Let*s Talk About It *..On Being A Parent Of A Prodigal

Let’s Talk About It
…..On Being A Parent Of A
Presenter | Paula Isakson
Founder Faith Family Reunion
My family
Mom, dad and daughter
Growing Up In a Pastor’s family
Mom, daughter and father the pastor
My Parents Brought
me up faithfully in
the word
But I left the faith for over
25 years
Todays Topic
What causes parents to keep quiet when it comes to
their prodigals? Is it a feeling of failure, anger or
Learn how to begin to “open up” with others and discover
that you are not alone.
Learn how the process of “talking about it” can lead to
an internal healing process enabling you to reach out to
your prodigal.
Let’s Talk About It | On Being A Parent Of A Prodigal
• How many of you are in church leadership?
• How many of you know of parents with
• How many of you have prodigals in your lives?
Deeper Questions
•Why Is The Subject Of Our Kids Leaving
Faith and the Church So Hard To Speak
•If You Have A Prodigal In Your Life, What Do
You Do When Your Feelings Overwhelm
My Story
Testimony of coming back
to faith
Where My experiences as a
prodigal have taken me
Felt a call to reach out to parents of prodigals and developed Faith Family Reunion
Now work on this ministry outreach with my father Dr. Jakob K. Heckert
• Faith Family Reunion
• A ministry outreach to parents of prodigal
• Goal is to addresses parents emotional needs and to get parents to start opening up
and talking about the situation instead of keeping the hurt buried inside
• Belief that meeting with others and sharing experiences helps one realize that they
are not alone and can help with the internal healing process
• Matthew 18:20 | For where two or three are gathered in my name there I am with
• Proverbs 12:25 | Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes
him glad.
Ways to begin to open up
Initiate A Group Meeting In Your Congregation
Reach Out To Parents of Prodigals
Offer A Weekly Bible Study
Set Up Weekly Meeting Time & Location
Put A Notice In Church Bulletin and Church Newsletter
Why |
Address The Emotional Needs of Parents (Grandparents and Other Family Members) With
Build A Community For Parents To Interact
Establish Group Correspondence To Provide Encouragement Among Members
What It Can Provide |
An Outlet For Parents (Grandparents and Other Family Members)
A Place and Time To Receive Encouragement
A Bible Study That Addresses The Subject And Provides Further Encouragement
Creates A Community That Can Be A Resource To Hurting Parents And Families In the
Congregation (Giving Them A Place To Go)
More Ideas | Visit http://faithfamilyreunion.nextmeta.com/core-beliefs
Idea for Class Curriculum
Background | Encouraged to write curriculum by mentors
Concordia Center for the Family Ann Arbor MI
Pilot Program | September 2015 at Concordia Ann Arbor.
Panel included:
Dr. Jakob K Heckert (Father and Theological Editor Faith
Family Reunion)
Ben & Jennifer Fruedenberg (Concordia Center For The
Family, Ann Arbor MI)
Bob McKinney (DCE Concordia University Ann Arbor MI)
Eunice McKinney (DCE & Counselor)
Mom With Prodigal (From Ann Arbor MI)
Grandmother With Prodigal (Counselor, From Ann Arbor
June McCarty (Counselor, From Britton MI)
Vicar David McCarty (Transitional Vicar, Immanuel Lutheran
Church from Britton MI)
Additional assistance: Ruth Koch (Overseer Board Concordia
University Ann Arbor, Counselor), Sandy Wendehelin DCE
Bethlehem Lutheran Denver CO, Pastor Hellmer’s St. Lukes in
Golden CO, Mom with prodigal from Denver CO
Intro faith family reunion
Sample Class Curriculum
Getting Started
Introduction to Group Leader’s Packet | Pages
Intended Group Audience
(Page 3)
• Parents of Prodigals
• Grandparents
• Individuals that are believers and have prodigal
family members
• Pastors and professional church workers if
they have a prodigal in their family
Things To Consider As Group Leader
(Pages 3 - 4)
• Sensitivity of Subject Matter
• Parents come to class blaming selves - important
to stress forgiveness
• Dealing with a multitude of emotions and reasons
why children have left the faith
• If you are going to lead the group, are you also
dealing with a prodigal in your life? (don’t let that
discourage you from leading)
Different Family Scenarios
(Pages 4 - 9)
• Reasons children leave the faith
• Family dynamics - Highlights
1. Leaving the faith or organized traditional church
2. Toll on family, parents
3. Response by each parent
4. Vulnerability of meeting in a group
5. Fear of judgement
6. Family life, different styles of family
• Forgiveness is KEY
Getting Started | Don’t Be Discouraged
(Page 9)
• After a thorough review of pages 4 -9 you
may want to quit and not even start a group
• Questions to Ask Yourself:
1. What happens if parents just keep this sorrow
to themselves? What will happen to them?
2. Could they benefit by sharing?
3. What would happen if we all started talking
about it?
Start Out Slow
(Page 10)
• Broach subject and gently preach about ‘the
• Start a bible study with parents of prodigals
but don’t delve into a study dealing with prodigals
• The key is to get parents together who have “in
common” their kids leaving the faith
Suggested Introductory And Additional Studies
(Page 10)
Great Authors and books on prodigals from:
Kenneth Bailey
Henri Nouwen
Dr. Robert Hemfelt, Dr. Frank Minrth and Paul
Meier M.D.
James Banks
Donald Miller
Sarah Young
Thom S. Ranier
Creating A Safe Environment
(Page 11)
Ensure confidentiality
Don’t put parents on the spot
Keep group small |4 -6 people may be ideal
If you are a group leader that has a prodigal
make sure you are at a place of peace before
leading the group
Purpose Of Curriculum And Format
(Pages 12 - 14)
• Design of Curriculum | Study gently addresses the
issue to encourage parents to open up
• Stages of Curriculum |
1. Address situation
2. Understanding the prodigal
3. Class format that includes devotion, prayer, bible
verses and questions
4. Deeper questions for parents to reflect on
5. A section on forgiveness ends each session
Purpose Of Curriculum And Format
(Pages 12 - 14)
6. Theological background | devotions written
by a prodigal that returned to the faith and edited
by retired by active LCMS pastor
7. Getting the word out about class | suggested
guidelines and sample note for church bulletin
8. Social media | FB and TW
9. Interactive website | Faith Family Reunion: a
place for parents to interact online anonymously
(become a member)
Group Confidentiality Contract
(Page 15)
• Write up ‘Rules of Engagement’ for group
• Example:
I will keep the testimonies and stories I hear
in this group confidential. What is discussed in
this group stays in this group and is not to be
shared outside the group.
More ideas on page 15
Series One | Addressing The Subject
(Pages 16 - 22)
Starting out with a perspective on forgiveness
Story of a prodigal
Bible verses
Opening questions
Examples of what my parents did and did not do
Suggested exercise
Get a list of each person’s needs to pray for that
week until the next meeting
Week One | A Beacon Of Light
(Pages 23 - 29)
Opening devotion
Bible Verses
Group discussion | Father’s & mother’s perspectiv
Ice Breakers
Deeper Questions
Ending with a perspective on forgiveness
Get a list of each person’s needs to pray for that
week until the next meeting
Faith Family Reunion
Visit Our Website: www.faithfamilyreunion.com
*In the fall of 2014 we received a grant from the LCMS Synod and were able to use a portion of the funds to build this
What Do We Offer Parents?
Weekly newsletters (sign up) that are devotionals and studies to
provide encouragement to parents
Resources section that includes information on good books or articles
that address the subject
Opportunity to become member on website in order contribute
answers to questions or submit encouragement to other parents
Event information on where we will be sharing our class curriculum
and resources.
Prayer of Psalm 121
NIV | A Song Of
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where
does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,the Maker of
heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—he who
watches over you will not slumber:
indeed, he who watches over Israel will
neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—the Lord is
your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day, nor the
moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—he
will watch over your life;
The Lord will watch over your coming and
going both now and forevermore.
Thank You
Faith Family Reunion
If You Would Like More Information
a Isakson: [email protected] Or Visit www

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