The Prodigal God
by Timothy Keller
Book/Small Group Study
This Book Study is planned to have six sessions. You can follow this guide or customize it as you wish.
Session #1 - Introducing the Parable.
Bible reading and discussion questions to consider the parable before diving into the book.
Session #2 - Hearing the Story afresh and considering the characters
Prodigal God - Introduction, Chapters 1-2 (Sessions 1&2 in Discussion Guide)
Video - 0:00-10:45
Session #3 - Redefining "Lost-ness"
Prodigal God - Chapters 3-4 (Sessions 3 in Discussion Guide)
Video - 10:45-19:22
Session #4 - The need to return "home" for youngers and elders.
Prodigal God - Chapter 5 (Session 4 in Discussion Guide)
Video - 19:22-24:55
Session #5 - Rediscovering the essence of Jesus' Christianity
Prodigal God - Chapter 6 (Session 5 in Discussion Guide)
Video - 24:55 - 32:36
Session #6 - The Feast of the Father
Prodigal God - Chapter 7 (Session 6 in Discussion Guide)
Video: 32:36 – END
You may use the sessions in the following format, or combine sessions. The discussion guides from pastor Zac will be available for all sessions via e-mail and on the church website at
Please use either the DVD or online access via RightNowMedia.org.
Discussion Guides are available for every leader.
Books are $9 each at the church, and $7.99 on Kindle/eBook.
The Prodigal God Book Study
Session #1 - Introducing the Parable
**Have the group WAIT to begin reading the book until after the 1st Session.**
Opening Statement to share: This book study is all about the Parable of the Prodigal Son, as we have come to know it. But this study takes a little different look at this parable, and it will challenge some of our pre-conceived notions; not only about what Jesus is teaching in this parable, but about the nature of Christianity. This book, The Prodigal God, comes to us from a pastor named Timothy Keller. He planted a church in Manhattan, NY called Redeemer Presbyterian Church. He specializes in new approaches to church, Christianity, and scripture. This study will require us to consider some new and challenging ways to view our faith. So ask questions, challenge yourself, and give God the space and time to help develop your faith even more fully. Jesus' teaching is a challenge to us, so this is not a bad thing, but a good thing! We will begin our first session by recalling a bit about our faith journeys, considering the ways we have changed and grown in the past. We will then look at the parable in Luke 15:11-32 and begin considering what it has to teach us.
Begin with a Payer for ILLUMINATION:
Lord God, we thank you for the gift of this day and the gift of your word. We thank you for the chance to study the bible and study our lives together. Send your Holy Spirit, that you would present in our learning, our speaking, and in our listening. Give us open hearts, open ears, and open minds as we seek you and learn from the words of Jesus Christ, who taught us to pray together saying...(Recite the Lord's Prayer together)
Ask: What interests you about this book and about this study? What do you hope to gain from this experience?
Ask: If you were on a traveling on a train, and you were about 90 seconds away from your next stop, and the person next to you asked, "What is Christianity all about, really?" What would you say?
-Think about the answer that you gave to the passenger on the train. Would you have given the same answer when you first began your faith journey? 5 years ago? 10 years ago?
-What has changed about your faith over the years, and in what ways has it stayed the same? --What has sparked these changes? Has it been experiences? Relationships? Was it an "ah-ha" moment or was it gradual and slow?
-Our faith is always changing and growing throughout our lives. As we look back and consider how God has worked in each of us, we recognize that change can be a good thing. And so, as we move forward in this study, we keep this is in mind as we ask questions and seek answers that will change us and challenge u.
-What have you heard about the Parable of the Prodigal Son? How have you heard it being preached and/or taught? What has been the main point of the story?
Read the Parable Together, but read it in "acts."
Introduction: Luke 15:1-3
-This sets the scene for 3 parables - The Lost Sheep, The Lost Coin, and the Prodigal (Lost) Son. To whom is Jesus speaking? What grumbling were these parables a response to?
Act I: Luke 15:11-19 - The recklessness of the younger son.
- v.17- "But when he came to himself" - When he came to his senses...
- What strikes you about this part of the story? What is our opinion of the younger son? - What is your opinion of the father? What must he have been feeling/going through?
- What emotions was the younger son feeling as he made his plan to travel back home?
Act II: Luke 15: 20-24 - The Return
- What do you imagine this scene of embrace must have been like?
- Pick one word to describe the father's emotion.
- Pick one word to describe the younger son's emotion.
Act III: Luke 15: 25-32 - The Elder Son
- Why hadn't the older son heard the news yet? He didn't get the first invite to the party?
- Can you sympathize with the elder brother's anger? Is he justified in his refusal to go into the party?
- What emotions do you sense in his words? What must his tone have been like?
- Why do you suppose the parable ends where it does? Is there a resolution? How might you imagine the rest of the story going?
Further Discussion Questions:
-Who is THE main character of the story? Pick ONE. Why?
-Which of the characters do you feel sympathy for?
- Which of the characters do you identify with?
- What do you think the main point of this parable? What is the essential thing Jesus is trying to teach his audience?
Lord, you have given us everything in giving us Jesus Christ. We thank you for his life, his teaching, his example, his love, and his death and resurrection. May the words of the living Jesus be alive in our hearts and minds as we have read and considered them, and may your Spirit work your truth in our minds and in our hearts as we consider your wisdom and your love. Amen.