I’m not sure how helpful this post will be. It’s not even something that I do intentionally anymore. But maybe, somewhere out there, this will help someone out.
Every church has prodigals; people who once professed Christ and dwelled with us in community but who are now wandering, rebellious, and living wild in the world. Several years ago I was leading worship at a church where I did not have a long history, but almost weekly I would hear someone mention a prodigal son or daughter of the church who had “popped in” out of nowhere. Some of them stayed, some of them did not. After a while I realized two things. First, for whatever reason, in that season of the church’s life there was a returning generation of those who had wandered. I didn’t know why or how long it had been happening or it would last, only that it was going on. The second thing I realized is that not every prodigal was being recognized. If this many were being noticed (and hopefully embraced and ministered to) how many more were slipping in and out (it was a fairly large church).