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I have a beautiful wife, an infant son & a schnauzer. viva la tex-mex. Words that describe or excite: Missional, Glocal, Lead, Innovate, Initiate, Create, Risk, Community

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Icebreakers for Breaking the Ice with Students when the Ice needs to be Broken

or Questions to Ask Students as Conversation Starters:

In student ministry there can sometimes be a tension between you as a strange adult and the teenagers you are called to reach. Some situations lend themselves to being less awkward than others. In student ministry it has always been my habit to frequent school lunches, band concerts, sporting events, and other extra-curricular events. Nothing can be more daunting the high school cafeteria as a youth worker, if the schools even allow you in. These questions really help break the ice and get kids talking and help you avoid that awkward silence.

First one of my main stand-by’s is a generic “favorites” question:
“What is your favorite…?” (I switch it up all the time: movie, band, book, song, sport, athlete, cheese, food, candy, website, form of torture, word for snow [if they are eskimo, cause eskimo's have 29 different words for snow] etc, etc)

“If you could go anywhere in the world and money wasn’t issue, where would you go and what would you do?”

You can turn this in a spiritual direction too but of course don’t have to. It lends itself to talking about missions, lifestyles, poverty, helping/serving others, etc.

What is something that really makes you mad?

or When was the last time you got really angry about something? (sounds like a weird question but you would be surprised how kids will open up and the oppurtunities it gives you to take things in a spiritual direction.)

I used to ask kids “Do you twitter?” but after several took it to mean something completely inappropriate and the police got involved, I don’t so much use that question anymore!!!

How can I pray for you?

–you would be surprised how well this works, even with wait staff at restaurants will spill there guts with knowing little more about whether you drink tea or coke and that you like ranch on the side. Kids will open up too. I rarely lead with this one of course but I find I use it more with kids that are not in my youth group than those that are. It can make a great impression on the student the next time you see them to let them know you prayed for them and ask how it worked out. They will be astounded that you cared enough to remember let alone pray about it.

I also often ask kids if they have a myspace or a facebook? and A new one I am thinking about trying out is asking kids if they have ever googled their own name?

This originated as a comment on my friend and fellow co-laborer in Student Ministry Ryan Weaver at his blog Terminal Confession.

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