If your group is new, it is important to be intentional in your relationship development. In order for the group to go deeper in studying God's Word, they need to trust one another. Otherwise, the study will be superficial. It will be "about" God's Word and not about the application of God's Word in lives. Without relationship development and trust, there will be little personal sharing, no confession, and resistance to accountability.
In fact, this can be the case in classes that are no longer new, but they never developed a sense of what Steve Lizzio of Adult Bible Fellowship Resources calls community. Community is built before, during, after, and between classes. It must be addressed purposefully, but you will know it is off to a great start when it is done spontaneously by attenders choosing to spend time together on their own.
One way to increase community in groups (whether they are Sunday School classes, adult Bible fellowships, or small group Bible studies in home), is by using icebreakers. This is especially helpful in the early weeks of a new class, and it is also helpful when new people have entered a group. Even long-term relationships can benefit from using icebreakers effectively.
Now, what are icebreakers? I like the how the Life Changing Truth website defined icebreakers: "Question or activity designed to provide a positive atmosphere and orientate the student to the lesson." Key values of icebreakers include the following:
- frequently used as hooks, to launch the lesson, to capture interest/attention of individuals in the lesson/truth/passage
- fun, interesting, lighter direction
- break down any tension; help participants to relax
- make participants comfortable with each other
- help participants get to know and trust each other; build connections that last; affirm affinities
- get to know new people and allow them to get to know us
- make participants comfortable in talking/sharing
- designed to create conversation between individuals
- best when they are connected to the lesson rather than free-standing.
Even group fellowship times can benefit from icebreaker questions or activities. I asked permission of Don Bromley, Associate Pastor of Vineyard Church in Ann Arbor, for permission to share the following resource with you. This PDF document contains thirty icebreakers: Getting to Know You.
Use them in fellowship times. Use them as examples of icebreakers that could be designed to be used during group Bible study times. Develop relationships purposefully. Break the ice. Go deeper in studying His Word. Be revolutionary!
For more ideas about icebreakers, check out these posts: