Preparing a Protestant Christian Funeral

Protestants are non-Catholic Christians who are members of denominations including Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians and Baptists. Each Protestant denomination will have its own traditions and practices for the funeral service. Each service would be officiated by an ordained minister or member of the clergy of the denomination. Family and friends may play a significant role in the planning and presentation of the service. Consult with a member of the clergy of the chosen denomination for guidance.

Protestant Christian funerals are traditionally held either at the church, funeral home or gravesite. They are generally preceded by a period of visitation one or two days before the funeral. Flowers are usually accepted as representative of new birth and resurrection.

This Essential for “Planning a Protestant Christian Funeral” corresponds with the checklist under the same title. The checklist should be kept close at hand during the days surrounding the funeral.

Musical Prelude
Prior to the funeral, family and friends gather to support the immediate family of the deceased. It is traditional to have soft music playing in the background during this time. The music is usually hymns or Christian songs, though secular favorites of the deceased are sometimes included. The music traditionally was played on either a piano or organ live during the service. It has become accepted in many areas for the music to be recorded. Music should cover the time the area is open prior to the funeral.

Welcome
The minister or a family member or friend will welcome the guests and express appreciation on behalf of the family. A prayer or invocation usually closes the welcome.

Reading of the Obituary
The minister will read the obituary of the deceased. This may be conducted here, or read as a preamble to the sermon.

Music
One or two songs are weaved throughout the service. They may be performed by soloists, sung by the congregation, or played from a recording. While hymns have traditionally been sung, praise and worship music is becoming more popular, especially among larger churches. If you are unsure about what music to select, check with leaders in the church or with officials from the funeral home to see what music might be both available and appropriate.

Eulogies
Eulogies are short speeches given to honor the deceased by people who were closest. For help in preparing a eulogy, consult the eCondolence tool, “How to Prepare a Eulogy.”

Scripture Readings
One or two favorite passages of Scripture of the deceased may be read by either the minister or by family members or friends. Favorite passages of Scripture to use in funeral services include Psalm 23, Job 19:25, Ecclesiastes 7:1, Psalm 61:1-2; Psalm 94:19; Isaiah 41:10-13; Romans 8:31; 2 Corinthians 1:3-4; Psalm 119:50; Ecclesiastes 3:1-2; Romans 14:7-9; Philippians 1:21-23; 1 Corinthians 15:56-57; John 14:1-4; and Matthew 5:4.

Sermon
The sermon is a message of encouragement and comfort to the surviving family often based on one or more of the passages of Scripture read. Some Protestant denominations see the funeral as an opportunity to preach a message of hope and salvation at a time when people are thinking about death and hoping for a life after death.

Closing Prayer
The closing prayer is a final opportunity to ask God’s blessing and strength upon those gathered at the funeral. It may be offered by the minister or a family member or friend.

Last Respects
Most Protestant denominations allow the guests to exit the building by walking past the casket and family. If you are unsure about the proper practice, consult with the minister from the church or the officials from the funeral home.