Below you’ll find the transcript for episode 22, How to Select Icebreaker Games that Build Relationships, from the Women’s Ministry Toolbox Podcast.
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EP 22: How to Select Icebreaker Games that Build Relationships.
Welcome to the Women’s Ministry Toolbox Podcast. I’m Cyndee Ownbey, your host and women’s ministry mentor. I’m the founder of the Women’s Ministry Toolbox and the author of Rethinking Women’s Ministry. The Women’s Ministry Toolbox Podcast is a podcast for women’s ministry leaders and team members of all stages (from new to seasoned) serving in their local church community. If you’re looking for hope and inspiration, you’ve come to the right place! In addition to discussing the nuts and bolts of women’s ministry, I’ll be asking seasoned women’s ministry leaders to share their best tips and the lessons they’ve learned. Together we’ll learn to build a flourishing, Christ-focused women’s ministry.
Today, we’re going to be talking about:
- The benefits of icebreakers
- How to customize icebreakers
- Some of the things that icebreakers should not do
I’m also going to share a list of the most popular icebreaker games that you can find on the Women’s Ministry Toolbox website.
If you’ve searched Pinterest for women’s ministry ideas, chances are you’ve come across several of my icebreaker games. I love to create and play icebreaker games! As women’s ministries strive to be more relevant, some have chosen to eliminate icebreakers and games. Can I suggest that we not be quite so hasty?
Intentional icebreakers provide points of connection for your women through the sharing of shared experiences and interests.
- Who here doesn’t like to eat chocolate?
- Find someone in the room who played an instrument in high school.
- Get the signature of someone who’s been on a mission trip.
- Stand up if you start your day with coffee.
All of those types of questions can provide connection points and deepen the relationships that your women have with one another. You will be amazed at the little trivia that is shared and the connection points that encourage conversation amongst your women.
7 Benefits of Icebreakers
- Icebreakers break up those dreaded cliques. Women need a reason to mix and mingle with others outside of their social circle. Let’s face it, i’s much easier to sit with people we know and visit with old friends. Great good can come with forcing them outside of their group, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
- Relationship building. God can use icebreakers to make connections among the women at your event. Details are shared that might not be otherwise. Whether it’s the love of the same hobby, a shared travel destination, or a Christmas tradition, creating means for such details to be shared reveals similar hearts and journeys. God may even plant the seeds of a potential mentoring relationship.
- Memories. You are creating a memorable experience for that group of women to share.
Our mom’s group will never forget the wealth of items we found in Stephanie’s car during the Car Scavenger Hunt. We learned a lot about Stephanie that day, and we also scored a lot of points!
4. Laughter. Give your women a reason to laugh and smile. Psalm 126:2 reminds us to fill our mouths with laughter.
Our entire group got so tickled when we played the game Marooned. One of the groups decided that one of the items they needed to take was a cabana boy. I know, so silly, but that memory sticks with me to this day, and we rolled with laughter when they shared their list.
5. Respite and levity. Mental breaks are needed during retreats conferences and other longer events. Your women will absorb more of God’s message when they have had the opportunity to move around and laugh.
6. Message reinforcement. Icebreakers can provide an active opportunity to reinforce the message of your event or provide a great introduction to your topic.
7. Icebreakers prime the pump. Surface-level conversations now will encourage your women to go deeper later during your table discussion. You’ve broken the ice!
I have to admit not all icebreakers are fun, and not all women love icebreakers.
Some ice breaker games even make people feel less than.
I was at an event many, many years ago where we played several individual icebreaker games. The winners each received a rather nice door prize. One particular game ruffled my feathers. We were given approximately ten really hard, random trivia questions to answer. Two of them were Bible-based, so if your Bible knowledge was lacking, you were at a total disadvantage.
I heard many of the women sitting around me grumbling about how hard these questions were. We worked on them individually, and they were next to impossible to answer. Instead of being fun, that icebreaker gave was frustrating! If we had played in teams rather than individually, I think the response would have been a lot different.
That leads me to…
10 Things Icebreakers Should Not Do
- Make anyone feel stupid. Trivia-type games should be played in teams. And always, always assume that there are women in attendance with little to no Bible knowledge.
- Humiliate anyone. If you’re doing an ice breaker game in front of the group, make sure that you ask for volunteers.
- Cause division. Prizes should be minimal to eliminate any jealousy. Think of things that are $5 or less. (We’ll talk more about door prize ideas next week.) Consider creating teams for each icebreaker and stay away from any controversial topics (breastfeeding, politics, homeschooling, etc.).
- Exclude someone from participating. Take into account the physical limitations of your specific group. Add an adaptation, such as raising your hand instead of standing up, or maybe they keep score instead of actively participating.
- Reinforce cliques. Divide your women into random teams – do it by color, numbers, stickers, or just count them off.
- Be boring. Your icebreaker coordinator needs to be excited and she should be fun. Choose an icebreaker that you would want to do and sell it. That delivery makes all the difference in the world. And don’t start by apologizing or acknowledging that people don’t like icebreakers. Just dive into it, smiling, and do your best to ensure that women have fun and connect.
- Take away time from the speaker or program you have for the evening. Know the time that you have and plan accordingly. Wrap things up quickly if things get out of control in any way – which sometimes can happen. Also, be prepared, have supplies ready to go, and practice the icebreaker if needed.
- Encourage the sharing of secrets or lies. It’s just not biblical. Be prepared to squelch any oversharing.
- Cause discomfort or anxiety. Always give the option to choose another question or to skip an item. Take care not to put anyone on the spot.
- Violate any church policies. If you’d be embarrassed if the pastor came in during the icebreaker, don’t do it. Use wisdom when choosing music, content, and video clips.
It can be overwhelming to try to meet the needs of every woman in our church, especially women whose lives are different than our own. You may wish you knew what to say to the woman in crisis, how to help the women who are struggling, which resources to share with a woman in need, when to step in and when to say. You don’t have to worry about saying or doing the wrong thing anymore. I’ve got the advice you need to serve and support these women with confidence. I’ve gathered together 13 women to share their stories in the Ministry to Women Summit. In these interview-style videos, you’ll hear from women who are single, divorced, widowed, a military spouse, sexually abused, special needs moms, walking through grief, struggling with infertility, moms with young children, facing life-altering diagnoses, adoptive, foster, and step-moms, encountering addiction and infidelity in marriage. And you’ll hear from a trained counselor who will talk about how to help women struggling with anxiety and mental health. This summit is not about adding another program or guilt about what we could have or should have done. It’s about understanding how to meet the different needs of the women in your church and community. It’s about making certain that every woman knows that they matter and they belong. As 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “therefore, encourage one another and build one another up just as you are.” The Ministry to Women Summit is going to help you encourage and build your women up. You can find out more information about the Ministry to Women Summit at ministrytowomensummit.com.
If you’ve used any of the games on the Women’s Ministry Toolbox website, you may have noticed they’re not very spiritual. That’s on purpose.
Icebreaker games are often played with women who do not know each other well.
Jumping right into spiritual questions can feel way too personal and put some of your women on the defensive.
We don’t want them to shut down before we even get started. We want them to connect with other women and feel like they are part of the group.
Remember, the focus is on making connections that will help women feel more comfortable when we do go deeper. Think of it as warming up the room.
Spiritual questions are best for closed small groups with established relationships where trust has already been built – things like Bible study groups later in the semester, your women’s ministry team, or table mates later in the retreat weekend.
And Bible games… well, they’re great for people who know the Bible.
As I mentioned before, it bears repeating that we do not want any woman to leave our event feeling less than. Always assume that there are women in attendance that did not grow up in the church or do not have a strong, Biblical background.
I believe there’s a time and a place for Bible games. Bible games can be an effective way to reinforce what was just taught, like in a Bible study or during a retreat weekend. Using teams helps take the pressure off.
I have dozens of icebreaker games on the Women’s Ministry Toolbox website that you can print off and use for free.
There are holiday-themed games and bingo-style games, games for small groups, and games for larger groups.
The most popular icebreaker games on my website right now, not including holiday games, are these five:
- 31 Great Questions for Introductions
- Four Corners
- The Great Candy Pass
- A Day in the Life
- IF: Icebreaker Questions
You may want to create your own game to go with your event theme.
We did that very same thing recently. For the last four weeks, we have been hosting Women on Mission events at our church. Every week has been a different focus. The first week our focus was on Living Out Our Faith Through Fashion. I created a Who here? Game, but the questions were fashion-related. Who here has an item in their closet that they owned in high school? Things like that. It was so fun. They just stood up if their answer was yes.
That second week I created a Roll and Poll Game. They’d roll a die, and then they would answer the question that coordinates with that number. You’ll see some on my site, but we changed the questions so that they went along with our theme, which was about communication and relationships.
The third week we were talking about Living Out Our Faith Through Healthy Rhythms. We played a Four Corners Game where you have to stand in the corner that best represents your answer. All of those questions had to do with the healthy choices that we make. It was so much fun to see how women responded and which groups were really big at which corners were filled to overflowing, and which ones just had a few people on them.
Here are a few quick tips if you’re creating your own icebreaker game:
- Determine the purpose. Is it to connect with the topic? Is it a holiday celebration? Are you focused on building relationships?
- Select your format. Are you going to do something that’s a bingo-style game? Does it require movement, like Four Corners or This or That? (where you step to one side or the other of a line), or Who here? (where you sit down and stand up). Or is it a worksheet? Or maybe it’s questions at your table (like Roll and Poll or Would You Rather questions).
- Write out all of the instructions and questions. Invite a team member to review them. They might see a question or a task that could be a trigger or divisive. (Let’s not ask our women if they do yoga.)
- Gather all of your supplies.
- Deliver it with enthusiasm.
Icebreakers, when we are intentional, can be a great way to deepen relationships among our women. I pray that you will choose and select them carefully and that they will have an impact that goes far beyond the night of your event.
Today’s Toolbox Task:
Search the Women’s Ministry Toolbox list of Icebreakers and Games and choose one icebreaker game to use at your next event or activity.
I pray it will be a blessing and a joy to your women.
Thank you for listening to this episode of the Women’s Ministry Toolbox Podcast. Please make sure you hit the subscribe button so you don’t miss any future episodes. May the grace of God carry you through difficult ministry seasons, may he direct your steps as you seek to make Him known, and may your love for the Lord be apparent to every woman you serve.
You may want to read:
Car Scavenger Hunt
Night at the Museum
31 Great Introduction Questions
The Great Candy Pass
A Day in the Life
IF: Icebreaker Questions
Roll & Poll
This or That
Would She Rather Questions
Icebreakers & Games (my master list)