proselytize at funeral?
February 10, 2012 8:20 AM   Subscribe

At funerals or wakes pastors some times proselytize. Is there a name for this? Is there a pastor shop talk term for the activity?
posted by bdc34 to Religion & Philosophy (16 answers total)
A sermon. From their perspective a funeral is a religious service.
posted by mcwetboy at 8:30 AM on February 10, 2012 [6 favorites]

A different term but sometimes used is a homily. The difference between a homily and sermon isn't very clear homilies usually have more basis in scripture.
posted by bitdamaged at 8:37 AM on February 10, 2012

If I understand you correctly, you are not just talking about saying that the deceased was a Christian, going to heaven, baptized, etc. You are talking about pastors who use the opportunity to convince the funeral attendees that they should become Christians if they are not. Something like, "John is in Heaven, and he knew he would be because he believed in Christ. Do you have the same comfort? If you don't, you should believe in Christ." (with more words.) It is more common in baptist or evangelical circles.

The term for that is usually "gospel call" or "preaching the gospel" or "presenting the gospel." It is part of what those pastors call sermons/messages/preaching/words of comfort.
posted by michaelh at 8:43 AM on February 10, 2012 [4 favorites]

"Sharing the gospel"
posted by BurntHombre at 8:45 AM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Do you mean just a regular sermon, or a sermon that preaches "Mary was saved, and you can be, too"--or, worse, "Mary wasn't saved, but you can be"? Because I've heard the latter referred to as an evangelistic funeral.
posted by Meg_Murry at 8:45 AM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'm thinking about the sort of thing like Michaelh said. I am clear on the meanings of sermon, homily and eulogy. They all seem like they would vaguely describe what I'm asking about but I want something more specific.

What is the baptist or evangelical shop talk term for doing a gospel call in a sermon, homily or eulogy at a funeral? Are there shop talk terms for this sort of thing? We have "gospel call" there must be names for others like the bad luck means something sermon, the favor of God sermon, and the you were a hell raiser in the past but now you are saved sermon.
posted by bdc34 at 9:08 AM on February 10, 2012

A soul-winning sermon? An "if you die today do you know where you're going" sermon?
posted by Jahaza at 9:24 AM on February 10, 2012

I've always heard this called "an invitation." As in, "The funeral sermon ended with an invitation."
posted by hishtafel at 10:08 AM on February 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

In the south we call it the altar call. As in, come down to the altar and get saved.
posted by TallulahBankhead at 11:25 AM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I grew up in an evangelical church, and as far as I know there is no such term. People would just talk about "sharing the gospel" or "an invitation" in the context of a funeral service.
Now you get to make up your own!
posted by beau jackson at 12:13 PM on February 10, 2012

Sometimes dying people specifically request that their pastor proselytize. That's often called "sharing the gospel." That's appropriate. It's an affirmation of the values of the person who died. Even if you always found their beliefs rather silly, there's something moving about the fact that with their last breaths the dying person wanted to give you the thing they valued most.

Sometimes pastors proselytize at funerals without asking what the dead person would have liked. That is called "inconsiderate," "arrogant," "evil."
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:02 PM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

From my experience, there isn't much "thieves' cant"-style slang among religious professionals. Most of their work is done alone, and so there is little short-hand terminology regarding "tricks" or aspects of the job. Not that there aren't slang and neologisms! They're just for things most lay people wouldn't even have access to experiencing. Examples would be certain types of congregants, or typical experiences most people have in training for or performing that job. The groupie-ish women who hang out around Catholic Seminaries being called Sem Hags would be an example.

"Alter Calls" are normally a very specific kind of preaching, usually planned ahead of time. A real Alter Call involves people being literally called up to the front of the room to make an act of conversion. No matter how passionate the speaker's invitation to conversion is, if people are not asked to come forward, pray and receive, etc, it's not an actual Alter Call.

I think it may convey the wrong idea to put sharing the gospel in quotes, by the way (not that that was anyone's intention). It isn't a euphemism; There are a few different concepts that could be called The Gospel ("The Kingdom of God is at hand, repent and be saved", "Jesus died for your sins, accept Him as your Lord", etc), and when someone expresses those concepts, they are sharing the Gospel.

It isn't like having a "birds and the bees" talk. That person is literally sharing the Gospel. I'm saying this because when the kind of people who talk about sharing the Gospel actually do that, it isn't like they're doing a bit. It's the equivalent of saying, "I think I'll tell these people about Global Warming." They aren't telling them about "Global Warming". It's just Global Warming.

If all that sounds insane, sorry. I'm sick and doing my best to answer a good question. Me no think good, etc.

TL;DR: There almost certainly isn't a name for that. Most religious shop-talk is for a pastor's experience with you, not you with them.
posted by Poppa Bear at 1:11 PM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Agreeing with those who say it's really just a sermon or homily. I think the degree of proselytizing depends on the minister.

I've been to a couple funerals in the last year for people who were not particularly religious, where the minister's sermon used the fear of death as an incentive for attendees to re-examine their own faith. (Personally I find it a little offensive, particularly when it's clear the minister didn't know the person whose funeral it was, but haven't been a Christian since my teens, so I tend to bristle easily when in a church service.)
posted by aught at 1:39 PM on February 10, 2012

This is pretty denomination-dependent and it's also regional. It really is just sharing the gospel -- but the thing is, different denominations have different customs and place a different degree of emphasis on the public conversion experience. If they're fishing for public conversions you will get an altar call. In other denominations conversion/being saved/communion is constructed differently and the conversion experience happens in places other than a sermon.
posted by Miko at 6:19 PM on February 10, 2012

Best answer: I was a pastor for about 15 years, and I can't think of a particular term for doing that at a funeral that is different than when it is done in a church service "altar call," "invitation," etc. It's possible that some particular denomination has a term for it that I don't know, but there definitely is no term that is widely used by pastors across denominational lines. I've only seen that take place in Southern Baptist or Pentecostal funerals myself, and I refused to do it myself.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 7:59 AM on February 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yes, reminded by Pater Aletheias I can say that I saw it only at Southern Baptist and Church of Christ funeral services in AL and TX and have never seen in it any of the Catholic or mainline Protestant churches in NY, NJ, or New England at which I've attended funerals.
posted by Miko at 4:30 PM on February 13, 2012

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