Discipleship Activities for the Family

Bringing It Home

Family faith-sharing tip:

The story of the prodigal son is a beautiful example of the kind of love we need to show to our wayward children, whatever age they are. It was his trust in his father’s love, kindness, and generosity that inspired the son to return home again. It was his father’s unexpected and undeserved, loving, accepting and forgiving welcome that changed his heart forever. Experiencing overwhelming grace, when we least deserve it, is the kind of love that inspires us, and our children, to keep going and growing.


Focus:

  • Romans 8:37-39Luke 15:11-24
  • The story of the prodigal son is really the story of an amazing, generous, loving, grace-filled, forgiving, accepting, patient, compassionate, hopeful, and celebrating father. This is the story of our wonderful Father in heaven, who loves us just as much as the father loved his wayward and wasteful son.

Gather together:

  • Ball of red yarn (wool)
  • Plastic toy pigs (or small stones)
  • Bowl of muddy water
  • Clean-up cloths
  • Rake, spade, or toy sheep
  • Nice coat or bathrobe, etc.
  • Ring
  • Sandals
  • Party snacks and juice
  • A selection of the nicest craft materials available, neatly presented
  • Scissors
  • Marker pens (felt pens)
  • Paper glue and newspapers (optional)
  • Red posterboard (thin card)
  • Hole punch
  • Swing tags, luggage labels, or shapes cut from posterboard with a hole punched in each one

What you do:

  • Before you begin the story of the prodigal son, unravel the yarn and tie a circle around your chest. Then cut the remaining yarn into one long length per child. Tie one end of each piece of yarn firmly to the yarn circle around your chest. Tie the other end in a loop around each child’s wrist, so they are all connected to your “heart” by their own strand of yarn.
  • Read the story of the prodigal son together, and make it come alive with as many props as you can find.
  • Choose the youngest child (if appropriate) to be the prodigal son. The other children are given tools to work on the father’s farm.
  • While the prodigal son is wasting all his money doing selfish things, the other children are digging, raking, or looking after sheep, etc.
  • Let the prodigal son act out spending his money, dancing, drinking, and eating,etc.
  • Then he can show he is hungry and find that there’s no money left.
  • Suddenly he has a great idea and goes to find work, ending up looking after the pigs in the mud. Let your child play with the muddy pigs and then clean up using the cloths.
  • Finally he notices the red yarn around his wrist—the sign of his father’s love, and he walks slowly and painfully back home, with his head low, to beg for a job.
  • When his father sees him, he runs towards his son and hugs him and laughs and gets nice new clothes for him, and plans the party.
  • The other children come in from their work and complain that their wasteful brother is being given a wonderful welcome party. (They could have had a party any time they asked. But they just didn’t ask!)
  • Let the working children decide whether they want to come to their brother’s welcome party. This ending is left open. It’s a choice for each of us to make.
  • Discuss:
    • What do you think the red yarn represents? (God’s love that keeps us connected to Him even when we make unwise choices and disobey Him)
    • Who is the father in the story? (God)
    • What helped the son to come back home again?
    • How did it feel when his father came to meet him and welcome him so wonderfully?
    • Did he deserve this kind of welcome?
    • Why was the father so happy that he planned a party?
    • Why was the other brother so upset by the party?
  • God’s loving acceptance and grace are wonderful gifts that inspire us to keep on growing.
  • Cut the yarn, but leave a loop around their wrists for a while, to remind them of God’s love for them.
  • Provide the craft materials and invite them to make something to illustrate God’s amazing love for them.

Prayer/reflection activity:

  • Cut a large heart from red posterboard and write words that describe God’s love all over the heart. Or cut words from magazines and newspapers that describe God’s love and stick them on the heart.
  • Punch holes along the lower edges of the heart.
  • Write the names of people you are praying for on small posterboard shapes, swing tags, or luggage labels, etc.
  • Tie them to the heart of God’s love with red yarn.
  • Keep praying for them and looking for new ways to show them God’s amazing love.