The funeral service for a person with Christian beliefs can include a number of standard practices as well as unique spiritual elements meaningful to the deceased and his family. To help you plan such a service, here is an explanation of typical Christian funeral customs.
Christian Funeral Elements
Music: The music that might be played at a Christian funeral service covers a wide range of styles. The guiding principle should be what type music the deceased person preferred. If she regularly attended church services, she may have expressed a preference for traditional funeral hymns, contemporary Christian worship songs or classical organ music. Each of those could be easily incorporated into the funeral service. The choice can also be influenced by the practices of her particular denomination.
Secular music, if chosen carefully, also has a place in Christian funeral services. The key here is to watch for lyrics that are inappropriate or songs that have no obvious connection to the life of the person being remembered.
Prayer: One element of a Christian funeral that can bring enormous comfort to friends and family is prayer. Whether delivered by the pastor or other person leading the service or by someone close to the one who has died, funeral prayers are most effective when thought out in advance. That doesn't mean they must be read from a prayer book, although that type of prayer is quite meaningful to some Christians, but it can be difficult to offer prayer "off the cuff" in a situation as emotional as a funeral.
Eulogy: The word "eulogy" comes from a Greek word meaning, "to speak well of." Memories of the deceased can be shared in many ways. A formal Christian funeral service might include the pastor or a person chosen by the family reading a published obituary and then expanding on it with information gathered from family and friends. A more informal service could feature several people offering their memories of the person being remembered. A Christian funeral eulogy normally includes the ways in which the person acted out their faith in Christ.
Pastoral Message: Combining music, prayer, the eulogy and a brief message by the pastor is typical in a Christian funeral service. The person being honored may have decided in advance which funeral scriptures or Christian themes he wanted the pastor to include. If not, the family can make this decision and the pastor should be able to help. Even if the deceased did not attend church regularly, it isn't necessary to deliver a generic pastoral message. By asking the people closest to him about his Christian faith, the pastor can create a message that's meaningful.
Interment/Burial: As with secular funeral services, Christian burial has certain traditional elements. Reading Scripture at the graveside, offering prayers and inviting mourners to offer their comfort to the family are all spiritually meaningful. The interment service may also include more formal liturgies if that is the tradition of a particular denomination. This final element of saying goodbye to a loved one is normally brief and, if well-thought-out, can help those grieving to find release.
A Christian funeral service is often a celebration of the person's life on Earth and her entrance into eternal life. A loving tribute that takes into account both the joy of Christian faith and the sorrow of losing a loved one can have a profound impact on those who shared that person's life.