Adopting Up


With the breakdown of the American family, local churches are rediscovering the ancient practice of adopting the orphaned and the disowned.

In the days of the early church, it wasn’t unusual for someone to show up at church as a new believer having been disowned by his or her family. The church leaders would then assign a family to care for this new believer. Just as Jesus promised, orphans would be given new families. With the breakdown of the American family, local churches are now rediscovering this ancient practice. Young adults and new Christians are coming to our churches with little or no support from their biological families. This means mature believers have to be aware of who’s coming in to the church family and be intentional about helping these new believers make solid, primary connections.

There is another, often overlooked, aspect of this adoption process—adopting up. Here’s what I mean by “adopting up.” Just as our churches are filled with young adults who need someone to love them, our churches are also filled with senior adults who need someone to love. The mobility of families means grandparents often live several hours from their grandchildren—and their children. This means many of our senior adults are lonely and left to wonder if their lives matter anymore.

Of course, their lives matter. Senior adults possess the one thing few other people do—wisdom! They know how to keep a marriage together over a lifetime. They have stories of faith and endurance that would inspire all of us. They have been through tough times and lived to tell about them. They have seen history when it was made. And they’re funny.

They have a lot to give to someone who’ll slow down long enough to listen. They have treasures that will change your life. So, the next time you’re at church, look around. See a senior adult? Ask them to lunch. Meet them for coffee. Take them flowers. Get to know them. Make them your father or mother, grandmother or grandfather in the city where you live.

One of the great promises of Christ is that when we follow Him, we’ll find a new family in His family—grandparents included.

Go ahead. Take a chance, and let me know how it worked out.


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