On a regular basis, I receive inquiries as to how to obtain copies of my book Comfort Those Who Grieve: Ministering God’s Grace in Times of Loss (It’s been hard to find since stock was intentionally allowed to run out because it moved to a different publisher). Thankfully, I am now able to direct you to the revised and updated version that was just released this month by Zondervan. Comfort the Grieving is one of the recent additions to the Practical Shepherding series edited by Brian Croft. Here are some of the kind words Brian wrote in the Foreword to this edition.
Some of the most valuable lessons I have ever learned as a pastor, lessons that are affirmed year after year, happen in hospital rooms and funeral homes. I have watched sweet elderly saints take their last breath while holding their hand praying for them. I have won enemies over after a visit while they are recovering in a hospital room. I have seen despair turn to hope while talking about Christ as I’ve sat with a grieving widow at a funeral visitation. These pivotal moments for fruitful ministry exist because the hospital room and the funeral home accomplish something few life moments can. They remind us of our frailty and brokenness. They jolt our hearts into reality when we are tempted to believe we are invincible. They press us to focus on eternal things when we want to live in the temporal.
And yet, ironically, these are places many pastors try to avoid today. Why? Well, for one, this kind of ministry is hard work. It is not glamorous. It requires you to engage your heart in a way that makes many people uncomfortable. It involves assuming burdens that are painful to bear. Sometimes no one knows you are doing this ministry, other than God and the people you visit. But these types of visits are core to our calling as pastors who shepherd God’s flock until the Chief Shepherd returns (1 Peter 5:4). And I’m convincd that one of the best ways to recover these essential aspects of pastoral ministry is to equip pastors so they can better care for those who are grieving.
That is why I am excited about the book you hold in your hand. My excitement is due to two things. First, the content and structure is particularly suited to equip pastors and others in this task of comforting those who grieve. Beginning with the biblical foundations that show us where our hope comes from in times of grief, it moves into ways in which a pastor can minister this hope to others, both publically and privately. The last section gives specific practical helps: hand-written notes, advice on using songs, and even charts to help in scheduling visits and contacts in the first year of bereavement. This book is concise, clear, and gives any pastor the necessary tools they need to shepherd their grieving people well.
The second reason I am excited about this book is that it is a key resource in the Practical Shepherding series. Another title in the series, Visit the Sick, addresses how to extend care to people through the struggles of sickness, pain, and affliction. Conduct Gospel-centered Funerals is a title in the series that addresses the immediate circumstances surrounding a death, including the preparation of a funeral sermon and logistics of working with funeral homes. Although hospitals and funeral homes are key places to do ministry, they are not the only places where grief is experienced. Much of the grieving process requires extended care that takes place long after the immediate circumstances of the hospital and funeral home.
This newest book in the Practical Shepherding series, Comfort the Grieving, is a wonderful complement to these other two books. It fills in the gaps while affirming the wisdom and practical helps they offered.
And Walter Kaiser writes: “Few have attempted to offer comfort to those who grieve, and fewer have been as successful. I commend this wonderful little volume. It is a veritable anthology of practical helps for those who are grieving and for those who attempt to minister to their needs. Therefore I recommend it as a book for all deacons, elders, pastors and lay persons. It is an important tool which should be thoughtfully read if we are to minister wisely and effectively to those in our fellowship who will eventually face such times.”
I’m very grateful to the Lord and to our friends at Zondervan Publishing Group for this new edition of Comfort the Grieving. It is our prayer that the Holy Spirit will use it to equip God’s people to comfort one another with the comfort that is ours in Christ.
[Be sure to take a look at the other titles in the Practical Shepherding series here.]