Funerals are designed to give comfort to the family and to give them a sense of closure. Traditions at funerals vary from culture to culture. Have you ever noticed how much funeral traditions vary from one region of the United States to another? A funeral in Seattle will be different than a funeral in Dallas. Traditions even vary from one community to the next. Behind it all is an opportunity for families to end the death process formally and begin the long-term grief process. As a church leader, you have an important part in all of this.
When You Are Asked to Conduct the Funeral for the First Time
Conducting a funeral service for the first time can be intimidating. When you are asked to take part, there will likely be a relatively short time to prepare. You want to have the best presentation possible. A few practical suggestions are offered here.
When you are asked to conduct a funeral service for the first time, there are at least three groups of people you should talk to before you write your funeral sermon. Continue reading
Think about a visitor to your church; what should you do and (maybe more importantly) what should you not do? Most churches want visitors, but too often they do not have any idea how to help a visitor have a positive experience. Here are some things to think about with church visitors.
Let’s start with things you should not do.
- Don’t single out visitors during church services. Some churches have visitors stand (or have everyone else stand while visitors remain seated) so they can be greeted. Some sing a song or give a gift to visitors. This makes a terribly awkward situation for visitors. It takes courage just to walk into a strange church building. Most visitors would rather crawl under the pew than have the entire congregation focused on them, even in a kind way.
- Don’t have church visitors to introduce themselves. Most visitors prefer to stay in the background and just watch during their first time to a service. There are some gregarious visitors who are happy to introduce themselves but they are the exception and not the rule. Mr. Outgoing Visitor is going to meet a lot of people anyway. They don’t need to be singled out and for most people this would be their worst fear realized.
Things You Should Do
Making church visitors comfortable can be many simple things such as, complete clear sign letting visitors know where they need to go, clean appealing entrances, and easy visitor parking. Nice grounds and facilities will not make a visitor feel welcomed because they can be sterile and lifeless without the necessity of friendly people, but if you DO NOT have attractive and inviting parking and grounds you have made it very hard to let your people show the friendliness and love they have for visitors. Here are some specific ideas to welcome visitors.
As a society becomes more technologically advanced, people seek out things that are more personal and familiar. It is not uncommon for a computer to be housed in a roll top desk or an antique wardrobe to serve as an entertainment center. People look for the familiar as they are in the midst of change.
They also look for personal contact as their world becomes more impersonal. Would you rather listen to a computer voice say “For customer service press ‘one’ now” or talk to a real person? That principle carries over into other areas. Because people are increasingly dehumanized by technology, they seek affirming relationships.
People are looking, often desperately, for stability and meaningful relationships. This works together causing people to hunger for personal contact. For this reason, many are seeking out churches.
Hospital visitation is fairly simple. We have all heard horror stories of inept visitors that tell about a friend who died from the patient’s malady. We are all afraid of saying the wrong thing but common sense and love will help you avoid pitfalls.
Family members often contact the church office with information such as room numbers so get the room number before you go. If you do not have the room number ask at the “Patient Information” desk. Virtually all hospitals have a volunteer or employee who’s main role is to help visitors to the hospital find where they need to go.
Many hospitals also have a list categorized by “Religious Affiliation” that allows you to look for others who may be members of your congregation but have not had a chance to contact anyone about their hospital visit yet. Imagine the impact of being able to visit a patient or family who has just arrived.
Once you get to the patient’s room, knock firmly and wait for a reply. Then open the door and ask if this is a good time for a visit. If the doctor is there or it is an inconvenient time, you might want to wait a few minutes or visit another patient and come back. This may save you an additional trip to the hospital.
Allow the conversation to flow naturally. If appropriate, ask, “What does the doctor say?” or “When do they say you will get to go home?” An open ended question is usually all it takes to get the conversation going.
There are five words that will guarantee that your hospital visit is a success.
Welcome to the Relaunch of YourChurchCanGrow.com
Curt Gunz has been providing resources and consulting to churches since 1994. This website, YourChurchCanGrow.com has been helping churches, ministries, and church workers since 2001.
The website has helped thousands of people. However, for a few years it was dormant. It still had free tools and resources to help people like you but it was not being updated.
Recently we have totally reworked the back end of the website so it will perform even better than before and we are providing new resources as well as old favorites. You are welcome to browse, use the free tools that will become available, comment on articles, or just hang out.