Stuff Youth Ministers Like #4: Gross Icebreakers

“I need two volunteers!” I shout and two eager sophomores break out into a UFC match trying to get to the front of the room. When they eventually make their way to the front after crushing several rows of freshmen, I explain the challenge:

Eat a caramel apple as fast as you can.

And I produce two fresh, shiny caramel apples like some creepy witch that lives in a house made of candy. “You have 30 seconds. Go!”

I smile as teen number one bites into his caramel “apple,” immediately realizing that something is not at all right. His eyes well up in tears and he yells at me with his mouthful, “It’s an onion!” Pieces of stinky vegetable fly out, covering the freshmen bruised in the prior UFC fight. I laugh maniacally.

There is nothing better than a disgusting icebreaker. Whether it’s seeing who can eat the most pickled chicken livers or challenging a teen to eat a banana through a piece of nylon, there is something special about subjecting teens to games that were rejected by the television show “Fear Factor.”

Maybe it’s because these games immediately evoke a reaction – be it laughter or gagging – from a sometimes apathetic and lethargic group of teenagers. Maybe it’s because we are able to relate the caramel onion to the reality of sin; it may look good but it’s actually disgusting. Or maybe it’s just because after a week of parent phone calls, late permission slips, and teens texting through an entire teaching . . . a disgusting icebreaker is our way of saying, “I win.”

In all honesty, it’s out of love that we torment our teens with the occasional gross icebreaker, knowing full well that by the end of the night it will be a great story and a badge of honor for that teen to have survived the “onion switch-a-roo.”

It sure beats fifteen rounds of “Simon Says,” and besides, if a teen is going to run over a herd of helpless freshmen to volunteer for a game that they don’t even know the rules for – I would say an onion is fair game.

Question:

What is your favorite, crazy, youth group icebreaker?

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