February / March - 2020 Vol. 108
Grandparents On Mission
.Grandparents reading to their grandchildren
  Passing On Your Faith to Your Children's Children
by Pili Galván Abouchaar

“Take heed and be diligent not to forget the things which your own eyes have seen. As long as you live, do not let them pass from your memory but teach them to your children and to your grandchildren” (Deuteronomy 4:9).

Faith - Part 1: Experience of God

Grandparents have a responsibility to teach their faith, not only to their children, but to their children’s children. However, what exactly is this faith which grandparents are commissioned to pass on?

Faith is comprised of three distinguishable elements: the experience of God, the content of belief, and the way of life we lead. To fully demonstrate our faith, we must engage our grandchildren on all three. This article looks at the first of those topics: the experience of God.

You declare your faith by bringing your grandchildren into your own experience of God. Sharing your personal story of conversion, explaining your church service, giving thanks before meals, and praying with your grandchildren are all excellent ways to begin this process. Ultimately, you want to help them understand what is behind the awe and wonder they already perceive in this world.

Almost all human beings can describe an experience of wonder and awe from their childhood, whether it was the first time they swam in an ocean, climbed a mountain, or gazed on the beauty of a waterfall. Awe is the doorway to faith. Scripture says, “The beginning of wisdom (understanding the most important things) is the fear of the Lord.” In other words: awe of the Lord. God makes himself known as the almighty, invisible, wonderful, and good God he is to all children through the wonders of His creation before they can ever describe or define what they experience.  

One of the most enjoyable things you can do is help your grandchildren see what is behind their sense of wonder. It is something, someone, truly wonderful. When you help a child “connect the dots” between his sense of awe and the being who causes it, you enable them to put it all together and realize: “this is because of that!” It is an “Aha!” moment for them. They learn the truth that “the heavens declare the glory of God.”  You give them the words to make sense of what they experienced: “You were made to know the One Who Is Wonderful.” 

For discussion: What has been the deepest experience of God you’ve had in your life?

For action:

Young grandchildren: Plan an activity with one of your grandchildren in which they will experience God’s love through nature. Plan on talking to them about who created all these.

Older grandchildren: Write down your conversion story and plan on when and how to share it with one of your grandchildren.

Faith - Part 2: The Content of Belief

You, as grandparents, pass on what you believe. What you believe has been handed on to you from those who taught you.

What they taught you about faith is often called the “doctrine” of the church. It is the content of your belief. What you might not know is that “doctrine” was what a “doctor” taught. Originally, a doctor was simply someone who knew how to think and teach well. His role was to care for the mind and the soul more than the body.

Church doctrine was considered the medicine of the mind and soul because right thinking made right living possible. That meant passing on right thinking was important! The core doctrine of Christianity was summarized in the Apostles’ Creed and most Western Christians knew it “by heart”; in Latin: Credo…“I believe…”

The Creed was used both liturgically and for teaching the faith to newcomers.

The Apostles Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of the saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

It was only a beginning. Catechesis was the next step. (Katechesis means “oral teaching” in Greek). Today, the oral teaching is written down in the form of a “catechism”. It is a way of organizing what the church believes systematically.

Most churches have some form of catechism. It is likely that you were taught from one at some point. However, it is also likely that you haven’t ever had your hands on an adult catechism! You may remember some of the content of your religion or Sunday school classes, but you have probably forgotten a lot of it. Most Christians could certainly benefit by finding a catechism of their faith and reading it as a simple refresher.

Let’s finish by stating the obvious: much of the content of your faith is based on the Bible. Reading the source material is always a good thing to do!

Your grandchildren will benefit from you knowing your doctrine, your catechism, and thus the content of your faith. When you speak of your faith they might just realize that you have a consistent way of viewing the world that makes sense.

For discussion:

How did you receive the content of your faith originally? From your parents, religion teachers, Sunday school, church services? Bible reading?

For action:

What can you use most effectively in passing on your faith to your grandchildren?
How can you do it?

Copyright © 2020 Grandly: The Strategic Grandparents Club

Pili Galván-Abouchaar is the Program Director of Grandly: The Strategic Grandparents Club. Pili is from Xalapa, Mexico, has a degree in Industrial Engineering, and began her professional career as a quality control coordinator. She has done missionary work in seven countries across three continents. She became the first program director for Grandly-The Strategic Grandparents Club in February, 2016.

About Grandly: The Strategic Grandparents Club

Grandly: The Strategic Grandparents Club is a program of the Sword of the Spirit. This program was founded in 2016 by Mike Shaughnessy as a resource to equip grandparents to share their faith with their grandchildren. Grandly teaches grandparents to “Think, Pray, and Act Strategically” in the lives of their grandkids. It recognizes that grandparents occupy a special role in the lives of their grandchildren, and if properly trained, can make an outsized impact on their spiritual lives.

As a youth minister, Mike knew the difference grandparents could make in the lives of their grandchildren. He wondered if it could happen more often. It wasn’t that they lacked the faith. What they lacked was a strategy. If grandparents learned how to think, pray, and act strategically, the way youth workers did, something marvelous would happen. It has. Strategic grandparents have become missionaries to their own grandchildren.

We equip grandparents to be “youth workers” to their own grandchildren. When we ask grandparents, “What is your biggest concern?” Most answer “our grandchildren,” not their retirement or the next vacation. Many see that their grandchildren are not getting the spiritual and moral formation they need, and feel equally unable to address that need. We currently equip grandparents to be youth workers through two venues: our website (grandly.org) and our “Do It Grandly” Seminars.

Our website reaches a network of grandparents who are interested in learning how to think, pray, and act strategically. We publish bi-weekly online articles that provide encouragement, motivation, and practical tools on how to pass on their faith to grandchildren. Through our “Do It Grandly” seminars, we help grandparents to grow in their relational skills while providing insight into contemporary youth culture, giving them valuable tools for building impactful, Christ-centered relationships with their grandchildren. These seminars provide a way for Sword of the Spirit grandparents to re-enter internal (their own grandchildren) and external (their own peers) mission. By now we have hosted 7 seminars: 3 in Michigan (Lansing, Ann Arbor, Jackson) and then Minnesota, Maryland and Ireland.

For access to inspirational articles, sign up for a free membership at www.grandly.org.

Interested in hosting a seminar in your local community or learning more? Please email Pili Galvan Abouchaar at grandlydirector@gmail.com

Grandly is recruiting 10,000 youth workers, all of whom are over the age of 55!

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