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Επαγωγικός Μελέτης Αγίας Γραφής מחקר אינדוקטיבי התנ"ך
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Icebreaker Questions

for Bible Study small groups

In a Bible study small group - cell group, care group, home group, or whatever you call it - it's good to help everyone get to know one another. Having icebreaker questions is one good way to do it. For one thing, it reveals common grounds the members may have so that they can use that as the launch pad for interaction during the informal times of the group. In addition, if well chosen, the questions can also act as a prelude to the Bible study itself.

Given time and some creativity, questions can also be fun - or even wild and crazy - while relevant to your group and the study. I particularly like multiple choice questions with one choice being fill-in-the-blank. They allow for some fun and creative choices while still leaving it wide open for people to answer however they like.

Starting Off

The leader

Being genuinely concerned for each group member's welfare is to be one of the goals for a Bible study leader.

"For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will
genuinely be concerned for your welfare." - Phil 2:20 (NAS)
should be the first one to answer so as to set the tone - people tend to follow the trend or what is brought to mind by others' sharing. It also helps to clarify the questions. However, I would want to add that the questions should be open-ended. In other words, they can't be answered by just 'yes' or 'no'. The intent is for everyone to get to know everyone else. In fact, often times I leave the questions so open-ended that when someone asks exactly what I mean, I would say, "However you want to interpret it!" That also opens it up for people to be creative.

Who's On First : Taking Turns

After the leader shares, the rest can take turns. Going around the circle is one way. But I like to make it more interesting. In fact it's good to vary it each time just to keep things fresh - and those ways can also reveal things about one another.

Invariably there're some people who are more outgoing and are ready to be the first one to share while there are some who want to take time to think and be the last one. The latter should be allowed the freedom to so that the experience is not stressful for them. And there might be some who are very uncomfortable about speaking up in a crowd. Be graceful and give them room to grow. It's not about accomplishing the task of doing icebreakers; it's about caring for people.

While we're on that topic, I want to also say that there needs to be one ground rule: when someone shares, others should not make critical or negative remarks either about the person or what is shared.

More interesting methods of taking turns:

  • Skip to my Lou - Go around the circle, but skip 1 person each time, yet still making sure that everyone has a chance to answer. (A variation would be to skip 2 or more people.)
  • Wildfire - sort of like going around the circle, but alternating from one side of the leader to the other so that it spreads in both directions from the leader.
  • Crazy Wildfire - If you have a young or particularly fun-loving group, you can try this. It's like 'wildfire', but instead of alternating between the two sides, have those two people share at the same time! I've never tried it and would love to know how it turns out!
  • Appoint sucessor - Whoever shares will appoint the next one. This helps the group to learn one another's names.
  • Alphabetical - go by alphabetical order of first names. This also helps the group to know one another's names.

    Here are some variations of the alphabetical sequence:

    • Lazy Dog - go by the order of first names but in the sequence of the sentence "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." Again, this also helps the group to learn one another's names.
    • Reverse - instead of going from a to z, go backwards.
    • 3rd letter - go by the 3rd letter of first names alphabetically.
    • Length - go by the length of your full name (i.e. total number of letters).
  • Birthday - go by birth month and day. This also lets people know one another's birthdays, but not the age just in case some people are allergic to that! A variation would be to just go by the day of month of everyone's birthday.
  • Birthday sum - This is a variation of the last one. Here you go by the sum of birth month and day. For example if you are born on Jan 1, then your number is 1 + 1 = 2. This gets people guessing one another's birthdays. A variation would be to add the last two digits of the year as well. This actually makes it very interesting because someone born on Jun 9, 1980 has the same number as someone born on Apr 1, 1990 (95)!
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  • On the Road - go by the commute time for getting to work or school. It helps people knowing more about one another.
  • Color - go by the first letter of the color of your shirt/pants/hair.
  • Fruity - go by the size/mushiness/skin-thickness/color/sweetness of your favorite fruit. For fruits that have comparable whatever, then choose another quality of it.
  • Haircut - go by how long ago you had a haircut.
  • Hair - go by how long your hair is. If there's any dispute, just settle it with a pair of scissors! This helps people to observe one another's appearance - the question does, not the scissors.
  • 'Roulette' - have each person write down a number on a piece of paper between 1-100. Then the leader reveals his/hers. The sequence will start from the leader and then go one way or another as decided by the leader on the spot. For example, if the leader chooses 77, if he decides the order is going up, then after he shares, whoever has 78 will share - whoever closest. When it gets to 100, then it can wrap around and start at 1.
  • 'Roulette dealer' - this is a variation of the last one. Have each person write down a number on a piece of paper between 1-100. Just like the last one, the leader reveals his/hers first, then the number will go up or down as decided by the leader. But the person with the next number is not the one to share, but the one to 'volunteer' someone else to share.
  • Book 'em - go by the first two letters of the last - or current - book you are reading, alphabetically, but ignoring articles 'A', 'An', or 'The'. e.g. Person A is reading 'Moby Sick'; person B just read 'A Koby Kick'; person C is reading 'The Baby Tick'; then the order would be person C (Baby Tick), B (Koby Kick), then A (Moby Sick).
  • Home Town - if you have group members from all over, then this is good. Go by the spelling of your home town.

Tic Talk Tic Talk : Time Limit

It should be noted as well that a time limit should accompany the questions so that the icebreaker time won't squeeze out the Bible study time. If you have 12 people in your group, each person can be given 90 seconds, with the total time adding up to about 20 minutes. It does add up!

If your group includes new faces who might not be Christians yet, or who might not feel comfortable to share deeper things, it would be good to offer two questions to choose from. One can be about something not personal, general facts for instance, while the other deals with opinions or more personal aspects of one's life.

Below are a few for your reference. Do adapt them according to your needs. And I'm sure you can also think of more.

Bible Passage Related Questions - samples for Luke gospel

  • Luke 1:1-25
    1. If an angel of the Lord appears to you and says that one of your elderly relatives will be pregnant with child, what will you do?
      1. I'll pull on his nose to see if it's my friend wearing a mask to pull a prank on me.
      2. I'll post a selfie of me and him on FB to prove to everyone I was visited by an angel.
      3. I'll say, "I want one too!"
      4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    2. What event or experience have you committed to writing so that you can clearly recall later? Why?
  • Luke 2:1-20
    1. If you want to make a very special announcement, what would you do?
    2. Tell of a time when you were introduced that was memorable? What made it memorable?
  • Luke 2:21-40
    1. If God were to reveal to you that you would win the lottery before you died, what would you think/do?
      1. I'll think that I would not get to enjoy it because I would either get robbed or die of a heart attack.
      2. I'll start planning how to spend it.
      3. I'll start spending the money now.
      4. I'll march up to my boss and say ....
      5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    2. Something you waited or have waited for a long time?
  • Luke 3:1-20
    1. If you must eat an insect, which one would you prefer and how you'd like it prepared? Why?
    2. What was one change you have undergone since you became a Christian?
  • Luke 4:14-30
    1. Share about this: "All eyes were on me..."
    2. What violence or attempted violence have you witnessed and how did it affect you?
  • Luke 5:1-11
    1. Share about a time when you stayed up all night working on something.
    2. If you have to move to somewhere far away, what will you miss the most?
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  • Luke 6:1-11
    1. As a child, what rule did you like or not like? Why?
    2. For some people policies and rules must be followed. For some, they are but suggestions. What do you think?
  • Luke 7:36-50
    1. Share about a time when you were the guest of honor or sat at the head table. (Do birthday parties count? Of course they do!)
    2. If you were to give a banquet, who other than your family would you invite to sit at the head table and why?
  • Luke 8:4-15
    1. If you are to plant something, what kind of plant will be be? Large? Small? Something with nice flowers? Thorny? Yields edible fruits? Carnivorous? Stinky? Or . . .?
    2. Share about someone who had explained something important to you.
  • Luke 9:1-11
    1. What super power would you like your best friend to have?
    2. If you need to rest and get away from people, where would you go?
  • Luke 10:1-24
    1. Share about a time when you were on the winning team.
    2. Share about something you have seen God do or a time when you experienced God's power.
  • Luke 10:25-37
    1. Tell about a time when you had to go through a dangerous place, or put someone in danger.
    2. Share about a memorable neighbor.
  • Luke 11:1-13
    1. What is something that you would borrow from a friend if in a bind even though you normally wouldn't?
      1. Contact lenses
      2. Slightly used toothbrush
      3. 'Clean' underwear
      4. Damp wig / toupee
      5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    2. What was something you had asked your parents for that you didn't get? How do you feel about it now?
  • Luke 12:1-12
    1. What was your biggest fear when you were young?
    2. Who have you praised publicly and what were the circumstances?
  • Luke 12:13-21
    1. Fill in the blanks: I have more ________________ than I have __________________. (e.g. "I have more shoes than I have hair on my head!" OR "I have more parents than jobs I have worked.")
    2. If you inherit $7 million tomorrow - from a distant relative, what would you do with it?
  • Luke 15:11-32
    1. If you were stranded on a island by yourself, and three animals befriended you: a dog, a snake, and a porcupine. One day you are totally out of food, which one would you kill to eat and why?
    2. Finish the sentence: "One time I was very jealous when..."
  • Luke 16:1-9
    1. Which do you enjoy more: being creative or being organized? Why?
    2. What do you think you value more: mammon or everlasting home? How do you know that?
  • more later

Random Topical Questions

Here are just some random question pairs on various topics.
  • Waiting
    1. Which do you usually eat first, what you like least or most? Why?
    2. Share about something you are waiting for.
  • Mysteries
    1. When you read fiction, do you like to read the ending first? Why or why not?
    2. Share about a mystery you wish you knew.
  • Stuck
    1. If you have to be stuck in an elevator, which 2 people do you want to be stuck with and why?
    2. Share about a time when you felt trapped.
  • Windfall
    1. What would you do if you have a windfall day of having classes or work cancelled?
    2. Share about one thing you got free-of-charge that you have enjoyed the most.
  • Fight or Flee
    1. If on a one-hour flight, the passenger next to you on the plane keeps passing gas, how would you handle the situation?
      1. I'll light a match.
      2. I'll lock myself in the toilet until the flight is over.
      3. I'll pray for Jesus to come back soon.
      4. I'll compete.
      5. I'll ask for a parachute.
      6. I'll drug that person and then lock him/her in the toilet.
      7. _______________________________ .
    2. Between peace and truth in a relationship, what would you choose and why?
  • Requirements
    1. What requirement or restriction do you think should be imposed or done away with and why?
    2. What one non-negotiable would you put on your requirements list in choosing a mate - other than being a Christian?
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  • Emergency / Urgency / Stress
    1. Finish the sentence: when I'm under stress, this is what I do to relax...
    2. Finish the sentence: my emergency was ...
  • Learning
    1. What was one of the most interesting workshops/seminars/classes you attended?
    2. "I learn best when I am .... For instance, ...."
  • Yak yak yak
    1. "I am most chatty when ..."
    2. "When someone talks non-stop, and I don't have time to listen, I usually ...."
      1. start checking for messages.
      2. act like I've suddenly lost my hearing.
      3. pray for Jesus to come back soon.
      4. try to out-talk the person.
      5. ____________________
  • Fun, enjoyment
    1. How do you spell fun?
    2. "In my family, we make ________ fun by ____________ _ _ _ _"
  • Overseas, foreign
    1. Share about a friend from overseas.
    2. Share about a country you are praying for.
  • Overseas, missions
    1. "My heart goes out to people who ...."
    2. Two things you learned from the last mission trip you went on.
  • Growing
    1. "If a tree starts growing on top of my head, I would ...."
    2. "God has been working on my ...."
  • Stranded
    1. If you were stranded on the same island as Tom Hanks in Castaway, what would you do?
      1. I'd try to get a signal on my cell phone.
      2. I'd celebrate because I've always wanted to live on a deserted island.
      3. I'd ask for a role in his movie.
      4. I'd kill and eat him - after I get his autograph.
      5. _______________________________ .
    2. Share about a time when you felt abandoned.
  • Drama
    1. What kind of movies do you enjoy most?
    2. One of the most dramatic moments in my life was ...
  • News
    1. If you must somehow get yourself into the news, what would you do?
    2. What kind of news do you want to hear first - good news or bad news? Why?
  • Fight or Flee
    1. If on a one-hour flight, the passenger next to you on the plane keeps passing gas, how would you handle the situation?
      1. I'll light a match.
      2. I'll lock myself in the toilet until the flight is over.
      3. I'll pray for Jesus to come back soon.
      4. I'll compete.
      5. I'll ask for a parachute.
      6. I'll drug that person and then lock him/her in the toilet.
      7. _______________________________ .
    2. Between peace and truth in a relationship, what would you choose and why?
  • Success
    1. What would be considered as a success in your family?
    2. Share about a time when you felt a sense of accomplishment.
  • Truth
    1. Believe it or not, I ....
    2. When it comes to truth, I'll believe it when ....
  • Fixing
    1. What have you tried to fix that didn't go well?
    2. Share about something broken that God has fixed for you.
  • LatecomerJn 11:1-45
    1. "I was SO late that ..."
    2. Is late better than never and why?
  • Dream Team
    1. The dream team for ___________ is ______________________ .
    2. The nightmare combination for ___________ is ______________________ .
  • Titles
    1. Each person has many titles - Mr., Mrs., Miss, Daddy, Mommy, Honey, Beautiful, ... What title do you like most?
    2. If you were to give a title to the movie about your life, what could it be?
  • Distraction
    1. I am most focused when ...
    2. One distraction difficult to for me to resist is ...
  • Lost
    1. When you think you are lost, what do you usually do?
      1. My middle name is GPS - I'm never lost!
      2. I'm never lost because I never go anywhere!
      3. I'll keep going in circles to make sure I am lost!
      4. _______________________________ .
    2. If I feel lost in life not knowing what to do, I would usually ...
  • Life & Death
    1. "Fire!"
    2. If I wake up in a house on fire, other than the people, the first thing I'll try to save is ...
  • Thankful
    1. When you really want to show gratitude and thankfulness to someone, what do you do?
    2. Someone is about to commit suicide. If you know that the person won't be thankful to you if you save him/her. Would you still do it? Why or why not?
  • Excitement
    1. When I am excited, I . . .
    2. "One time I was so excited about ____________________ that I . . ."
  • Christmas (1)
    1. Share about a Christmas tradition in your family that you want to pass on to your children.
    2. A memorable Christmas
  • Power
    1. Earthquake!
    2. What demonstration of God's power do you feel is most awesome? Why?
  • Relocating (1)
    1. Describe a time when you had some new neighbors.
    2. Describe a memorable relocation while you were growing up.
  • Relocating (2)
    1. A place that I love visiting but don't want to live in is . . . . . . because . . . . . . . . . .
    2. The first thing I'll set up after I move to a new place is . . . . . . because . . . . . . . . . .
  • Secrets
    1. On whose wall do you want to be a fly? Why?
    2. There're _______ people who know my deep dark secrets because . . . . . . . . . .
  • Teamwork
    1. I'd rather work alone if
      1. I get distracted by my partner whose main goal is to have fun.
      2. I can't breath because of my partner's B.O. no matter how talented he/she is.
      3. I know others will end up doing all the work.
      4. I get distracted by my partner who I have a crush on.
      5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    2. I enjoy working with people who are . . . . . . . . . . . . because . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
  • Friendship
    1. What fictional character would you want to be your friend?
    2. "To me one of the most important things of being a friend is ...."
  • Dates
    1. If a celebrity calls me for a date when I'm interviewing for a job,
      1. I'll hang up because . . . .
      2. I'll nonchalantly tell the interviewer who's calling.
      3. I'll put him/her on hold until after the interview.
      4. I'll put the interviewer on hold so as to properly communicate my delight to the celebrity.
      5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    2. Describe an interesting date - past, present, or future.
  • Suggest a topic ...
    1. via Twitter
  • More to come ...

Helpful Ideas

If you regularly lead Bible studies and would like to get more ideas on passage-specific icebreaker questions, the Serendipity Bible is a good resource. For every single passage of the Bible, there is an icebreaker question - some good, some just so-so. But it's a good resource regardless. In fact there is a whole set of Bible study questions for every single passage of the Bible. There's also a section that has a list of topical studies.
93733: NIV Serendipity Bible, Hardcover  1984 NIV Serendipity Bible, Hardcover 1984
By Zondervan
Other books you might find useful:

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