Bringing Home the Prodigals
About the Book
A rebellious son turns his back on his family, breaks his father’s heart and pursues a path that can only lead to his own destruction --- yet he cannot destroy his father’s love for him. This simple parable has been called the greatest short story in the world. In his latest book, BRINGING HOME THE PRODIGALS (Authentic, April 2008), Parsons brings a fresh perspective on this narrative that, after 2,000 years, still speaks to us today with the promise of new beginnings, the triumph of love and forgiveness and the joy of reconciliation. For those who are grieving over their prodigals, this book offers the same message that has been a lifeline to so many: Let go of the false guilt --- after all, God has trouble with His kids, too. Love them. Forgive them. And above all, pray.
As president of Care for the Family, a British organization similar to America’s Focus on the Family, Rob Parsons has spent over two decades supporting families in the everyday stuff and major crises of family life. While ministering to families all over the world, Parsons has seen firsthand the universal nature of the parable’s plot. “I’ve learned that wherever you go in the world, parents, particularly mothers, feel guilty about their children. Mothers in Africa, New Zealand, Canada and every corner of the world all wonder where they went wrong,” he says. “No matter where I go, I meet grieving mothers, fathers, siblings and friends who are training their eyes intently on the horizon, clinging desperately to the hope that today might be the day their prodigal will return safely home.”
One thing is obvious. As long as the world offers the lure of self-indulgence, some people will take the bait. Yet, in addressing this topic that stirs such raw emotion, Parsons purposefully sidesteps the expected discourse on the evils of secular culture. Instead, he confronts the church with some challenging questions: Why is it so easy for people to leave the church and so difficult for them to come back? How do we treat people when they have sinned --- or when their children have sinned? Have our cultural interpretations of “Christian living” labeled some as prodigals who have, in fact, never really turned their backs on God at all?
Parsons has brought a message of hope and freedom to thousands of people through the BRINGING HOME THE PRODIGALS book and live events. He believes that prodigals are more likely to come home to their families and to the church when we become like the father in the parable, extending unconditional love and forgiveness to them, no matter how far they have fallen, how badly they have hurt us, and even when they don’t yet feel sorry for their actions. Unfortunately, our knee-jerk response is often to echo the self-righteous, intolerant sentiments of the older brother. When a church body communicates this attitude, is it any wonder that their prodigals are reluctant to return?
The message of BRINGING HOME THE PRODIGALS should catch the imagination of all who care about evangelism and church growth. “There is nothing as frustrating as seeing people come to Christ through the front door of the church and losing others in almost the same proportion out the back door,” Parsons laments. “The truth is, most of us know ten people who may never have been to a church whom we’d like to invite to an evangelistic service --- but we all know a hundred prodigals. When the Father’s house is filled with the Father’s love, the prodigals will come home --- and when that happens, we are going to have to pull down our old church buildings and hold services in aircraft hangars.”
BRINGING HOME THE PRODIGALS © Copyright 2011 by Rob Parsons. Reprinted with permission by Authentic. All rights reserved.