3 Ways Grandparents Can Spread the Gospel This Christmas

christmas holidays grandparents grandchildren family

As family gathers near this Christmas, focusing in on the “reason for the season,” grandparents can play a vital role in sharing the true meaning of this holiday. Grandparents have such a special place in a child’s life, after all; in just weeks I am going to be a first-time grandmother, and I am doing a lot of thinking about the impact I hope to have on my granddaughter’s life. As I dream of that little bundle snug in my arms, I think back to my own experiences as a granddaughter, and how my grandparents made our time together special. They were also very influential messengers of the Gospel, and although we lived far apart geographically, we were close at heart—and they made sure I was introduced to our Savior, Jesus.

Here are some ways you can share special moments with your grandchildren, and share your faith, too:

Tell Your Stories

Grandparents, your grandkids (and your kids, for that matter) need to hear the stories of your youth, your adventures, your struggles, and your victories. Offer them a window into another place and time, telling them all about your life. Today, kids are increasingly drawn to their screens and headsets, and it may feel intimidating to interrupt that with your retellings of experiences impactful to you. However, your grandchildren need to hear these stories, and you might be surprised how willing they are to drop the game controller should you ask them to. All throughout history storytelling has been a vital way to keep the past alive, and you can do that for your grandkids in a way a textbook never can. My grandfather used to regale me with stories of his years in the radio broadcasting business, and I remember my imagination coming alive at his stories of strong men climbing the high radio transmitters to ensure the broadcast signal was clear.

Your stories deepen your relationship with your grandkids, letting them know “the real you,” and all that has happened to make you who you are today. Your stories also illuminate things they may be learning about in school—the historic gas shortages of the 1970s, the death of President Kennedy or Martin Luther King, Jr., or the tragedy of 9/11. You are living history, and a precious gift by being so.

That same grandfather, mentioned above, was a nature-lover and spent hours telling my sister and me about different species of animals, plants, bugs, and reptiles. He talked about them with such love and delight that it instilled a great and lasting love for animals in me—just ask my dogs, cat, tortoise, and pet mouse! To my grandfather, nature was evidence of God’s artistry and love for us, giving us a beautiful world in which to live out our lives and worship Him as Creator. Tell your grandkids how God has worked in your life, and the different ways he speaks to you. Let them know God is speaking to them, too, and sees them as precious and unique.

One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts. (Psalms 145:4)

Ask for Their Stories

Find some dedicated time with each grandchild to really listen to how things are going for them. Ask questions that prompt discussion and reflection; instead of simply asking, “How’s school going?” you might say, “What’s your favorite thing about school right now—and what do you really not like about school?” This moves your grandchild’s answer from one word—"fine,” or “good”—to offering details.

My grandmother used to get me talking about my high school friends by sharing anecdotes about her own high school friendship experiences, and then she would say, “Do you have any friends like that?” Inevitably I would spend an hour getting into the details of my own friendships, and I remember the way she really listened – relaxed, attentive, focused on me as if there was no place else she would rather be. She also was my fiercest defender, which always felt so wonderful. She let me know, with her active listening, that what I had to say mattered. This is a great gift that grandparents give; undivided attention. In our busy families, parents may not be able to allot special, extended time for each child, but a grandparent’s practiced, observant eye and warm heart can single out that grandchild that needs a little extra love this season—and give it abundantly.

My youngest son just spent an overnight with my parents as he traveled home from college, and told me that my mom—his grandma—said to him, “I can’t stop looking at you! It’s just so good to have you here!” I can imagine the warmth in her voice and the love radiating from her eyes as she said this, soaking him in, and his own heart was clearly warmed as he repeated her words. That is a grandparent—truly able to be in the moment, suspending time so they can tell their grandchild how much he matters.

God can’t stop looking at us, either, so great is His love. You might ask your grandchild if there has been a time in his life where he thinks God helped him, watched over him, or showed His care and concern.

Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children. (Proverbs 17:6)

granddaughter hugging her grandfather at christmas, old fashioned traditions

Photo Credit: © Getty Images/monkeybusinessimages 

Share Your Faith

The biggest impact you can ever make on your grandchildren—an eternal impact—is sharing Christ’s love with them. You have been around much longer than they have, and you no doubt have plenty of examples of God in action in your life, and in the lives of others. Share those stories, as well as Bible verses, hymns, and any other ways God puts on your heart to share the Gospel.

As I explain in my book, “The Pretend Christian,” my two sets of grandparents were the first people to introduce me to Christ. Our parents had fallen away from actively worshipping when we were young, but when my sister and I visited our grandparents’ homes we attended church, heard Bible stories, and were introduced to other children from Christian families. For those several weeks each year, we experienced what it was like to be a Christian, and that formed the foundation for my own faith, years later. I remember being tucked into bed at night in my bedroom in my grandmother’s North Carolina home, and her saying prayers for my safety and well-being. She would also pray, “Let her come to know you, Jesus,” and I would puzzle about that, alone in the dark, after her footsteps had faded. I now know that Jesus was working through those earnest prayers; years later he entered my heart in a lasting way.

My other grandmother, down in Florida, also prayed for my sister and I, and proudly took us to the churches my grandfather pastored. Throughout my life she inspired me with her simple faith—at supper, when grace was said, her head bowed so reverentially that you could tell she was in true communication with her Lord. All my grandparents, although never wealthy people, were rich in Spirit, and I can only imagine the prayers upon prayers lifted up for my sister and me, that we might someday know Christ. On both sides of the family, the joy was great when my parents returned to active worship and a deeply committed faith, answering their prayers.

Grandparents everywhere, make the most of your time with your precious grandkids this Christmas. They need you, and you need them. Don’t hesitate to share your life with them, and ask them about theirs, being ready to listen without judgment. As I await the granddaughter I already love and cherish, I pray to have a close and loving relationship with her, no matter how many miles separate us. One thing is certain—she will have my prayers each and every day of my life. To God, who has formed her in secret, she is already precious, and I can only hope to be a faithful messenger of His enduring love.

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. (Deuteronomy 4:9)

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/monkeybusinessimages

deirdre reilly author headshot bio photoDeirdre Reilly is a writer and editor, and her commentary has appeared on various websites including CBN.com, FoxNews.com, and others. Her new book, “The Pretend Christian: Traveling Beyond Denomination to the True Jesus,” details her own personal journey through doubt and fear into true belief. You can connect with Deirdre via www.deirdrereilly.com, or follow her on Twitter at @deirdrewrites.

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