Here is a challenge for families, especially families bringing young children to the sanctuary for the first time. Send them on a Sanctuary Scavenger Hunt. Equip families with a page of photographs of key parts of your worship space and invite them to come to the sanctuary sometime other than when worship is in progress to find each of the items and discuss their meaning and use in worship. The visit may be before the child first comes to worship or may be after some time in the sanctuary when the child may have lots of questions to ask. Whenever it is, urge parents and children to
- Stand in the pulpit to see the church from the preacher’s point of view.
- Look at the big Bible at the front. Look at the title page to see how old it is and read any dedications.
- Get close to the musical instruments. If you have an organ point out that organists play with both their feet and their hands.
- Use the pew picture to try out several pews and select one for the family to sit in during worship. Remember to choose pews from which children can see easily – often up front rather than in the back. Don’t forget to sit in the choir loft and talk about the choir. Who knows you may have a future choir member with you!
- Take time to explore the books in the pew racks. Look up “Jesus Loves Me” in the Index of First Lines at the back of most hymn books to prove that there will be some familiar songs among many new ones. If there is a prayer book, briefly demonstrate its use to readers. If there is a register, point it out and tell children they will write their name in it each week.
- Describe how the baptismal font is used. Tell baptized children the stories of their baptisms and what kind of font they were baptized in.
- Point to the most prominent cross in the room as an opportunity to insist that all worship is about God and Jesus.
- If Offering plates are out, explain how they are passed down the rows each week and explain how the money your family puts in it will be used.
- If there are Communion vessels or cabinets always present in the sanctuary, point them out and tell how they are used.
- Most sanctuaries have windows, banners, paintings, sculptures, etc. that are unique to them. Visit and talk about them.
Obviously the word “briefly” is key. Children need only an introduction, not a graduate course. Parents need to match what they share to each child. Over the years children will grow in their understanding as they participate in worship. The point of this Sanctuary Scavenger Hunt is for parents to be the ones who introduce their children to the sanctuary and in the process to pass on their love of worshiping there and their excitement that their children are there with them.