A Living Bulwark Interview with Mike Shaughnessy
(Grandly just launched an online seminar for grandparents who are seeking to pass on their faith to their grandchildren more effectively. To learn more or to register for the seminar visit https://grandly.org/doitgrandly/. Insert the code: LB-40% to get a reduced price for Living Bulwark readers.)
Living Bulwark (LB): What is Grandly?
Mike Shaughnessy: Grandly is a project Kairos started in North America that equips grandparents to pass on their faith to their grandchildren by preparing them to do “youth work!”
LB: Why that name?
Mike: Grandly is an adverb. It describes how you do something. As we say it: “If you are going to do grandparenting, do it grandly.”
LB: But how are youth work and grandparenting connected?
Mike: Great question. Very few people put grandparenting and youth work in the same head-space. I do. I was playing golf a few years ago with a friend, Bill Navarre, a grandfather, and he kept asking me questions about youth. At one point, as we walked to the next tee, he said, “Mike, I think my grandson is ready for a retreat of some sort. Do you have a retreat I could send him on?” As I heard him talk about other things he was doing with his grandchildren, I thought, “This man is strategic about passing on his faith. He should have been a youth worker.” It was the first time I put grandparenting and youth work together, but it made sense. I had put together the concept of the “youth bridge” and the key role that parents and youth workers have in the lives of young people but I hadn’t factored in the role of grandparents. What if we could get 10,000 grandparents doing youth work with their own grandchildren?
LB: Is that when Grandly started?
Mike: Actually, no. I had many other projects I was involved with at the time and was unable to devote my attention to fully processing this idea. I needed someone else to develop and run it.
LB: So what happened?
Mike: Nothing at first. I just waited. The Lord often gives me an idea whose time is “not yet” until it becomes “now”. “Now” came to pass at the Ibero-American Kairos conference in the summer of 2015. I was having lunch with Pili (Galván) Abouchaar. She had previously completed a GAP year in Lansing and we were just catching up with each other. She asked me, “Are you working on anything new?” and I replied, “I have an idea that involves grandparents doing youth work.” All I can say is that grace fell. I needed “God’s someone”. She was looking for God’s mission for her. We both went away saying, “Let’s do this.” (You can meet the Grandly staff at https://grandly.org/who-are-we/)
LB: And you have some “just breaking” news?
Mike: Yes. We developed Grandly and its key elements over time:
- The idea of being strategic about grandparenting – acting with purpose.
- The realization of what grandparents bring to the table.
- The understanding of what grandparents can learn from youth work.
We started doing live seminars and then Covid 19 hit. We saw pretty quickly that we would not be organizing live seminars for grandparents face to face. We needed another strategy and a way to reach a much larger audience. After much thought and prayer, we began developing the Do It Grandly online seminar: filming, editing, marketing, etc. It was just launched last week! People worldwide can now take the seminar online from wherever they are located, and – this is pretty cool – they can participate in an online discussion group with grandparents from across the globe.
LB: How can a community incorporate this into its mission?
Mike: The Sword of the Spirit has a lot of grandparents, probably three to five thousand, and likely as many as 25 to 50 thousand grandchildren. That is a huge mission field right there! Like so many things we do in the Sword of the Spirit communities, we are much more successful when we act together and learn from each other rather than when we just work on our own. That’s where Grandly can help. The Do It Grandly seminar has developed some very helpful tips to get grandparents motivated and equipped for passing on their faith. The seminar can be taken together as a group either live or streamed. (For more information see Group Attendance Options) Grandly will adapt the seminar to a community’s needs. Individual grandparents can take the seminar online right now using a 40% off coupon (LB-40%). Why wait? They can have access to all five sessions right in their home. That may be cheaper than driving five times to a seminar in your own town!
LB: Is the Do It Grandly seminar just for community people?
Mike: Not at all. Outreach is the second way a community can incorporate the seminar into its mission. We encourage all grandparents, not just those associated with Sword of the Spirit communities, to sign up to take the online seminar. All of us know grandparents in our churches who are asking, “What can I do for my grandchildren? I want to see them grow up to be faithful Christians, but…” We have an answer for that. Become strategic grandparents. Get equipped to pass on your faith. Get supported by other grandparents in doing so. Grandly needs grandparents who want to join us in our mission. They can do this by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LB: What results are you looking for?
Mike: More of what we have already seen: grandparents with new motivation, purpose, and strategies for impacting their grandchildren. More importantly, we want to impact youth by raising up 10,000 youth workers all over the age of 55.
LB: How can people find out more or register for the seminar?
Top photo credit: © Grandly 2022
Mike Shaughnessy is a lifelong member of the Servants of the Word, an international ecumenical brotherhood of men living single for the Lord. He is a prolific writer. He has written extensively about youth work and currently leads Grandly, a ministry helping grandparents pass on their faith to their grandchildren. He lives in Lansing, Michigan USA.