During 2014 and 2015, the all age worship services at St James
Muswell Hill followed a theme. In 2014 it was the story of Joseph, and in 2015
we looked at Peter, and his relationship with Jesus. This talk (which can be
found on the
church web site) was about us as living stones, and Jesus
as the cornerstone of his people the church.
The talk was in two parts.
In the first part I said that I had been to Ikea and bought a flat pack self
assembly DIY church building. This was made of cardboard boxes. I decided not
to use the instructions, and threw away one box because it was a different size
to all the others. But it all went wrong and the church building turned out
Then I found the proper instructions, which said - in Swedish and
English - "read the Bible." (I even checked with a Swedish speaker to make sure
I had the pronunciation of Kyrka and Läsa Bibeln correct - if you don't
know any Swedes, Google translate will read it out to you.) So 1 Peter 2:4-10
was read, while I dismantled the boxes.
In the second part of the talk I
explained that we are living stones, and we must have Jesus as the
corner stone of our church. Peter is not talking about buildings - he's
talking about Christ's people loving each other and sharing in our worship of
Jesus, with everything we do dependant on him. And to emphasise that we are
living stones, I gave out stickers with outlines of people on them. The
congregation drew their own faces and wrote their own names on the stickers,
and stuck them on the cardboard boxes.
I retrieved the box I had
rejected - Jesus' box, labelled "corner stone" - and then reassembled the
building. It went together perfectly this time, with Jesus as the cornerstone.
To finish it off, I fixed his cross to the spire.
The visual aid
The boxes came from Ikea. They were all 'Tjena' boxes, which come in a variety of sizes:
- A: 13cm wide x 26cm deep x 10cm high
- B: 27cm wide x 35cm deep x 20cm high
- C: 32cm wide x 35cm deep x 32cm high
- D: 27cm wide x 35cm deep x 10cm high
The ABCD is nothing to do with Ikea - it gives you a key to the
pictures which you can download
as a pdf. I used 6 type A, 11 type B, 2 type C and 5 type
D. Assembled and with the spire and other bits, they (just) fitted in the back
of my VW Beetle.
Of course you can use any sort of boxes - you don't
have to use Ikea's. However, their boxes are white - not that normal grubby
brown cardboard box colour. And they are reasonably priced, and you buy them
flat packed and - best of all for these purposes - they come with additional
bits of white cardboard that you can make into a spire, or a roof, or
I made the visual aid like this:
- two type B boxes (B2 and B3 in the diagrams) were made a bit
taller so that, with another type B on top, they would be the same height as a
type C with a type D on top (42cm). And in the wonky church building, they
would add to the wonkiness. I cut four pieces of the spare card, cut half way
through them and bent them to make L shapes. Then I stuck them inside the
corners of the box with PVA glue so they protruded by 2cm from the top of the
box. I marked these boxes B+ on the underside so I could identify them quickly
during the talk.
- then I assembled all the boxes, glued bits of white card inside
the lifting holes (possibly a bit fussy, that) and fixed the lids in
- I made the spire and bits of roof and other architectural
features using the spare card that came with the Tjena boxes. I'm not going to
give detailed instructions, because you should make a cardboard church
building that looks exactly like your building, and not like St
- I used white 'duck tape' for most of the sticking, but it didn't stick
terribly well to Tjena boxes.
- I printed a piece of paper with "corner stone" on it -
substituting a cross for the "t" - and stuck it on a type C box. I bought two
of these boxes and, in the first part of the talk, rejected the blank one. I
didn't want to give away the corner stone point at this stage.
- Finally I drew some outlines of people and copied them onto A6
size stickers that I had bought from Ryman's. You can download
of the people outlines - but do a dry run first to make sure they come out
in the right place on your stickers.
- The cross on the spire was one of those Palm Sunday crosses
made of palm leaf. You probably have at least four in your house
With the spire, this was close to 3m tall. I built it on a table
so that the folk at the back could see, and to add another metre or so to the
height. It was a bit of a stretch to get the spire on. It is worth making it as
big as possible so it looks big even from the back.
forget to emphasise that, although this visual aid is of a church building, the
church is the people, and Jesus is part of the church.
building made of cardboard boxes