Many small group leaders have backed away from doing ice-breakers. As you understood after reading yesterday’s seven reasons for doing ice-breakers, these moments are important if you want to have a transformational conversation.
There are seven audacious practices of those who use ice-breakers effectively that may be helpful.
When asking an ice-breaker question, keep your tone light.
Use questions that anyone can answer easily and none that demand a response that leads the group into deep or dark places.
Be an active listener when each person is responding to the ice-breaker question.
After each person responds affirm them for speaking. This will help get them involved in the deeper discussion to come. Phrases like, “Thanks for sharing, I’m really looking forward to your input in a few minutes.” or “I always appreciate your responses to any of the questions we discuss. I’m especially looking forward to your comments in a few minutes.” etc…
When it’s appropriate, be the first to laugh. When you laugh others will join you in it. Laughter throws the heart open more quickly than almost anything else.
Don’t allow group members to ask follow-up questions of one another. This will hijack your evening.
Keep people’s responses as short as possible and be certain the overly-talkative group member (or anyone else) doesn’t get into telling a long story. You can keep this from happening by asking the question then saying something like, “Let’s each take about 30 seconds.”
Ice-breakers are important to a group gathering. In fact, without them, those who are hesitant to talk seldom do. But a bad ice-breaker, one that demands too much information, makes someone else in the room uncomfortable, or could start an argument, is not just ineffective, it would most likely be hilarious if verbalized.
Below are 10 of the worst ice-breakers you could ever use, especially if the group is a couple’s group.
Who would you consider your best friend? If that person isn’t your spouse, don’t feel obligated to respond.
Which girlfriend or boyfriend that you dated in high school or college do you wish you had married? What characteristics did you love about them that your spouse doesn’t exhibit?
While on your honeymoon, what did your spouse do that really ticked you off? Why do you think they were so insensitive?
Which of the following movie titles best describes the person you like least in our group? Who are you talking about and why did you choose the option you chose?
_____ Damn Yankees
_____ The Hustler
_____ Boys Don’t Cry
_____ Fat City
_____ Billy Liar
_____ Handle With Care
Who in our group would you least like to trade places with? What about their life situation would you hate the most?
Who would you consider to be the overly talkative person in our group? What percentage of our group time do you think they hijack each time we gather?
Which of the following movie titles best describes our group leader? What brought you to this conclusion?
_____ The Great Dictator
_____ The Entertainer
_____ The Exorcist
_____ The Conformist
_____ The Informer
_____ Mad Max
_____ The Man Who Loved Women
_____ Odd Man Out
What’s the one sin you continually commit that you’ve never confessed to anyone? Who else in the group do you think is engaging in the same sin?
What’s your favorite curse word and how often do you use it? How often would your spouse say you use that particular term?
Which of the following cartoon characters/titles best describes the person seated to your left? What about them led you to this conclusion?
There are going to be those weeks when only a few Small Group members show up for the Small Group meeting. Maybe an illness hits a household, a child’s ballgame happens to be rescheduled forcing group members to miss the meeting, a business traveler is out of town, or maybe some fanatical football fan calls in sick. Small Group members start calling you an hour or so before the meeting. You anticipated ten of your closest friends hanging out in your living room, but only four or so show up.
You may not realize it, but how an Small Group leader handles this situation can greatly enhance or detract from the leader’s level of influence. A few do’s and don’ts…
Don’t cancel the meeting.
Don’t apologize for the number of people who are in attendance.
Don’t speak negatively of those who aren’t there.
Don’t make statements that negatively impact the conversation like, “I sure wish John was here. He would really have some important input right now.” or “If Sue was here, she could speak to this issue,” etc…
Don’t allow the enemy to lead you to believe group members didn’t show up due to your leadership or because they don’t appreciate the group.
Don’t feel an obligation to fill the entire meeting time. If you finish early due to the fact that fewer people are involved in the conversation, that’s okay. Spend the rest of the time just enjoying one another’s company. This will pay off in the long run.
Do start on time (don’t wait to see if more people are going to show up).
Do go ahead with every aspect of the small group meeting.
Do give your whole heart to those who are in attendance. In fact, realize that the smaller number of attendees gives you the opportunity to connect with these group members at a much more intimate level.
Do pray for the needs of those who aren’t at the meeting. Be careful that you don’t pray that they’ll show up next week.
Consider a smaller than normal group meeting an opportunity to build deeper relationships and prove every individual is important to you.
Effective small group leaders realize that what happens between meetings is more important than what takes place during meetings. Small group leader… Below you’ll find a checklist that will be helpful to you as you evaluate your between meeting leadership.
Feed your soul by spending time in God’s Word and praying daily.
Pray for each group member by name daily.
Connect with a few group members via phone or face-to-face. Unless a personal need has been revealed, the contact is simply to let them know you care about them and are praying for them.
Prepare for the next group meeting.
Assign responsibilities to the group apprentice that will aid him in his journey to become an effective group leader.
Email the group with any information they need to continue their journey toward Christlikeness or any information about the upcoming meeting, missional opportunity, or fellowship experience.
Double check to make sure the person responsible for food is aware and is still going to be at the group meeting.
If the group is meeting in your home, prepare the environment for an effective group experience.