In Times of Loss: Preaching at Funerals and Consoling the Grieving
Expositors CollectiveJune 27, 202300:42:1448.35 MB

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

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 with veteran 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 Hope Preaching at Funerals By 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 the Baptist Union of Great Britain, but is now part of the Chelmsford Cathedral community. 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 the Rotary 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

As Senior Minister of Central 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.

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

As Pastor of Altrincham 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 a BMS 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’ worker with the German Baptists (1962-63), helping with Baptist youth work in Southern Germany.

Interests Beyond Ministry

In Who’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 the Society 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 the J’s Young Adults Hospice and also a company member of the Havens Hospices based 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 entitled Living Out the Call (Feed-a-Read 2015; revised in 2016 and available through Amazon both electronically and as soft-backs).  It consists of four volumes:

Living to God’s Glory (on Amazon, also available as a PDF);

Leading God’s Church (on Amazon, also available as a PDF);

Reaching God’s World (on Amazon, also available as a PDF);

Serving God’s Church (on Amazon, also available 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 is Happy 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).  The full 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