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Blog 36: Spiritual Grandparenting by Jack McQueeney

“You don’t really know how well you are at parenting until you see the third generation.” – Jerry White



Psalm 78:3-4 says, “For he issued his laws to Jacob; he gave his instructions to Israel. He commanded our ancestors to teach them to their children, so the next generation might know them–even the children not yet born–and they in turn will teach their own children.”

Looking around it’s clear that this is a lost art! Yet it’s very apparent that in order to see the 3rd and 4th generation take root we must ACTIVELY engage in this Psalm 78:3-4 type of spiritual “grandparenting.” If we don’t, I’m afraid we may not see spiritual multiplication take place. 

I recently surveyed a number of close friends who are strong disciplemakers both in and out of The Navigators with a couple of questions: 

  1. What have you seen or experienced hinder the fruit of 3rd and 4th generations from your ministry? 
  2. What causes us not to lean into spiritual grandparenting?
  3. What would most help you in this area in your sphere of influence to ensure generational disciplemaking is happening? 

First off, it was so good to talk and wrestle over this topic with good friends! I really want to keep learning in areas that I believe are critical hinge points in our calling. Secondly, as a “real” grandparent myself (my grandkids call me Opa), I’m learning and seeing things I haven’t seen or caught before about parenting and grandparenting.  

Personally, I had a great model of this in my spiritual Opa, Ron Bennett, who I still spend time with talking over the things I need to grow in… and he keeps asking me questions that so help protect me from mission drift. It would be important to check in with your Timothy to make sure he/she knows what and why you’re modelling this before you actually engage with them. 

Like Jerry White says in an Apprentice Approach Roundtable clip talking about Generations, “You don’t really know how well you are at parenting until you see the 3rd generation.”  

We’re learning a lot through this process and developed an acronym to not only help in our ministry but also to help communicate this concept to others… (I know, but I couldn’t help it!) A.A.R.P.  Yeah, it kind of already fits spiritual grandparenting, doesn’t it?!?  

  1. ASK your spiritual grandchild a question or two… (You may have to pursue this relationship if you’re not in the same city or see each other naturally. Don’t feel weird in doing this, they may be surprised initially but will feel honored that you’re interested in how they’re doing.) How are you experiencing God in His Word? What are you learning about God through prayer? Have you had the opportunity to talk to any of your friends about your faith yet?
  2. AFFIRM their Paul (your Timothy) in their eyes! Ron would say, “Larry is so good at connecting the verses he’s memorizing with the situations he’s finding himself in; has he helped you with that?” We know that this type of affirmation is so important to do with our physical children in front of their kids, even more so with our own spiritual offspring.
  3. REMIND them they are an important part of this Great Commission, a link in the chain that must not be broken! (Help them accept and own this concept, this way of life!)
  4. PRAY!!! How can I be praying for you? This goes unsaid but it’s so vital that we must bathe these dear ones in prayer and view it as a “life or death situation!” The evil one prowls and is out to kill, maim, and destroy. 

Remember, you don’t have to be old to be a spiritual grandparent. I hope this serves you as we try to communicate this all-important aspect of generational disciplemaking to others! If you want to hear first-hand how this plays out, you can check out The Apprentice Approach Podcast Episode #13 when I talk with three generations of young disciplemakers. 


The Apprentice Approach is about helping every-day people master the art of disciplemaking and grew out of the fact that…. Many Christians struggle with making disciples, they feel busy, overwhelmed and not qualified. We understand this struggle which is why we created a Bible based framework so any believer can master the art of disciplemaking! One of our outcomes is seeing the folks we engage with walk away saying, “I can do that!”