Written by Deb del Villar, Director of Communications
“Even to your old age I am He, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.” – Isaiah 46:4
Many in the culture are pushing grandparents and their influence out, thinking that they no longer have a purpose or place. However, the Bible teaches just the opposite.
As grandparents, we have an ongoing critical role in our family, providing a legacy – a heritage that no one else can. Our teaching, prayers, and lessons stem from a lifetime of experience, linking our grandchildren to the past while encouraging them for the future.
In 1978, due to the urging of many people, the United States Congress passed legislation proclaiming the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents Day. President Jimmy Carter signed the proclamation that began this wonderful observation. Each subsequent year, the current president issues a proclamation to keep the tradition going.
The National Grandparents Day proclamation states that it is used, “to honor grandparents, to give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children’s children, and to help children become aware of the strength, information, and guidance older people can offer.”
While this day is not religious in origin, consider what your church and family can do to focus on and recognize National Grandparents Day.
This year it will be celebrated on September 11th. For many of us, that date brings many memories. May God lead you in how to incorporate that date’s memories and its events as you share with your family.
Ways to honor grandparents
Have you downloaded Legacy Coalition’s free Grandparents Day Kit yet? It contains lots of great resources including handouts, social media images, and PowerPoint files to share with your church to use. Look through it and use the ones that fit your needs and desires.
Here are a few additional ideas to honor grandparents that day.
- Set up a photo booth or area where grandparents can get their photo taken, especially fun if grandchildren attend with them that day. Have props for them to use to make a funny photo.
- Plan a time in the service to say a blessing over the grandparents.
- Goodies with grandparents – celebration time following church service with finger foods.
- Interview grandparents – share their responses by powerpoint slides or bulletin insert or in person. Possible questions: What is the best part of being a grandparent? What do you hope your grandchildren remember about you?
- Spotlight on grandparents – allow some children to ask them questions about grandparenting and what they love.
- Grandparent testimony – Allow a grandparent to share a story that models faith, hope, love, generosity, or holy living. How have they seen God work in and through their lives?
- Grandchildren say – collect answers to some fun questions ahead of time from the children’s department. The answers can be read or made into a slide presentation to have during service. Could do the top five answers to “What do you call your grandma/grandpa?” “How often do you see your grandparents?” “What do you like most about them?” “What would you like to ask them?” “If you could do anything with them , what would you choose?”
- Recognize during service – Collect ahead of time the most unusual way they became a grandparent, the funniest thing they ever did as grandparent, and so forth. Give out small gift for the best in each. Something different then oldest, youngest, most, etc.
Ways to show love to your grandchildren
Think about what your family, specifically your grandchildren like to do – do you go out to a meal following church? Do you like to go for a walk or hike? Do you like to play card or board games? Do you like to watch football or another sport? Do they enjoy cuddling in your lap? Can you send them a card or text with words of encouragement?
A good idea may be to think through the five love languages when deciding what to do. The five languages are physical touch, quality time, acts of service, words of affirmation, and gifts (get the book from our store here). They will be a great indicator of what would speak love to your grandchildren. Chances are the same activity may not speak to all, but still choose something to do. Next time, you can choose something that speaks more to another grandchild.
Do not feel you must do something on National Grandparents Day. Maybe geographical or relational issues prevent you from doing something in person, so be creative and come up with something you can do to build your connection to your grandchild’s heart. Remember, you can always pray! (See the prayer resources listed below.)
No matter what, the best Grandparents Day (or another day) activity involves you and your grandchildren together, celebrating your family and each other.
Ways to make connections to the strength, information, and guidance of older generations
Have you written down your story for the next generation? This is something my husband and I just finished for our grandchildren, yet there are so many more stories that could be told. There are great resources out there to help you – we used StoryWorth.
Do you still volunteer and serve in your childrens’ and youth departments at church? Even if you do it once a quarter or go as a special speaker, the children and youth will benefit greatly from your wisdom. Seek ways to stay involved – our children and youth need us!
Do you go to churchwide events sponsored by the children and youth departments? Go and support these ministries – make connections from the older generation to the newest one. Both will benefit!
Consider Tony Souder’s Pray for Me Campaign at your church. The purpose of Pray for Me is to link generations through prayer. It’s a great way to help connect the generations within our church community. Again, all the generations will benefit. They even have a grandparent version, and this would be a great Sunday to kick this event off.
National Grandparents Day is just around the corner. What will you do to recognize, honor, and encourage grandparents of your church?
Leave a comment below– we would love to hear what you do!
You can also find Lillian Penner’s terrific book on prayer “Grandparenting with a Purpose” here at this link.