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The Expositors Collective

In Times of Loss: Preaching at Funerals and Consoling the Grieving

By June 27, 2023No Comments

Join us on a heartfelt and insightful journey as we dive into the delicate yet significant task of preaching at funerals and consoling grieving families.Mike speaks withveteran pastor Paul Beasley-Murray, who offers practical advice to help Christian leaders craft meaningful, biblically driven sermons and preach with confidence and compassion at funeral services.With empathy and wisdom, he shares invaluable advice and guidance for pastors facing the challenging moments of loss.

in our conversation, Reverend Paul Beasley Murray sheds light on the vital role pastors play in providing comfort and solace during times of grief. He emphasizes the importance of being present with the grieving family members on the day of the death, offering genuine support and a compassionate shoulder to lean on.

Furthermore, the discussion delves into the delicate topic of addressing funerals for individuals who died by suicide. Dr Beasley-Murray provides compassionate insight on how pastors can approach such services, offering guidance on crafting a message that acknowledges the pain and complexity of the situation while providing hope and healing to the mourning congregation.

Additionally, the podcast explores the challenging task of preaching a funeral when the eternal destiny of the deceased is uncertain. Paul shares practical advice and compassionate approaches to navigate these sensitive moments, offering comfort to grieving families and providing a message of God’s mercy and grace.

In the latter part of our conversation, we delve into the strengths of both the Baptist and Anglican traditions when it comes to funeral services. We discuss the unique liturgical elements and rich traditions within each tradition, highlighting how they can be harnessed to create meaningful and impactful funeral services that honour the deceased and provide comfort to those left behind.

If you are a pastor seeking guidance in navigating the complexities of preaching at funerals and consoling grieving families, this episode is an invaluable resource. Reverend Paul Beasley-Murray’s compassionate wisdom and deep understanding will equip you with the tools needed to minister effectively during times of loss, offering solace and hope to those who are hurting.

Resources Mentioned:

There is HopePreaching at FuneralsBy Paul Beasley-Murray:

Bryan Croft on preaching the Gospel at Funerals:

Preachers Talk Podcast on preaching funerals:

Recommended Episodes:

Nick Cady and Mike Neglia on Preaching Funerals:

Bryan Chapell on Pastoral Care :

Phil Newton on Pastoral Preaching :

mil·li·nery ˈmi-lə-ˌner-ē :women’s apparel for the head. : the business or work of a milliner.

About Paul Beasley-Murray

Ministry Consultant

Ordained in 1970, Paul is an experienced minister who has a real ‘heart’ for ministry. He enjoys reflecting on the practice of ministry – as also serving as a ministry consultant. Over the years Paul has written widely on ministry matters and has taught all over the world on a wide range of topics related to Christian ministry

Paul remains an accredited Baptist Minister of theBaptist Union of Great Britain, but is now part of theChelmsford Cathedralcommunity. He regularly speaks at the Cathedral’s Sunday morning seminar-style ‘Breakfast with the Bible’, and also leads a ‘fellowship group’. Paul continues to preach in churches of various denominations, although he is happy just to be part of the Sunday 9.30 Parish Eucharist at the Cathedral.

Paul co-founded a bi-monthly lunchtime for retired Baptist ministers in Mid- and South Essex, and takes the lead in presenting topics for discussion.

Since 2005 Paul has been a member of theRotary Club of Chelmsford Rivermead, and was the 2016-2017 club president. In June 2018 he was named a Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International. With its aim of ‘service above self’, Paul sees his Rotary involvement as an expression of Christian ministry.

Ministry Experience

AsSenior Minister ofCentral Baptist Church, Chelmsford(1993-2014) he transformed a traditional declining city-centre church into a strong vibrant, growing fellowship; at the time he left there were 399 committed members, together with a much larger church community.

AsPrincipal ofSpurgeon’s College, London(1986-1993)he doubled the student enrolment, increased the faculty by one-third, and developed new patterns of ministerial training

AsPastor ofAltrincham Baptist Church, Cheshire(1973-1986) he enabled a small declining church to develop into a strong virile church, quadrupled in size (from 83 to 300+ members).

As aBMS Missionary in Congo/Zaire(1990-1992) he taught Greek and New Testament in the Protestant Theological Faculty of the National University.

Prior to going up to Cambridge Paul served as a‘Time for God’ workerwith the German Baptists (1962-63), helping with Baptist youth work in Southern Germany.

Interests Beyond Ministry

InWho’s Who? Paul lists as his interests cooking, travel and parties! His grandchildren are also another major interest!

He is married to Caroline, a past President of the Coroners Society of England and Wales 2018-2019. They have four grown-up children and eight grandchildren.

Paul is a patron of theSociety of Mary and Martha, a retreat centre based at Sheldon, near Exeter, which specialises in supporting ministers experiencing stress, crisis, burnt-out or break-down. He is a patron of theJ’s Young Adults Hospiceand also a company member of theHavens Hospicesbased in Essex.

In January 2019 he became Chairman of the Cambridge Society of Essex, an alumni group which meets for lectures, lunches, and other social activities.

He seeks to keep fit by engaging in a good deal of walking in the early morning.

An Author

Paul continues to be a prolific author.

Since retiring from stipendiary ministry he has written a definitive guide to ministry entitledLiving Out the Call(Feed-a-Read 2015; revised in 2016 and available through Amazon both electronically and assoft-backs). It consists of four volumes:

Living to God’s Glory (onAmazon, alsoavailable as a PDF);

Leading God’s Church (onAmazon, alsoavailable as a PDF);

Reaching God’s World (onAmazon, alsoavailable as a PDF);

Serving God’s Church (onAmazon, alsoavailable as a PDF).

According to Derek Tidball, a former Principal of the London College of Theology. this is “the most comprehensive practical introduction to ministry currently available.

He has written his autobiography,This is my story: a story of life, faith, and ministry(Wipf & Stock, Eugene, Oregon 2018). In the words of the cover blurb:

This is a book for pastors – and for any Christian – who want the “inside story” of the pains and triumphs of a Christian leader.

He has updated two popular pastoral resources. The first isHappy Ever After? A workbook for couples preparing for marriage(College of Baptist Ministers, Chelmsford 2017). Biblically-based and solidly practical, it covers everything from money to matrimonial disagreement, from coming to terms with the past to sharing jobs in the house. The second,A Loved One Dies: help in the first few weeks(College of Baptist Ministers, Chelmsford 2017), gives down-to earth advice on how to arrange the funeral service, and the many other practical matters that arise after a death. It also provides clear thoughts on the Christian understanding of death to help the bereaved discover hope where at first there is only sadness.

Following his 2017 survey of the reading habits of British ministers – the first survey of its kind in the UK, he published a major 8000-word article, ‘Ministers’ Reading Habits’, Baptist Quarterly 49 (January 2018). Thefull analysis together with further reflections is found on this website.

He has written three books on ministerial retirement.

Retirement Matters for Ministers: A report into how into how Baptist ministers experience retirement(College of Baptist Ministers, Chelmsford 2018), is based on a research project and explores issues such as the transition to retirement; housing and finance; health; friendships; family; and ministry in retirement.

Entering New Territory: Why are retired Baptist ministers moving to Anglican churches?(College of Baptist Ministers, Chelmsford 2019) is based on a second research project and explores the underlying theological issues.

Making the Most of Retirement(Bible Reading Fellowship, Abingdon 2020) was written for ministers of all denominations and is the first such book for ministers written from a distinctively British perspective.

His two latest books are:

Fifty Lessons in Ministry: Reflections on Fifty Years of Ministry(Darton, Longman & Todd, London 2020) written to coincide with his 50thanniversary of ordination

There is Hope! Preaching at Funeralswill be published by IVP and surprisingly is the first British guide to preaching at funerals.

He has edited two major books:

Ministry Today UK: UK 1994-2018, (College of Baptist Ministers, Chelmsford 2018) is a ‘cornucopia of pastoral wisdom’, whose eight volumes contain all 520 articles of the former journal of MTUK.

A College of Peers: The College of Baptist Ministers 2013-2021(College of Baptist Ministers, Chelmsford 2021) is a story of a group of a group of ministers with a passion for ministry and should be of interest to all who are concerned for the wellbeing of ministry in Baptist churches.

Together with Terry Calkin he has written a series short books on leadership for pastors in the developing world: viz.The Passionate Leader: The Four Foundations of Leadership,The Visionary Leader,The Leader with Character, andThe Gifted Leader.

Other writings currently in print are:

Happy Ever After? A Guide to the Marriage Adventure(Baptist Union 1996; Revised 2003 asHappy Ever After? A workbook for couples preparing for marriage. Revised and updated 2017 and republished by the College of Baptist Ministers.)

Power For God’s Sake? Power and Abuse in the Local Church(Originally published by Paternoster 1998; but since republished in 2005 by Wipf & Stock, Eugene, Oregon, USA)

The Message Of The Resurrection: The Bible Speaks For Today(IVP 2000. Also published in the USA and translated into Burmese, Chinese, Romanian, Korean and Turkish);

Joy to the World: Preaching at Christmas(IVP 2005 – also available in a special OM edition in India, Nepal, Oman, Qatar, UAE, Bahrein & Kuwait)

Transform Your Church! 50 very practical steps(IVP 2005)

A Loved One Dies: Help in The First Few Days(Baptist Union 2005; Revised 2016; Revised and republished by the College of Baptist Ministers, 2017.).

Other writings currently available electronically:

Building for the Future: A Guide to those considering entering a Building Project(privately printed, Central Baptist Church, Chelmsford 2003; 2nd edition 2004; electronic edition PB-M Books 2020)

Radical Believers: The Baptist Way of being the Church(Baptist Union 1992, and translated into Czech, German, & Norwegian; 2ndedition 2006; electronic 3rdedition PB-M Books 2020)

Radical Disciples: A Course for New Christians(Baptist Union 1996; 2nd edition 2005; electronic 3rdedition PB-M Books 2020)

Radical Leaders: A Guide for Elders and Deacons in Baptist Churches(Baptist Union 1997; 2ndedition 2005; electronic 3rdedition PB-M books 2020)

Baptism, Belonging and Breaking Bread: Preparing for Baptism(Baptist Union 2010; electronic 2ndedition PB-M Books 2020).

Leading Teams in Larger Churches(2010)

A Retreat Lectionary(Society of Mary & Martha 2012; electronic edition PB-M Books 2020)

Books no longer in print

Turning the Tide: An Assessment of Baptist Church Growth in England(Bible Society, 1980) co-authored with Alan Wilkinson;Pastors under Pressure(Kingsway 1989);Dynamic Leadership(Monarch 1990; translated into Swedish);Faith & Festivity: A Guide For Worship Leaders(Monarch 1991);;A Call To Excellence: An Essential Guide To Christian Leadership(Hodder & Stoughton 1995); andFearless for Truth: A Personal Portrait of the Life of George Beasley-Murray(Paternoster 2002). He editedMission To the World(Baptist Historical Society, 1991); Anyone For Ordination?(Monarch 1993); and along with others co-editedPrayers For All Peoples(Oncken 1993).


With over 445 articles to his credit, he has written for a variety of publications, for the most part reflecting on the practice of ministry. For further details

A Blogger

Since the autumn of 2011 Paul has been publishing a weekly ‘blog’ which has a world-wide following: vizChurch Matters. As at the end of 2020 he had written 475 ‘posts’.

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