Icebreakers are great because they encourage people to get to know each other.
But it’s important that the icebreakers you use be non-threatening. What is non-threatening to some group members could terrify others.
Below are 15 icebreakers for your small group or Bible study. The first several options are most helpful for a beginning group. Many of the later ideas are useful for building relationships in groups that have been together for a while.
Have each person share their best and worst moments from the previous week. This icebreaker is an easy one to use at first and gives you good feedback concerning their lives at the moment. Some longer running groups do this several times a year, and the answers become more honest as they go.
Go around the room and have each person share something that makes him or her unique, such as “I’ve never left the state I was born in” or “I am one of 10 kids.”
Have each person make three statements about him or herself: two true statements and one lie. For example: “I’ve never broken a bone. I have five sisters. I was born in Yugoslavia.” The group tries to guess which statement is the lie.
Take five minutes to find the following items in your wallet or purse: Something that ...
Have each person share the first item. Go around again sharing the second item and again until you have gone through each one. Don’t feel like you have to use the whole list if it will take too long.
This is great for a group that doesn’t know each other well.
Find out interesting facts about individual group members before the group meets. Try to discover information that sets each person apart from the others, such as “I have a tugboat named after me” or “I once wrecked the same quarter panel of my car four times” or “I have a twin.”
Then make a sheet with one fact from each person and a blank beside this fact. Give everyone in the group a sheet and five to seven minutes to find who goes in each blank.
When they find the right person, they must also learn one other fact about that person. At the end, introduce everyone in the group in the order on the list.
Give your group members pens and paper. Ask them to think back as far as they can and draw a line graph to represent their lives.
Consider the high points and low points, the moments of inspiration, the moments of despair, the leveling-off times, and where they are now. The line will probably be a mixture of straight, slanted, jagged and curved lines.
After everyone has drawn their lines, have people share what they’ve drawn and what it means with the group.
This one may take longer. It might be good to have people draw their lines before the group to bring with them.
Pass a bag of M&M’s around and tell everyone to take a few but not to eat them.
Ask each person to share something for every M&M — for example, something about family for every red one, something about future plans for every green one and so on.
Buy a large bag of M&M’s and give each person the same amount (try 10 M&M’s). Start by stating something you’ve never done that you think everyone else has done.
For example, you might say, “I’ve never had a birthday party,” or some other true statement about yourself that you think everyone else has surely done. Then everyone who has had a birthday party pays you an M&M. You pay everyone who has not had a party.
Keep playing until everyone has a turn or until someone runs out of M&M’s. Obviously, the idea is to end up with the most M&M’s.
Give each person a 3-by-5 card. You pick the topic and let them write the questions.
For example, if you choose “friendship” as a topic, they will each write out a question for anyone in the group to answer about friendship.
Q: “What do you value most in a friend?”
Q: “Who was your best friend growing up and why?”
Then pile all the cards face down in the middle of the group and let people draw. Topic ideas: jobs, life goals, funny stories, hobbies, family, fears, dating issues, significant relationships, relationship with God, etc.
Bring a newspaper or magazine and have the group members tear out pictures, articles or anything they think tells something about themselves. Each person should share his or her choice and the reason for it with the group.
Ask: “Your house is on fire, and everyone is safe. You have 30 seconds to run through the house and collect three or four articles you want to save. What would you grab? Why?” After everyone has done this, the group can discuss what they learned about the things they value.
Ask: “If you could ...
Go anywhere in the world now, where would you go and why?
Talk to anyone in the world (alive or dead), who would it be? Why?
Wish one thing to come true this year, what would it be? Why?
Ask: “You’ve been exiled to a deserted island for a year. You are told you may take three things you want, apart from the essentials. What would you take and why?”
Ask each member to name three people, past or present, he or she admires. Why?
Or ask: “If you could interview anyone in history, who would you choose and why? What one or two questions would you want to ask?”
We’re so glad you’ve taken the step of faith to lead a group, and we hope these icebreakers will be helpful.
For other tips and resources, check out “(Almost) Everything You Need to Know About Leading a Small Group” or sign up below for our email series with weekly tips for small group leaders.
You can find more great info for leading a small group in the book “The Ultimate Roadtrip.”
Adapted from Rick Hove, “The Ultimate Roadtrip: A Guide to Leading Small Groups” (Orlando: CruPress, 2010). Order at CruPress.com
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Life-changing small group environments are less about how-tos and more about experiencing Jesus. They are not focused on building head knowledge but on changing hearts and minds. These communities not only equip their members for service but also expose sin and call people to adore Christ. Christ-centered communities transform lives from the inside out.
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