If you have been to a workshop or seminar I’ve conducted in the last three or so years, it is likely that you have experienced one or more of these games. They are my favorites and so easy to draw lessons out of. One of the wonderful things about icebreakers and mixers is that you can learn so much about your audience by listening in on the conversations that are taking place around you.
The most important key about any object lesson though is to be prepared to learn as much from your audience as they do from you. Go in with a clear picture of the lesson you want them to walk away from the exercise with, but also be open to hearing something different. Often, we will get so wrapped up in the message we think we are there to deliver that we resist when the Holy Spirit leads us down a different path. This is even more true with games and exercises. Be willing to explore what is going on with your audience at the expense of your own agenda. The most powerful of lessons are those that are personal and real for someone at that moment. Trust that God placed you in the role of facilitator for a reason and release the control of the message to Him.
Ok…on to the fun stuff!
I’ve already given you my very favorite icebreaker: Me, Too…
But Mixers two, three and four come from the world of improvisational comedy or improv (think “Whose Line is it Anyway?”). I believe that fun and laughter are the easiest paths to begin to let down our masks and allow others to see us as we truly are. It’s easier to be uncomfortable together. These games push us to be silly together.
Circle Warm Up
Supplies needed: None
Circle Warm-Up is Comedy Improv game used to loosen a group of people up and get loads of laughs. The group stands in a circle facing in. First person steps forward and makes a gesture or sound and everyone in the group repeats it. Play continues around the circle until everyone has gone. GO FAST! Do whatever you think of first. If someone gets stuck, and starts to fidget, that becomes their motion and the group repeats it.
Supplies needed: None
One-Word Story is an Improv game used as a warm up in Comedy Improv groups. Divide your group into groups of 8-10. Once you are in your groups, ask for a suggestion of a fairy tale story to tell as a group. Then instruct the groups that they will have 2 minutes to begin to tell the story one. Word. At. A. time. The key is to go fast and to add onto the word the person in front of you said.
Tip: Inevitably, you will end up with a yellow submarine in Cinderella or ruby slippers in Snow White. This game gets hilarious. Stop the game after two minutes and ask, “Do you guys actually remember the story?” Ask for some of the really ridiculous suggestions.
This game highlights the point that even though we may have a really clear direction and idea of where things should be headed, we only have control of ourselves and our contribution to the team. The idea is to learn to take what your teammate gives you, view it as a gift no matter how much it diverges from your plan, and build on it.
Supplies needed: 4 chairs
This game is best done in a smallish group (10-15) as it takes a while. The story is there are three people in a car and one hitchhiker. They pull over to pick up the hitchhiker and she gets into the back seat behind the driver. But the hitchhiker has a strange tick. As the driver is driving, the rest of the car slowly picks up the tick (preferably without the front seat watching the back seat) until the driver has the tick and finds an excuse to pull over and get out. The players then rotate one seat and play begins again with a new hitchhiker and a new tick. The players keep the last tick, until it is replaced by a new one.
This particular game flows beautifully from One Word Story which teaches us that in this life we can’t choose what we are handed. We can’t change other people’s thoughts, feelings or behaviors. The one and only thing that we have any control over is ourselves. We can control our thoughts, feelings and behaviors and how we perceive a situation and what we choose to do with the information that we are presented. We can choose to reflect a positive, Godly attitude, or we can choose to become a bitter root that can infect an entire group, or ministry, or even church. In Hebrews 12: 15 says: “ See to it that no one misses the grace of God an that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”
On the other hand, Hitchhiker teaches us how easy bad (and good) attitudes can spread among a group.
Pass the Beans
Supplies: 15 dried beans for each participant
Everyone has a special talent and unique experiences, but sometimes they are hidden, so no one else knows about them. The goal of this game is to reveal those gifts to the rest of the group.
Ask women to form groups of five, and then have each group sit in a circle. Give each person 15 persons. Explain that the girls are to try and collect beans by describing their unique experiences or abilities. For example, a woman might tell about running in a marathon, being able to recite all the books of the Bible, or her passion for painting with watercolors. Whatever activity they describe must be absolutely true.
After someone shares an activity, each lady who has never done that must give the person who shared one bean. Have participants take turns listing their unique experiences and abilities until each person has shared 10 activities.
After everyone has shared at least 10 activities, ask women to report how many beans they’ve collected. Then ask for volunteers to share interesting activities they heard about and encourage those that have done that activity to share more.
I hope that these are helpful to you! Please feel free to leave comments or ask questions about these or any other suggestions you see here!