What Do Preachers Say at Funerals?

A preacher generally  follows the wishes of the family of the deceased.
... Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images

What a preacher says at a funeral depends largely on the religious beliefs of the deceased and his family. A preacher may speak about the personality of the deceased and what he meant to the people who loved him. Often, the preacher will also be asked to read meaningful passages from a religious text or a favorite book.

Preachers may open the funeral service by welcoming and thanking those who came to pay their respects. They may also give a brief preview of what will happen at the service, including information about a grave site service or reception to follow. Sometimes, the preacher will give instructions, such as asking attendees to be respectful of the family by turning off their cell phones. Throughout the service, the preacher may briefly introduce speakers and musicians performing during the service, and handle transitions between sections of the funeral.

1 Scripture

Preachers may read a portion of scripture from the Bible or another religious or sacred text. The passage is usually chosen by the family, although the preacher may make suggestions. Readings are meant to comfort, so a preacher or a family member may choose scriptures that talk about God's comfort during difficult times, or the hope of life after heaven. In addition, the preacher may read passages from other sources, such as a favorite book. Or, he may read a poem or even lyrics from a meaningful song. Such readings are usually scattered throughout the funeral service.

2 Anecdotes

Caring preachers will take the time to meet with the family beforehand to learn more about the deceased. A preacher may take notes during family sessions and share personal information at the funeral service. For example, he might share a lighthearted anecdote from the loved one's life or talk about hobbies and favorite activities. The preacher may also speak for those who were close to the person who passed away, perhaps reading something that a loved one has written about the deceased.

3 Sermon

In many cases, the preacher will give a short sermon during the funeral service. This is more common in traditional church services. Preachers who belong to religious denominations that believe in life after death often speak about heaven. They may include information about the path that is required to obtain eternal life. For example, Catholics and many Christian denominations are led by preachers who may give an account of the Gospel, or the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, during the sermon portion of a funeral service. Along with the sermon, preachers of many religious denominations will also pray throughout the service. During the prayers, the preacher may give thanks for the life the deceased led, ask for blessings on the deceased's family, or pray for peace for those who are mourning.