14 July, 2024

Grandchildren: A Mission Field

by | 1 July, 2024 | 0 comments

By Laura McKillip Wood 

Harold and Becky raised their three children and sent them off to college. Before they knew it, their children were married and living their own adult lives. Harold and Becky began to think about retirement and even downsized into a smaller house in a 55-plus community. The time they formerly spent with their children was soaked up with volunteering at church and traveling to see their kids in other states. Then one day, their daughter broke the news: she was pregnant! Suddenly Harold and Becky realized they would soon meet a whole new generation of their family. They would be grandparents!  

As excited as they were, they also were nervous. They lived far away from their daughter. How would they maintain the relationship with their children and develop a new relationship with this sweet baby they already loved? They had taken their role as parents seriously, and they wanted to be influential in the life of this new little one as well. They believed God put them in a family to guide their children and grandchildren to him. How could they do that while still respecting their children’s autonomy? Suddenly the roles of grandma and grandpa seemed intimidating. 

Legacy Coalition to the Rescue! 

Legacy Coalition was created to encourage churches to minister to grandparents as they encourage and influence their grandchildren. The leadership of Legacy Coalition believes grandparents are uniquely positioned to disciple and minister to their grandchildren while respecting the role and relationship of their own adult children (the parents of the grandchildren). The coalition notes that grandparents are often under-resourced, ignored, and mislabeled; their potential to influence the next generation is often overlooked. Sometimes grandparents want thriving relationships with their grandchildren but do not know how to manage this since they live far away or even have tense relationships with their adult children. 

Legacy Coalition points out that Christians are mandated to influence their children and grandchildren, teaching future generations to love God and follow him. As their website states, their dream is “to know that our legacy of faith in Jesus Christ will outlive us in our grandchildren and the generations that follow.” To do that, Legacy Coalition is building a network of ministries that champion intentional Christlike grandparenting. The ministry provides a platform for churches to engage grandparents in the lives of their grandchildren and equip them to minister to those beloved little ones. 

Resources and Methods 

Ministries to seniors in the church traditionally have focused on social activities. Sometimes older people tend to stick together and do not have much contact with younger generations. The age gap and generational differences seem too big to surmount, leaving grandparents feeling isolated and left out, parents feeling alone and overburdened, and grandchildren without the wisdom and guidance from older generations. Legacy Coalition works to bridge that gap and give all the generations in a family the chance to learn from and minister to one another. Their website states, “Legacy Coalition raises the importance of grandparenting through training, discussion, seminars and webinars as well as recommended resources shared by ministry partners.”  

Legacy Coalition holds seminars and gatherings to teach, encourage, and lead grandparents in their relationships with their children and grandchildren. Their extensive website offers a blog, a podcast, and small-group Bible study materials. They provide speakers for churches or organizations interested in their work, and they provide other resources for grandparents and churches interested in starting a ministry with grandparents.  

Legacy Coalition also hosts the only national conference on Christian grandparenting.  The annual Grandparenting Summit draws thousands of attendees and has featured such speakers as Anne Graham Lotz, Ken Davis, Gordon MacDonald, John Stonestreet, and David Green (CEO of Hobby Lobby). The 2025 Summit will gather Feb. 21-22 in Birmingham, Alabama. Additional information is available on the Legacy Coalition website. 

David and Cathy Wheeler became involved in Legacy Coalition as a way to more effectively connect with their grandchildren and help others do the same.  

“Most Christian grandparents are tragically missing vital opportunities to influence their grandkids for Christ, either because they don’t see the need or they lack tools for fulfilling the mission,” David says. He explains that many grandparents see the struggles of their grandchildren’s generation and want to help them experience the love and grace of Jesus.  

“Some of us are mystified why so many of our adult children are so lax about getting our grandkids involved in the life and ministry of a local church.”   

David and Cathy say the ministry of Legacy Coalition has changed their lives for the better. They meet via Zoom with many other volunteers around the country and in eight different countries. The workers encourage one another and share resources. He and Cathy are East Coast presenters of the amazing “Grandparenting Matters” seminar.   

“We refer to it as Intentional Christian Grandparenting 101,” David says. “It’s a delightful six-hour event that explores the biblical mandate for intentional grandparenting, examines the various barriers many grandparents face (geographical/relational/spiritual), explains the eight best practices of intentional grandparents, reveals some of the amazingly creative resources grandparents are developing, and closes with a powerful time of commitment and commissioning.” 

A Worldwide Impact 

There are approximately 30 million grandparents in the United States today and well over 1 billion worldwide. Legacy Coalition recently branched out to other countries, and now local congregations in eight countries have caught the vision. Churches in Spain, Australia, Greece, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan, the Dominican Republic, and Canada have begun using materials from Legacy Coalition to empower their grandparents to intentionally reach their grandchildren with the gospel. 

To learn more about the work of Legacy Coalition, visit their website at https://legacycoalition.com/ or contact David Wheeler at [email protected]

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