WEDDINGS and FUNERALS
This is part of the ministry resources on Pastoral Care and Christian Counseling, with a focus on officiating at weddings and funerals. It is part of the site archive that is not updated past 2012. Please see the list at bottom of the page for related ministry resources.
Comprehensive Manuals for Church Leaders on Weddings and Funerals (in suggested order)
- Aubrey Malphurs and Keith Wilhite, A Contemporary Handbook for Weddings and Funerals, and Other Occasions. Kregel Academic and Professional, 2003 – A comprehensive volume covering most areas of traditional funerals, weddings, dedications, ordinations, etc., from an evangelical perspective. It is compiled in a “ready-reference” style allowing the busy minister to find information quickly. The wedding section covers wedding service types, sample ceremonies, shared officiating, vow renewals, second marriages, marriage laws, wedding planning and rehearsals (e.g. ushering). The funeral section covers standard funeral service outlines and orders of service, eulogies, gravesides, and sample sermons. It also covers special needs such as untimely deaths, suicides, children, community tragedies, and memorials. The section on other occasions includes communion services, child or family dedications, baptisms, Christmas, ordinations, state of the church message, etc. It is full of suggested scriptures. Various contributors.
- Robert Blair, The Funeral and Wedding Handbook. CSS Publishing, 2002 – Practical, compassionate wisdom from a minister with over four decades of experience. It covers common and uncommon situations such as suicides, infant, non-Christians, etc. Blair also discusses many issues involved in working with families, with a good section on how to comfort the hurting. He discusses weddings from pre-marital counseling to the recessional. This book is full of helpful, humorous stories and advice.
- Jim Hiscox, Star Book for Ministers. Judson Press, 1967 – The famed “little black book for ministers.” It is a brief guide to most ministerial ceremonies and special occasions, with scripture suggestions. Hiscox is outdated, but it may be a rite of passage for ministers to have a copy in their library. 🙂
Wedding Officiating Resources for Church Leaders (See also PreMarital Counseling)
- Pre-Marital Counseling Resource Guide – Lists several resources for this common practice associated with wedding officiating.
- Paul E. Engle, Baker’s Wedding Handbook: Resources for Pastors. Baker, 1994 – Covers traditional wedding services, including wedding meditations, prayers and hymns for various faith traditions. Also includes contemporary services and civil marriages. He breaks the wedding service down into each stage from musical preludes and lighting candles to benediction and introduction of newlyweds. For ministers who do wedding planning as well as officiating, he provides a helpful checklist for the bride and groom. Engle is excellent on wedding etiquette. Recommended extensively in seminaries alongside Baker’s Funeral Handbook.
- Jim Henry and Marilyn Jeffcoat, The Two Shall Become One: A Wedding Manual. Broadman and Holman, 2000 – Discusses wedding planning, pre-marital counseling (brief), marriage-preparation classes, and wedding coordinating. The authors provide guidelines for several wedding types: modern-traditional, classic-traditional, family blessing, covenantal, outdoor-garden, Christmas, blended family, remarriage-reconciliation, double wedding, renewal of vows, 25/50 anniversary, and congregational convenant. It includes appendices on the pre-wedding relationship with couples, wedding coordination, and music.
Funeral Officiating Resources for Church Leaders
- Paul E. Engle, Baker’s Funeral Handbook: Resources for Pastors. Baker, 1996 – Contains 11 funeral, burial, and memorial services according to faith tradition. Also includes grief counseling aids. Recommended extensively in seminaries.
- Gene Fowler, Caring Through the Funeral: A Pastor’s Guide. Chalice Press, 2004 – Highly recommended source to help ministers understand and fulfill common expectations from the family, church, and society relative to funerals. Covers duties before, during, and after.
- John S. Mansell, The Funeral: A Pastor’s Guide. Abingdon, 1998 – Helfpul guide from when the phone rings to inform a minister of a death, to pastoral visits, funeral preparation, and leading the service. Appendices with sample funeral sermons. Not as comprehensive as Engle or Fowler.
- Jim Henry, A Minister’s Treasury of Funeral and Memorial Messages. Broadman and Holman Publishing, 2003.
- Robert Hughes, A Trumpet in Darkness: Preaching to Mourners. Fortress Press, 1985.
- Kent D. Richmond, A Time to Die: A Handbook for Funeral Sermons. Abingdon Press, 1980.
- Liam Swords, Funeral Homilies. Paulist Press, 1985.
Help with Grief and Bereavement Issues
- Terrence P. Curley, The Ministry of Consolers (Collegeville Ministry Series). Liturgical Press, 2004 – The revised version of an earlier classic on how ministers and congregations can minister to the bereaved. It is especially helpful in describing the week-by-week grief process, the “anniversary effect,” and the ministry expressions that are most helpful at each stage. Brief, thorough, well-written. Curley is reflective of Catholic tradition, but translates well into other faith communities. This is one of several volumes in a series. The Ministry of Consolers describes the nature of grief ministry. The Ministry of Consolation equips congregations to understand the role of faith communities in the work of bereavement. Healing the Broken-Hearted guides those interested in starting a bereavement ministry. Six Steps for Managing Loss guides individuals or groups through grief.
- Jan C. Nelson and David Aaker, The Bereavement Ministry Program: A Comprehensive Guide For Churches. Ave Maria Press, 1998 – Affirms many of the same principles as Curley’s Ministry of Consolers, but goes a few steps beyond with practical helps for ministers and church members who assist the grieving. The authors address special grief needs by stage in life — adults, children, teens. They also equip one for the special needs after that death of a spouse or parent, death after a long illness, death of a child (even adult children), suicide, murder, death of a pet, etc. It is full of reproducible handouts. It includes an excellent resource section to get further help or to set up a bereavement ministry in the church. Great companion volume to Curley above.
- Mauryeen O’Brien, Praying Through Grief: Healing Prayer Services for Those Who Mourn. Ave Maria Press, 1998 – A unique approach to grief ministry through pastoral care or corporate services of prayer and healing. It includes guides and samples to seasonal, holiday and general occasions where grief tends to surge, as well as more specific times such as anniversary of death, etc. It supplies reproducible guides for participants. Liturgically based, but useful for all traditions.
- Harriet Young, Bereavement Ministry: A Leader’s Resource Manual. Twenty-Third Publications, 1997 – Helpful resource integrating faith perspectives with Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s five stages of grief.
- Daniel G. Bagby, Seeing through Our Tears: Why We Cry, How We Heal. Minneapolis: Augsburg Press, 1999.
- Leo Buscaglia, The Fall of Freddie the Leaf: A Story of Life for All Ages. Slack Publishing, 2002 – A touching story that helps children and others face the death of someone they love.
- John Claypool, Tracks of a Fellow Struggler: Living and Growing Through Grief. Morehouse Publishing, 2004 – A moving series of four sermons that chronicle Claypool’s personal struggle with grief over the terminal illness and death of his young daughter. One may also be interested in two other volumes by Claypool, Mending the Heart and The Hopeful Heart.
- C. S. Lewis, A Grief Observed. HarperOne, 2001 – A classic journal of grief written by the renowned Christian apologist when his wife, Joy, died of cancer. Lewis describes one of the most honest struggles with doubt and the gradual healing of the wounds of grief.
- Kenneth R. Mitchell, All Our Losses, All Our Griefs: Resources for Pastoral Care.
- Wayne Edward Oates, Your Particular Grief. Westminster Press, 1981.
- Wayne Edward Oates, Grief, Transition, and Loss: A Pastor’s Practical Guide (Creative Pastoral Care and Counseling Series) Fortress Press, 1997.
- Joyce Rupp, Praying Our Goodbyes: A Spiritual Companion Through Life’s Losses and Sorrows, Revised Edition. Ave Maria Press, 2009.
- Ron Sunderland, Getting Through Grief: Caregiving by Congregations. Abingdon Press, 1993.
- Granger E. Westberg, Good Grief: A Constructive Approach to the Problem of Loss, Anniversary Edition. Augsburg Fortress, 2011.
- Andrew J. Weaver, Editor, Reflections on Grief and Spiritual Growth. Abingdon, 2005.
- Nicholas Wolterstorff, Lament for a Son. Eerdmans, 1987.
Related Ministry Resources
See Other Resources on Pastoral Care and Counseling:
- Christian Counseling and Pastoral Care, Intro
- Pastoral Care
- Christian Counseling, Pastoral Counseling
- Pre-Marital Christian Counseling
- Ministry Resources for Weddings and Funerals
See Resources on Over 100 Areas of Christian Ministry: