This summer I came across a magazine article on the importance of Christian grandparents discipling their grandkids. Parents have increasingly less influence (it might seem) on their adult children, but the grandkids are wet cement. This brought to mind a couple in our church who takes purposed steps to disciple their kids’ kids. The interview is below, and might provide some fodder for making disciples even outside of your family tree.
When did you first have a burden for discipling your grandchildren?
We knew that the privilege of being a grandparent would include many significant and joyful responsibilities. At the top of the list was the responsibility of discipling our grandchildren with the gospel. Biblically-based, Kingdom-focused spiritual interaction with them would be a definite priority. Scripture clearly teaches that the duties of grandparents include following the pattern established in Deuteronomy 6:2-9 and 2 Timothy 1:3-5.
Were there certain resources or people who influenced you with this vision?
By God’s gracious sanctification in our own lives, we came to understand the Biblical, reformed perspective of having a high view of God and a low view of ourselves. This fundamental premise is what we desired to convey to our grandchildren. The book of Romans has heavily influenced us in renewing our own minds to think Biblically (Romans 12:2) and then apply those Biblical truths when discipling others. Two resources that have also impacted us as we prepared ourselves in discipling our grandkids are The Gospel for Real Life by Jerry Bridges and Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Ted Tripp.
What were your early practices of discipling your grandkids?
From the time they were capable of listening, we have been reading solid, God-centered children’s Bible story books to our grandchildren as often as possible. Some that we have used extensively include: Read-Aloud Bible Stories by Ella K. Lindvall, The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones, and Mighty Acts of God by Starr Meade. We also attempt to include Godly teaching in our everyday conversations and experiences with them. For example, we tell them that everything in God’s creation somehow and in some way points to Christ, and that every breath we take (and everything else) is by God’s grace.
Tell us about Cousin Camp. How did Cousin Camp begin?
We first heard of the idea of Cousin Camp while listening to a Focus on the Family broadcast featuring Robert and Bobbi Wolgemuth . Knowing of our interest in following in the Wolgemuth footsteps, our daughters gave us a book entitled Granny Camp! How to Bond With Your Grandchildren by Anne Dierks. Though not written from a Christian perspective, this book offered much practical help in getting our own Cousin Camp organized. Our first Cousin Camp was held in 2011 with our three oldest grandchildren, who were ages 5, 4, and 4. 2014 was our fourth year, and we are up to five campers, ranging in age from 8 to 5. Each year we have a theme based on a Bible verse or verses. Bible lessons, skits, memory verses, songs, and crafts all tie into the theme. We also enjoy various games, activities, and field trips. Each year the campers prepare a Parents’ Program to show their parents what they have learned. We make a photo book for each child to keep as a special way of remembering the activities, and the love we have for each other.
What are your goals for Cousin Camp?
1. To help provide a secondary means by which God may use to bring the children to salvation (rebirth) through faith in Christ and that they would value their salvation more than life itself.
2. That our grandkids have a heritage of faith, as was the case with Timothy in 2 Tim. 1:5 with his grandmother Lois.
3. That they would be blessed with a renewed mind (Romans 12:1-2) which is Kingdom-focused, that results in worshipping God with grateful hearts now and forever.
4. To encourage spiritual relationships between cousins as “iron sharpens iron” (Proverbs 27:17) which would begin now and continue throughout their lifetime.
5. To help prepare them to boldly face persecution with confidence as a result of their Biblically-based faith.
How do you see your efforts to disciple your grandchildren developing in the future?
One of the challenges we are facing is how to incorporate all the grandkids into the expanding age range. Among our eight grandchildren, there’s a seven-year range. We’ll have to decide whether to divide the group into two separate groups to facilitate the studies and activities.
We want to continue with the camp as long as we and our grandchildren are able to come. There will always be plenty of Biblical material to study. They are already growing up too fast and we don’t want to miss out on any opportunities!