The statistics are unbelievably staggering: over the last 10 years, 28 million have left the church – making America the third largest mission field in the world. 72 churches in America close each Week and attendance in 66 % of America’s churches has either plateaued or is 2/3 in decline. I hate to report this one, but truth is – Islam is the fastest growing religion in America.
Yet, as Paul would say, “we are hopeful of better things-things that belong to salvation.” We are hopeful our generation will see another great revival. We are hopeful that there will come another great awakening. We are hopeful that the prodigals will return. The question is:
Why are they leaving?
There are several reasons people are leaving the church. But allow me to highlight a few here:
Apathy and the deceitfulness and hardening of sin
Shallow soil, not grounded and without roots
Hypocrisy, sin among clergy and offense from others, inner hurts
Drifting, one bad choice after another bad choice
The seeker experience never turned into a conversion or salvation experience
Truth too hard to swallow
Why am I hopeful?
We are hopeful because God never gives up on Prodigals. He relentlessly pursues them. He is not going to let the devil have them.
Though they resist him, he will not give up and let them go. He will send prophets, and if they are rejected. He will send more. Though they unfollow their christian friends and close their hearts to his message, stop listening to loved ones, he will, in season and out of season, pursue them relentlessly, until all their defenses fall to the ground and they see how much he loves them.
We are hopeful because it is never too late to turn or return. We are hopeful because nothing is impossible with God. There is a seed planted within their soul that can germinate.
For Example :
Hebrew 6:4-8: Who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come.
Prodigals were once enlightened
Prodigals once tasted the heavenly gift
Prodigals once shared in the holy spirit
Prodigals once experienced the goodness of the word of God
Prodigals once tasted the powers of the age to come
Story of a Prodigal Comeback
Luke 15 tell the story of a young man who at a very young age decided to leave home and travel to a distant land. The bible doesn’t really give any inside story as to why he decided to leave home. But one can imagine how niece young men can be when they reach a certain age. All of a sudden, they become wise in their own eyes.
Four easy step for any prodigal to return to the Lord
He remembered what he lost
But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! Luke 15:17
He made an all the way decision
I will arise and go to my father… And he arose and came to his father… Luke 15:18, 20
He repented, confessed his sins, never to return to it
Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you… And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Luke 15:18, 21
He had no doubt that the Father would receive him and restore him
But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him… But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate. Luke 15:20, 22-24
He recognized the value of true Sonship
And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Luke 15:21
On this day he discovered a new depth of the Father’s love. This is the day he discovered that God could run. It was the day he felt the ferocious love of the Father. It was the day he realized how God’s heart breaks with depressing agony over the thought of losing a son. It was the day he understood the depth of the Father’s love. And I hope you understand that today.
Prayer for a Prodigal Comeback
Father, thank you for your relentless pursuit and your amazing grace. Thank you for your love that is long-suffering and unfailing. You have moved heaven and earth to find me again, for that I am eternally grateful. I surrender my life to you – in Jesus’ name – Amen!