But in talking with other staffers here about how to design and deliver a eulogy that is helpful, faithful, and redemptive, we’ve landed at some new language that helps articulate an old concept:
Don’t talk about the PROMISE before you talk about the PERSON.
In other words, early in the eulogy you haven’t earned the right with the congregation (often at funerals full of not-yet-believers) to talk about the promises of the Gospel.
Only when you communicate to that congregation that you knew and loved this person whose life they’ve come to remember and death they’ve come to mourn can you then move on and talk about what the Gospel promises regarding eternity.
So funeral eulogies don’t begin with John 3:16. Or Ecclesiastes 3:1-4. Or Philippians 3:12-14.
They begin with the person folks have come to remember. Their qualities, their quirks, their loves, and their faith. The nicest thing people say to me after eulogies is “Your description of him was spot on, preacher.”
After establishing common ground in that way, then you can celebrate the promises inherent in the Gospel:
To be away from the body is to be at home with the Lord. II Corinthians 5:8
The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable. I Corinthians 15:42
And so we will be with the Lord forever. I Thessalonians 4:17
Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:4
Once you’ve talked about the PERSON, celebrate the PROMISES.