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Don’t neglect this vital ingredient for growing kids’ faith image

Don’t neglect this vital ingredient for growing kids’ faith

Bill Salier reflects on the impact of grandparents.

A confession to begin: I am not normally a MasterChef watcher. But there I was at the gym, running like a lab rat on a treadmill, flicking through the options before me on the TV to take my mind off the tedium, when I landed on MasterChef.

The episode was themed around a cooking challenge with the budding MasterChefs being asked to create a dish that drew on their past experience, expressing why they love food and went into cooking in the first place.

The recipes and the contestants’ skills were amazing! But what really caught my attention were the interviews that were interspersed throughout the show. Time after time the contestants took us back to a particular moment or a special family recipe that inspired them to pursue cooking, motivating their love of food and its possibilities. And time after time that moment was shared with grandparents.

I guess I was expecting family meals of some kind, but the number of contestants who skipped a generation and referred back to their grandparents was surprising. These grandparents were really influential in their grandchildren's journey to becoming a MasterChef.

We often talk about the importance of the family for raising children in the Christian faith; the family as the first church is a foundational principle for thinking about effective youth and children's ministry. As we think about how to equip the whole church family to be disciples of Jesus, I think there’s a lesson or two we can take from MasterChef, and that’s not to neglect grandparents in the family mix.

I am reminded of the faith of the young Timothy, nurtured by his mother and grandmother, as they shared the Scriptures with him. Paul writes about this in his second letter to Timothy:

‘I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.’ (2 Timothy 1:5)

‘But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.’ (2 Timothy 3:14–15)

The importance of grandparents in passing on the faith is also supported by some very interesting research. Apparently, and this is so much more important in these days of fractured families, grandparents are now more than ever involved in the nurture and care of their grandchildren.

There is a word here for us all:

Grandparents, do not underestimate your influence for good with respect to the faith of your grandchildren.

Parents, make sure you engage your children’s Christian grandparents to help nurture their Christian faith.

Churches, encourage the grandparents in the congregation to become spiritual grandparents for some of your young people.

We all know that not every child has the privilege of being raised in a Christian home and for them the church can operate as a second family, providing the context for modeling and nurturing faith which they may be lacking.

As part of a church family, let’s not forget the vital role that grandparents in the faith can play, and encourage older members amongst us to see this as an important contribution they can make to the life of our congregation. Let’s not neglect this vital ingredient in growing kids’ faith.

This article originally appeared at Youthworks.
Rev Dr Bill Salier served as the Principal of Youthworks College from 2015–2021. Before that, he spent 18 years as a Lecturer and Vice-Principal at Moore Theological College. He is married with three girls and lives in the inner city of Sydney.

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