Chris Brown rivets Chapel with prodigal son story

October 04, 2016 / by / 0 Comment

Pastor Chris Brown

Pastor Chris Brown

By Laurie Merrill
GCU News Bureau

Pastor Chris Brown retold the Bible story of the prodigal son during Monday’s Chapel, shouting, weeping and using vivid descriptions in a 30-minute performance that held the packed crowd in rapt attention.

Brown, a teaching pastor at North Coast Church in Vista, Calif., dramatized a modern retelling of Luke 15-11, which begins: “There was a man who had two sons.”

The main message Brown wished to convey is that God doesn’t expect GCU students or anyone else to slave away in His name. Working exclusively for Christ is a “pathetic definition of Christianity,” he said.

“You are not a slave, you are a son or daughter to the Creator of the Universe,” Brown said. “You are the most dangerous, most loved, most powerful, most valued college students on the entire planet not because of who you are but because of Whose you are.”

Brown’s modern retelling provided a colorful description of the story’s setting, including such details as bags of potato chips on a dusty shelf, gas pumps outside, one man’s old boots and another’s UCLA hat.

The scene is the Gas and Snacks, and the tale is about a father with two sons, Craig and Kyle.

Brown said when listeners hear about the “dysfunctional family that runs a gas station on the way to Vegas, all of us start to tune in. We understand a little something about dysfunctional families.”

The narrative begins as Craig, the younger son, becomes fed up with his life of toil and taking his father’s orders. He decides to break into his father’s safe to finance a joy ride to Vegas.

“From the time Craig was old enough to push a broom, he worked,” Brown said. “From the time he could wipe windows, his dad had him there after school. No extra-curriculuar activities, no sports, no weekends…”

Brown dramatizing Luke 15-11

Brown dramatizing Luke 15-11

When his dad catches him taking the money, Craig said: “I figure one day you are going to die. I’m just going to take it now…Give me my share of the estate.”

And his father consents, dividing the money and giving half to each son.

Craig departs and leads a life of debauchery, squanders the fortune and becomes so poor he eats garbage. Kyle stays and works double shifts at the station.

One day when Craig is eating pig slop tossed onto a field, the thought comes to him his father’s hired men have food to spare, and here he is starving. He decides to beg for his father’s forgiveness.

“I’m going to say to him, ‘Dad?’ He’s a religious man. I’m going to say, ‘Father, I have sinned… can you make me like one of your hired men?”

It’s the phrase ‘‘make me’’ versus the phrase ‘‘give me’’ that shows a brokenness and willingness to change, Brown said.

“Oh GCU, how many of your prayers are ‘God give me’ versus ‘God make me’,” Brown said.

When Craig returns, his father is overjoyed and throws a party, raising the ire of Kyle.

“‘All these years I’ve been slaving for you… Dad, when did I ever get a party’?” Brown said, quoting Kyle. “Forgive me if I don’t join your party, hypocrite.”

His father responds that God loves all children, Brown said.

“Unconditional love has simply got to be accepted, not earned,” Brown said. “We are deeply, passionately and intimately loved by You… May we gladly take it and call it Grace and Mercy and walk in it in Jesus’ name.”

To watch of a video of the complete service, click here.

Contact Laurie Merrill at (602) 639-6511 or



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