The Parable of the House on the Rock
to the Reverend Andrew Gough, Chaplain at Warwick School, for providing
both this activity idea and his permission to include it here.
parable of the wise and foolish builders is read.
try to build towers of cardboard cubes on different
meaning of the parable is explored.
action song, "The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock" could be used
after the discussion.
- For the
reading: you might like to use a child's version, in which case some
older children could do the reading between them. If no confident
readers are available then an adult could read the parable.
whether you'd like to have any children or adults performing appropriate
actions as the parable is read, perhaps aided by suitable
- An adult
to lead the discussion about the parable's meaning.
to build the towers.
suitable version of the parable, taken from Matthew 7.24-7, Luke 6.46-9,
a children's Bible or Butterworth and Inkpen's Stories Jesus Told. If children are
to share the reading between them then it can be useful to photocopy
or type out each reader's part on separate sheets, which you can pass
out at the start of the service.
- If there
are to be actions during the reading then you could add simple props like
tools, a builder's hat, and so on.
wooden bricks, cubes made from cardboard, or similar building blocks
(which mustn't be made from a soft material, otherwise they might not
topple over even when balanced on unstable foundations). Cardboard
cubes work well because you can make them big enough for everyone to see
clearly what is happening, and their light weight aids the
- A Bible,
with bookmarks in passages like Deuteronomy 5.16, Luke 10.27 and
Colossians 3.13 - or any other verses that stand alone as messages that
provide firm foundations for our lives. The Bible must be fairly big, to
provide a firm foundation.
- A plastic
sack containing roughly screwed-up newspaper and (near the top) some
roughly screwed-up pieces of paper on which there are written some
'rubbish' foundations for life. These work best when children can
relate to them very easily. E.g. 'It doesn't matter if I drop my sweet
papers on the floor - somebody else will pick them up.' 'I'm the most
important person in my family.' 'Lying is ok so long as you're not
caught.' 'The only thing that really matters is money.' and so on. Note:
the thinner the plastic of the bin liner, the more unstable the
actions are to accompany the reading then it can be useful to run through
this in advance.
children are to share the reading then it is usually all right to select
them at the beginning of the service.
- It is
vital to try this out beforehand, to ensure that the chosen materials do
actually work: the right one remains standing and the right one falls down!
- The adult
leading the discussion will need the Bible, the sack of rubbish and the
- The aim
of the talk is to draw out the meaning of the parable: life, like a
house, needs firm foundations. Jesus is the firmest foundation of
all for our lives. If we try to build our lives on rubbish then we can
have little hope in life's storms.
- You can
start by inviting the children to say whether they have every seen a
house or other building being built. Which part of the building do they
think is the most important? The foundations are very easy to forget,
because they are covered by things that look much nicer and more
important. What do they do? They hold up the whole building. What would
happen if they were not there . . . ?
- Each one of
us builds our lives on foundations - not foundations of concrete and
steel but ideas. The ideas we carry round in our heads are the
foundations for our lives. The ideas we live by will make a huge
difference to the sort of people we are; to our lives; to the affect we
have on other people.
this meaning, then invite a child to build a tower on the sack of
rubbish: it should fall down. Invite another child to build a
tower on the Bible, which you have placed on a flat, stable surface: it
should remain standing.
If we build our
lives on a foundation of rubbish - poor ideas, stupid ideas, they we
will have major problems - and so will lots of other people who have to
share our lives with us. If we build our lives on solid ideas - the
ideas God has given us in the Bible, then we can build good lives, grow
into good people and bring happiness and satisfaction for ourselves and
for those others who share our lives with us.
- Pull out
of the bag some of the 'rubbish' messages on which people sometimes try
to build their lives - rubbish ideas that will bring nothing but
contrast, read some of the rock solid ideas from the Bible, which will
help us to build sold and good lives. If we use these ideas for the foundation of our lives
then we will not only find our own lives far more satisfying and
worthwhile; but we will also be people who make the lives of others we
meet far more satisfying and worthwhile as well.