Reggie Joiner talked about “One Thing” that would make a difference, THE difference, in every church. After saying all the things it wasn’t, he told the story of the Prodigal Son (Lk. 15.?-?). The “One Thing”? Just treat a returning prodigal like a loving father treats his own son. He asked a frightening question: “What if the older brother had come out first?” How different would this story have been?
Loving Fathers are preoccupied with the missing. (Older brothers are preoccupied with themselves). Example: Don’t build church buildings for the people who are in it, but for those outside of it.
Loving Fathers operate from a context of forgiveness. (Older brothers operate from a context of shame). The goal is to create a place where the first place people run when they are in need is the church.
Loving Fathers throw parties. (Older brothers throw fits). We need to put joy and forgiveness in our homes and in our churches and there will be a huge difference.
Conclusion: Treat every prodigal like they’re your own son. And (speaking to church leaders), we have an opportunity to train a generation to love prodigals … or not.
Bonus: Joiner has a book out (Parenting Beyond Your Capacity) and he mentioned the idea earlier in the message that it is really difficult to raise children on your own. We need to invite other adults into our kids’ lives with our same values to reinforce what we tell them, but it will be from an objective resource. I thought that was brilliant. And I guess it needs to be people of different ages, too.