Funeral Services                                                    Study No. 240


Our friend, Pastor Herb Teitgen, gave us this order of service for members of the United Church of God, an International Association.  This is one of several formats he uses.  This may help those called upon to perform funeral services.


Order of Service


Remembering the Life of _______

Songs of Inspiration (before Ceremony)

Processional with Casket & Body

Opening Prayer

Opening comments

Vocal Solo

Remembering ______  (Comments by Direct Family Member)

Comments from other Family Members

Vocal Solo

Funeral Message


Pallbearers come forward and carry body to Graveside

Brief Graveside Service & Committal Prayer

Reception, Fellowship, and Luncheon follows


Funeral Service


Good morning/afternoon, FRIENDS.

Thank you so much for making the effort to take time from your schedules and to drive here to be here to GIVE COMFORT and ENCOUR­AGEMENT to the family and friends who grieve the loss of _________, as we join together to REMEMBER and to HONOR ________ and his/her LIFE.

At times like this, it is also appropriate to reflect on the important issues of life, death, and the purpose of human life. We try to grapple with the questions concerning what lies behind and beyond the shadowy curtain of the grave.

(Comments from obituary and other information about life of deceased)

The first musical selection will be:


Comments from family member:


The second musical selection will be:


Many people focus on a special baby born to His mother Mary long ago in Bethlehem.

That birth and the Incarnation that began the birth process was an awesome event in the history of mankind, and in the history of the Universe.

It is only through the Holy Scriptures that we have knowledge of the details of what took place and WHY that birth took place. The birth was only the first step in a series of events that resulted in the death of the Son of God — Jesus the Christ — who became our Savior and Redeemer.

This was not an ordinary baby, or just the product of human conception.

(The Islamic community recognizes Jesus as a great Prophet, but NOT as the son of God.)

The Apostle John tells us that God as the Word — the Word of God — became a flesh and blood human being.

John 1:14, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

The identity of this One named as the Word is explained by John.

John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.   The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made.”

Those things made by Him included the first human beings, Adam and Eve — from whom have come you and I, and all humanity.

The opening book of God’s revelation to mankind — the book of Genesis of the Bible — describes that awesome moment.

Genesis 1:26-27, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: . . . So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.”

We also read that they were made of the dust of the ground and air was breathed into their lungs to cause their bodies to breathe and maintain life.

Genesis 2:7, “And the lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”

The first humans were given instructions by their Creator.

The first humans failed to heed the instructions of their Creator.

They disobeyed the Creator of the universe and the Creator of mankind and they SINNED!

They were cut off from the Garden of Eden and cut off from the tree of life.

God told them:  Genesis 3:19, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”

Adam and Eve eventually died as all flesh and blood creatures will, but when they disobeyed and sinned, they were warned “dying you shall die.”

Even this common or ordinary Death is our enemy. It takes us from family and friends and loved ones.

There is a greater enemy — a Second Death — more deadly than this first death.

This Final or Eternal Death results from the transgression of God’s holy laws.

This second death — or permanent death — comes as the consequence of sinning and failing to live by God’s laws and instructions.

None of us can escape the serious conse­quences of sin.

We read in Paul’s letter to the Romans:  Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

There is a way to escape the clutches of this formidable foe!

Back in Genesis 3, we have the allusion to the Lamb of God who would be bruised by the Serpent, or Satan, but His shed blood and death would take away the sin of the whole of mankind who receive it.

John 3:15, “That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

A believer has faith in Jesus of Nazareth and His sacrifice for sins, and also believes His message and instructions contained throughout His Word.

Edmund Vance Cooke wrote:

“Death comes with a crawl, or comes with a pounce,

And whether he’s slow or spry,

It isn’t the fact that you’re dead that counts,

But only, how did you die?”

We humans must repent and turn from our sins and also accept Jesus as our personal Savior and as The Way. Jesus came to amplify and demonstrate living by the Way of life based on God’s commandments as applied through the love of God and empowered by the Spirit of God.

We can then start on the road to Life — Eternal Life — which God promises to give to those who have been converted and have been pre­pared by God and have accepted God’s pardon and reconciliation through repentance of sin and belief in Jesus — His shed blood and His message — the gospel of the kingdom.

When we come into the presence of death, we are reminded of:




MAN and all other EARTHBOUND creatures MUST FACE DEATH. We are not designed to live forever in our present form and substance.

Ecclesiastes 9:5, “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.”

Ecclesiastes 9:10, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.”

The Scriptures tell us that the DEAD are NOT CONSCIOUS; They DON’T FEEL PAIN or SUFFER or COMMUNICATE.

UNLESS and UNTIL something EXTRA­ORDINARY and UNUSUAL occurs, the DEAD will STAY DEAD in a SLEEPLIKE condition.

This same after-death condition will befall all mankind who die, including you and me.

Hebrews 9:27-28, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”

The ancient patriarch Job pondered death and what lay beyond the grave.

Job 14:13-14, “O that Thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that Thou wouldest keep me secret, until Thy wrath be past, that Thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me!  If a man die, shall he live again?”

The Bible also tells us about — the HOPE OF THE DEAD!  There IS LIFE after DEATH!

The Bible warns of a difficult time of trouble that will come about at the end of the age, before the kingdom and ruling government of God is set up on this earth.

There will be an illusion of peace that will lull and deceive mankind before sudden cata­strophe strikes.

But Jesus, the Prince of Peace, will return to take over the reigns of rulership and usher in a time of true worldwide peace. At that time, He will open the graves and call forth His elect.

Daniel 12:1-2, “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.  And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt [later on, after the 1000 years of peace].”

Jesus Himself spoke of that hour.  John 5:28, “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice.”

Jesus explained to His Apostles, recorded in the famous Olivet Prophecy regarding the conditions and time of His return to the earth:  Matthew 24:29-31, 44, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. . . . Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.”

The Apostle Paul writes powerfully and eloquently of THE RETURN of Jesus Christ to this EARTH and the LONG-AWAITED RES­URRECTION OF THE DEAD — of human beings who once lived but are now in a state of SLEEPLIKE UNCONSCIOUSNESS in the GRAVE:

I Thessalonians 4:13, 16-17, “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concern­ing them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. . . . For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

·      Death is an ENEMY, a BIG ENEMY.

·      But — DEATH will be DEFEATED.

The Apostle Paul again encourages us in the well-known passage in I Corinthians 15:50-54, “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.  Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.  So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.”

The true believer believes these verses and puts his/her hope in the resurrection by faith in the Lord and Master and soon-coming king.


·        Thank you for ________ and his/her life and the chance to enjoy life’s experiences with _________.

·        Remember ________ on that day of the resurrection and all those that are Yours now waiting in the graves.

·        Dwell with us to give us comfort and hope.

·        Help us to remember and appreciate the life of __________ in a positive way.

·        Comfort and strengthen us in our grief and loss through your Truth and Presence.

·        Help us to reach out to one another with love and care.

·        Please send Jesus Christ soon to set up His kingdom on this earth.

The pall-bearers and the family may rise to get their coats.

After these have escorted the body from the church building, the remainder of you may get your coats and join the family at graveside.

There will be a graveside service at the cemetery.

After that you are invited to enjoy a luncheon and visitation.



NOTE: the following section is a basic funeral service and guidelines, by the United Church of God, provided by Herb Teitgen, and edited by Richard C. Nickels.  For local UCG congrega­tions, see



Basic Funeral Service

Applicable for Both Chapel and Graveside Service


There is always a sense of loss, sadness, in the face of death, even when the death brings relief to one’s suf­fering.  There is nothing wrong with this.  It is most natural to grieve over a loved one, whom you will miss in this physical life.


(During the service it is normally a good idea to read an obituary and add comments about the deceased of a personal nature. This provides more of a personal touch to your message.)

There are a number of scriptures to which you could turn to in giving the basic funeral service. Here are a few for your consideration:

Hebrews 9:27.  We’re physical, mortal crea­tures. This life is only temporary.  Death is something we all will eventually have to face.

We view death differently than God, pri­marily because many of us do not understand it, nor do we know what lies beyond.  There is only One who really knows.  The scriptures are the only authentic source we have when it comes to such a subject as death.

I Thessalonians. 4:13-18.  Paul wanted them to have the facts about the death of their loved ones. Ignorance leads to fear, and excess sorrow.

Christ said in John 8:32, that you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free!  The truth frees us from wrong ideas, excessive sorrow, worry, etc.

We must address some difficult issues.  The question “What is the state of the dead?” must be addressed. Psalm 146:4 reads, “His [man’s] breath goeth forth, he returns to his earth, in that very day his thoughts perish.” Ecclesiastes 9:10 states: “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with your might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave whither thou goest.”

These and many other scriptures show there is no suffering after death. Death is revealed in dozens of places in the Bible as simply being like a deep sleep.

I Thessalonians. 4:14-18.  There is a hope held out to all, the hope of the resurrection. There is an entire chapter in the Bible devoted to the subject of the resurrection.  This chapter is I Corinthians 15.

I Corinthians 15:19-26.  For most people, death is a feared enemy.

I Corinthians 15:22. God made man physical first to give him the opportunity to learn how to live and how not to live, to build within him His Godly character. 

As the inner man is changed, so the outer man will be too!  I Corinthians 15:42-49.

I Corinthians 15:50-55.  God has a plan He is working out.  Man is not an evolutionary accident. God is developing a spiritual family, a spiritual kingdom, not of physical human beings subject to human problems, and weaknesses.

I Corinthians 15:51, “. . . we shall all be chang­ed.”  It is through the resurrection that God destroys death.

John 5:25-28.  All the dead will be resur­rected.  In I Corinthians 15, we learn there is an order to resurrection.

Revelation 21:1-4.

(Prayer) Thank God for His truth, for the life and example of the deceased and ask for comfort for the family.


At the Graveside, the Interment


Job 14:13-15.  Everyone who has ever lived will one day live again, in a different world, better hopes, dreams, with a knowledge of laws that lead to happiness, and fulfillment.

{Prayer} Committal of the deceased to God for His keeping until the resurrection.


Early Death of An Adult


Most of the previous information could be used, especially emphasizing that all who have died will live again, that we will have an opportunity to some day be with him/her again! 

Psalm 116:15,  “Precious in the sight of the lord is the death of His saints.”

It impossible for anyone to understand or be able to explain why some suffer more than others.

Job was a good man, a righteous man, yet he went through a very discouraging season of time in his life in which he despaired of life itself.  In Job 7:16, Job was wanting to give up and simply die.

Job 7:17-18.  What is man? Is he the product of, the offspring of, evolution?  Why is man? Job’s words:  “Why is man so important to you? Why pay attention to what he does? You inspect him every morning and test him every minute.” (Good News Version)

John 1:10, 12-13.  Man was created for a purpose — to become members of God’s family. Paul called this a mystery.  Peter said for us to become holy as our Father is holy — to become like Him even in this life. 

Suffering is a part of the process. “We must through much tribulation enter the Kingdom of God,” Acts 14:22.  See also I Peter 4:12-13.

Romans 8:16-21.  Paul writes that it is through this suffering that we learn what life is all about.  It is more than meat and drink.  Christ said “that a man’s life consists not in the abundance of things that he possesses.”

Today’s difficulties are sometimes time and chance. Sometimes it is part of our education; sometimes an act of mercy for future considera­tion.

It might be appropriate to read the following as well:

Isaiah 57:1-2.  We now live in a time of world trouble — a time of war and fear of war, famine, incurable diseases — and this, accord­ing to prophecies, is only the beginning of sorrows, with even more terrible times to come. So God mercifully takes some away from the evils the rest of us may have to live through. We cannot bring the dead back to us in this evil, unhappy world, but we can join them in the coming Kingdom of God.

We look forward to seeing our loved ones in the resurrection.

Conclude with a prayer asking God to comfort the family.

At the graveside, the interment:

Job 14:14-15.  A change must occur.  This change is first of all in the inward man.  The ultimate change takes place later in the resurrection.  Man is changed from mortal to immortal.  Finally, man is brought into the family of Almighty God.  He is the Potter, and we are the clay.


Death of A Child


Ordinarily, on the average, mankind is given 70-80 years to live in this physical life.  Even after a full lifetime, there is still sadness and sorrow when a life comes to an end.  These feelings are amplified when that life is taken prematurely — when one does not have the opportunity to live out those allotted years!

Often our minds are filled with many questions. We ask why? Why would God allow this to happen?  Certainly it is part of being human to wonder why certain things happen the way they do.  We simply cannot answer these questions.  Ecclesiastes speaks of time and chance, of simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sometimes bad things happen to good people.  It rains on the just and the unjust.

We are unable to provide the definitive answer in such cases.  There are some things we can say:

1.      We know that when one member suffers the whole family suffers.  We all suffer with the bereaved family,  I Corinthians 12:26.

2.      There is no suffering in the grave. I Thessalonians 4:13,  “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope” (NKJV).  It is like a deep sleep.  We can take comfort that there is no pain, or suffering after death.

3.      This is Satan’s world, and he is the author of the violence and hatred presently in it. This life is not all there is, I Corinthians 15:19. There is a future and it will be a better world.  We have the hope of the resurrection, the hope of the world to come.

4.      We serve a God who has the power to strengthen us and comfort us in times like these, II Corinthians 1:3-5.

5.      Death is not permanent.  John 5:28-29, “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth.”

The New Testament reveals to us that this world (this age) is now under the influence of Satan. He is called the god of this world, the prince of the power of the air.  But when Jesus Christ returns, He will bind Satan and bring an end to his influence.  In time, all who have lived will live again in God’s world.  Those who have died prematurely will have an opportunity to live out their natural lives in a better world.

Isaiah 65:17-23 speaks of this time, as does Revelation 21:1-4.


Still Birth


(A few times we have been asked to conduct a funeral of a baby born dead and in some cases one which had not gone full term.  Here are some thoughts for such cases.)

A study was conducted a number of years ago of women who gave up their babies for adoption. Some of the women’s babies were taken from them at birth — the mother never saw them.  For many of these women, the following years were difficult.  Often times around the date of the child’s birth, they would go into seclusion, celebrating the birthday alone. They would wonder about every child they saw who was of the same age as theirs.  Could this one be their child?

The other group of women in the study had seen their babies and had in many cases handed them over to their new mother.  They, through this, were able to terminate their own relation­ship with the infant.  This group as a whole did not have the same problems as the other. They had been able to say goodbye to their little one.  That had made the difference.

A funeral service is for the living, not for those who have died.  Your goal is to serve the grieving family under these adverse circum­stances.

It is part of being human to wonder why certain things happen the way they do.  We’re not always able to know.  Sometimes bad things happen to good people.  It rains on the just and the unjust.

The following items may be helpful to cover with the family:

1.      This life is not all there is, I Cor­inthians 15:29.  There is more to come which will be better than anything we have experi­enced.  We have the hope of the resurrection, the hope of the world to come.

2.      We also know that there is a divine reason for human life, a divine purpose for our lives.  This life is a training ground for the future, I Corinthians 15:57-58.

3.      We serve a God who has the power to strengthen us and comfort us in times like these, II Corinthians 1:3-5.  We are called to help Christ teach and counsel others in the world to come. God calls people from every background and with all types of life experiences.  This makes it possible for there to be an under­standing of what others have experienced.

We must keep looking forward to the time of the Kingdom of God when the sufferings and problems of this present evil world will be corrected, Revelation 21:1-4.

(Prayer of comfort for the family, committal of the remains.)




In this case a simple, basic funeral service would be appropriate.  To focus on some of the points dealing with the condition of this present evil world ruled by Satan that too often brings people to great hopelessness would be proper under the circumstances.

Focus on the fact every person who has ever lived will live again.  God has promised and He cannot lie.  People need to be given hope that eternal judgment has not been rendered on these individuals.  They need to understand that there is a hope for the future.

If the family members are willing, to visit or phone after the funeral would be appropriate. Families that have gone through such a traumatic episode in their lives will need assistance to recover.  To offer your help beyond the funeral service is appropriate and can do a great deal of good for the grieving family members. 


Memorial Service


Occasionally you may be called upon to deliver a memorial service where there is no body.  This can occur in the case of a cremation or failure to recover a body from an accident or suicide. A memorial service may be conducted shortly after the death of an individual, or in some cases several days or weeks later.  While it may be awkward delivering a service without the presence of a body, the purpose of the service is the same — to bring comfort and encouragement to the bereaved.  Never take such a service lightly.  Take the time to prepare your message as though this was a normal funeral service.

In the case of a cremation, there may be a graveside committal along with the memorial in a church or chapel.  A brief comment and short committal prayer are both appropriate in these cases.


Concluding Comments


We must never forget that our primary function at the time of death is to assist the family.  Their feelings must be uppermost in our minds as we think through the procedures that will be expected of us.  One item that often gets forgotten whenever there is a death in the family is the follow-up.  Our care for the family should not end with the ceremony. Cards, phone calls, and personal visits can provide great support and comfort to a grieving family.  Never minimize the impact you may have on someone’s life during such a time.                         Ω

Note: False doctrines of going to Heaven or going to Hell when you die distort the understanding about death.  See our articles about Heaven and Hell on the website.