Christian Funeral Service Rituals

Christians have a strong belief in the afterlife and much of their lives are directed at achieving eternal peace in Heaven.

They believe that Jesus was the son of God and came to earth to teach through his actions and lessons.

These writings are known as the Christian Bible and make up the scriptures, the Old and the New Testaments. According to the New Testament, Jesus sacrificed himself to his enemies and was crucified. This sacrifice was made to pay for the sins of all mankind. A true believer in Jesus and the Christian faith will be forgiven for sins as a result of Jesus’ sacrifice and gain eternal life in Heaven. From Catholics to Mormons to Lutherans, Christianity has inspired many other religions, each with its own emphasis and interpretation of the Bible. Although these religions hold slightly different beliefs, they follow the same principles and share similar funeral rituals. Christian funeral services serve the same purpose: to pray for the soul of the deceased, as well as to offer comfort and support to the bereaved. The typical Christian funeral includes:

An opening statement lead by the priest or minister. Depending on the religion it may be either a prayer, a statement that shows support to the bereaved, or a combination of both. Prayers and hymns are read and sung throughout the funeral. Guests are often encouraged to read or sing along at appropriate times. Scripture readings are a common part of most services. Similar to prayer and hymns, the specific readings and their placement in the ceremony differ by religion.A remembrance given by a close friend or family member honors the life and gifts of the deceased. The service ends with closing words given by the minister. He states that the service is over and leads the procession to the cemetery. Graveside services also differ by religion, but all services have some form of words of committal in which the minister either reads a prayer, praises Jesus and prays for the soul of the deceased. Christian funeral services focus mainly on the deceased entry into Heaven and God’s ability to give the grieving strength to cope with their recent loss. Christians believe that when someone dies, they are judged by God. The righteous go to Heaven and the sinners go to Hell.

​When a Christian dies, it is seen as the end of his/her life on earth. A funeral is held for friends and family to grieve for the person who has died and give thanks for their life.

If someone is on their deathbed, a minister will prepare them for death. This is most likely after a long period of illness. Prayers of preparation and reconciliation may be said, with only the minister in the room. Family and friends can participate in the Lord's Prayer, the Word of God and Holy Communion.

Often, the deceased will have left information in his/her will concerning what they want to be included in the funeral service (hymns, prayers) and will also say whether they wanted to be buried or cremated.

The funeral is held about a week after death. It can either take place in a church or at a crematorium. It usually takes this form: