by Lynn Pryor
How do you kick off your Bible study group? Maybe your answer is, “We talk about sports, family, current events, whatever until I feel like everyone’s there and they’re ready to start.” Or maybe you’d say, “We don’t waste time! Straight away, we open our Bibles and dig into the Scriptures.”
Me? I intentionally navigate an approach somewhere between those two. I used to be the guy who didn’t want to waste time with “frivolities.” I realized, though, that fellowship and connection are not frivolous. This type of connection is biblical, needed, and can play an integral role in our Bible study.
It’s natural when people first gather to want to talk and “catch up.” So, I let them, but I do so with intentionality. As the group leader, I guide the conversation. I guide it away from politics, debates, and things people might want to argue over. I guide the conversation to be inclusive of all in the group, and I use the conversation as an on-ramp into the study. That’s where the icebreaker question comes in.
Even though I’m using the icebreaker question as a lead-in to the Bible study, I often use questions that sound “unspiritual.” By this, I mean a type of question that’s not directly tied to the Bible and could be asked with your golfing buddies or while sipping coffee with total strangers at Waffle House. It’s a question to which everyone would have an answer.
If it’s just an “ordinary” question, why waste time with it in Bible study? The question gets the group talking. That’s important. Once group members are talking to each other, they’re far more ready and eager to engage in conversation as you dig into God’s Word.
And while the icebreaker question may initially sound random, it is not. I choose a question carefully. I use the discussion that grows out of the icebreaker question as a segue into the topic our Bible study passage addresses.
For example, if I asked the question, “What food or treat do you have a hard time resisting?”, I could wrap up the conversation by saying that, while we can laugh at the temptation of chocolate cake, some temptations are far more serious. “We’re going to look at a man named Joseph and see what he did when he encountered temptation.” Or if I asked the question, “What characteristics do you think of when it comes to a hero?” I could follow the discussion by saying we’re going to look at a character trait Jesus calls us to have.
These questions work! Anybody can respond to these questions and the discussion can lead straight into our study. I know because I work on the Bible Studies for Life curriculum, and each week we provide just such an icebreaker question along with a short lead-in from the question to the heart of that week’s Bible study.
Here are four things to consider as you add icebreaker questions to your Bible study:
- An icebreaker question is easy to answer. Everyone can share an opinion or story of how they’d answer.
- An icebreaker question is non-threatening. No one is pressured to reveal too much about themselves or give an answer they’re not sure of.
- An icebreaker question is fun to answer. It’s not necessarily “spiritual” because it is merely a lead-in to the topic, but it’s a question people want to answer.
- An icebreaker question gets people talking. This is the key strength of an icebreaker. How do you get a room full of people who don’t really know one another or may only be casually acquainted to talk? One of the best ways to do this is through an easy question that makes people want to answer. Once group members are talking to each other, it’s far easier to engage in conversation as you dig into God’s Word.
At that point, the icebreaker question has broken the ice!
For more, check out this article https://lifewayresearch.com/2020/02/19/75-icebreaker-questions-for-church-small-groups/
Lynn Pryor is a publishing team leader at Lifeway and has been involved in creating Bible studies for over 27 years. You can read more from him at lynnhpryor.com.