Image credit: InterVarsityExercise TabsOverviewWith each year that passes, I grow in my appreciation of the relationships I have with friends of all ages, both older and younger than me. Phyllis LePeau offers a good word here about making those relationships intentional, particularly as we find ourselves in the position to bless (and be blessed by) children in our lives. Time Required: 30 minutesAge Range: AdultsExperience Level: Newcomer FriendlyModality: Introspection Materials & SetupMaterials & Setup: You will need devices and internet access to share the excerpt below. The Extended Family Elders in the faith have a special role. This can express itself in traditional family structures as with grandparents, but it can also extend past the boundaries of bloodlines and into larger communities of faith. I love watching Doris, a nursing school classmate of mine, in her friendship with Mary Jean. Doris has no children of her own, but she cares for Mary Jean as she would a daughter and treats Mary Jean’s children as if they were her own grandchildren. She prays for them, spends time in Scripture with Mary Jean and celebrates holidays, birthdays, and any day of the week with them. My cousin John and his wife Patti have never had biological children of their own but have blessed and are blessed by many children of others. Kids from different families call them grandpa and grandma or “extra grandpa” and “extra grandma.” Some of the families are immigrants from Central America. John and Patti have helped these friends with difficult adjustments to North American culture including finding jobs, improving language fluency, and making decisions about where to go to college. They have helped with college tuition and provided computers for kids’ education. They have spent hours of tutoring and many dollars to help their friends prepare for citizenship. In all these ways and more they have prayed for, supported, and loved these “grandchildren” as their own. A family in our church lost their grandmother in recent years. Though their grandmother will never be replaced, Andy and I have enjoyed the status of extra grandparents—loving them, praying for them, offering childcare so that their parents can take off overnight for rest and renewal. What a delight it is at church to have them run up to us, “Mimi and Poppo,” with smiles and hugs. We are grateful for the opportunity to let our grandparenting extend beyond the thirteen grandkids in our immediate family. In such scenarios, investment in kids does and will bear fruit — spiritual, emotional, practical — for years to come. Whatever the specifics of the relationship might be, children benefit from the friendship, encouragement, time, love, and prayer of older Christians and grandparent figures. InstructionsInstructions: Read or share the excerpt from the article The Ministry of Spiritual Grandparenting. Pair-Share or Triads Divide the group into pairs or sets of three to discuss the material. Return to a large group and share any themes that arose. Pose these questions: What are the communities I am a part of that have children? What gifts do I have to offer these communities? How will grandparenting children that are not my grandchildren enrich my spiritual life? Credits: by Phyllis J. Le Peau and Andrew T. Le Peau. Used with permission of InterVarsity Press.