Our mission is to make disciples, which begins by connecting with people. There are a variety of ways to connect with people. Depending on the previous relationships, people can adjust to just about anything, however, you never know when you will have new people or your regular people may have new circumstances that throw them off kilter in life. Most people come into a group setting with masks on and they are only ready to share at the superficial level, “Hi, how are you?” “Me? I’m fine, how are you?” In order to provide an environment for intentional discipleship, ice breakers “melt the ice”! Hence, an ice breaker which is inclusive and sensitive to where people are will be much better received than expecting your participants to jump right into the “Digging Deeper” questions.
The Message Based Discussion Questions provide an ice breaker question with each set of questions. This is a question that is related to the message, but is designed so that every person can give some kind of response. That response gets people talking so they will be more inclined to keep talking for the rest of the evening. Consider these five principles.
Ice breakers help break the ice with people
If people are new to the group or they’ve had a “crazy” day (whether difficult, emotional, or grievous), the ice breaker can melt the walls down between people and begin the process of helping each one show a sense of caring relationships. New people are hesitant to open up, because they don’t know who they can trust. Those with a “crazy” day may not know how to express themselves, so the ice breaker helps them to start talking when they may not feel like it. As the name indicates, the ice breaker breaks the ice between people, so two people can bring their ships together for fellowship.
Ice breakers help people connect
People long to connect to a group or community. They want to identify and connect, because it helps them feel they are part of something bigger than themselves. The greater social connections, there is more often less stress, because of the support family and friends give. Ice breakers help strangers melt differences and see commonalities. They can help people identify with God’s family in a caring, accepting relational environment. The ice breaker gets every person to provide a small amount of input so they have ownership into the group. It helps people sense their worth of the group, because they have contributed. The spontaneous laughter and fun of ice breakers gets the endorphins going in the brain to allow people to relax and connect with others.
Ice breakers help people learn about each other
Prejudice is often developed because of a lack of knowledge about people. Ice breakers help people learn about each other and help people see “we’re all very much alike.” They help people see they have more in common than differences. The world and the flesh point out the differences. Sometimes you can have one person give a short testimony after the ice breaker question or activity, so the whole group has a specific goal of knowing each other. You can ask background or experience questions, like, “Which states have you traveled to in the US?” Or, “What state parks have you visited and which did you like the best?” An experience question might be, “What was it like for you growing through the elementary school years?” Or, “What kind of jobs have you had and which job do (did) you like the best?”
Ice breakers help the group start with something everyone can discuss
There are talkers who don’t need any subject to run down the road controlling a conversation. Then there are those who are hesitant to say anything, because someone has made fun of them in the past regarding a response they made. The ice breaker is a question that anyone and everyone can discuss, like, “What is your favorite ice cream?” Or, “What is your favorite color and has that always been the same?” Or, “What is your favorite season of the year and why?” Or, “Let’s have everyone give a weather report about how you feel tonight?” Or you can guide the ice breaker to be more spiritually minded like, “What is the best thing you know about God?” Or, “When you were growing up, what was your view of the church?” Self-disclosure is a key to developing the relational environment and it can begin with the ice breaker.
Ice breakers put into practice the “one anothers” right away
People want to love and be loved, but in our techno savvy world, we relate personally less and less, so the home group is essential for developing the relational environment. It’s the place where intimate caring can be shown and received. The home group can easily experience the “one anothers” of help in troubled times. While there are introverts and extroverts, “most” people would rather be with people than be alone. That is why solitary confinement is considered a harsh prison punishment. When we are around people, we are generally more happy because of the support network toward one another. When people are supported, they are happy, and that support often picks others up and carries them through valleys of shadows. Use different kinds of ice breakers so there is good variety and spontaneity. You may use games or activities, which break up the traditional questions. Ice breakers get the process going so people can build on those close relationships.
Avoid bypassing the ice breaker. It will help people receive love from your affirmation and enjoyment of getting to know them. Your people, no matter how long you’ve known them, will respond well to a well-thought-out ice breaker and spur each on to love and good works!