Should an Invitation to Discipleship be offered at a funeral? : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

I recently eavesdropped on a conversation between two ministers on the appropriateness of having a call to discipleship at a funeral. One minister said that the pastor in his or her eulogy had sent forth the word and that there might be a response. The other minister had a difficult time seeing how it might fit within his order of service.

What are your thoughts?

-- Anonymous, May 01, 2003


Brother Gibson,

I am increasingly growing more sick and tired of folk who are too heavenly to be of any earthly good. More often than not my pray has too often become, "Lord, deliver me from evil and while you are at it save me from the hand of those misguided Christians as well."

A funeral order of worship is therefore different and some things are out of place. In my opinion an invitation is one of them. Those persons who wish or are convicted to join may privately do so when the funeral is done. They may call the pastor aside after the recession is complete or the burial is done.

The purpose of a funeral is to eulogize the dead as Our Lord, Jesus did for John the Baptist. It is also a time for mourning and weeping as He did for both Lazarus and John the Baptist as well. Most of all it should bring comfort to those who mourn (Matthew 5:4). Those who think otherwise are both misguided and uninformed.

For, those who are confused and find this impossible to do, they need to step aside and allow those who are comfortable and able to perform the task for which death and funeral call.

-- Anonymous, May 02, 2003

I agree there is a time and a place for all things. Funerals are very sacred to families. In this time of grief whoever is conducting the services should always be considerate of the families' grief.

One thing about the Spirit of the Lord, where He is, there is liberty. I say this because I know of a preacher who officiated the funeral of his son. His son was killed by gang violence. The place was filled with gang members. I don't think it was planned, but God opened up a door for an invitation. That day many of those young men gave their lives to the Lord. Now I can't testify as to how they are doing this day, but a seed planted on good ground will grow. Those young men showed great sorrow. If God deemed that as the time, then he has the right to change the order of a service.

I think what we have to be careful of is moving out of the will of God and his timing. When done in that manner I can see this being insulting to a grieving family.


-- Anonymous, May 02, 2003

I believe an Invitation to Discipleship is appropriate at any occasion! When Our Lord gave The Great Commission, he did not limit us to any one time or place. Sometimes a funeral, or homegoing as I prefer to call it, is the only time some family members and friends attend church. We should reach them when we can!

-- Anonymous, May 07, 2003

This is an interesting topic because it raises an important point about the limits of evangelism. Other than church, a Christian clergyman will also typically officiate at funerals, baptisms and weddings. Now it is conceivable to me why the evangelical call is extended at all threee of the above events. The theological duty for any clergy person is to present the Gospel at any and every opportunity available. If a funeral represents a celebration of the deceased triumphant life the bereaved family and friends can only be strengthened by the promulgation of the Gospel and a chance to obtain security in the Ark of Safety, i.e. accepting Jesus as Lord & Savior.

Now, Jesus indeed displayed deep sorrow and mourning upon receiving word about Lazarus' death. However, in His response to Martha, our Lord emphasized that He is the Life and the Resurrection. Lazarus' condition represented an opportunity for the power of God to be displayed, not just a chance for another eulogy.

Several weeks ago the Church School lesson focused on the healing powers of Jesus by highlighting the woman determined to touch His garment in a crowded street and the young damsel raised from the dead. Now what is interesting is Jesus' repudiation of the "professional mourners" at the home of the young girl. The repudiation is noteworthy simply because Jesus did not see this event as cause for mourning but instead an opportunity for God to be Glorified. Upon resurrecting the young girl back to life Jesus instructed that the damsel be provided food and nourishment. QED

-- Anonymous, May 07, 2003

Point well taken...however, before giving her something to eat, Jesus instructed the persons present not to tell anyone upon what had occured. Funerals are emotional from the beginnig. In such a setting, persons may be presented the opportunity, yet how long does it last? The Eulogy, or the good word, should console the breaved, yet commend the deceased to God. Hope should be presented, and faith in the "power of the resurrection" proclaimed! I have officiated over many homegoing celebrations, too numerous to count! The following Sunday, there would be persons present in worship which were present in the celebration...or members of the family. The word helped to make a decision and accept the worship.

-- Anonymous, May 08, 2003

Interesting! My concern would be "Are persons accepting the invitation due to the joy of Jesus and the resurrection, or are they merely afraid of dying?

-- Anonymous, May 08, 2003

Revernd Whitehead you are exactly right. Reverend Allen, I believe these persons returned to the service because at the funeral the word went forth. I too have attended several funerals where persons came back on the following Sunday and continued to attend the church. One of these the funeral of my mother six years ago the Saturday before Mother's Day.

I and several persons who attended her funeral returned to church the next day. Many of these persons had not regularly attended church in years but they came back and are still coming because the pastor (now retired) preached the word. It was a fitting eulogy and a comfort to the family as well.

The Episcopal Supervisor was present and she told the Bishop about the sermon she heard. The pastor I had at that time really preached the word. Two funerals which followed my mother's that year got the exact same results.

There is a time and a season for all things and funerals and weddings are not the place. I think persons who do this are more often than not on their own personal ego trip. God is a God of order and He knows the time and place. If the word is being preached God will provide the time and place and often I have seen Him do it days or weeks after the celebration was done.

-- Anonymous, May 08, 2003

The only time I have offered an invitation to discipleship was at the specific request of a member who made this arrangement with me before she died. She wanted that in her service. In my years as a minister I find it important as a pastor to pour forth a powerful sermon that lifts God and his power high. I have always had people come to me at the end of the service who want to talk about God and their relationship with God. I find that is the appropiate place to inquiry about their relationship with God. Funerals are so hard on the family that I believe that we as Pastor's needed to be extremely sensitive to the family. By the way the member I had who wanted an altar call at her funeral service had answered an altar call in our church. When I did so at the service, I explained why I did it and that it was the wish of their loved one. And for brother Ray there were several family members that came forth and they are sttending churches in their town.

-- Anonymous, May 08, 2003

How do we know that a clergyperson who extends an invitation to Christian Discipleship at a funeral is behaving according to a "personal ego trip"? Such criticism runs the risk of being perceived as yet another taboo or "don't do" to the growing list of spiritual regulations. Personally, I'm indifferent towards the invitation. I do not presume to know how the Spirit of God "spoke" to the eulogist. Nor am I (we?) in a position to determine the degree of appropriate evangelism during a funeral. If preserving religious "order" is the rationale for excluding an opportunity to evangelize are we not purporting a position indistinguishable from Pharisaic Philosophy? If preserving "order" is the official creed our church would have never accepted women as preachers or pastors, baptism by immersion or gospel music as part of the liturgy.

Without doubt or debate, funerals can be stressful. Lord knows, I have attended my share of hollering, crying, fainting spells, you name it, at funerals. Thankfully, in recent years, funerals are becoming less emotional events and more celebratory. Preachers now don't seem to be intent on "preaching the deceased into Heaven" even if his/her earthly lifestyle may not merit such an assist. A eulogy is designed to offer comfort for the bereaved, hope for the hopeless and a sensitive editorial about the deceased. One thing is certain, those in attendance at a funeral who are outside of the Ark of Safety would be wise to do as the great hymn suggests, 'Come to Jesus, Come to Jesus, Come to Jesus right NOW'. Given the uncertainy of our existence, any delayed acceptance may prove to be regrettable. QED

-- Anonymous, May 08, 2003


Oftentimes, both the Clergy and the Lay in many of our churches deserve the Grand Thespian Award. We want to make things sound all high, mighty and holy when they are neither. And I don't mind saying - - NOT!

On Sunday, I spoke to the Lay on the topic of Unity based on I. Corinthians 12. The lesson that it teaches extends through chapter 14. The Corinthians were also playing games like we sometime do and saying they were spirit-filled and spirit-led. So Paul, as a Bishop, had to often straighten things out with them. He says in this passage, "So that you will not be IGNORANT, let me tell you who the Spirit is and how He works."

If we are not showing love and compassion for ALL then we are, as Paul has said, just making a lot of NOISE. We may throw the trumpet in the corner and the cymbal out the door. The orchestra simply is NOT together and are not even in tune.

It does not take a scientist or an acoustical expert to know when the orchestra is playing out of tune. Neither I nor God is deceived by the games we sometimes play and neither should anyone else be if we know Jesus, believe in Him and trust His word.

As relates to women preachers and baptism by immersion that too is based on the word. Regardeless to popular belief our chruch is Bible taught and Bible led. My response to these issues is too lengthy to post in this sting. if you so desire I can send you an article on each I presented, as Lay Director, to the Lay. I will refer you also to the current article the "HOLY CLUB" whcih is currently running on AME Hereld.

God has given us the ability to discern good from bad and right from wrong. He is not honored when we fail use what He bestows

Nero fiddled while Rome burned and we do the same when we get too heavenly to be of any earthly good. Thus, we turn our heads to the issues or bury them(our heads) in the sand.

-- Anonymous, May 08, 2003

My great-grandfather departed this life in February. He had been sick for some time and before he passed away, he wanted for more young men to give their lives to the Lord. He had been in the church his entire life, but did not make his public confession until 1991, when he was 63 years old. At his Homegoing Celebration, the invitation was extended to those present because, as the pastor stated, tomorrow is not promised to anyone...

I believe that in extending the invitation, it isn't always about joining the specific church, but rather Christ's church which consists of the body of believers. A young man accepted that invitation during the service and it gave the family hope that granddaddy had NOT lived in vain. As far as I know, this young man didn't join that church, but he gained something from that service that caused him to desire the presence of Christ in his heart and God in his life - if even for that moment.

Whenever Jesus knocks, people should accept and open the door, but when one is restricted and not given the opportunity to do so, there are no guarantees that they will receive another chance. Coming from my cousin's Homegoing in January of 2000, after leaving the chapel and heading to the cemetary, one of the family limousines was in an accident. Proof that the next day is not promised - or the remainder of the existing one.

I believe that as long as it is done with tact and everything is decent and in order, there is more help than harm done - especially when the invitation has been accepted. One may possibly never know when a minister is "ego-tripping" and that is the reason they choose to extend the invitation. People question the funniest things to me, except the things that should be challenged in the, has this minister truly been called? (And that is an entirely different discussion.) Why is it considered an ego-trip at a funeral and not during service on Sunday? A Homegoing is supposed to be a time of celebration, and what better thing to celebrate then an individual accepting Christ into their lives. Nobody but that person and the Lord know if them accepting that call at the Homegoing or in standard Sunday worship is real. So, who are we to question when or how it is long as it is done.

Humbly submitted...

-- Anonymous, May 19, 2003

From the funeral service stand point, there are non traditional funerals. There are two-four genrations that are lost. Preaching within the walls in hopes of getting people into the church building is not the only key.

We can talk and rationalize and give our opinions and contintue to see pews empty. Yet asa resul of preaching the gospel and not dealing with the deceased, the invitaion wsa extended and over 5o people 18 and up joined various chuches.

Being an AME it caugh my attention. GOD works in mysterious ways!

While we attempt to conudct a funerla service within a certain time frame do to time constraints placed on the funerla homes by way of the cemetery owners and the scheduling of the vault companies. Funela are big busines. Even some clergy persons receive tokens of appreciation and someitmes thier palms are crossed with a tip if the service is short.

One service I attended years ago wa 18 minutes in lenght from start to fiinish and the family was happy! Ater the committal the big question s where's the food?

Perhpas we need to review our concreted ways and allow the Holy Spirit to add to the church.

-- Anonymous, January 12, 2004

Moderation questions? read the FAQ