Weekly Email Sign-up

The Prodigal God

“There are plenty of churches for older brothers, but not many for prodigals.”

So said a speaker at a conference I attended during one of the first years of my ministry as a pastor and church leader.

He was taking about one of the most famous stories Jesus ever told, what we know as the parable of the prodigal son – the son who took half of his inheritance, left, and then ruined his life. In utter shame he attempts to return home, not as a son, but as a hired servant. Wondering if his father will even accept him back in that way, he is stunned when his father runs to him, hugs him and then throws a huge party in his honor.

The story should be called the 'Parable of the Older Brother' because it ends with the older brother refusing to join the celebration, incensed that his father would welcome the ‘sinner’ back.

This story, found in Luke 15 is packed full with the core message of Jesus about God, religion, achievement and failure.

So, this fall, beginning Sunday, September 19, we will begin a focus on this story, the Prodigal God, based on the best-selling book by Timothy Keller.

To get the core realities of Jesus’ message into our DNA as a church we will:

  • Encourage everyone to participate in a 6-week discussion group on the book and the sermons. The book will be provided.
  • Base the Sunday morning messages on the story, according to the flow of the book
  • Invite friends, families, neighbors, and co-workers who might have been burned by relgiion or church, and would be surpised by what Jesus  taught.

Timothy Keller says that most church experience trains us to be older brothers who try their best to please the Father, but miss out on the incredible joy of the Father’s love. And, how often do prodigals think of the church as the place where they can find grace? Someone emailed me the other day and said that they usually feel too guilty abut what they have done to come to church.

Jesus turned upside down everything that good, religious people thought, as well as the assumptions of those who were not religious.

At the Gathering Church, we want to learn to love people incredibly well. We know that we must first be loved incredibly well ourselves. The Prodigal God will teach us how to be loved.

So, get ready.