The Word: I want a cookout

Published 9:00 am Sunday, April 28, 2024

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An old preacher a long time ago while I was in college suggested keeping track of however many weddings, funerals and baptisms performed during ministry, as folks will often ask how many of each have been done. 

Pretty cool idea! I have kept a running list in the back of a ministry book given to me after graduating. With 27 years of ministry under my belt, my numbers are as follows: 176 weddings, 189 baptisms and 191 funerals. 

The funeral number used to be way lower than the others but over the past few years has shot ahead. As taxes were due just a couple weeks ago, the old saying of Ben Franklin is true that “… in this world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes”. Everyone dies (excluding Enoch in Genesis 5:24/Hebrews 11:5, and Elijah in 2 Kings 2:11, both being taken into glory without experiencing death). 

Having helped with 191 funerals, I’ve learned some things, mostly: I don’t like funerals. I don’t like performing funerals, I don’t enjoy attending funerals, I don’t like writing funeral lessons (which I strive to make each and every funeral lesson personal to whomever is being remembered…I struggle to just do one lesson for everyone and plug in a name). Most ministers can’t stand doing weddings but don’t mind funerals one bit. Not me. If I mess up at a wedding I can make a joke of it to make everyone laugh and roll on. Not a funeral. People pay close attention, making sure you give credit to the right person, don’t give credit to those folks, make sure you say every name correctly, every detail is correct, add these poems or songs but make sure you can figure out the name of them from the one random line the family remembers (“you know it, it goes…)…it’s too much. I have determined and have informed my whole family that whenever my time comes I don’t want a funeral. 

A person’s life tells which route they’re heading. Did they surrender their heart to Jesus and live for Him? Beautiful! Jesus ensures us which way they’re heading. Did they not surrender their heart to Jesus and not live for Him? Jesus ensures us which way they’re heading as well. A life preaches its own memorial service. 

I want a cookout. I want folks to come together and laugh, celebrate, tell stories while enjoying grilled hotdogs, French fries, ice cream and drinks (only diet ones, water and my 3 favorite beers will be provided). Oh to humbly lay my crown at His feet and worship Him forever. Heaven is all about Him! 

Rev. J. Cameron Bailey is pastor of Kenbridge Christian Church. He can be reached at