How to Plan Funerals: A Free Funeral Program Template

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A funeral service template is one of the many practical needs of families and their ministers at a time of loss. Many ministry training programs fail to provide any clear funeral service ideas to follow in the development of a funeral service. Use these steps to guide your development of a funeral program. It's a useful tool to help create a personal, yet meaningful service within your tradition.

Gather family members together to develop an order of service that meets the expectations of the family as well as the concerns of their faith community. This meeting typically takes an hour. Schedule sufficient time for funeral service ideas to formulate and order themselves.

Determine the music. A funeral service typically includes a prelude, processional, hymns and a recessional. The tone of the music should be appropriate to the occasion and the deceased; while it need not be traditional, guide the family to selecting options that are in keeping with the solemnity of the occasion. Rule out any music that would be irreverent or out of place for a funeral. Select hymns that include words of comfort.

Determine sacred readings that are meaningful to the deceased and their immediate family. However, more creative funeral service ideas, such as poetry readings, are often appropriate to the occasion. If the deceased had a favorite book or author, consider selections of this work as well.

Determine participatory elements. Some traditional funeral service ideas include: acknowledgements, reading of cards or condolences, eulogies and a final viewing, if desired. Don't limit funeral service ideas to the passive observation of the attendees. Include communion or responsive readings, if the family deems it appropriate.

Set a logical flow to the service. A typical service follows this format: musical prelude, processional, opening prayer, hymn, scripture reading, acknowledgments, obituary reading, eulogy, sermon, final viewing, benediction, recessional, and interment or committal.

Design the funeral program. The front of the funeral program is often personal and welcoming. Include a picture of the deceased in good health, using a head and shoulders shot. If you prefer, a more generic front page allows attendees to ease into their grief. Include the date, location, officiant, any significant scriptures or quotes, as well as an order of the service.