Adopt-A-Heart - Issue #206 (September 5, 2014)
This is an excerpt from a PDF download. To download the full text of this document click: Adopt-A-Heart
Several years ago, some concerned members of Crievewood United Methodist Church in Nashville, Tennessee, realized how separated and disconnected the older generations were from the youngest members of the congregation. Each week, the children would gather on the lower level of the church for their programs while the older adults participated in classes and worship on the ground level of the building. Without an elevator or a unified ministry to bring them together, the older adults had few opportunities to interact with the children. As the church paid attention to this discovery, they heard God calling them to bring the generations together.
In response, Crievewood UMC created the Adopt-A-Heart ministry. On a designated Sunday, numbered paper hearts are placed around the sanctuary. During the worship service, members of the congregation are invited to take a heart. At the end of the service, the hearts are exchanged for an information sheet that includes a child’s name and picture (provided with parental permission). The adult then contacts the child through the parents and makes arrangements to sit together in church or go to lunch with the family after the service.
This ministry has nurtured many intergenerational relationships. Families begin to know the older people as they take dinner to their homes, make plans to eat ice cream together, or pick up the heart partner to attend a child’s soccer game or dance recital. The child is given the gift of a mentor, faith guide, and friend. Many appreciate their newly created relationships so much that the heart partners remain closely connected far beyond the end of the initial commitment period.
By paying attention to their context and prayerfully discerning how God is calling them to bring the generations in their church family together, Crievewood UMC has created an intergenerational model that nurtures growth in discipleship while cultivating intentional and mutual relationships among people of different ages.
Questions for Discussion
- When is the entire body of Christ together in your congregation?
- How does your congregation intentionally create a space for different generations to nurture and support each other?
- How is God calling you to participate in intergenerational ministry that affirms the presence of all of God’s children as part of the body of Christ?