Now more than ever grandparents are being called upon to rear their grandchildren. According to a recent nationwide study, there are 2.7 million grandparents raising their grandchildren here in the U.S.Although there are countless reasons and scenarios in which a grandchild may need to live with their grandparents, the most common situations (68%) are related to substance abuse, abandonment, abuse and neglect. The number of grandparents raising their grandchildren is steadily increasing, and I believe, both as a pastor and someone who lived with his grandparents, it is time that we, the Church, take notice of this growing population within our congregations, seek to understand their unique struggles and start considering how we work together to support and reach out to them.
When we read the Bible we hear about Jesus loving the outcasts of society. When we think of outcasts today, we often think of those outside the church: the homeless, drug addicted or poor people. But I want to talk to you today about the outcasts inside the church – those in the Christian community that feel judged, unwelcomed and looked down upon. I have all too often felt this way as soon as I mention that I am divorced.
I was speaking to a large group of middle schoolers. Knowing that few of them came from what my generation would consider the “traditional” family, I was trying to get them to discuss what it was like when their parents got divorced and how they could move beyond the pain of that experience. Clearly, I was not connecting well to the group. One young man, Kyle*, was sitting on the front row. He spoke up, saying, “Terry, my parents are not divorced. They were never married. I’ve only met my father once when I was little, and I don’t really remember him.”