Real-Life Ways to Disciple Your Grandchildren

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We swayed back and forth, her back against the porch swing with her chubby legs straight ahead, many years away from reaching the patio floor beneath. I tucked a protective arm around my little charge, happy that I’d found something for her short attention span that pleased us both. Conversation with a one year old can be limited, so I just sang an impromptu ditty about the blue sky, the green trees, and the great, big God who made her and made me.

There have been many songs, conversations, activities, sit-down lessons, and lots more cousins added since then, but the teaching essence of “swing-time” remains the same: one generation telling God’s works to another (Psalm 145:4). Christian grandparents want to share their faith with their grandkids, and indeed they are responsible before the Lord to do so (Deuteronomy 4:9; Psalms 78:4–7).

It’s a mighty calling, but, really, how does one go about it? What are the ways, the when, and the where of it all?

Special Days

For generations, intentional grandparents have been enlisting the help of holiday celebrations when families tend to gather. That’s a favorite for my husband and me. Of course, Christmas and Easter are perfect times to read the related Scriptures or role-play the historical accounts.

For generations, intentional grandparents have been enlisting the help of holiday celebrations when families tend to gather.

Eight-year-old Eli, the eldest of our 14 grandchildren, was pleased to lead his siblings and cousins on a living room Easter processional with his homemade banner bearing the word Power, proclaiming God’s power over death, held high. The songs, the tambourines, and the dance of tiny feet that day all declared the “praiseworthy deeds of the Lord” to the next generation.

Birthdays, anniversaries, Thanksgiving, Passover, even Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day offer grandparents an opportunity to gather their grandchildren and lift high the name of Jesus. It can be as simple as reading aloud a Scripture or devotional passage before the meal, or as involved as a carefully planned event that enlists the help of age-appropriate books, crafts, games, or even carefully selected message-movies to teach your kids.

Ordinary Days

But life isn’t all special days; it’s mostly ordinary, a fact that is not overlooked in God’s Word, which directs us to teach when we sit, walk, lie down, and rise. Deuteronomy 6:7 has ordinary life covered!

Regular days involve using our skills to do work, which is another great way to teach children. Grandparents can use their everyday work skills as a way to equip children, guiding their character, work ethic, and others-oriented habits in the process:

  • Four-year-old Kami is eager to “do the breakfast dishes.” Under wise grandparent supervision, Kami has grown in her skills while her grandma nurtures her understanding of serving the Lord as a steward of his creation.
  • Bill taught his tween grandson to safely use the riding mower to diligently manage his three-acre lawn.
  • Abbey learned the skills to complete her first textile project from watching her grandmother sew Christmas gifts. It wasn’t always emotionally smooth sailing, but now as a grown woman, Abbey crafts baby gifts for new moms.
  • Walter, an experienced farmer, guided his grandson in his purchase of a quality heifer at his first stock auction.
Reading may seem ordinary, but sharing a good book with someone you love is both endearing and educational.

Schoolwork can be tedious, but twice a week the grandkids arrive at Candee’s doorstep for their homeschool geography and Bible classes with “Professor Grandma,” who makes learning meaningful by tutoring with fun manipulatives and gems from her lifelong Scripture study. Then there is my friend Judy, who teaches reading and math, spending hours with her long-distance grandchildren on scheduled video chats. She says that sharing everyday life, even remotely via the web, affords natural opportunities to speak of God’s wonders and to show how to apply his truth.

Reading may seem ordinary, but sharing a good book with someone you love is both endearing and educational. That’s why grandparents love to read board books, novels, biographies, exciting accounts from the Old and New Testaments, portions from science books, and so much more.

And reading is not limited to being in the same room anymore! Renee reads to her grandkids by live video chats. My husband, Dale, pre-records his own voice, so our grandchildren can listen over and over to Bible accounts or stories he has written. Reading isn’t just for the grandparents either. Grandparents should encourage kids to teach themselves by providing them biblically sound books and magazines (like Answers magazine, with its special insert for children). Years ago, my mother offered a monetary prize to her teenaged grandson to give a written report on a book of her choosing. She’s confident she made a sound investment, lifting his thoughts beyond the clamor of youthful peers to things eternal.

Lots of Places

Grandparents and their grandchildren love to get out and experience new things.

  • Marty, a single grandma of modest means, has made mission trips with each of her grandchildren, sharing her love for the gospel and serving others.
  • Don took his grandkids across the country for a Rocky Mountain ski trip. The emotional bonding of the adventure opened their hearts to receive his words of spiritual truth.
  • Young Justice loves exploring the local creek with his grandma and often goes home with pocketfuls of fossils and a bucketful of crawdads. His grandma inspires his sparked interest by giving biblically based resources such as the fun kids book I Really, Really Like Fossils and letting him go online (under her watchful eye) to view free Creator-honoring videos about animals on the special Kids section of the AiG website.
The Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter are an intentional grandparent’s dream come true!

Zoos, museums, and natural wonders across our country all offer the same opportunity—a launching point for crediting God with the wonders of design, the power of the global flood, or the reliability of his Word. The Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter are an intentional grandparent’s dream come true! Kids love to go, and the biblical teachings are right there in front of them at a level they can mostly grasp. On top of all that, age-appropriate special workshops are frequently offered. Four-year-old Nathaniel already loves to watch Buddy Davis adventure videos, but this week he went to Buddy’s “Dinosaurs and Dragons” workshop and came home with a dinosaur sculpture crafted with his own hands under the direction of Buddy Davis himself!

Because “the days are evil,” we are called to make the most of every opportunity (Ephesians 5:16). We must wisely and continually bring our grandchildren’s attention to Scripture. In order to make sense of the world into which they have been born into, they must have a solid foundation beginning in Genesis. Let your legacy be that you provided your grandchild with the knowledge of Scripture which is the lofty view from which the seeming chaos of each generation’s current events find meaning in light of God’s creation order, the fall, the flood, the division at Babel, the promised Redeemer and the blessed cross, and then finally Christ’s consummation of all things. This legacy brings relevance to our need for the amazing grace of Christ crucified. Believe it, live it, pray it, and teach it. May the Holy Spirit grant your grandchild repentance unto salvation.

You want to teach your grandchildren? You can and you must. It is indeed a joyful calling!

Karen Mason is a mother of four, grandmother of 14, and wife of one. The “one” is AiG vice-president Dale Mason—publisher of AiG’s Answers magazine and author of the popular book The 10 Minute Bible Journey. Karen served as writer of the Answers Bible Curriculum for Sunday schools and has been an active Sunday school teacher herself for decades. She homeschooled their children and at one point worked with Dale in co-authoring a book about media management in the Christian home. Whenever possible, Karen and Dale help their adult children guide the growing cadre of grandchildren in God’s ways. They take seriously the Bible’s mandate to teach not only their children, but their children’s children as well.

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