Your church can ignite and deploy grandparents to raise up young generations to love and follow Jesus.
You have an army of seasoned Christians sitting in the pews in your church. What if you could deploy them to reach and lead millions of people to Jesus?
That would be a miracle.
What would motivate them?
What if your mature believers were motivated to spiritually influence the people they love most: their grandchildren?
Now that's a beautiful idea.
Why does your church need a grandparent ministry?
1. We need to mobilize the millions of Christian grandparents.
In the United States, there are 30 million Christian grandparents who have influence over 120 million children. Worldwide, millions more.
Larry Fowler, founder of the Legacy Coalition, and tip of the grandparenting ministry spear, says:
"Many grandparents are like Roger and Clarisse were: they are Christian grandparents, and found importance in their role through helping the parents, loving the grandkids, and even spoiling them a little. Then they learned there is a greater importance to the role of grandparenting than they imagined."
Your church can be about empowering a new generation of grandparents to be spiritually intentional in the lives of the children and teens around them. And that could become the most powerful movement of God in this generation.
We're having an Isaiah 6:8 moment: "Here we are, Lord. Send us!"
2. The Bible tells us to teach our children and our children's children.
My favorite, because of its clarity, is Deuteronomy 4:9:
"Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life; but teach them to your sons, and your grandsons."
There it is. Our clear biblical mandate to teach our children and our grandchildren to live in obedience to God. Selah.
Our awareness of grandparenting in the Bible may be slight, but we do know some grandparents in the Bible:
- We know about Timothy and his grandmother Eunice (2 Tim. 1:5).
- We know David's kindness to Saul's grandson Mephibosheth (2 Sam. 9, 16, 19).
- There is a brief mention of King Asa deposing his pagan grandmother (I Kings 15, 2 Chron. 15).
- We see Laban parting reluctantly from his grandchildren (Gen. 31).
Grandparenting can be hard to see in the Bible because the jewels are hidden in other key words.
Look at what the Bible says about children's children:
"But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children's children" (Ps. 103:17).
"Grandchildren are the crown of old men, and the glory of children are their fathers" (Prov. 17:6).
See how the Bible refers to the next generation:
"That the generation to come might know them, even the children who are not yet born, who will arise and declare them to their children" (Ps. 78:6).
The Bible shows us the parental role of faith builder extends through our children to our grandchildren, to the fourth generation.
3. The new generation of grandparents wants significance, they have wisdom and resources, and they love their families.
Grandparents want different things these days. Old-school day trips and social activities don't cut it with the new grandparents.
You may have noticed it in your church members.
They spend their money traveling to visit their kids and grandchildren. They take everyone on a family vacation. Or they are part-time, or full-time, caregivers for their grandchildren.
Even the media can tell you about it.
In an article published in USA Today, grandparents aren't downsizing—they're remodeling. They want their homes to be the hub for their expanding multi-generational family.
Dr. Tim and Darcy Kimmel, in their book Extreme Grandparenting, point out that 60 is the new 40. Grandparents are younger, hipper and healthier than before. They think of themselves as young. They have time and energy and they intend to make a difference with the rest of their lives.
4. In a world where every culture shift seems to hurt families, this trend makes a way for God's kingdom to flourish through families.
Josh Mulvihill, in his dissertation book, Biblical Grandparenting, explains the historical context for these shifting grandparental attitudes.
One hundred years ago, extended families lived together. People didn't live as long, and those who did moved in with their children as they aged. They lived with the family because there were no other options.
Grandparents were honored because the wisdom that came from their life experience was a valuable resource.
Then came social security and financial independence. Medical progress ushered in longer lives and more seniors. Younger people moved to the cities for work. The extended family living in one home shrunk to just the nuclear family.
Grandparents in the second half of the 20th century found themselves with more health, more financial independence, and fewer family responsibilities, so their interests became more self-focused. Retirement became the goal; friendships and fun the motivation. Family ties stretched and loosened.
Churches followed along.
While these forces are still in play, culture is shifting back as boomers want to be close to their grown millennial children and millennials love their parents. There is more room in better relationships for grandparents to invest in the lives of their grandchildren.
Churches need to lead the way.
According to Josh Mulvihill, only a few grandparents are intentionally building faith in their grandchildren. Most grandparents operate in the "I'm helping my children" or "I'm having fun with my grandchildren" realm. They don't see the spiritual influence they can be in the lives of their grandchildren.
Churches can show grandparents how.
5. It's not too hard to start a grandparenting ministry in your church.
We are starting a grandparenting ministry at our church. You can have a grandparenting ministry at your church, too, that ignites a generation to disciple the youngest generations.
You want to equip grandparents with the biblical basis and calling, and with some principles and practices. Then you want to inspire them to keep after it by keeping the conversation going socially, and by giving them times to gather to talk about it and learn more.
We will tell more about how we are shaping and launching our grandparent ministry in upcoming posts.
For now, here are the mission, vision, and values for our new grandparenting ministry:
Ministry Mission: To inspire and equip grandparents to lead their grandchildren to love and follow Jesus.
Vision: Every grandparent at New Song is empowered to be an intentional spiritual influence in the lives of their grandchildren.
- We value living for Jesus in community—with grandchildren, our adult children and other grandparents.
- We value being intentional in what we say and do to build faith in others.
- We value learning and growing as disciple-makers and evangelists.
- We value blessing and serving our families.
- We value equipping grandparents through every age and circumstance.
- We value being people of prayer, and knowing and living the Bible as our guidebook for life.
Powerful stuff, right?
You can disciple a generation at risk through the people who love them wildly.
Take a minute to ask God if he wants this for your church. And ask him who he has in mind to lead it.
Hal Seed is the founding and Lead Pastor of New Song Community Church in Oceanside, California. Hal mentors pastors to lead healthy, growing churches. He offers resources to help church leaders at pastormentor.com.
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