Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Church That Doesn't Do Funerals?

I agree with Rick Warren, the pastor of a megachurch in Orange County, California, that "the church that doesn't want to grow is telling people to go to hell."

We have a commission from Christ to "make disciples," helping others to know and follow Jesus into eternity with us. Depending on what the Holy Spirit does in the hearts and wills of those with whom we share Jesus (and a lot of other factors we may never know about), obeying Jesus' commission may bring numerical growth to our individual congregations. And it would be foolish and faithless for congregations to turn away people just because they didn't want the hassle or the grief of growth.

That's why I've never been among those Christians who disdain  megachurches just for being big. That's silly! (As silly as those who attend big churches who disdain smaller churches.)

But, according to one blogger, Richard Hunter, at least one megachurch is more mega than it is church. He writes:
Last week my nephew was in a motorcycle accident that left him brain-dead. My brother and his family had been attending a mega-church known for large, inspiring worship services, great music and autonomy for attendees. The family contacted the church to ask a pastor to come and plan a funeral with them. The church office replied that they did not do weddings and funerals...
I was particularly shocked to learn of a church that refuses to do funerals!

Death is where the rubber hits the road for Christian faith. If our proclamation that Jesus Christ has conquered sin and death and offers resurrection victory to all who repent for sin and believe in Christ isn't true when believers die, then it isn't true.

The truth that Jesus is Lord and is risen from the dead and the comfort it brings needs to be remembered and shared with family members and friends when death hits. The Church, in fact, is never more the Church than it is at funerals in which Christ is confidently and lovingly proclaimed!

Churches that pass on the chance to share the Gospel--the Good News--of Jesus Christ during a funeral are missing out on a tremendous opportunity to be Christ's open arms of love to people who need Christ.

Frankly, I wonder if a church that refuses to do weddings or funerals is really a church any longer. Isn't it just more of an arena where preaching and performances happen than it is a church body in which "if one member suffers, all suffer together...if one member is honored, all rejoice together..." (1 Corinthians 12:25)?

I hope that the no-weddings-or-funerals policy isn't widespread among megachurches.

As it turns out, the funeral for Hunter's nephew happened at the Methodist church of which his brother's family had been members for fifteen years. Two pastors from the Methodist congregation worked with the family in planning for the funeral and brought comfort to the grieving. Hunter writes:
Next time you are tempted to give up your local church and go get lost in one of the mega-churches, remember that one day you will need a personal touch...
Read the whole thing.

1 comment:

Jesse Harmon said...

That really breaks my heart to hear stuff like that.

Contrary to what you posted, I do have a quarrel with megachurches. If you feel like you want to be "lost in the crowd," then you've got some serious issues with your relationship with Jesus. You should be expressing it out loud! Not holding it back and hiding from it.