Icebreakers are important to a group gathering. In fact, without them, those who are hesitant to talk seldom do. But group leaders must beware of bad icebreakers. A bad icebreaker is one that demands too much information, makes someone else in the room uncomfortable, or could start an argument. Bad icebreakers are not just ineffective—they can also be damaging to relationships within the group.
Below are 10 of the worst icebreakers you could ever use, especially if the group is a couple’s group. Consider this a list of what NOT to do when brainstorming icebreaker questions:
1. Who would you consider your best friend? If that person isn’t your spouse, don’t feel obligated to respond.
2. 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?
3. What is something your spouse has done that really ticked you off? Why do you think they were so insensitive?
4. Which of the following movie titles best describes another person in our group? Why did you choose the option you chose?
- Damn Yankees
- The Hustler
- Boys Don’t Cry
- Fat City
- Billy Liar
- Handle With Care
5. Who in our group would you least like to trade places with? What about their life situation would you hate the most?
6. 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?
7. 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
8. What’s the one sin you committed that you’ve never confessed to anyone? Why did you do it?
9. What’s your favorite curse word and how often do you use it? How often would your family or friends say you use that particular word?
10. Which of the following cartoon characters/titles best describes the person seated to your left? What about them led you to this conclusion?
- Fat Albert
- Beavis and Butt-head
- Heckle and Jeckle
- The Grinch
Rick Howerton is the Small Groups and Discipleship Specialist at Lifeway Christian Resources. He has authored many small group studies, is a highly sought-after trainer and speaker, and is the author of Destination Community: Small Group Ministry Manual as well as A Different Kind of Tribe: Embracing the New Small Group Dynamic. He is also the co-author of Disciples Path: A Practical Guide to Disciple Making and Countdown: Launching and Leading Transformational Groups. But Rick’s deepest passion and his goal in life is to see “a biblical small group within walking distance of every person on the planet making disciples that make disciples.”
These are GREAT! Thanks for the chuckle, Rick. BTW, an actual icebreaker asked once in a group (not by me!): What’s one thing you would change about your spouse, and why? All the men wisely replied, “Absolutely nothing.”