Josh Packard coined the term “dones” to describe an estimated 30 million former American churchgoers maintaining faith in God and Christian identity. The top four reasons were:
- Want community and got judgment
- Want to affect the life of the church and got bureaucracy
- Want conversation and got doctrine
- Want meaningful engagement with the world and got moral prescription
Let’s look at God’s heart for the lost one—someone who rejected Christ and/or the church. God continually searches and shows compassion for those who go astray, whether a person is immoral or self-righteous. Heaven rejoices when a sinner repents.
1. Exult with Jesus
Pharisees and scribes grumbled as Jesus ate with tax-gatherers and sinners. Jesus told parables about a man leaving 99 sheep and going after the lost one until he found it. After coming home, he calls together his friends and neighbors to rejoice over finding the lost sheep. More joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous persons who need no repentance (Luke 15:1-7). Jesus searches and rejoices after finding a lost person who repents of sin.
2. Thank God for conversions
A woman lost one of ten silver coins. She searches carefully until she finds it. She rejoices with her friends and neighbors after finding the lost coin. Joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:8-10). Angels in heaven rejoice over one sinner who repents.
3. Welcome prodigals
A younger of two sons asked his father squandered his share of the estate with loose living in a distant country. After spending everything and feeding swine, he realized his father's hired men had enough to eat, but he was dying with hunger. The son confessed his sin to God thinking he was no longer worthy to be called a son. Coming home, his father saw, felt compassion, ran, embraced and kissed him. The father brought out the best robe so they could eat and be merry "for this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found."
The older son was angry and refused to go to the celebration. He told his father that for years he served and obeyed him, but never received a party like his younger son who devoured wealth with harlots. The father said, "My child, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to be merry and rejoice, for the brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found" (Luke 15:11-32). God yearns for both moral and immoral sons to repent of sin.
Will you overcome your fear and inadequacy to schedule a lunch or coffee with a friend who rejected Christ and/or the church? Begin your time listening to his story.