Why You Should Do Funerals For Unbelievers And How (Not) To Do Them

I have done over 200 funerals in my almost-fourteen years of pastoring so I think I know a little about doing them. The majority of these have been for people I did not know and of those, most were people who professed no faith in Jesus Christ. In many of these cases, someone in the church I pastor asked me to do the funeral even though I did not know the deceased person. They usually ask me to do the funeral because they want Christ preached to their friends and family members. This is an excellent opportunity to minister to the people in your congregation while also being able to proclaim Christ.

I can think of three reasons why you should do this.

1. Preaching at the funeral of an unbeliever gives you a chance to preach the Gospel.

This is one of the few times in our culture when people actually stop and consider their death and what happens after death. It is also one of the few times when people will listen to a loving but sober explanation of the coming judgment. Besides, this is what you do: you preach Christ. And yes, I know people who were saved as a direct result of someone preaching Christ at a funeral. If you just read some Scripture and a pretty poem, why did you bother?

2. Christ is exalted.

Like it or not, Christ is exalted in the judgment of the sinner just as much as he is in the deliverance of the believer. This makes it entirely appropriate to speak of Christ even when it seems certain to all that the deceased was apart from Christ. Remember, that this event may very well be in the plan of God to call someone to himself. I have had several people in my congregation over the years who were saved as the direct result of someone preaching Christ at the funeral of a friend or family member. Others, however, will have no excuse on the Day of Judgment because they heard the truth.

3. Doing the funeral of an unbeliever will force you to confront the harsh reality of sin and eternal judgment.

Unless you’re a universalist you believe that those apart from Christ will be separated from God for eternity. It’s one thing to say it while preaching in your church, it’s another thing to be confronted with it standing at the casket of one of those unbelievers. It will also force you to find judicious ways to speak of the hope of Christ without preaching the deceased into heaven or hell.

But the bigger question for most pastors is, “How do I do this? How do I remain faithful to affirm the necessity of believing in Christ when the deceased made clear he or she did not?”

Here are some things to remember.

1. Do not preach the deceased into heaven or hell.

A good rule of thumb for all funeral preaching is not to mention the deceased in the sermon at all. That is what the eulogy is for. Yes, people may draw their own conclusions and that’s okay. Let the Word do its work. You can do that without passing judgment at an inappropriate time.

2. Begin with the deceased and with death, but be sure not to end there.

Place the eulogy at the beginning of the service. Let the emotions run freely, let them talk about how wonderful the deceased was. Then you conclude by talking about how wonderful Christ is. Without being crass, point to the inevitability and certainty of death and then point them to the One who triumphs over death. And be sure to explain who Jesus is that makes him triumphant over death and what he has done to triumph over death. And be sure to end with the final resurrection where our faith and hope is vindicated. Let the Gospel give them hope.

3. Preach Christ.

This is what you’re called to do in any circumstance (1 Cor. 2:2). Don’t let death be the focus, let the life of Christ be the focus. I spend no more than 25% of my sermon deal with death. The other 75% is Christ and the Resurrection.

This is not the time for sappy stories, platitudes, dumb comments like “Death is a part of life,” and, please, give “Footprints in the Sand” a rest. If the people present are largely unbelievers, it doesn’t apply to them anyway, does it? Preach Christ and let them hope in His Resurrection.

4. Be brief.

I realize this is hard for some guys all the time and for all of us sometimes, but be brief. The number one request I hear at funerals is “Please, just keep it short.” So do it: be brief. Remember that your sermon is part of a longer service. By the time it’s your turn to preach, they’re already worn out. My funeral sermon for an unbeliever is no more than 6 or 7 minutes long. Yes, that’s short, but I make sure that they hear every word and that every word is full of truth and worth hearing. I also make sure I finish before they’re expecting me to. I’d rather speak for five minutes and know that they will hear what I have to say than preach 10 and know that they only heard half, because they’ll resent the half they did hear.

5. Make yourself available to those who hear.

What I often do is wait until I have concluded the service and the funeral director is coming to give final instructions to tell those present that I am available to answer any questions they may have. I have business cards on me so that if someone asks I can put them in touch with me later. Then let the Word do its work. I am certain that I will not know what fruit my funeral preaching has borne until I get to heaven, but I can’t wait to see what the Lord has done.

Comment below or email me <pastor (at) ziontaylor (dot) org>  if you want a sample funeral sermon or a sample order of service. I want to help anyone who asks.

(I’d prefer you not send a Facebook message because if we are not friends on Facebook your message will go into the inbox marked “Other” and I might not see it in time.)

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About Michael R. Jones

Pastor and PhD candidate writing on Paul's theology of suffering.
This entry was posted in Church Ministry, Pastoral Ministry, preaching and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

220 Responses to Why You Should Do Funerals For Unbelievers And How (Not) To Do Them

  1. cleo carr says:

    i need some help in preaching a unexpected or untimelyy death of a 55 year old women

    • I’ll be happy to help any way I can. What exactly can I do?

      • Jan Miller says:

        Michael, thanks for the Christ centered post. Ministering to a family and friends at the funeral of one who died a chronic alcoholic at the age of 45. Was not sure whether or not to agree to it til I read your post just now. Thanks for the encouragement! May God get the glory!! I would appreciate any sermon material you could send. May the Lord Jesus Christ bless you richly, Jan Miller

      • Jan:

        Thanks for reading and commenting. I’m glad you found the post helpful. I have sent two sample sermons to the email you used to make this comment. I pray God bless you and make you fruitful as you serve.

        Michael

  2. John Moerman says:

    Hi, Michael…. Thank you for your practical approach to this sensitive subject. I am not a pastor, but I have been asked (today) to do a scripture reading of my choice at the funeral of a friend of mine. Who never professed faith in Christ at all. I sense that the funeral is going to be a lot about Doug’s love of nature… Which is true. Wondering if you cold give some guidance as to relevant scriptures to read… Particularly as I will likely have the opportunity to share why the passage was chosen. It’s an opportunity for the Gospel! With sensitivity obviously. Any suggestions?

    Thank you much!
    John

    • Hey, John, thanks for commenting. I’m sorry to hear about your friend’s passing but glad you have an opportunity to proclaim the gospel through Scripture. I always read John 14:1-6 in funerals such as these because it makes clear the exclusivity of Christ. Rev 21:1-6 is good because they talk about Christ’s redemption of creation. You can finish that reading with Rev. 22:17 where Spirit and the Bride invite those who thirst to freely drink of the water life. I often read these last two with no break in between and it flows nicely. (I sometimes use Rev. 22:20-21 as a benediction. You might not do that since it sounds like you’re only doing Scripture readings and not the whole service.

      I hope these help. I’m on the road today but I will be checking back this evening should you have any more questions. My family and I will be praying for you that the Lord will give you both boldness and compassion as you speak of him.

      Michael

      • John Moerman says:

        Thank you, Michael. I appreciate that very much. Now I’ve hit a snag. His wife found a reading she would like me to do that I’m not so sure I can… In good conscience. Rather flakey, and maybe of new age sentiment. Ugh. I’ll have to put together some kind of response that says a little at a superficial level, but much more if they care to think. Hm.

  3. “Please, give ‘Footprints in the Sand’ a rest.”

    Hear, hear!

    I can imagine it must be difficult to provide a funeral for an unbeliever, but I never thought about your idea of using it to preach Christ before. You’re right, it’s an excellent opportunity. For that reason it shouldn’t be wasted.

  4. Thanks for reading and commenting yankeegospelgirl! It is difficult but also rewarding There are people actively involved in the church where I serve who are growing in the Lord and reaching others and we met when they heard me preach at a funeral. I can’t wait to see in heaven how many people were impacted eternally (that I don’t even know about) because they heard a gospel sermon at a funeral where I preached.

    And what a coincidence you should drop by since I was over at your blog just a few minutes ago. 😉

  5. Hello Michael, my dear friend Susan passed away a week ago at age 46 from breast cancer. We were friends for 18 years I surrendered my life to Christ when I was 26. Her family embraced me in my new found faith and our friendship continued to grow. Here’s the kicker as far as I know she never gave her life to Christ… She wasn’t interested when she was well or sick. Susan was amazing! she loved deeply, gave generously, always optimistic, she was selfless, lived as full as you can when your not a believer. She had it all… But she didn’t have the greatest gift of all :/ So, now there is going to be a memorial at my church… her husband would like me to speak.. as far as I know none of the family and friends are saved. It’s not even there style… So I’m stumped. what do you say??? It’s so different honoring someones life that has been reconciled to God… it’s such a loss.
    I loved her, she was a wonderful friend a better friend to me than I was to her. It was just the way God made her.
    Any suggestions or insight???

    • Rebekah:

      I am sorry for your loss. It sounds like she was a great friend and you had a wonderful friendship.

      As far as the memorial service goes, there is an old saying: “Never preach a person into heaven or hell,” meaning, don’t address those issues once all has been said and done.

      I would recommend simply remembering and your friend’s life at the memorial service. Share some anecdotes that exemplify her character and what made her such a wonderful friend.

      At the end you can say something like, “Sadly, this day will greet all of us sooner or later and the question to be concerned with is, ‘Are you prepared for this day?’” Then you can give a brief (be sure to keep it brief so they don’t tune you out) explanation of the Gospel and remember to point out that the Gospel gives us hope beyond the grave.

      In this portion do not even mention whether or not your friend was a believer. Celebrate her life and then point people to Christ.

      Please let me know if I can give you any further tips or help you in any way. I will pray for you for this.

      Grace and peace to you,
      Michael

  6. Howard says:

    This is helpful – thank you. I have just been asked to lead a funeral for a friend who died two days ago. He was an enthusiastic atheist and we had many discussions on the topic – including one only a month or so ago where we agreed that he would know the answer soon. He knew he was dying (he was an unreformed alcoholic and only in his early thirties).

    I have been asked to officiate partly because his parents are separated and could not agree on who would do what, and partly because I am the only person they know with any potential experience. I am a lay preacher, but have never done a funeral.

    How would you plan – in the UK we only have about 20minutes for the whole service which is at a publicly owned crematorium. My plan is much as you have suggested, while respecting the family’s beliefs. Can you recommend any readings? I am thinking of using ‘I never wanted to be born” by Scottish theologian, John Bell.

    • Howard:

      Glad the post was helpful. My services in such circumstances are rarely over 20 minutes anyway so that should be sufficient time (they are obviously longer when they are church funerals). I cannot think of any readings that would be helpful in such a situation except for Scripture readings. I am familiar with Bell but not with that particular piece. The most important thing is to be careful (as the saying goes) “not to preach the deceased into heaven or hell”. Hope all goes well.

  7. Matt says:

    Hi Michael,

    Thanks for your wisdom on this topic.
    I’m doing a funeral for a non-believing family this Friday and would love to have a look at a sample of one of your 7 minute sermons.
    You stated above, that you’d be willing to send one out. If so, that’d be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you!

    • Thanks for reading, Matt, and I’m glad it was helpful. I will be praying for you for this Friday. Please check your email for the sample sermons. Blessings on you and your ministry.

      • Dustin says:

        Michael,

        I also would love to see a sample of one of your sermons addressed to a largely un-Christian audience. I will be officiating a funeral tomorrow for the grandmother of one of the members of our church, but she is one of the only Christians in the family.

        If you could send something, it would be greatly appreciated.
        Blessings!

      • Dustin:

        Thanks for reading and commenting. I have sent two sample sermons to the email address you used to make this comment. I pray God bless your ministry and make you fruitful in your service for Him.

        Grace and peace,
        Michael

    • dave steenburgh says:

      I have been asked to do a funeral for a young man of 36 who commited suicide. The service is Monday next.
      If you have an outline or any help i would be so grateful.
      a non christian family and just family will be present
      dave

      • Dear Dave:

        Thanks for reading and commenting. I apologize for not getting back to you yesterday. I have sent three sample funeral sermons to the email address you used to make this comment. I pray God bless you and make you fruitful as you serve him. I will pray for you and this upcoming funeral that Christ will be exalted. Please let me know if I may help you further.

        Grace and Peace to you,
        Michael

  8. John Reed says:

    I have been asked to speak at a service for a lady I knew (not well) a long time ago. in another life, as it were. I’ve preached quite a few funerals/memorials, but never for an unbeliever. Many of those attending will be people with whom I went to school and lived my early adulthood. It will be a new experience for me, but a welcome chance to share Christ with those I cared about then. I loved your article and I’m sure I’ll find it helpful as I prepare. I am thankful for your gracious offer to share some examples and would like to ask you for that favor. God bless you and yours!

  9. Adam says:

    Could you email me a copy of a sample sermon. Thanks

  10. john says:

    could you send me a couple of your short non believer sermons? thanks John

    • John:

      Thanks for reading and I hope you are blessed by some of the other posts on here. I sent three sermons to you at the email address you used to make this comment. Please let me know if I may help you further.

      GRace and Peace to you,
      Michael

  11. Joel Cannon says:

    Michael,

    I am also conducting a service for a non-believer that I have never met. To be honest I have never met the mother but it is someone that works for someone in my family. This will also be my first funeral service. I too would love to see some sermon samples.

    Thanks,
    Joel

  12. Rhonda says:

    Michael – Your post have been helpful as I am preparing a sermon for an unbelieving family member. Can you please email me one of your short sermons to consider. Thank you.

    • Rhonda: Thanks for reading! I’m glad the post has been helpful and I hope you’ll find other posts helpful, as well.

      I sent three sermons to the email address you used to make this comment. If you have any problems opening them or have any further questions I would be happy to help. I will pray for the upcoming funeral; please let me know how things go.

      Grace and Peace to you,
      Michael

      • Ruth says:

        Hi Michael, I just came across your website moments ago….and your comments have been very helpful already. My Sister who is an unbeliever 35 year old son (unsaved too) was murdered tragically this week. His lifestyle was described as notorious….my sister has asked me to officiate the memorial service, and bring a message highlighting the positive things about his life. Do you have a sermon or two you can send to me at ryrobinson2@gmail.com. Thank you. Ruth

      • Dear Ruth:

        I have sent two sermons to the address you sued to make this comment.

        I am sorry to hear of this tragedy but pray that Christ will be exalt as you speak and bring the comfort of the Gospel and the hope of the Resurrection to those who need it.

        Grace and peace to you,
        Michael

  13. Linda Haddix says:

    Dear Michael, thanks for this article. It is so practical and needed right now for me. I am a Chaplain at a long-term/short-term health care facility (i.e., nursing home). I am going to be doing a funeral for a beloved resident who I have no assurance that they were a believer. The family focuses on her good works so they are no help. I have only done five funerals to date. I would appreciate any samples that you could send me! Thank you sooooo much!

    • Linda:

      Thanks for reading. I’m glad you found the post helpful. I have sent an email to the address you used to make this comment with some sample sermons for your use. I will pray for you and this upcoming funeral. Please let me know if I can help you further.

  14. Nick says:

    Michael,
    Thank you for posting this as it has been very helpful in my preparations to preach a funeral for my Grandmother. The majority of my family is non-believing and I want to make the most of this time. If you could share the sermons you have used I would greatly appreciate being able to utilize them to finalize my plans.
    Regards,
    Nick

    • Nick:

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I am glad you found the post helpful and I hope you find many more things on here helpful. I have sent some sample sermons to the email address you used to make this comment. I will pray for you as you preach your grandmother’s funeral and pray God make it fruitful both now and in his time. Please let me know if I may help you further and feel free to email me back and let me know how it goes.

      Grace and Peace to you,
      Michael

  15. Vincent says:

    Hi Michael, I have read your posts with interest. I too would appreciate some of your 7 minute sermons for the unsaved.

    • Vincent:

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I have sent two sample sermons to the email you used to make this comment. I;m glad you found the post helpful and pray you’ll be able to use these sermons and bring glory to our Lord. Please let me know if I may help you further.

      Grace and peace to you,
      Michael

  16. Chris says:

    Hi Michael,
    Very helpful post, thank you. Would you mind sending me a sermon or two for unbelievers? Thank you.

  17. John Bootsma says:

    Hi Michael.
    I’ve been asked to take a funeral for someone (that I did not meet) that wants no religious material in the funeral service, but did state the 23rd Psalm to be an acceptable passage. Because I feel I must honor their request, and honor the deceased AND his family, I find myself challenged. To minister at a funeral without being able to preach Christ is a pity & a challenge – any Godly wisdom & counsel?
    God bless you!
    John

    • Hey, John, thanks for reading! I’ve been asked this same thing and what you do depends on the situation. I have said to people that if they don’t want any religious material then I would not do the service because I’m a Christian pastor and this is what I do. In those cases I did offer to help them plan a service that would help them remember the deceased in a meaningful way. Most of the time they back down (since they’re the ones who called a Christian pastor to begin with). It sounds like you’ve already committed and I have done services like this (usually when I know someone in the family is hoping beyond hope that I’ll be albe to preach Christ) and all you can do is simply honor their wishes. Be available before and after the service should someone want to talk about the Lord but that really is all you can do. Be sure to pray that the Lord grants that you the kingdom will ultimately bear fruit because of some seed you’ve planted.

      I’ll pray for this service and for you. Please let me know if I can help you further.

  18. Renaye says:

    Can you send me the sample sermon… I am doing the funeral of a friend of friend this week… An unbeliever …m

    • Sorry for taking so long to respond. I am on vacation and have not had a wifi connection until today. Please check the email you used to make this comment for some sample sermons.

      May God bless you as you minister His Word.

      • Tom D. says:

        Can you send me the sample sermon… I am doing the funeral ( at Sea) of a friend of friend this week… An unbeliever and was asked to speak.

      • Dear Tom:

        Thanks for reading and commenting. I have sent three sample funeral sermons to the email address you used to make this comment. I pray God bless you and make you fruitful as you serve him. I will pray for you and this upcoming funeral that Christ will be exalted. Please let me know if I may help you further.

        Grace and Peace to you,
        Michael

  19. Thanks for some great insight and advice. Could you send me some samples of funeral sermons? I have been asked to do a funeral in the future for a woman who let the struggles of life turn her away from church.

    • Scot:

      Thanks for reading and commenting! I hope you’ll find other posts on here helpful as well. I have sent two sample sermons to the email address you used to make this comment. I pray GOd make you fruitful as you serve him. Please let me know if I can do anything more for you.

  20. Hey thanks this was great. I am about to preach my first funeral on tomorrow and this was some very good information. I really do appreciate your time and hard work
    thank you and God bless you continue to be strong in the Lord.

    • Mike:

      Thanks for reading and commenting! I will pray for your funeral service tomorrow that you be strengthened to lift up Christ. I hope you find many helpful articles here. Let me know if I can help you in the future.

      Grace and Peace,
      Michael

      • Thank you Michael. This gentleman is not a believer and on top of that I have never met him. However, I believe that this is a chance for the Lord Jesus to get the glory.

  21. Gordon Neal says:

    Really enjoyed your post – Reading all the requests for help makes one realise how many people face this issue – thanks for your very pragmatic but Spirit-filled approach ! In two days time, I also will be conducting a service for a non-believer for the first time and would appreciate your sharing some sermon material with me for inspiration – thanks in advance.

    • Gordon:

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I have sent two sermons to the email address you used to make this comment. I will pray for you for this upcoming funeral. Please feel free to let me know how it goes.

      Grace and peace to you.

      Michael

  22. Peter says:

    Hello John, could you send me a couple of your short non believer sermons? thanks Peter

  23. Peter says:

    Hello Michael,
    Thank you for very helpful post. Could you send me a couple of your unbelievers sermons? Thank you. Peter

    • Dear Peter:

      Thank you for reading and commenting. I have sent two sample sermons to the email you used to make this comment. Please let me know if I may help you further and I pray God make you fruitful as you serve him.

  24. Kevin says:

    Thank you for the insight of your post. My uncle just passed and I have been asked to preach at the Memorial Service this Sunday. Most of my family is unsaved. Even though I am not a pastor I was asked because they know I am a follower of Christ and my uncle didn’t belong to a church. I want to keep it short while proclaiming the gospel boldly and clearly. Would you please send me a few of your sample sermons. Thank you brother!

    • Dear Kevin:

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I’m glad you found this post helpful and I pray you find other informative and helpful posts here.

      I have sent two sample sermons to the email address you used to make this comment.

      Please know I will be praying for the service Sunday and for you. Please let me know if I can help you further or in the future.

      Grace and peace to you,
      Michael

  25. Steve says:

    Thank you for the advice. Can I get a copy of the funeral service and sermon. I have not conducted a funeral yet but know that day is coming and would like to have something to draw on. Any advice or words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated.

    • Dear Steve:

      Thanks for reading and commenting! I have sent two files to the email address you used to make this comment. Please let me know if I can help you further. May God bless you as you serve him.

      Grace and Peace,
      Michael

  26. Jessica says:

    Michael, I need help. I am 22, and I am an assistant children’s minister. I got saved when I was 19, and God has changed my life continually since then. As a result of moving from PA to TX and following God’s call to my current community, I am constantly praying about how to effectively minister to my hometown full of friends who are nonbelievers. People who believe the world is just a place to do nice things for people, and be a good person, but that after death there is absolutely nothing. I have lost touch with my BEST friend from high school, as well as most unbelievers from my past, however, my best friend in particular, we spoke on the phone for an hour this past week because it was my birthday. We didn’t talk about anything heavy, and things seemed great. He was going to graduate from art school next month. That friend just committed suicide on the 27th, he hung himself. He was manic depressive and struggled with suicidal thoughts for years, was medicated, etc. most people didn’t know, so they are all surprised that he took his own life in such a traumatic way. His mother has asked me to speak at his funeral, and I want to be the light I have prayed God would give me an opportunity to be. However, I have NO idea what to do. The funeral is tuesday morning at 10 am, and I am so worried about what to say. I will be ministering to an entire room full of unbelievers, at their most vulnerable state. Could you PLEASE help me with a sermon?

    • Dear Jessica:

      I have sent an email with three funeral sermons to the email address you used to make this comment. I am very sorry for your loss and will be praying for strength for you as you minister in this difficult situation. I pray God uses you to bring the comfort of Christ to people.

      Please let me know if I can do anything for you in the future. Feel free to email me back and let me know how things go.

      Grace and peace to you,
      Michael

  27. scot porter says:

    Hello. A friend of mine has had both parents pass on within 9 months. She asked me to give a message at a memorial service. When I asked her why me and what her intentions are she replied that she doesn’t know anyone else who knows the Bible.
    I see it quite possible that there will be no other Christian in attendance (apart from my wife). The deceased were not Christians either.
    I appreciated your suggestions on the website and was wondering if you wouldn’t mind passing on some sermon notes to me to help me assemble a message. I have some ideas but I am feeling the weight of task before me and want to get much counsel.
    I am not a pastor. My wife and I have been teaching Sunday School and junior high students for 5 years or so and enjoy teaching His Word in whatever circumstance He commands.
    My nervous feelings are not about being in front of people talking about God. It is more of a desire to not compromise His Word while still being comforting to the family and friends of the deceased.

    • Dear Scot:

      I have sent three sermons to the email address you used to make this comment. I am available to help you further should you need or want it so please feel free to contact me back via email.

      I will pray for the upcoming service that Christ will be exalted by you for God’s glory.

      Grace and peace to you,
      Michael

  28. Jason says:

    Dear Michael –

    I worked as a pastor at a church for a couple years, and because of that was recently asked to officiate the funeral for my wife’s grandfather. He was a really great man who grew up knowing God but didn’t practice his faith, lived 92 years, and in the end talked about “The Good Lord”. I’ve been struggling with the age-old question of “once saved / always saved?”, and really appreciated you bringing up the “old saying” of never preaching someone into heaven or hell. It allowed me to shift my focus and I needed that. All your other words of encouragement, advice, and experience were appreciated as well. My wife’s family is largely made up of unbeliever’s, so this really is a great opportunity to speak lovingly into their lives.

    I’ve been scouring the web looking for inspiration, verses, thoughts and ideas, and wanted to let you know that I really appreciated what you said in your original post, and have been even MORE impressed with your continued faith following up on every comment that gets left. Responding to so many people takes time – I know that firsthand. So thank you for your work and for letting God speak through you into so many lives – mine as well.

    In Him,
    Jason…

    • Jason:

      Thank you so much for reading, for the comment, and for the encouraging words! Rarely does a week go by where I don’t get an email or comment (I get many more emails than comments; sometimes several in a week). It gives me great joy to be able to serve others in this way and to know that Christ is exalted in such trying circumstances. I am encouraged to know that others are making their best effort to lift up Christ.

      I pray God bless your continued ministry in whatever capacity you may serve. Please believe me when I say I am available to help you if I am able.

      Grace and peace to you,
      Michael

  29. Ben says:

    Michael, I greatly appreciate this article; it is well-written and I couldn’t agree more with what you have said. I have been called upon to preach several funerals of unbelievers and it is always a difficult task. Would you please send me some examples of your messages? I’m hoping that by reading them, I will have some fresh insight on how to use God’s word in these times.

  30. Rev. V. Jackson says:

    Could u please send me a sample sermon with scripture for a middle aged woman who passed away from drug use and was living in the streets for most of her life? The family had very little infomation on her. Thank you.

  31. Matt says:

    Micheal, thank you fornthis post. This weekend we are having a ‘family gathering’ at my home to remember my dad who just passed. He did not want a funeral. There will be an oportunity to speak and I am stuggling with what to say. Clearly ‘dad likely is suffering eternal seperation from God’ is not the right thing. How can I offer comfort to my family and share the gospel. Im having a difficult time transitioning from Dad to the gospel. Any wisdom you could offer would be a great help.

    • Dear Matt:

      I have sent two sample funeral sermons to the address you used to make this comment along with some thoughts on how you can bring up the Gospel.

      I am sorry for your loss and will pray for your gathering an your opportunity. I pray that Christ be exalted.

      Grace and peace to you,
      Michael

  32. Rev. Cory Germain says:

    Michael, I am so glad to have found your post on this delicate subject. I’ve been asked to preach a funeral for a 26-year-old woman who died in a car accident this week. Neither she nor her immediate family have a church home (or much resembling Christian belief beyond faith in “a higher power”). I am an ordained pastor and chaplain, but all my funeral experience has been for church members and/or believers from a reformed protestant background. I’d love to see a sample of a couple of your sermons. I had already selected John 14:1-6 and the ubiquitous Psalm 23 when meeting with the family, but plan now to include Revelation 21:1-6 as you suggested in an earlier response. Thanks for your willingness to help!

    • Thanks for reading and commenting! I have sent two sample sermons to the email address you used to make this comment. I will pray for the coming service that Christ will be exalted. Please feel free to let me know if I can help you further.

  33. Hey Michael –

    A Google search sent me to your post here, and it was informative. I’m preaching the funeral service for my father-in-law on Tuesday. My wife is the only believer in the whole bunch. All the sisters and their families as well as the widow will be present, all unbelievers. Not sure how to go, but I know that the resources I saw in the bookstore this morning won’t get it done. I don’t want a long, and drawn-out sermon with alot of KJV… but something that will speak comfort and peace to their hearts, while proclaiming Christ and His Kingship. Any ideas other than what you’ve posted above?

    My first thought was Psalm 23 and Ecclesiastes 3. But Psalm 23 is more applicable to Christians I think. And Ecclesiastes is a little dry to an unbeliever. Any thoughts? Maybe a short discussion on what Larry would tell them if he knew before what he knows now?

    Thanks for your insight. In His Grip, josh

    • Joshua:

      I sent three sample funeral sermons to the email address you used to make this comment. As I noted in the post above, I am reluctant to mention the deceased in the funeral sermon, especially if they were known not to be a believer. That sort of thing can go sideways very quickly. Best simply to focus on Christ and let Word and Spirit do their work.

      Please let me know if I may help you further.

      Grace and peace to you,
      Michael

  34. Jay says:

    Hi Michael,

    Speaking at a nonbeliever’s funeral service is a scenario that I didn’t expect to find myself in… This blog really puts things in perspective. I would really appreciate it if you could send me some sample sermons.

    Thank you for this blog and your insight.

    Jay

    • Jay:

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I hope you find other helpful posts here on my blog.

      I have sent three sample funeral sermons to the email address you used to make this comment.

      I pray God bless you and make you fruitful and you minister in this difficult situation.

      Grace and peace to you,
      Michael

  35. Minister Patricia A Davis says:

    Hi!, Pastor Jones, I pray that you are having a Bless Day in The Lord. Thank you for your article. God always give a person exactly what they need at the right time. Pastor Jones, I am a licensed ordained minister. My brother is not expected to live. I believe in sign, wonder and miracles. I have seen them. My question is how do you conduct a funeral service for your family members? My brother became a Catholic at an early age. He is now in his seventies. He has lived a Godly Life. The Holy Spirit told me to go to the hospital last night and pray for him and lead him to Christ which I did. He is not conscious but the nurse told me that he could hear me. After I did what The Holy Spirit said my brother open his eyes. That was a sign by me. For his said the words in his heart. Is it advisable to speak at a love ones funeral? If so please send me some sermons.
    May God bless you and your ministry

    Minister Patricia

    • Dear Minister Patricia:

      I have sent two sample sermons and some suggestions for this funeral to the email you used to make this comment. I pray God make your ministry fruitful and use you to exalt Christ among your family during this difficult time.

      Grace and Peace to you,
      Michael

  36. joelhasz says:

    Please do send me a sample order of service and a sample sermon – I’m alsway open to learn something new… Thanks for your comments they were helpful to me. The “Aha” moments were – keep it short, don’t mention the deceased, and carry business cards incase someone wants to talk further later.

  37. Stephen says:

    Dear Michael,
    It’s a blessing to read your sharing, may I have sample or samples of this kind of sermons please. Opportunity comes this weekend. The deceased is non believer, neither the majority attending the funeral.

    Thank your very much.

    • Dear Stephen:

      I have sent two sample funeral sermons to the email address you used to make this comment. I pray God make your ministry fruitful as you serve him. Please let me know if I may help you in any other way.

      Grace and peace to you,
      Michael

  38. Charles evans says:

    Please email me a couple of sermons for a young 50 y o mom of a 12 y o. True status is unknown, but she was not a proclaimed b a c.

    • Dear Charles:

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I have sent two sample sermons to the email address you used to make this comment.

      I pray God bless you and make you fruitful as you minister his grace in this situation.

      Grace and peace,
      Michael

  39. Brian says:

    Thank you for your post. I also do funerals for non-believers and would like to see some of ur sermons. Thanks

  40. James Sciandra says:

    Hello to you Michael. I am grateful to have found your post here as it is helping me to prepare. The mother of a very close friend unexpectedly passed last Saturday evening. She was in her later 50’s. Very young indeed….. By Faith through Grace I have been saved and through this faith I was able to share Gods word and comfort on that painful Saturday night with my friend and his family…… Most of this family has not been exactly living for the Lord and has seemingly embraced many worldly views and habits….The family has called yesterday and asked if I would serve to honor their loved one by performing the funeral service. Let me please make it clear that I am NOT a pastor. The family knows this is the case but has responded to this truth by letting me know that they do not have a relationship with any Pastor or church and as this is the case they would prefer it to be that it is me who takes on this privilege……After seeking out guidance from the Lord, I accepted this request. Needles to say I have been in study and prayer since…..All that being said, can you perhaps provide some guidance on how to best serve this family and most importantly, honor our Father in Heaven?

  41. James says:

    Hi Michael,

    I enjoyed reading your post! I’ve just been asked to officiate a Memorial Service for an unbeliever tomorrow who had strong ties with Jehovah’s Witness but wasn’t true to it from what I hear. Additionally, I’ve never met this gentleman. I’d love to review a sermon you have that would assist me in fulfilling this request.

    Thanks in advance

    James

    • James:

      I have sent two sample funeral sermons to the website you used to make this comment. I will pray for you in preparation for your officiating the service tomorrow. I pray God make your ministry fruitful. Please let me know if I can help you any further.

  42. Brien Walters says:

    Hey Micheal,

    I have to perform a funeral for a group of mainly unsaved family and members. You have any outlines that you could show me to direct the services. Any thing would help.
    Brien

    • Dear Brien:

      I have sent two sample funeral sermons and a sample order of service to the email address you used to make this comment. May God bless you and make you fruitful as you serve him

      Grace and Peace,
      Michael

  43. James says:

    I would love to see your funeral sermons, especially the ones to the unbelievers. This was a very helpful article. Thanks you.

  44. Matt Harris says:

    I would love a copy of your funeral sermon to unbelievers. I was just asked to do the funeral of a guy who lives in my neighborhood who I hardly know. Thanks for your help.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Matt! I have sent two sample funeral sermons to the email address you used to make this comment. I will pray for you and this upcoming funeral that you will exalt Christ in the midst of this sorrow.

      Grace and Peace to you,
      Michael

  45. Ross Martin says:

    Thanks so much for this post. I was asked to “say a few things” at the Celebration of Life of an unbelieving mother of a friend of the family. I am not a pastor, but have been the Director of Worship Ministries for our church for the past 8 years. I was very hesitant, but thankful for the opportunity to share the gospel. I am assuming here, but I am thinking the majority of people attending will be unbelievers. They have told me it is very informal so something short sounds like a great idea. I see that you have shared your funeral sermons with others here. Would you be able to send me your sermons as well? I would really appreciate the help. Thank you so much!

    • Ross:

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I have sent three sample sermons to the email address you used to make this comment. I pray God use you to bring him glory as you speak the Gospel into this situation.

      Grace and peace to you.
      Michael

  46. David Moss says:

    Hi Michael – I really appreciate the pastoral advice in your original post. I am a seminary student pursuing chaplaincy. Since I am seen now as “the pastor” in our family, I have been asked to lead a funeral for my step-mother (whom I dearly loved!). She was not a Christ follower – and many of my family are not either. I would greatly appreciate any sample sermons that you may be able to provide. Again, thank you so much for your pastoral heart and proclamation of Christ.

    Humbly,
    David

    • David:

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I have sent a few sample sermon to the email address you used to make this comment. I pray God strengthen you as you serve him. Please let me know if you need any further help.

      Grace and peace to you,
      Michael

  47. Mike says:

    Hello Michael! My wife’s grandmother recently passed away. There will be a private family memorial, and her non-believing family has asked me to facilitate a memorial. Would you mind sending me a couple of sample sermons? I would really appreciate it. In Christ, Mike

    • Mike:

      I am sorry for the loss of your grandmother but am glad you will be able to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ and the hope of Resurrection. I have sent some sample sermons to the email address you used to make this comment.

      Please let me know if I may help you further.

      Grace and peace to you,
      Michael

  48. Shearn Sya says:

    Dear Michael, thank you for blessing the rest of us. I’ll be conducting a wake service for one of my church member’s father, who did not profess faith in Christ. The audience would largely not know Christ as well. Would you be keen to share one of your sermons for such a situation? It’s my first time conducting a service where the deceased is not a believer and I would appreciate any help I could get. Thanks.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting! I have sent some sample sermons to the email address you used to make this comment. I pray God use you for his glory as you minister on his behalf.

      Grace and peace to you,
      Michael

  49. Marianne says:

    Dear Michael….We are having a small only family Memorial here on our farm and our new young Pastor is helping us with it. He asked me for a couple scriptures to read. We are a family of strong Faith but my Father was an unbeliever. In his last days I tried and sent ministry to him (great miles distance between us) but he became comatose soon after. When i was talking to him on the phone during that time about salvation his caregiver said his eyes were moving around rapidly. Many, many prayer warriors had been praying for him for months and one of them felt in his heart that he had been saved. I keep hearing Ecc 3 in my head and the 23rd Psalm but I wondered if you have any suggestions?? I also would be interested in your 7 minute sermon for the unbeliever. My family knows Dad was an unbeliever but they all hope he gave his heart in the end. I do too. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

    • Dear Marianne:

      I have sent a few sample funeral sermons and some suggested scripture readings to the email address you used to make this comment. I pray God strengthen you to exalt our Savior during this time.

      Grace and peace to you,
      Michael

  50. Geof says:

    Great advice, was asked with very short notice to do a service for a friends dad, he was an unbeliever. Would appreciate any help via email. His dad was alsoa Korean war vet. God bless!

  51. Mark says:

    Dear Michael
    Thank you for your post.
    I’ve been asked to conduct a funeral service in a crematorium for a lady who occasionally attended our church – she heard the gospel but more than that I can’t say.
    Please would you forward some sermon outlines and especially suitable scriptures to build on that might help,
    With grateful thanks for your help.
    Every Blessing
    Mark

    • Dear Mark:

      I apologize for taking so long to respond to you. I am on vacation and have not had much of a cell signal much less wifi or internet. I have sent a couple of sample sermons and some Scripture references to the email address you used to make this comment. I hope they find you in time.

      Grace and peace to you,
      Michael

  52. John says:

    Michael –
    Thank you for your post. Your comments are right on target. Thank you for your ministry! I have a funeral coming up for a guy who was baptized as an adult a number of years ago and who has since become a delinquent member. He died yesterday of a massive heart attack. The wife is a nominal believer. Their two boys – and many of the friends attending the funeral – will likely be unbelievers, as well. Right now I feel kind of stuck and am looking for some fresh perspective/ideas. If you have any sample funeral sermons that might help, I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you so much!
    God’s blessing!
    John

    • Dear John:

      I apologize for taking so long to respond. I’m just getting back in from vacation and your comment got lost in the shuffle. I pray this finds you in time. I have sent three sample funeral sermons to the email address you used to make this comment. Please let me know if I can help you further (I’m finally caught up on my correspondence) and I pray God make you fruitful as you serve him.

      Grace and Peace,
      Michael

  53. Ron Metts says:

    I read through the comments (some of them). I am doing a funeral/memorial service (I don’t think the body will be there) tomorrow for someone whose salvation is at best questionable. I am SURE that there will be a number of unchurched there. I would love a couple of your sample sermons to give me some pointers. Not only do I face non-believers and a “guest of honor” who I’m not sure I’ve ever met, but the only other funeral I have ever preached was my mother’s. I’m just getting into a bit of unofficial public ministry. Any help would be appreciated.

    • Dear Ron:

      I have sent three sample funeral sermons to the email address you used to make this comment. I will pray for you for tomorrow’s funeral. Please let me know if I can help you in the future.

      Grace and peace to you,
      Michael

  54. Brian says:

    I have been asked to conduct a grave side memorial service for non-beliver, his daughter (who is a believer) is only next of kin and wishes to have the gospel message, There will be mostly non believers. Help in anyway would be great,
    Thanks

    • Dear Brian:
      I apologize for taking so long to respond to you. I pray this finds you in time. I have sent three sample funeral sermons to the email address you used to make this comment. I pray you find them useful and that Chrsit is exalted as you serve him. Please let me know if I may do anything more to help you.

      Grace and peace,
      Michael

  55. Hello Michael thank you for the great advice I was actually just going to ‘read a poem and a bit of scripture’ . I have to give a sermon at a friends funeral who is a non believer …I have done some in the past but am a bit rusty …anything you can help me with would be appreciated . Y I H N Alf

    • Dear Alf:

      I sent three sample sermons to the email address you used to make this comment. I pray God make your ministry fruitful. Please let me know if I may help you further.

      Grace and Peace to you,
      Michael

  56. Robert Nycek says:

    I have been asked to do a funeral and the family has asked that I not mention Jesus. I still want them to know the truth. Any help would be appreciated.

    • Robert:

      Since Jesus is the truth and the only truth of God that can lead to salvation it is impossible to give someone the truth and not mention Jesus. When I am asked to do a funeral but not mention Jesus I politely decline. I usually offer to give them some guidance so they put together a service on their own but politely point out that I am a minister of the Gospel and that necessarily involves talking about Jesus. Otherwise, you might as well just read a poem.

      • Robert Nycek says:

        Thank you so much for your honesty. I agree 100%. In fact after I sent you the first e-mail I called the family and said pretty much the same thing. They had a change of heart and said I could preach the truth.
        God is so good.

  57. Robert Nycek says:

    Michael,
    One last thing. I’ve noticed on some of your postings you have offered to send three sample sermons. I would greatly appreciate it if I could get those too.

    • Robert:

      I have sent three sample funeral sermons to the email address you used to make this comment. Please let me know if I may help you in any way in the future.

      Grace and Peace to you,
      Michael

  58. Max Randall says:

    Wow. Excellent stuff, Michael. Thanks. I loved the advice to focus on Christ. That’s where the hope is found. The only hope. Could I request an example or two of your short messages that you would use, especially for an unbeliever? Thanks. God bless.

    • Max:

      Thanks for reading and commenting and for the kind words. I have sent three sample funeral sermons to the email address you used to make this comment. I pray God bless you and make you fruitful as you serve him. Please let me know if I may help you further.

      Grace and Peace,
      Michael

  59. ed defreitas says:

    I’d love a sample copy of one of your funeral services and order of service. Thanks for the article.

    • Ed:

      Thanks for reading and commenting and for the kind words. I have sent three sample funeral sermons and an order of service to the email address you used to make this comment. I pray God bless you and make you fruitful as you serve him. Please let me know if I may help you further.

      Grace and Peace,
      Michael

  60. Nathan Weaver says:

    I would like a sample of a sermon if possible. I’m a new pastor and I was impressed with your comments. I am doing a funeral for an unbeliever and would appreciate any help you can give.Thank you!

    • Dear Nathan:

      Thanks for reading and commenting and for the kind words. I have sent three sample funeral sermons and an order of service to the email address you used to make this comment. I pray God bless you and make you fruitful as you serve him. Please do let me know if I may help you further.

      Grace and Peace,
      Michael

  61. Bob McCurley says:

    What an awesome ministry you are providing! I would greatly appreciate sample funeral sermons for unbelievers. I am about to conduct a service for a family unknown to me. I’ve only contributed to one prior to this one for an unbeliever. Thank you for your help!

    • Dear Pastor Bob:

      Thanks for reading and commenting and for the kind words. I have sent three sample funeral sermons to the email address you used to make this comment. I pray God bless you and make you fruitful as you serve him. Please do let me know if I may help you further.

      Grace and Peace,
      Michael

  62. Colin says:

    Thank you so much for the advice given here, I’d really appreciate a sample sermon. I have been asked to lead the funeral of a good man who has never confessed Christ. I have never led a funeral before, and while I often preach in my home fellowship, I normally have the priviledge of speaking for some 45-50 minutes. Brevity is going to be a big issue!

    • Dear Colin:

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I have sent three sample funeral sermons to the email address you used to make this comment. I pray God bless you and make you fruitful as you serve him. I will also pray for you as you prepare for this funeral. Please let me know if I may help you further.

      Grace and Peace,
      Michael

  63. Charles Johnson says:

    Michael,
    I enjoyed reading your article and I look forward to learning different approaches in presenting the Gospel message, especially funeral sermons. I was wondering if you might also send along some sample funeral sermons . Thank you.
    Charles

    • Dear Charles:

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I have sent three sample funeral sermons to the email address you used to make this comment. I pray God bless you and make you fruitful as you serve him. Please let me know if I may help you further.

      Grace and Peace,
      Michael

  64. Johnny Watkins says:

    Good Job Brother,
    I have a good brother in Christ who has been God’s faithful, for years, to his family who have been hard and “please don’t preach to me”.
    I had the privilege of leading his older brother to Jesus, Sunday morning, in the ICU. His brother, the new believer did go to be with Jesus last night and the family has ask me to speak at the funeral.
    This is my first funeral, have only preached a handful of times, more of a talker than a speaker. I truly want them to hear that Christ is the answer and He can save them.
    So as I have read a good bit of the blog and hearing your answers, I invite you to respond or email me what seems to fit.
    I must mention, how amazing our God is, who will Completely Save a man at the very last step of his life and then call him son, saved, redeemed. WOW

    All About HIM
    Johnny

    • Dear Johnny:

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I rejoice with you at the good news of this man’s salvation. I have sent three sample funeral sermons to the email address you used to make this comment. I pray God bless you and make you fruitful as you serve him. I will pray for you and this upcoming funeral that Christ will be exalted. Please let me know if I may help you further.

      Grace and Peace to you,
      Michael

  65. Chris says:

    Thank you for your insight. I am officiating a funeral in two days and this article is encouraging. Be blessed brother… continue to be a blessing!

    Chris

  66. Ann Marie says:

    Michael,
    I find it sad that we are all here to seek assistance for so many unbelievers. I too was asked to speak at a cousins funeral as there will be no pastor there. My cousin was only 29 and died of an overdose. I like your advise on how to “not preach the deceased into heaven or hell” but am having trouble writing something. Would you be so kind to email me some sample sermons too?

    • Ann Marie:

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I am sorry for the loss of your cousin but rejoice that you have a chance to speak Christ’s word into this situation. I have sent three sample sermons to the email address you used to make this comment. I have preached each of them before (many times). I pray you find them useful.

      Grace and peace,
      Michael

  67. John McMenemy says:

    Hello. Thanks for you work here. I have a question. I have been asked to speak at my uncle’s funeral. I am not a Pastor but am a follower of Jesus Christ. My mother requested this of me. My uncle had a belief in God, and stated on occasion that God speaks to him and that God has guided him but no real profession of faith in Jesus as his savior. He was not really a church attender and so I don’t know really know where he stands. A good bit of my family are not Christians (some are). Some of my family are universalists. So, I have 2 questions. 1) Any advice on what to say about God in his life?? I feel like there was something going on there, searching… etc.. 2) Any short story you use to end these types of things that points to God’s saving grace without like whacking them upside the head with a sermon??

    Blessings
    John

    • Dear John:

      Thanks for reading and commenting. As I note in the article, I would recommend against commenting on your uncle’s relationship with God. Others in your family might not share your interpretation and you run the risk of hindering further opportunities for witness when you embrace an interpretation of your uncle’s faith journey that might seem the opposite of what others might interpret.

      As far as “whacking them upside the head” with a sermon (I’m not crazy about the choice of words in light of what the Scriptures say about the importance of the proclamation of the Word, e.g., Romans 10:7, 14, 16-17). If you have been asked to officiate this funeral then it is not inappropriate to lift up Christ (since you are a Christian) and point to hope in Christ and the hope of the Resurrection. If you have not been asked to officiate but simply to eulogize him then I would recommend doing just that: share some good memories about your uncle and, if possible, talk about a time that you shared the Gospel with him (explaining briefly, of course, what the Gospel is and what that means) and then saying something like that you hope he took those words to heart and trusted in Christ and you hope the same for all of them.

      As far as stories, I don’t use stories such as you suggest. I do sometimes share the story of Jesus at Lazarus’ tomb and use that to point to Jesus as “the Resurrection and the Life” and how he affirmed Martha’s faith and directed it to himself using those words.

      Any story outside the Scriptures that does not involve your uncle will seem to unbelievers like you are hijacking the eulogy for your own self-serving ends and would not only be inappropriate (for example, “Why is he telling this story now at this funeral? Isn’t he supposed to be talking about his uncle?”) but would most likely hinder further attempts to minister and witness.

      Take full advantage of the opportunities God gives you, but allow God to make the opportunities so that they bring glory to him.

      I hope this helps.

      Grace and space to you,
      Michael

  68. John H says:

    Michael,
    I found your post very helpful. Could you email me a couple of services that you have performed for unbelievers? Thank you.

    • Dear John:

      Thank you for the kind words. I’m glad the post was helpful to you. I have sent an email with three sample funerals to the email address you used to make this comment. I pray you find them useful in your service for the Lord.

      Grace and peace to you,
      Michael

  69. jbkurtz says:

    Michael,
    Thank you for this great post! Would you please email me some sample funeral messages that I could use at a friend’s memorial service. He was not a believer and many who will be there are not yet believers. Thanks!

    • I’m glad you found the post helpful. I have sent an email with three sample funerals to the email address you used to make this comment. I pray you find them useful as you prepare for this service.

      Grace and peace to you,
      Michael

  70. ScottB says:

    Michael,
    I join the many who have benefited from your posting. I, too, would be most grateful to view a few samples of your brief sermons preached at the funeral of a non-Christian. Thank you very much.

    • Dear Scott:

      I’m glad this post was helpful to you and I’m happy to be of help to you in any ay I can. I have sent an email with three sample funerals to the email address you used to make this comment. I pray you find them useful in your service for the Lord. Please let me know if I may help you further.

      Grace and peace to you,
      Michael

      • Troy Jackson says:

        I have a funeral for a non-believer on Saturday, can you help with a short 7-10 minute outline. Thank you.

      • Dear Troy:

        I have sent three sample funeral sermons to the email address you sued to make this comment. Please let me know if I may help you in any other way and I pray God make your ministry fruitful.

  71. richard says:

    hie can i have funeral sermons sent to me

    • Dear Richard:

      I have sent three sample funeral sermons to the email address you used to make this comment. Please let me know if I may help you in any other way and I pray God make your ministry fruitful.

  72. Jeff Ross says:

    Michael , I am preaching a funeral this Saturday 1-31-15 for my nephew who die in a accident at work .He was a unbeliever as far as I know and 21 years old . I have been ask to preach his funeral but not talk to much about God . I would like to see one of your 5 to 7 minute sermons.I was thinking about using Luke 16:19-31 and saying something like this as i end it .If Geoffrey could come back here right now He like the rich man would warn you .I believe he would say there is a God and his name is Christ Jesus . Just not sure I can keep it that short .I really want to see lost family come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior .But I want to do it in love .Can you help ?

    • Dear Jeff:

      I have sent three sample funeral sermons to the email address you used to make this comment. Please let me know if I may help you in any other way and I pray God make your ministry fruitful.

      It is good that you desire to see people come to faith but remember that only the Lord can change someone’s heart and that it doesn’t always happen immediately while people are struggling with events such as these. Your goal should be simply to exalt Jesus Christ and point people to Him and then patiently allow the Spirit and the Word to work. I would caution against mentioning the deceased in the way you described since there is too much potential for them to accuse you of hijacking the deceased for your own ends. If that happens, you have thrown up further, needless, barriers to faith.

  73. lee says:

    hi, thanks so much for the insight…

  74. Diana says:

    Hello Pastor Michael,
    This is timely site as I am preparing to do a scripture reading at my dad’s funeral. He did not serve the Lord during his life but I believe God did something within his heart as his health declined by using certain circumstances and sending believers in his path. My husband and I prayed for him numerous times and also before leaving this earth which he always responded with tears and emotions. This has reassured me that God did indeed touch his heart. My family do not know the Lord and will most likely be amongst others non believers. Can you please send me samples of your brief funeral sermons to help me be prepared. Thank you sir.

  75. Barry says:

    I have been asked to do a funeral for a 74 year old unbelieving man who commited suicide. I’d love to get any sample funeral sermons that would help me prepare.

    • Dear Barry:

      I have sent three sample funeral sermons to the email address you used to make this comment. Please let me know if I may help you in any other way and I pray God make your ministry fruitful.

      Grace and peace to you,
      Michael

  76. Elaine says:

    Hi Pastor Michael,
    Thank you for the content on your site, I have been asked to officiate at a funeral next week for an unbeliever. This I have never done before. Please could you send me some of your sample sermons that I may use to assist in delivering the short gospel message, which exalts Jesus and places hope in him. This will greatly help in my preparation.

    Many thanks

    • Dear Elaine:

      I have sent three sample funeral sermons to the email address you used to make this comment. Please let me know if I may help you in any other way and I pray God make your ministry fruitful. I will pray for you as your prepare this funeral. Please feel free to contact me should you have any other questions.

      Grace and peace to you,
      Michael

  77. Jess says:

    Hello Pastor,

    On last week i lost my neighbor of 25 years who was like a second father to me, however, truth is truth and i do not believed he was saved and made it to heaven. speaking with his children i offered to do a reading as a way to present Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior as I have given my life to him and would love to share the Gospel to have them give their life to Christ as well. He believed in God however his life did not show it.

    If you could pleas provide me a sample sermon on how to present Christ without sounding too religious and wanting the people to repent would be greatly appreciated.

    • Dear Jess:

      I have sent three sample funeral sermons to the email address you used to make this comment. Please let me know if I may help you in any other way. I will pray for you as you speak in this upcoming service. Please feel free to contact me should you have any other questions.

      Grace and peace to you,
      Michael

      • Jeff says:

        Hello pastor, this was a very helpful read. Your God honouring approach to sharing gospel truths is an answer to prayer. May I also have those sample funeral sermons sent to my email? Thanks and God bless you…Jeff

      • I have sent an email to the email address you used to make this comment. Thank you for reading and for your kind comments.

  78. Claudette Whyte says:

    Thanks for the word.

  79. Matthew James says:

    Hey there Michael,
    Just a bi-vocational pastor here who’s working on another funeral sermon. I appreciate what you had to say and would be very interested to see any sample sermons or service programs you might be willing to share with me. Always appreciate being able to learn from others with more experience than myself. Thanks a ton.

    Matt

    • Dear Matthew:

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I have sent three sample funeral sermons to the email address you used to make this comment along with a sample order of service. Please let me know if I may help you in any other way. I will pray for you as you prepare for this upcoming service. Please feel free to contact me should you have any other questions. I pray God make your ministry fruitful as you serve him.

      Grace and peace to you,
      Michael

  80. Patrick kirsch says:

    I have to preach a funeral where the father was very mean to his children and thus the children have issues with the Father. Any suggestions? Thanks

  81. Rebecca Tarasenko says:

    Hi Michael
    Could I please have a copy of those sermons? My dad died on Saturday and his funeral is Thursday. His family are all no believers and I have no idea if dad repepnted before he died or not … I would like to maybe say a little something about God that doesnt sound awfully preachy. Can you help? Thanks

    • Dear Rebecca:

      I’m sorry about the loss of your father. I’ll pray for you as you think about how best to point people to Christ during this time. I have sent the sermons yo requested to the email address you used to make this comment. Please let me know how I may help you further.

      Grace and peace to you,
      Michael

  82. Dawn says:

    i hate a preachy funeral. If that is the only option, they can just skip it entirely for me. It totally makes me just wanna go home. I dont see why anyone would want all that preaching and no talking about their loved one. Just sayin, its not for me.

    • (1) If you don’t want preaching at a funeral, then don’t ask a pastor to do the funeral. It’s really that easy. But not everyone else has to do things in a way that meets your approval. In the end, it’s about what the family wants.

      (2) Nowhere in this article did I say that there should be “no talking about their loved one.” Preaching is not “the only option.” Often there are many people who speak about the deceased. Many times, however, everyone is too emotional to speak (and most people don’t like to do public speaking anyway). In those cases I read things the family has prepared or relate some stories the family shares with me. It does;t have to be either or, but again, not everyone wants things the way you want them.

      (3) I noted that my funeral sermons are only 5 to 7 minutes long. If the service is half an hour (or longer), that’s really not long and there’s still plenty of time to eulogize the deceased. Some pastors do go too long and this article is only one attempt to address and correct that.

      Thank you for reading and commenting, but you really should read the entire article (and pay attention) before commenting. Otherwise, you end up making comments like this that don’t reflect well on you.

  83. Mary Brady says:

    My 29 year old son passed away August 31, 2015. He was an amazing person who unfortunately drank for 8 years and had cirrhosis and liver cancer and fought the battle for the last 15 months. He and his wife attended a local Methodist church for the last several months. The preacher has been at the church 2 years. My son’s wife asked this preacher to do the service. My husband and I were blindsided when he discussed my son’s alcoholism for at least 20 minutes to the point, that I was going to walk out no less than 3 times and I honestly thought my husband was going to get up and punch him. Our son had many talents. He could paint landscapes, crocheted crosses, was a master gardener, and was the type of person who lifted you up when you had a conversation with him and had a wonderful sense of humor. After the service when the preacher approached me, I told him not to touch me and to stay away from me. I have had absolutely no closure and my heart is so filled with hate for this man that I couldn’t cry at the service and feel like I have not started the grieving process because of this. I feel like my son’s memory was disparaged in front of our family and friends. Would you have done this to the grieving parents of a 29 year old young man who was wonderful in so many ways.

    • Dear Mary:

      I am very sorry for your loss and I am appalled to hear how you were treated at your son’s funeral. No, I do not think this was appropriate. The funeral service is a time to remember the one who has passed and to lift up Christ so that our hope may be in Him. Had the family requested it, I can see making a comment about alcoholism and providing information for those interested in getting help (I have seen similar things done in a tasteful and helpful way) but then only if the family explicitly requested it.

      Again, I am sorry for how you were treated and can understand your anger and frustration at this. I do pray the Lord will allow you to focus on the good memories of your son (as you have in this comment) and to grieve and I pray that as you grieve, you will be able to rest in God’s promises. Please let me know if I may do anything to help you.

      Grace and peace to you,
      Michael

  84. Cheryl says:

    Wow Michael, based on how many people have responded, this is an important topic and one which lay people need support. I am a believer and have to do “some kind of service” for my uncle who passed in January. Some relatives don’t want anything “threatening” but I don’t feel right just to read a sappy poem. My uncle was not saved and had no interest in spiritual things. I know I could use help to do it well and with integrity. Any support you can send my way would be most appreciated. I want to glorify God in all that I do.

  85. Martin says:

    Mike,
    I have been asked to give the message for my Dad’s funeral. The family has a Catholic background. While we have witnessed to my Dad, to my knowledge he never got saved. Majority of the people in service will have a Catholic backgrounds. I would appreciate it if you have a sample message for this occasion. Thank you.

    • Dear Martin:

      I am sorry for the loss of your father but I am glad you have an opportunity to speak Christ’s words into this situation. I have sent an email with several files attached got the email address you used to make this comment.

      I will pray for you as you prepare and that the Lord will prepare those who hear. Please let me know if I may help you in any other way.

      Grace and peace to you,
      Michael

  86. Rick Hammon says:

    This is urgent Michael. My sister died yesterday and its been a long struggle dealing with life support and all. I was asked to do her service which will be small but most my family and her friends are not saved. Can I get a sample sermon. Rick

    • Dear Rick:

      I am sorry for the loss of your sister but I am glad you have an opportunity to speak Christ’s words into this situation. I have sent an email with several files attached to the email address you used to make this comment.

      I will pray for you as you prepare and that the Lord will prepare those who hear. Please let me know if I may help you in any other way.

      Grace and peace to you,
      Michael

  87. Toni Vano says:

    Michael, I want to thank you so much for this post. I have been asked to officiate at a grave-side memorial service of a women I briefly met twice ~ an unbeliever. Your suggestions have been very helpful. I sometimes am asked to do funerals for murder and suicide victims and would greatly appreciate some sample sermons. Thank you so much.

  88. Pauline Parr says:

    Hello, Michael, Thank you for your original post, which has given me food for thought – speak about the person’s life, and then preach Christ without reference to the deceased in the ‘sermon bit’.
    I have recently started funeral ministry and am preparing my sermon for the funeral of a middle-aged man who was “not religious” and whose family are non-believers. I conducted a funeral for another member of their family only last week, and would appreciate it if you could e-mail your sample sermons to give me a little help. Many thanks..

  89. Tamara says:

    Hi Michael ~
    What a wonderful post and ministry this is!

    The 27 year old daughter-in-law of my best friend died of sudden cardiac arrest on Thanksgiving Day. No warnings or ilness, it has left us all in shock and deep mourning. She was not a believer unless the Holy Spirit ministered to her as they tried to revive her for an hour and got a weak heart beat for a time.

    I realize you may not see this in time, but I am to give a remembrance and hope in Christ, and your outline sounds perfect. If you have time, I’d love to see samples of your short and sweet sermons. If time does not allow me to receive it before tomorrow, I will definitely keep them on file for any future requests. – We all have 100% chance of dying!

    Thank you and God bless.

    • Dear Tamara:

      I am sorry I didn’t see this in time. As you note, there will be future opportunities to speak God’s grace into painful situations such as these. I have sent three sample funeral sermons to the email address you used to make this comment.

      Grace and peace to you,
      Michael

  90. Darin says:

    Hi there…thanks for this lost! I realize this is an old post so might not get to you, but I would love a couple examples that you reference. I will be officiating a funeral of an unbeliever on Saturday and trying to navigate it in a family honoring, but more importantly Christ exalting way. Thanks!

  91. Gary says:

    Michael, I’ve been asked by some of my family members to perform the funeral service for my older brother. Unfortunately, it is doubtful that he was saved when he died, however only God knows for sure at this time. My dilemma is that my brothers life was made up of very, very poor choices, that have left a much debris in the lives of those he had married, as well as the lives of his 5 offspring, who call him by his first name. He had given two of them up for adoption when one of his wives remarried, and he basically disowned or discarded them all through their lives. Amazingly, they will be at the funeral. I don’t want to speak negatively of him, so my approach is to acknowledge the few good things and then transition to preach to those who are in attendance. I have prayed and believe I’m being led to speak about not harboring bitterness, then to forgiveness, and then to God’s love for us, and his forgiveness through the shed blood of Christ.
    What words of advice would you offer to help the transition from him to them?

  92. Paula says:

    Hello I am not a minister but have been asked to do the service for a relative who has passed. This person has been very harsh to members of the family for years, although not to me. I did tell her the basic ABC model ( ask, believe, confess) but I am not sure how much was truly accepted. None of the family are believers but do want a service. This is the first funneral service I will have done. Can you send me whatever sermons you think will help as well as order of service? ( funneral is wed, this is 1a.m. Tuesday)
    Thank you so much

    • Dear Paula: I am sending sample messages to the email you used to make this comment. I pray God make you fruitful as you serve. I will pray for you as you prepare to do this service.

  93. wes nelson says:

    Michael, thank you for your ministry. I see other folks struggle with how to preach to an unbelieving audience for funerals. would you please send me some sample sermons tat you have spoke of in your comments. blessed day! your brother in Christ!

    wes.

  94. Michael, thank you for your spot-on advice. I am a new pastor and will be doing my first funeral in a few days. It is for an unbeliever who committed suicide. If you could share some sample sermons, that would be very helpful. Thank you.

    • Dear Gary:

      Thank you for commenting and for the encouraging words. I have sent three funeral sermons to the email address you used to make this comment. Please let me know if I may help you further.

      Michael

  95. RAS says:

    Michael, this post was very helpful. I am especially interested in receiving one of your sample 7 minute sermons you recommend to follow for a funeral being attended by mostly unchurched, unsaved, unbelievers. My dear friend has asked me to bring “words of comfort” to her family of largely unbelievers, just ahead of the formal euology, at her deceased cousin’s memorial service. Since I am not the eulogist, I am a bit concerned about the placement of my role, and how I should approach the time given to me, especially because it is her desire that the Love of God is expressed and Christ be exalted, in the hope that seeds can be planted in the hearts of those who need to know Christ. Any direction and feedback you can give would be helpful.

    • Thank you for commenting and for the encouraging words. I have sent three funeral sermons to the email address you used to make this comment. Please let me know if I may help you further.

      Michael

  96. Jackie Ladda says:

    Hi, I need help in preparing to speak at a young man’s funeral tomorrow. The attenders will be mostly Christian; however this man was not a Christ follower and left broken relationships with family and even children. His mother wants me to focus on good memories; however, when I’ve met with family they do not come forth with any. I appreciate your help and realize this is last minute. Thank you.

    • Dear Jackie:

      I will pray for you as you prepare for this difficult service. I have sent some sample sermons and some additional thoughts to help you as you prepare. I sent them to the email address you used to make this comment.

      Grace and peace to you,
      Michael

  97. Jake Dyck says:

    Hi Michael could Email me a sermon that you have shared at a Funeral …I was asked to do the service for a man I prayed for about 4 years ago who had cancer and he was sent back home because the Doctor could not find the cancer anymore . I was asked not to share a lot about Jesus …I could find the one that you sent me before …Thank you Jake

  98. Wally Fluhr says:

    Hi Michael – I’ve been asked by one of my lost friends to do the service of his lost mother. I am very happy to step in but it will be my first funeral service and I don’t want to miss any opportunity to share Christ with the family. I’ve read your post and the comments and would love to also see your sermons for some ideas. Thanks in advance. Wally

  99. Greg Ford says:

    Hi Michael,
    I really appreciate you putting this post out there. I suspect this to be on the near horizon for me and would love any samples you could send. Thank you so much for being open and willing to help.
    God bless,
    Greg

  100. Lisa Whitney says:

    Hi Michael,
    My unbelieving father passed away and my brother wants me to put a short memorial service together. I have been struggling with how to do this along with a eulogy. I am pretty sure most of the attendees are also non-believers and I do not want to miss this opportunity to present the gospel message – especially for my unbelieving brother’s sake. If you see this before next Saturday, would you please share a sample sermon with me? Thank you so much for this post. It has been a very helpful jump start.
    Lisa

    • Dear Lisa:

      I am sorry for your loss. I have sent several files to the email address you used to make this comment. I will pray for you as you prepare for this service.

      Grace and peace to you,
      Michael

  101. Cindy says:

    Is there any way you can send me a sample funeral sermon in the next 20 minutes?

  102. Mikey says:

    Is there anyway you can send sample sermon on lost of best friend son tragically/car accident; not sure is he was saved.

  103. Will Gilliam says:

    Thank you Michael for all your guidance and encouragement on preaching at an unbeliever funeral. I am doing a funeral service for my 1st cousin in 3 days and your posts have been perfect. I have gleaned enough to allow the Holy Spirit to use me to share Jesus!! My family is so dysfunctional we always seem to put Fun in funeral. This time it will be fun 1st with guests, friends and family speaking and then I close in 7 minutes with the question are you ready for your death, and then share Jesus as the only hope. COuld you send me a few of your sermons you have shared with others? Thank you in advance and thank you for your post that has been a blessing to many!! Well done good and faithful servant.
    ~Will

  104. Earnie says:

    I also have been asked to preach a funeral for a family member who had no profession of faith. I appreciate your tips but I am still struggling with finding the right words. I would love to have your sample sermons!

  105. Chris Tweitmann says:

    Thanks for this post, Michael. I’d appreciate being able to glean from one or two of your funeral sermon samples for this context.

  106. Wilson Rowell says:

    Can You Send Me Some Sermon Material To Assist On Preaching A Service For A Loved One Abd Where She Stood With Christ Is Unknown. Thanks And God Bless

    • Dear Wilson:
      I apologize for taking so long to get back to you. I have sent sample sermons to the email you used to make this comment. Pleas let me know if I may help you further and I pray God bless your ministry.

      Grace and Peace to you.

  107. Vernon says:

    I have a funeral for a non believer whose family are also non believers. I have preached several funerals but never one for unbelievers. would you please send a few sermon samples to help get me started. I keep running in to walls each time i get started. Thanks in advance.

  108. FRANK NEUMANN says:

    Michael,

    Thanks for writing this article. But I am asking for some additional information. My mother passed away in 2013, she was a “functional alcoholic” until she retired a year earlier. I have been in the ministry for about 20 years. When she passed I had a dream of her falling into the lake of fire. I’ve presented the gospel many times to her. But that has been probably my biggest failure as a minister, that she never made a full decision to follow Christ. She came forward a few times in altar calls but her life never showed any change. So it leads me to believe that when she died many worst nightmare came true. I’ve been fighting this depression ever since. Even as I write this there are tears streaming down my face. There is very little written that I have found to help in this.

  109. Michael. This is an excellent summary for a very difficult task. Thank you for being real.

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