I have made this statement and never had a preacher disagree with me.
I spent the weekend doing a wedding and it was a delightful time. The bride and groom seem tremendously suited for one another and I think they will have a happy family. It was a good deal of work, but I had a great time at the dinner, at the wedding and at the reception. I was glad to have the chance to participate
But I would still rather do a funeral. No, I’m not happy that someone has died and that people are grieving. But as a pastor, I find funerals to be much more fulfilling ministry than weddings. Maybe you disagree with me, or maybe you would like to add to my reasons for thinking this. Here are my thoughts as to why every preacher I’ve ever talked to about it has agreed with me that we would rather perform funerals than weddings.
1) Every funeral I’ve ever done has lasted!
That is not (just) a silly joke. Every time I do a wedding I find myself wondering, “Did I do a good enough job of preparing them for what lies ahead?” “Should I really have done this wedding?” I realize that it is not my fault if a marriage doesn’t work out, but that pressure exists when you perform a marriage.
2) Funerals provide real opportunities for ministry.
Every once in a while, a couple wants to focus on the Lord and make the wedding a time of worship and celebration of Christ. There are many who want to give honor to Christ and have a gospel message, but few that really want Christ to be the focus. The focus is the bride (and groom), the decorations and dresses. At most weddings, pastors are ceremonial and perfunctory. The introduction of topics like sin and hell and crucifixion and salvation can seen like a crude interruption to a day of flowers and frills.
But at a funeral, there is a real chance to minister. First of all, I preach the gospel to more people at funerals than at any other time in my life. I have the opportunity to talk about Christ to people who are hurting and thinking about eternity. They are struggling with issues of life and death, eternity and judgment – all those things we tend to ignore on a daily basis.
At a wedding, people just want a minister to lead the vows and sign the license, but at a funeral, people are hurting and need a minister to minister!
3) Weddings tend to focus us on things that don’t really matter, while funerals focus us on eternal things.
This encapsulates what I have said before. Weddings get to be about photographers and colors and drama. But when someone dies, our hearts turn to eternity and the consideration of what really matters. Weddings are a momentary break from reality and funerals slap us back to eternal realities.
There is undoubtedly more I could say (and may say), but these are my basic thoughts.