- Pictures of human towers or pyramids (see below for details). Google “human pyramid” or “human tower” to find them.
- Building blocks (Duplo or Sticklebricks are ideal but Lego would work if needed). You’ll need to build the foundation of four walls to create a rectangular shape for people to build on later in the talk. Have this on a table near the front.
- Powerpoint with questions (see below)
- Craft resources – Pens, paper, coloured paper, scissors, tape, glue etc (at Zone2 we have boxes of all kinds of different craft equipment that we top up regularly).
The Bible has a whole load of different images to describe what the church is. There is the church as the body of Christ or the church as the bride of Christ. Sometimes we are described as the branches of a vine, or as sheep looked after by one good shepherd.
In today’s reading the church is described as a “temple” and those of us who are Christians as the “living stones” that make up the walls of God’s temple.
If we think about some of the churches and cathedrals of the world we can see that they are built to last. They are usually made of large, solid blocks of stone that will stand the test of time. But they definitely aren’t living stones.
In fact the phrase “living stones” is pretty weird and I wonder what kind of images pop into your head when you think about being “living stones” in a building.
Maybe something like this: Show a picture of a simple human pyramid
Or this: Show a picture of a bigger human pyramid
Or this: Show a picture of the biggest human pyramid or tower that you can find.
Or maybe when you think of a building put together with normal human beings you feel like it is probably more likely to work out a little more like this:
Show a picture of a human pyramid that has collapsed
You see the problem with being a living stone is that we’re not always convinced about the quality of the building material.
We’re very aware of the stuff we get wrong, the ways in which we’re unsuitable for the task. It is easy feel less like the stone that cathedrals are built from and more like the plain old sand you might build a sandcastle from, not that special, not that solid, not particularly likely to stand the test of time.
But this passage tells us something amazing.
On your tables there is a pile of bricks. Makes sure everyone has hold of one.
This passage tells us that no matter what we feel about ourselves, no matter how insignificant or structurally unsound we might feel our brick is each one of us were chosen specifically by God to be part of his temple. The version we read describes us as “God’s instrument to do his work” other translations don’t just use the word instrument they say things like “God’s own special possession” or “God’s own special, perfect people”.
In God’s temple all of us have a role to play, a function to fulfil. No matter what our opinion of ourselves might be God says that we are his instrument, his stone, the only one that could do the job.
But the most important thing is not just accepting that but seeing what happens when all of these stones start to come together. As they are built up, layer on layer they go from being a pile of blocks to being something amazing, something with practical value and beauty. Most cathedrals were much less impressive when they were simply a pile of stone blocks. They have potential but that is all. But as the bricks are stacked one on top of another, following the designs of the architect that potential turns into something that can be seen and experienced. The amazing stuff happens when the bricks become a building. When the potential becomes reality.
So just for a moment think about the brick in your hand. Regardless of whether you feel up to the task or not God is offering you a role in building his church! When you’re ready bring up your brick and add it to our building as a sign of recognising that God has given you a role to play in his temple and showing him that you are willing to be a part in building his church.
Give people as long as it takes to bring up their bricks before continuing.
Well our building is starting to look great but there is one big problem – it isn’t finished yet!
And that is the point. We, as living stones, are part of a temple that is still being built. In the same way that God saw you as the perfect stone for continuing his work he is also seeking out other people who can be added. And we have a role to play in that too!
The Message translation of the passage we read earlier says this in verses 9-10:
But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.
Our role is to continue the building of God’s church. But how do we go about it? I’m going to let you answer that!
On the powerpoint screen (or on printed sheets for each table) have the two verses above and the following questions:
• What are the characteristics that a church should have if it wants to grow?
• What sort of things can we do as individuals to continue to build God’s church?
If you’d like to it might be helpful to give a (non exhaustive) list of ideas to get people started. These might include things like being welcoming, being willing to talk to others about our faith etc etc.
In a moment we’re going to give each table some craft materials to build your own model of a church. But before you start building it think of a couple of the things you thought were important before and some way to show that in your model. So for example if you think it’s important to be very welcoming you might have a huge front door, or if you think it’s important to look outwards at the world you could have big windows. Your model church It doesn’t have to be a traditional looking one it can be as creative as you like to show some of the things that we’ve talked about
Once people have had time to build their churches go around the tables asking for details about what their churches are built on.