Use this Children’s Sermon Lesson on the Parable of the Prodigal Son when teaching from Luke 15:1-3; 11-32. You can download the lesson plan below and watch our video children’s sermon example as you prepare to deliver the message in your own church or Sunday School ministry.
What is the main message of the prodigal son: God’s love is wonderful and powerful, and nothing that we do can possibly erase it! Children understand the concepts of punishment and making mistakes, but it’s important for them to know that with God, there is always grace. This message tells the parable of the prodigal son to illustrate that God welcomes us “home” with open arms when we repent of our sins. He cancels our guilt and calls us His children, and always will!
Law/Gospel theme of the prodigal son for kids: This story reminds us of the beautiful truth that we ALL sin and need forgiveness. The wasteful son and his self-righteous brother both made mistakes, and the father loved them both. In the same way, God loves us no matter what, and promises to forgive us when we repent. Jesus has made the way for our wrongdoing to be erased and replaced with grace!
Object lesson materials: Some sort of “soiled” item (something borrowed that has been tarnished or dirtied).
Bible Passage: Luke 15:1-3; 11-32
More Prodigal Son Lessons for Kids
- Watch video demonstration of this children’s sermon lesson and related Bible craft activities
- See our resource page for teaching the Parable of the Prodigal Son for Kids
- Compare another prodigal son children’s sermon
- See Parable of the Prodigal Son lessons from Mission Bible Class
- Download our Prodigal Son lesson for kids and Preschool Bible lesson on this parable.
- Learn about the meaning of the Parable of the Prodigal Son in the Bible
Prodigal Son Children’s Sermon (Luke 15:1-3; 11-32) Object Lesson for Kids
Greet students, and explain the predicament of the dirtied item…for the sake of this message, a library book is used. Clothing, a tool, or other items can easily substitute.
Hello, children of God!
I am afraid I have a problem…I borrowed this book from the library, and it sounded like a good one to share with my young (brother/child/grandchild/niece/nephew/cousin). Well, I left the book with him for a few minutes, and look! (Hold up the item) It’s practically ruined now. I tried to get these marks out, and nothing will work. What am I going to do? I’ll have to take this back to the library, and they’ll know it was my fault that it got all dirty. The library will make me pay for this book. Maybe they’ll even take my card away! Maybe I can beg for forgiveness somehow…
This sort of reminds me of a story that Jesus told in the Bible. He wanted to explain to people that we are all sinners in need of help, and that God loves and forgives each of us. This story was about two sons. One of them went to his father and demanded his inheritance. An inheritance is money that usually is given to children after their parents die. Well, this man wanted his money before his father died. He didn’t really care about his home and family, and wanted to go live lavishly without worries. His father granted the request, and gave him the inheritance money! The son went out and spent it. We call this story the parable of the “prodigal son.” “Prodigal” means wasteful. This man wasted his father’s money on fancy foods and clothes, not thinking about the future and living for fun. Well, after a little while, that money ran out. The son was all out of funds, and there was a big famine in the land. That means everyone ran out of food, and no one could find jobs or get enough to eat. This son was suddenly hungry and desperate. Eventually, he got the only job he could find, which was feeding pigs! He was so starving that he wanted to gobble up the yucky slop that the pigs were eating. When that happened, he realized how far he had fallen. He thought about his family back home, and about how even the servants in his dad’s house ate better than pig slop. So he went home, prepared to ask that his father take him in as a servant. However, when he got close to home, his father came running out to meet him, and wanted a big party for him! He was so happy that his lost son had returned that he forgave all of the mistakes the young man made, and rejoiced at having him back. His other son (the man’s brother) was upset and thought this was unfair, but the father explained that he wanted to start fresh, and was glad to have the wayward son return.
You know, we all make mistakes and need forgiveness. The great news is that God promises to give us grace. Do you know what grace means? It means we get something that we don’t deserve. We deserve punishment for our sins, but God gives us life instead, because of the work of Jesus! In this story, we could say that God was the “prodigal” one, because he lavished extravagant or even “wasteful” grace on the son, despite what he had done. But God does that for us, too. We sin and do things we shouldn’t. We might even think that we cannot be forgiven. But God loves us and wants to seek us out when we are lost. He rejoices when we return to Him, no matter how far we stray or what mistakes we make. If I went to the library and they didn’t charge me anything for the book I ruined, that would be grace. God gives us even greater forgiveness, because He wipes out our sins and gives us freedom and new life! Whatever we do, we can rest assured that God promises to forgive. When we come to Him and repent, He will always welcome us back with open arms. What a comforting understanding!
Let’s say a prayer to thank God for His love and grace.
Children’s Prayer Moment
(Have kids repeat each line, if desired)
Thank you for being our Father
You always forgive us
Even when we make mistakes.
Thank you for your grace and love.
We love you, God!
Thank you for Jesus
In His name, Amen!
Bible Verses/story to Reference for this Children’s Sermon: The Parable of the Prodigal Son
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” 3 So he told them this parable… And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to[b] one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything. 17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’[c] 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”
–Luke 15:1-3; 11-32 English Standard Version