After lifting COVID-19 restrictions at the end of 2022, the infectious disease caused the deaths of many middle-aged and elderly people with underlying conditions, including some senior believers.
Two elderly people died in a small village church attended by only 20 or 30 middle-aged and elderly Christians. The children of the two people who died asked the church to plan their funerals according to Christian customs and the wishes of the people who died. Without a choir or band, the small church has no funeral host or preacher. Because she had only received several years of online theological education and had never preached at a memorial service, the pastor of this church felt ill-equipped. The head of the church also lacked experience in ministry and was too busy with secular work to be a host.
Usually, the church asks the chief pastor of the county CC&TSPM to invite a big church in other townships to hold the ceremony.
The church leader turned down the invitation from the families of the two Christians who had died because he didn't want to bother the church staff and Christians in nearby churches, some of whom had also been infected or should have held memorial services for Christians who had died in their churches.
In fact, like this small church, over two-thirds of the local churches turned to the local CC&TSPM to get help from a large church in other townships.
Here are a few suggestions to better conduct the ministry.
The county and district CC&TSPM can designate a pastor to be in charge of this ministry for believers in the area. The person should be planning ministry training for pastors and church leaders, helping small churches hold memorial services, and encouraging churches to work together.
The county and district CC&TSPM can divide pastoral areas, and the appointed directors and staff workers in charge of the ministry could form a funeral team for churches in those rural areas. By providing preachers and hosts, different churches can select members to start a joint funeral choir and band. When a believer in a small church passes away, the funeral team undertakes the funeral work.
The CC&TSPMs should train funeral service workers, including preachers, hosts, choir members, and band members, to spread the gospel and bear testimonies to the Lord through the ministry, which has high requirements for these workers.
If the above three points can't be met, Christian organizations can designate a large church to support the small one.
The small churches can also seek funeral assistance from comprehensive ones, which should pay attention to the funeral ministry of the surrounding small churches and provide support.
(The article is initially published by the Gospel Times, and the author is a pastor in Hubei Province.)
- Translated by Abigail Wu