Crosstown Adopt a Family Initiative connects families for care during COVID

Children and family ministry leaders regularly get together to share ideas and pray together. At a recent gathering, one ministry leader shared about how her church was starting a mentoring program for kids since COVID-19 has upended ministry as we used to know it.

As the group ruminated on that idea, Polly Inestroza of Crosstown Covenant in Minneapolis wondered about having families “adopt” one another to make sure each family had someone else in the congregation that is caring for them, and checking in with them regularly in this season when we can’t all be together.

Below are Polly’s reflections on Crosstown’s Adopt a Family initiative, two months in:

Polly Inestroza, Children’s Pastor at Crosstown Covenant in Minneapolis (pictured here with her family) helped create the Adopt a Family program to make sure each family had someone else in the congregation that is caring for them during the COVID pandemic.

I feel the need to begin this faith story with the disclaimer that this was all God. Down to every detail, God orchestrated this celebration for His glory! I had a prompting of the Holy Spirit one day in late July to go to people’s homes and visit. More specifically, to pray for families. To pray over kids and their parents as they embarked on the school year ahead. To claim joy and victory for people even though they didn’t feel it was theirs to claim.

After months of feeling mildly effective in my role as Children’s Pastor, I knew all I could really contribute for my families was prayer through the Holy Spirit.

I began setting up home visits with all the families at our church—many of whom I hadn’t seen for months. After the first three visits, I was completely amazed with a tension I had never experienced before. I left feeling extremely excited, high, overjoyed and completely full! Which makes sense, right?

I need kids and parents to energize the ministry call that is imprinted on my heart. But, I was also incredibly burdened. The first two home visits, the moms cried when I prayed for them. I could sense the pressure, anxiety and passion in families. I was also amazed that the families I was visiting were willing to enter a holy space on their front steps, with me.

I sat with this tension for a few days before realizing that this burden that I was carrying is not mine alone, but the Church’s. I could visit all 25 families’ homes, take all their prayer requests before the Lord daily and carry this with Him and me. Or, I can delegate this gift to the congregation, and we can all carry each other together. With that, I tweaked an idea that I had heard and created the Adopt a Family ministry, which launched September 2020.

Adopt a Family exists for two purposes: 1) covering each Crosstown family in prayer, and 2) encouraging one another during this difficult time. Each of our families were “up for adoption” and adopted by someone else in our congregation. The adopters vary in age and life stage. One couple recently underwent surgery, and I was able to place them with a COVID-cautious family who is uncomfortable with visitors!

In the welcome packets, adopters were given a list of ideas to encourage—fun little things that would bring joy to a home. Ages of kids and “get-to-know-you questions” were also included, along with a picture of the family.

It’s funny, I heard from a teen household that it has “been interesting receiving cards in the mail from a woman I do not even know.” And, while yes, that may seem weird, isn’t it cool to know you are a part of a bigger movement that cares for each other!

We belong to one another. Praying for and encouraging each other at Crosstown belongs to our whole congregation. Our Adopt a Family ministry not only shares in that work, but I would say it relishes in the glory too. As I left homes feeling energized and purpose-charged, I couldn’t hoard that all to myself.

Praying for one another and encouraging one another can energize all of us, and fuel us through this pandemic!