Evangelicals are the conservative branch of Protestantism. Christianity has nearly 2 billion followers and they are divided into three major groups including the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodoxy and Protestantism. Protestantism itself is made up of many different denominations.
Christianity grew out of Judaism. A Christian is a follower of Jesus Christ who is believed to be the Messiah predicted in the Jewish Scriptures (the Old Testament). While there is wide variation on many Christian teachings, virtually all groups agree that people are redeemed of their sins, which is broadly interpreted as rebellion against God, by a belief in the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus.
An Overview of Beliefs
Evangelical Protestants base their beliefs on the teaching of the Bible, which they consider to be the Word of God. Typically they believe that man was created by God, that humankind ultimately rebelled against God and as a result people are destined for hell. the only escape is to repent of sin and to believe in the atoning death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Such beliefs are common to virtually all Christian traditions, but evangelicals are more zealous than many others in sharing their views about the process of redemption.
The word "evangelical" is based upon the New Testament Greek word for "good news," which was the way the message of Christ was referred to in the Bible. By actively evangelizing others, evangelicals feel they are fulfilling the plan Jesus Christ outlined in the closing chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament.
Views on Death and the After-Life
Like most other Christian groups, evangelical Christians believe that when the body dies the soul departs to be with God. They believe that at a later time they believe there will be a resurrection of the body which will ultimately exist eternally. For those who are followers of Jesus Christ, salvation is assured. They believe that hell awaits those who do not repent. Repentance requires that people forsake their sins and trust Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Mourning and Funeral Rites
An evangelical funeral is generally conducted by the pastor of a local church. It normally consists of a sermon, testimonials by friends and relatives of the deceased, hymns and prayers. Prior to the funeral service there may be a viewing at the funeral home, however the coffin is usually closed during the funeral service in the church.
There is often a brief graveside service after the funeral service in the church. In many cases family and friends meet at the church or in a private home after the burial for food and conversation.
It is very common for a pastor or family members to explain the way of salvation during an evangelical funeral service and to invite people to be saved. If a person does make a commitment to Christ during a funeral service it is viewed deemed to have added meaning and purpose to the life of the departed one. Visitors are not obligated to respond to the message unless they desire to do so.
How to Express your Condolences
Expressions of sympathy can be a note of condolence, flowers, meals for the family, or a donation to a favorite charity. It is always best to express your condolences to the surviving spouse and family when possible, but otherwise you should send a card or letter of condolence when you first hear of the death.
Important note: The statements made about beliefs and rites are general in nature and may vary by sect, denomination, country or ethnic group. The information provided here is intended as an overview, and if you have questions about specific matters you should contact the clergy or other person conducting the funeral service. If you read anything in this section that differs from the beliefs in your tradition, please contact usso we can update this page.