preacher friend’s funeral suggest that the night before his funeral a missionary preached a tremendous sermon at their Church.  But the effect may have been to eliminate any possibility of a meaningful funeral service that was full of lost people, by having that wonderful Church service for saved people the night before.  The result?  Almost certainly no impact on the lost in attendance at the funeral, since the Church people were all grieved out.

5C.   Would I cancel a Church service the night before a funeral?  No way.  But I would make sure the speaker knew the proper role he ought to play in the bigger scheme of things so as to make sure what happened the night before did not ruin the chances for an effective presentation of the Gospel during the funeral.

6C.   Folks?  Understand that I am making suggestions here.  For your funeral you can prepare any way you want, or you can avoid preparing at all.  It’s entirely up to you.  But preparation is sometimes helpful in avoiding problems that sometimes occur when grieving family members and friends get together, each with their own ideas of how things ought to be done.

3B.    Third, My Suggestion Is To Request Donations Instead Of Flowers

1C.   Do you want $1000 worth of wilted flowers for your loved ones to dispose of a day or two after your funeral?  Or would you like to direct contributions to our Christian school to set up a scholarship to pay the tuition of a deserving child who wants to attend our school?

2C.   At Daved Magnfico’s funeral more than $3000 was donated to our Church’s San Gabriel Valley Youth Scholarship Fund.  Wasn’t that much better than $3000 worth of flowers?

3C.   Understand, you can have all the flowers at your funeral you want.  You can even arrange for money that you have set aside to take care of the flower arrangements you want.

4C.   It’s just that I have found that many people never consider an alternative to flowers at their funeral.  And when some worthy cause or appropriate charity is mentioned to them they are sold on the idea right away.

5C.   So, instead of flowers, let me recommend our school’s scholarship fund to provide scholarships to attend our school, or the San Gabriel Valley Youth Scholarship Fund that David Guerrero and C. R. Rigali and I direct, or the Red Cross, or whatever you want to do.  Just remember, it isn’t really appropriate to ask folks to give money directly to your Church, since they ought to have their own Church to give to.

4B.    Fourth, My Suggestion Is To Plan Having A Register Attendant

1C.   This is one or two people who are non-threatening, who have excellent social skills, who can make sure the register is intelligibly signed and filled in, so the family will know who was there and what the person’s current address and phone number is.

2C.   You see, there are a lot of people who have a real fetish about anonymity.  They want to sneak in to a viewing, or sneak in to a funeral, and then sneak back out with anyone recognizing them or knowing they’ve been there.  And while people have that right, it’s the register attendant’s job to do his or her best to make sure that person does not remain anonymous.  Why not?  That person attending the viewing is a prospect that we want to make gentle contact with later in hopes of bringing him or her to Christ.

3C.   To that end, I think it makes sense to have a guest register that encourages people to print their name, address, phone number, and relationship to the deceased when they sign it.  That way some discreet follow-up work could be done after the funeral.  And as they are filling out the register the nosy guest register attendant says, “Oh, you didn’t fill our your address.  What is it and I’ll fill it in for you?”  Just a gentle nudge from a harmless lady, who is determined without being offensive to get the information she wants.

4C.   As well, the register attendant converses with the visitor and finds out how long he knew the deceased, what their relationship was, and other pertinent information that may be useful later.  But the key is to have a person or two who can do this type of work without offending anyone, without being obtrusive, without seeming aggressive, but also without letting that person out the door without finding out some things about him or her.  “Are you attending the memorial service tomorrow?  I can arrange transportation for you.  It will be no trouble at all.”

5C.   This task is similar to being an usher or a greeter at a Church service.  Oh, how very important this type of work is.  How much useful information can be gotten, information that may lead to the eventual conversion of a precious soul.  So, it’s important to have the right people doing this job.  

3A.   Third, PLANNING THE MEMORIAL SERVICE

This, obviously, is the most important part of the entire series of events associated with your death because this is the focal point, where everything comes together.  So, before you begin planning your actual memorial service, you will want to ask yourself what it is you want to accomplish with your funeral?  And this is connected to what you want to accomplish with your life, and what you want to accomplish with your death.  Is it your desire to glorify God on the occasion of your memorial service, Revelation 4.11?  “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”  Is it your desire to seek the conversion of your lost family members and loved ones, Mark 16.15?  Jesus “said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”  Remember, there must be a harmony between how you have lived your life and what you seek to accomplish at the observance of your death.  So, it’s your life which should rightly dictate the planning of your memorial service.

Let’s assume a Christian who has faithfully served God is planning his funeral service.  His life, if he was spiritual, was wrapped up in his Church and devoted to serving his God by seeking to bring people to the Savior.  The funeral service, therefore, should reflect that same life.  Let’s consider what kind of a memorial service, what kind of a funeral service, can best accomplish that.  I would suggest the following:

1B.    First, Please Consider Authorizing Someone Other Than A Member Of Your Family To Run The Funeral.

1C.   When I die I do not want my wife to have to make decisions about my funeral.  I do not want my daughter to have to make decisions about my funeral.  They should not be placed into a position to have to make decisions when they are grieving, when they are mourning, and when they are counting the insurance money in their heads.

2C.   My suggestion, as well, is that you do not authorize a brother or sister or some other family member to make decisions related to the funeral.  And this is because most folks will run funerals the way all funerals are run, which means the funeral will have no Gospel impact.

3C.   My suggestion is that you plan your funeral as thoroughly as you possibly can, plan for the expenses and all that stuff, and then authorize the preacher who will conduct the funeral to do anything he wants to maximize the Gospel impact of the funeral.  And that means leaving your family alone to focus their entire attention on grieving and mourning, not decision making.

4C.   I will have two preachers speaking at my funeral, Lord willing, pastor Johnston and Dr. Hymers.  My desire is that Pam and Sarah play no part in arranging the funeral or deciding what will be done.  I will plan my own funeral in consultation with him and then Dr. Hymers will be

         authorized by me to do anything he wants to do to maximize the impact of his Gospel presentation.

5C.   To restate:  Work out a plan for your funeral in advance.  The plan should accomplish your goal.  Execution of the plan should be placed in the hands of the preacher instead of your grieving loved ones.  And may I say that most funeral plans that are prepared without input from the preacher are suspect?

6C.   What Christian would expect to preside over the planning and execution of an evangelistic crusade?  Would you not expect the preacher who will be proclaiming the Gospel to preside over the crusade’s preparation and planning?  As well, if you want your funeral to be as effective an evangelistic effort as possible the preacher should have some input into your funeral service planning.

2B.    Second, Please Consider Not Ordering And Planning Your Own Funeral In A Way That Pleases You.

1C.   Folks, if you want me to preach your funeral I’ll do it.  And if you choose the songs you want and the singers you want and the instrumentalists you want and the flower arrangements you want and decide to do the whole thing in a funeral home instead of here, I’ll bow to your wishes.  I will do just about anything you want me to do if you want me to preach your funeral.

2C.   But I think most funeral music is ill-suited to evangelism.  I think most that’s done in a funeral is ill-suited to evangelism.  And I am convinced that most people who plan their own funerals have the misguided notion that the funeral should be conducted in such a way as to be enjoyable to the person who is dead and gone, or to be enjoyable to the people who are alive and present.

3C.   Now, excuse me, but neither of those objectives are really legitimate.  Of course, you have a right to get what you want if you are paying for it.  And, of course, you will want family and friends to enjoy your funeral if you set aside the fact that many of them are unconverted and an enjoyable funeral won’t do them any good whatsoever.

4C.   I am not advocating the intentional abuse of anyone attending a funeral.  I am not suggesting that family and friends be intentionally offended and bruised during their time of grief.  I am simply pointing out that you generally hit the objective that you are seeking, and if your objective is to have a funeral that makes you happy, or if your objective is to have a funeral that makes your family happy, you may not have a funeral that is as effective at preparing folks for eternity as it could be.

3B.    Third, Please Discard The Notion Of Showing A Video Of Yourself Or Playing An Audio Tape Of Yourself.

1C.   I received an e-mail yesterday telling of a Chattanooga police officer who died of cancer several days ago and whose funeral consisted mainly of the man’s own video testimony.

2C.   Once the video had been played the pastor dismissed the service in prayer rather than continue.  Why?  How can a preacher effectively communicate when a video tape of the deceased has broken everyone into tears?

3C.   If the deceased who speaks via video tape is a lousy speaker then the funeral service will likely be ruined beyond repair.  But if was really a good speaker and the video has great production values then it is likely that folks will be so focused on the deceased that they can’t effectively be confronted with their own spiritual condition.

4C.   You certainly are not required to turn a funeral service over to me or to the preacher you choose to conduct your funeral, though I would advise you to do that.

5C.   If you do turn the funeral service over to me I will exercise as much care and concern as I possibly can to ensure that the Gospel is effectively presented, and will use Church members at key places to be the profoundest kind of blessing to your family and friends.

6C.   But if you don’t feel comfortable doing that, and you’d rather your wife make those decisions after you are gone, or your husband make those decisions after you are gone, then you should at least sit down with me so I can provide some input into the approach you feel comfortable taking.

7C.   If you are interested in being a part of our Church’s the funeral ministry, which would include guest register attendance, ushering, catering, and other things related to the viewing of the body, the actual funeral and the graveside, let Mrs. Moyer know.

8C.   Just remember, if you sign up for this ministry you are indicating your willingness to take off work during the day, your availability at night, and a general willingness to render service to mourning and grieving families so that our Church might effectively present the Gospel during the entire process of memorializing and burying the deceased. 

4A.   Fourth, PLANNING THE GRAVESIDE SERVICE

There are three things you need to remember about the graveside service, which affect your plans.

1B.    First, The Purpose Of The Graveside Service

There are really two purposes of the graveside service:

1C.   First, the graveside service is a respectful and appropriate way of disposing of your body without resorting to the pagan ritual of cremation.  Christians do not cremate the remains of their dead, but pagans do.  And one of the most characteristic difference between first century Christians and the Romans who persecuted them was what they did with their dead.  The catacombs beneath Rome are a memorial to the convictions Christians ought to have about burying their dead instead of burning their bodies up to save a few bucks.

2C.   As well, the graveside service is the last chance the preacher has to make in impact on the lost in attendance.  Because people will already be tired, and almost certainly hungry and thirsty, the graveside service should be very short, in no way competing for importance with the funeral service by its length. 

2B.    Second, The People At The Graveside Service

1C.   Those with work schedules who could attend the funeral may not be able to attend the graveside.  Those who are older and who have less stamina may not be able to attend the graveside.  Oftentimes those with little children will bail out of a graveside service.

2C.   Because of these reasons, there should be no disappointment because the crowd dwindles between the funeral and the graveside.

3C.   As well, it should be recognized that there are many reasons why people need to sit down, and why the graveside service, with very few chairs (and those only for immediate family members to use), needs to be very short.

4C.   A drawn out graveside service provides no benefit to the deceased, and is downright torturous to those standing in the heat or the cold or the rain, if it lasts for more than just a couple of minutes.

3B.    Third, The Priority Of The Graveside Service

1C.   The family should never lose sight of the purpose of the graveside service, which is to get the body into the ground and make one last impression on the lost.

2C.   Just as the funeral is not the place for the family to say “Good Bye” to you, neither is the graveside service the place to say “Good Bye” to you.  The funeral is for evangelizing the lost and the graveside is for disposing the body in a respectful way while making one last impression on the lost.

3C.   In my opinion the graveside service should not be allowed to ruin the impact of the funeral by, #1, taking too long and making those in attendance suffer needlessly from having to stand or go without food or water, and, #2, waiting until the body is in the ground and buried and grass replaced, which backs up everyone who really needs to eat and rest.

4C.   Remind your family before you die that the funeral is not for them, neither is the graveside service for them, but is a means for trying to reach the lost. 

5A.   Fifth, PLANNING THE AFTER SERVICE MEAL

My recommendation is that the meal that is served after the funeral and graveside service normally be served at the Church, for the following reasons:

1B.    First, It Will Be More Natural For The Pastor Who Presided Over The Funeral And Graveside To Preside Over The Prayer And Time Of Relaxation If The Meal Is At Church.

1C.   Folks, every family has members who just naturally take over in a crisis.  And there is nothing wrong with this, except that if it’s a Christian who does this then he or she is too busy to run interference for the pastor, and if it’s an unsaved family member who does this there may be resentment toward the pastor for various reasons.

2C.   But if the after funeral meal is served at the Church no one will resent the pastor directing people to do things.  As well, the take charge family member who is unconverted will sit back and be a bit more passive, and approachable, while the take charge family member who is a Christian will be in his element as much at Church as at the deceased person’s home or at a relative’s home.

3C.   Folks, I need to be able to exercise some of the influence I’ve acquired over unsaved folks who have attended the funeral and later the graveside service.  But I am a bit restrained if I am in someone else’s house, even if it’s a Church member’s house.  Why?  Lost people resent a pastor taking liberties in someone else’s house, but they completely understand me doing exactly the same things at the Church.

4C.   So, a meal at the Church is preferable by far.

2B.    But There Are Two Far More Practical Reasons For Having The Meal At Church Instead Of At Anyone’s Home After The Graveside Service.

1C.   There is enough of the Irish in many lost people that they think a bit of excessive drinking is the proper way to mourn the passing of a loved one.  And in all but the most determined Christian’s homes the unsaved family members will at least have a couple of cases of beer in the trunk of the car at the curb to drink.

2C.   This is less likely to happen when the meal is at the Church.  And the more sober anyone is the better you can deal with them and the less likely they are to get belligerent over any real or perceived slights they think they have suffered during the day.

3C.   So, please consider having the meal at the Church.  Let your Church members honor you by serving your family after your funeral.  Let your pastor continue to work the crowd a bit after the funeral sermon and the few words he’s spoken at the graveside.  Give the Church people one last opportunity to make a favorable impression on your sober family members before they go their separate ways. 

4C.   As well, at the meal the person in charge of the guest register will have a chance to make sure those in attendance have written their name and address in legibly and correctly.  This will not be done by having a stranger ask someone to please fill in the information.  No, this is done by a family member asking them to fill in the information.

5C.   Here’s the scenario.  Our guest register person walks up to Tina Beltran shortly after the eating has begun after Don Imm’s funeral, saying, “Tina, we don’t have the addresses of these five people.”  Tina can say, “Oh, that’s okay.  I have their addresses at home.”  Or she can get up and walk over to each person and say, “Thank you for coming today.  Can you give me your address so I can send you a ‘Thank You’ card later?”

6C.   Of course, she actually will send a card to that person, but will also make that address available to me for the final part of our Church’s involvement in your funeral. 

6A.   Finally, PLANNING THE FOLLOW-UP

1B.    After The Day Has Passed A Meeting Needs To Take Place Between The Pastor And Your Converted Family Members.

1C.   At this meeting the strategy will be worked out whereby all those in attendance at the funeral or at the graveside or at the meal, or even those who sent a card or flowers, will be followed up.

2C.   Should the deceased person’s spouse follow up?  How about the oldest son?  How about the pastor?

3C.   As well, a timetable should be established.  These people should be contacted within the next two or three days.  They should all receive a card and an attempt should be made to call them all to arrange a visit or to invite them to Church.

2B.    After The Meeting Has Been Held The Family Members, The Pastor, The Deacons, The Church Staff, Each Know What Is Expected Of Them.

1C.   Sometimes a wife will want to write all the cards of appreciation herself.  Another woman will be too grief stricken and will want some help.

2C.   One woman might want to invite her sister over to her house to meet with the pastor, while another woman might want the pastor to call her brother himself.  And the same kinds of variations apply for a widower.

3C.   At the meeting held a day or two after the funeral the details can be worked out so that the family, the pastor, the deacons, and the Church staff  can tailor their response to the need of the hour, depending upon the desires of the surviving family members. 

CONCLUSION:

1.   My friends, you don’t have to follow any of the suggestions that I’ve made over the course of the last three or four weeks.  They are suggestions and nothing more than suggestions.

2.   But I want my funeral to have as great an impact for the cause of Christ as I can possibly arrange for it to be. And I am convinced that for things to go well they usually have to be planned to go well.  As well, people usually do well what they have done before and what they have been trained to do.

3.   I want a group of people who are willing to help me and the deacons and their wives, and who are willing to work with the Church staff, to accomplish things for Christ when someone around here dies.

4.   I am not interested in my wife and daughter using my funeral or my graveside service to say “Good Bye” to me.  Let them say “Good Bye” to me when I die, or during that private viewing of my body the night before the funeral when they’ve arranged for no one else to be around.

5.   But when it’s time for the public viewing of my body, or when my funeral is being conducted, or when the graveside service is being conducted, I want something done for Christ that will last.  And afterwards, I want the plan implemented to contact my dad and my mom and my brother and my niece, and my friends here at the Church who are unconverted.

6.   Good Lord, let us not slobber and blubber like sentimental old fools when I die.  Weep and grieve all you want.  But at my funeral, let’s do some deep plowing.  And I hope at your funeral, too.

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