How Red Door integrates families into the church service

Two weeks ago when I shared that I’m going back into church ministry and wrote about Red Door Church‘s approach to family ministry, many of you contacted me asking to hear more about the resource bags we give to families.

Rather than trying to write about the bags and how families use them during the service, I figured it’d be easier to just show you. Here you go.

If you have other questions about these bags or family ministry in general at Red Door Church, comment below and ask. In the next week or two my pastor and I will shoot a follow-up video that gives a bigger picture look at family ministry here. Your questions will help us make that video as helpful for you all as possible.

And if your church intentionally integrate teens and children into worship services, I’d love to hear what that looks like for you guys. Comment below and share! Thanks!

Posted on January 14, 2013

  • Keaton Smith

    This concept is super interesting. Half of me seems incredibly skeptical at its true effectiveness—but the other half is intrigued and stoked to see a local church take family ministry seriously and intentionally.

    I’m sure you’ll cover this in the future vids, but how is the tension managed between providing an environment for adults to learn without (constant) distraction—both from their neighbors kids (maybe couples or singles without kids) and their direct interaction with their own kids? Also, are the kids really paying attention to what the pastor is saying? Or are they just being distracted with coloring, play doh etc?

    I sense it’s just a tension that has to be managed—-but looks like you guys are being incredibly intentional and purposeful. Hats off!!!

    • Good thoughts, Keaton. A couple things:

      1. I think it’s easy to assume that the best educational process = quite, still, and taking notes with no distractions. I’m not sure that’s true. I think experience trumps lecture.

      2. As to how many kids are actually paying attention to the pastor’s teaching, I honestly don’t know. I think it depends on their age. My kids are both under 4 years old, so they sometimes go into the nursery instead of sitting with us. But when they do sit with us, I’m sure we’re mostly keeping them busy. But the older kids (ages 6 and 7 and older maybe?) are listening and interacting. However, even if they aren’t, I think we’re teaching these very young children something more important than the actual content of the message: “My family worships together and my parents lead and teach me.” When parents do that together at church with other families, I think it’s easier for them to do it at home. And that’s where the real learning happens.

    • joshualenon

      Hey Keaton. I am the pastor at Red Door and I wanted to jump in with Tim on some of these discussions happening here. I Love the “tension” you sense in this because I think there really is some tension here. But I am not sure the tension is necessarily around distractions.

      I think it is more between what we have been raised with or “taught” from a young age about how we do church and the idea of creating a true family space for learning and growing as the church. I don’t think all churches should abandon the way they handle Sunday mornings with separate children’s environments, but I do think it is time we started asking “Why do we do it that way?”.

      I also think that as we start asking that question we may start to understand other tensions like why older churches refuse to adapt to reach the next generation. Maybe the fact that we started removing the younger generations fifty years ago explains why they don’t adapt to the younger generations now? Just a thought…

      As for the distractions – they are there – but not as many as you would expect (definitely not as many as I expected). There is a place for quiet intimate discussions too… our Discipleship Groups are kid-free and provide a place for application and accountability around what was taught on Sunday mornings.

      As for the kids paying attention… I did not expect this, but I have kids coming up and asking questions after the message which is pretty phenomenal. We also have parents sharing frequently about how Sunday mornings creates discussions at home.

      We are only a few years into this and still have far more questions than answers around family-integrated worship. But we love this discussion and look forward to creating more ways to set mom and dad up for success each week. I’m looking forward to more conversations on here with Tim as well re: what we do and why.


  • We have traditional Sunday school classes for our children up to 6th grade. However, we DO integrate children of all ages into our worship services weekly and monthly. To your point, Tim, it’s important for kids to see adults worshiping together – to see what that looks like and to experience it. If they’re always in another room, they never learn what it’s like to worship as an adult. That makes it super hard to continue their faith journeys once they graduate and head out on their own. I also think it sends a message to our kids that they are valued, needed and loved when we worship with them. We’re not just sending them to another room or asking them to “eat at the kid’s table.”

    We start all of our services together. We sing a few worship songs, pray and then have the kids come up front for a 5 minute children’s message that coincides with our pastor’s message. They then go downstairs for Sunday school. There are parent take home materials each week that helps parents reiterate the message throughout the week. Our teens help each week in those Sunday school rooms. They also help to lead worshjp, usher, greet, read scripture during service… we want them to be leaders, to experience service in action and to be a part of the congregation – to feel like they are a part of one big family.

    We also have monthly “Family Service Days.” We don’t have Sunday school classes and everyone comes to worship as one. Our messages are more interactive and we try to have children serving with parents. Again, ushering, greeting, reading scripture, etc. And, families take communion together.

    It’s wonderful to see families worshiping together and to see the entire congregation embracing our children.

  • Juan

    Question on the bags, do you guys have a designated drop off after service? The handouts in the bag, are they from a particular curriculum or does Red Door create the lesson handouts on their own?
    I am very interested to see future videos on this concept.

    • Yes, there’s a trash can you dump the bags into before you leave. And we write all the curriculum in-house since we want it all to be tightly integrated together with the message.

  • Josh Evans

    Pure Awesomeness Tim. Excited to have you back in youth ministry, and stoked about what God is doing at Red Door!

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  • What about adults that do not have kids? Older couples? Singles? How are they engaged?

    • The same way as everyone else. We don’t break everyone down into stage-of-life segments. Everyone sits together, worships together, learns together, etc. I don’t think that answers your question, but it really is as simple as that.

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