A Story of Two Houses
The importance of building well
by Gill Hartley (revised, originally published in 2009)
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To consider Jesus’ parable of the two house-builders and reflect upon its meaning.
Preparation and materials
- You will need to be familiar with the story of the two house-builders found in Matthew 7.21–27.
- Have available some images of houses being built and the means to display them during the assembly. Examples could include:
- building with bricks, available at: https://tinyurl.com/ybxovdx8
- foundations, available at: https://tinyurl.com/yde3xvqw
- houses being built, available at: https://tinyurl.com/ybxa4lpg, https://tinyurl.com/y76exa6c and https://tinyurl.com/yatao7dq
- Ask the children if they know what the saying ‘as safe as houses’ means. (Answer: it means that something is very safe.)
- Ask the children why they think houses are thought of as safe. (Answer: because houses are solid and don’t fall down.)
- Ask the children if they remember the story of the three little pigs. Remind them of the outline as follows.
The Three Little Pigs
Once upon a time, there was a mother pig who had three little pigs. One day, the mother pig said to them, ‘You’re getting too big for this little house. It’s time you went off and built houses of your own.’ So, off they went down the road together.
After walking a little way, the three little pigs met a man who was carrying a bundle of straw. The first little pig asked the man to sell it to him so that he could use it to build his house. The pig paid for the straw and the man went on his way.
Further along the path, the pigs met a man with a bundle of sticks strapped to his back. The second little pig wanted to use them to build his house, so he asked the man to sell them to him. They agreed a price and the man continued without his burden.
A little further on, the pigs met a man lugging some bricks. The third little pig arranged to buy the bricks, so the man left them with him and turned for home.
The three pigs were keen to get on with building their houses and they soon found a clearing that would be just right for them to live in. The first little pig wasted no time and quickly built himself a fine house of straw. He was very proud of his house and boasted about it to his brothers. ‘Now the wolf won’t be able to catch me. I shall be safe inside my house!’ he said.
‘We shall build stronger houses than you!’ said his brothers and indeed, the second little pig had soon built a very fine house of sticks for himself. He knew that his house was stronger than his brother’s house of straw and he was very proud of it. He boasted to his brother, ‘The wolf definitely won’t be able to catch me. I shall be safe inside my house!’
The third little pig took a long time to build his house of bricks, so he was the last to finish. However, he was proud of his work, for he had built a very strong house.
Ask the children to tell you what happened next. (Answer: the wolf showed up and tried to blow down all three houses.)
Ask the children the following questions.
- Which houses were blown down?
- Which house stood firm?
- Why couldn’t the wolf blow down the house made of bricks?
- Ask the children if they know how a brick house is built.
Show the image of building with bricks.
Ask the following questions.
- What’s the first thing that the builders do when they build a house? (Answer: they dig foundations.)
Show the image of foundations and explain what they are for.
- Why do the builders spend a long time digging deep foundations before they build the walls? (Answer: without foundations, the walls would fall down.)
Show the images of houses being built.
- Explain that Jesus told lots of stories when he was alive on Earth because he knew that people would listen to stories and learn something about God from them. He once told a story about two men (they might have been brothers), who each built themselves a house (just like the three little pigs).
A Story of Two Houses (based on Matthew 7.21–27)
Jesus said, ‘If you do as I tell you, you will be as safe as the man who built his house in a rocky place. He dug down deep and took a lot of time to build strong foundations. Then, he built the walls of his house. When it began to rain, the land around the house flooded. The wind blew and the rain lashed against the house, but it didn’t fall down because it was built on good foundations, deep down on rock.
‘If you don’t follow what I say,’ Jesus continued, ‘you will be like the other man. He was in a hurry and didn’t want to waste time digging deep and building on rock, so he built his house in a sandy place. When it began to rain, the sand around his house was washed away. The wind blew and the rain lashed against the house, and it fell down.’
- Explain that Christians believe that Jesus told this story to teach people that if they listen to what he says and do the things he tells them to do, they will be as safe as houses.
Time for reflection
Prayer (based on Philippians 4.8)
Help us to live our lives well, today and every day.
Help us to fill our minds with things that are true and right.
Help us to look for the things in life that are pure and lovely,
And to see in others the things that are good and fine.
Help us today to put into practice the things that we have learned and know to be right.
‘The building song’ (Come and Praise, 61)