A legacy of forgiveness
Forgive? Really? No way. Forgiveness is an intentional, voluntary process.…
People of faith — and grandparents in particular, Roberto says — can play a vital role in “telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and his strength and his wonderful works that he has done.” Roberto, president of Lifelong Faith Associates and editor of the journal Lifelong Faith, is the author of multiple books on faith formation, including “Seasons of Adult Faith Formation,” “Reimagining Faith Formation for the 21st Century” and “Generations Together: Caring, Praying, Learning, Celebrating & Serving Faithfully.” He conducts workshops and seminars for multiple faith groups, including Churches of Christ and Christian universities.
Roberto’s research and teaching emphasizes how a community of believers of all ages can combine the strength of their faith to positively influence the next generation. He and his wife live in Connecticut.
There are several ways that grandparents can be faith formers of their grandchildren. First is by being models of faithful Christian lives and by being actively engaged in a church community. Many grandparents bring their grandchildren to Sunday worship and to church activities (and hopefully attract their own children to join them — at least occasionally).
Second, parental warmth is the key to successful religious transmission. A high-quality parent- and grandparent-child relationship — close, warm and affirming — leads to higher religiosity. Sounds like the job description of a grandparent! When it comes to faith growth, the quality of the relationship is essential.
Third, grandparents can teach faith practices to their grandchildren: praying, reading the Bible, serving those in need and more. Grandparents bring decades of rich experience in living their faith. Their experience is a great asset in teaching these practices to their grandchildren.
Fourth, grandparents can join their grandchildren in church activities. Grandparents can find intergenerational programs and experiences in which faith can be experienced. This is an area where every church should provide more intergenerational activities that immerse the generations in faith forming experiences. How about an intergenerational vacation Bible school for grandparents and grandchildren?
How can grandparents who live a great distance from their grandchildren influence their faith?
In years past, distance made the role of grandparents as faith formers much more difficult. Not today!
Grandparents can connect with their grandchildren online using Skype or FaceTime and post thoughts, photos and video on Facebook or Instagram or other social media. Imagine the possibilities for reading a children’s storybook or a story from a children’s Bible in a one-to-one conversation online. Imagine watching a video together online and then talking about the video. There are so many ways for grandparents to close the distance gap using technology.
A second way for grandparents to close the distance gap is to invite their grandchildren to vacations at grandma’s or grandpa’s house. These can be times for grandchildren to experience faith firsthand by joining with their grandparents in Sunday worship and home faith practices. Grandparents might time the vacation to coincide with vacation Bible school (or other engaging programs for children) at their church.
A third possibility is to plan a road trip adventure. Road Scholar has pioneered intergenerational programs for grandparents and grandchildren over 10 years old. Grandparents and grandchildren could plan together and organize their own faith adventure — domestic or international — that can include religious programs and activities, museums, historic churches and cathedrals and more.
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