Conversation Starters

Okay, time to give away some cool stuff. Everybody’s gonna win with this one, because we’re gonna give away some great conversation starter ideas, AND we’ll make it a contest where I’ll give away 5 of my books, and 5 of the new Disney 70th Anniversary Edition of Dumbo (the BluRay DVD combo pack).

Whether you’re a parent or a youth worker, you probably always have an ear out for good conversation starters. Picture this. You’re a mom and the family has just sat down for a family meal and you’d love to get your kids talking (instead of fighting). Maybe you propose this, “Let’s go around the table and each share our high and our low today.” Or maybe you ask, “Okay, everyone share your favorite meal if you could choose any one meal I make!”

Youth workers could use the same type of questions to kick off a small group or a Bible study. “If you could order any pizza, where would you order it from and with what toppings?”

So here’s the contest. Use the comment feature of this blog and share your best discussion provoking question that gets teenagers talking. Something like those above– something that you’ve had success with. Like: If you could go anywhere on vacation, where would you go and who would you bring? (You can gain quite a glimpse into a kid’s world with that question, finding out a little about their likes and who their best friends and/or significant other is.)

HOW TO ENTER: Simple. Just use the comment feature in this blog this week and tell me your name, whether you’re a parent or youth worker, and then give me your best question. I’ll choose 10 winners late Thursday night, announcing them Friday morning in my blog.

PRIZES: I’ll choose 10 winners. Winners will either get the Dumbo BlueRay DVD combo pack (in stores Sept 20th. I already got mine), or get a choice of one of my two books that help adults connect with teenagers (Connect or Candid Confessions of an Imperfect Parent).

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; Sex Matters; The Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket; and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers; Connect; and the 10-Minute Talks series. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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113 Responses to Conversation Starters

  1. Jeremy Smith says:

    Is there anything you would willingly give your life for?

  2. Tami Heiss says:

    Would you rather have bad breath or body odor?

  3. Youth Worker – What is the one item you treasure the most and what would you do if it broke? (I use it when I talk about the fall of man. God’s creation breaks)

  4. Marc says:

    Dogs or cats. One has to be voted into extinction and the entire planet is all tied up. You have the deciding vote. Who stays? Who goes?

  5. Chelsea says:

    You have the eat the exact same meal for the next 12 months. What do you pick?

  6. Marc says:

    Oops, wife and I forgot to answer completely. I’m a youth pastor and my wonderful wife is a youth min small group leader!

  7. Stacie says:

    If a person committed suicide ,(on judgment day) do u think Christ would ask why they did it? or why didnt they trust Him? and why

  8. Mike says:

    I’m a youth pastor, here’s my question:

    What’s the best birthday present you could ever imagine receiving, and who would you want to receive it from?

  9. Graham says:

    Youth Pastor – When you put on shoes, do you put them on sock/sock/shoe/shoe or sock/shoe/sock/shoe? or (if they are non-shoe wearing hippies) What can you do that you think no-one else in the group can do?

  10. Andy says:

    So, is he/she a good kisser? Youth Worker

  11. Jon forrest says:

    Youth pastor-aspiring model. If zombies were tearing at the windows of this room in search of human brains, which one of these sophomore losers would we sacrifice to save our cowardly hides and why? I hope this horrific question proves how desperately I need “ministry by teenagers.”

  12. Chris Wallis says:

    If you were going to compare the 12 disciples to Disney characters who would fit where?

  13. Jon forrest says:

    But seriously, I like open-ended statements like, one thing I love\hate about my parents is ____________.

  14. Rachel Blom says:

    Here’s my question: what would you do with the money of you would win the lotto, like 100 million dollars or so? I’ve asked this question often and it always leads to great discussions and conversations!

    I’m a mom of a 3 year old son and a youthworker 🙂

    • I really enjoy the money question too. This society is very materialistic and lots of times kids think that way. These questions sometimes get at the heart of what they “think” would make them happy. (“If I only had this car, this house, this new gadget…”)

      • Rachel Blom says:

        Exactly! That’s why I love asking this question…Usually after a couple of minutes of making wish lists someone will say something like ‘and give money to the poor’ and then the rest will quickly assure me they’d donate tons too…but that’s after they’ve mentioned this whole list of things they would buy! We’ve had many great and long conversations with just this one question.

  15. Michael Eve says:

    What would be your desert island ……….. meal/pet/DVD/…….. ?

    Volunteer youth leader.

  16. Adam Reed says:

    I’m a youth worker.

    What is your favorite website to visit when you get on the internet?

  17. Nicole Jones says:

    Youth Worker – What’s your most embarrassing moment?

  18. Roy Hyde says:

    If they were to make a TV show of your life, what would it be about and who would play you?

  19. Roy Hyde says:

    Oh, I’m a Youth worker

  20. Roger Brown says:

    I am a Youth Minister
    I have always received great responses from the “Two Truths and a Lie.”

    • Love that game. I fall back on that one a lot too as an opener for small groups. It’s a “get to know ya” opener that is fun, but also gives you insight into their lives.

  21. Ashley H. says:

    I’m a youth worker and parent of 5 kids (ages 14yrs to15months). One thing all of my kids love to play is a game called “Would You Rather…?” It’s all about conversation starters like, “Would you rather wax both your arms everyday for a month or shave your eyebrows off for a whole year?” or “Would you rather wear the same socks for a week or the same underwear for a week?” or “Would you rather wear mittens all the time or never wear any shoes?” The kids usually take the idea and run with it, trying to one-up each other for the best one.

  22. Pete Hardesty says:

    I work for Young Life. Thanks for what you do Jonathan.

    “What movie did everyone love but you hated?” or “What movie did everyone hate but you loved?”

  23. Youth worker

    What has God been teaching you lately?

    I don’t ask this with every student all the time, for sure, but some of the ones I disciple regularly know I’ll ask them that and what I love is that they always have something to share! It’s fun to hear.

  24. Mardi says:

    If you could cure one illness, what would it be?

    Youth Pastor’s Wife, Volunteer Youth Leader, and Mom

  25. Lindy Knowles says:

    Youth Worker

    What in your life needs to change?

  26. Denise says:

    What is the first cartoon you remember watching?

    If you could live in a perfect world, which cartoon world would you live in? Why?

  27. Michelle says:

    This youth worker (and parent of 4 teens) has two favorites:

    If you could know the date of your death, would you want to?
    If you could ask God one question, what would it be?

    Thanks for all you do, Jonathan!

  28. Steven Bales says:

    Youth Pastor-
    If Jesus were with you today at school or with you and your friends, would you be proud to have him with you or embarrassed that he really sees how you act?

  29. Rachael Day says:

    Youth Minister
    What is one irrational fear you have?
    I am always shocked at how much discussion is generated by that question.

  30. Jay Crouch says:

    Do you bunch or fold? Haha…No…really, I want to ask, what has been the most efficient way(s) to communicate to/with parents on events and programming? I feel I spend so much of my time in doing communications that it leaves little time for anything else. I use e-mail, Facebook, handouts to students, parent newsletter…and it seems so much in vain.

    What is the most efficient/effective way to communicate? And as a follow-up, how many different ways does everyone else use?

  31. Rick Nier says:

    Which characteristic of mine is your favorite?

    Perhaps that’s a tad egocentric. I suppose I could turn it around and ask them what their fave characteristic is about themselves.

    I’ve got both books. I only posted because I thought I’d be funny. I may have been wrong.

    • I laughed… so it worked for me. Allow me to do a shameless plug. For those that don’t know Rick, I came across his blog about a year ago and LOVE it. Always funny (Rick’s dry humor), and always focused on truth.

  32. Audra Skiba says:

    Youth Worker –
    What’s your earliest memory?

  33. Bill Britton says:

    Posted this in the wrong post. Oh well…

    Used this one in my office last week in preparation for my weekend talk:

    What is the biggest lie someone ever told you?

  34. Benjamin Spears says:

    I’m a youth pastor. A good discussion starter I recently asked is, “When you were growing up, was there any childhood toy that you REALLY wanted, but you never got? What was it?”

    The question led into a talk about “heavenly treasure”, that a lot of the things we chase after will be obsolete in a couple of years and that we all somehow managed to survive without the things we thought we couldn’t live without.

    For me, it was a WWF wrestling ring.

  35. Ashley says:

    I’m a youth leader, sunday school teacher, and small group leader:

    A question to ask for a conversation starter is:

    What is your favorite memory?

    When I meet new students and try to engage I always follow the FROM system…I ask about Family, Recreation, Occupation (school, grade, etc), then a memory or music…they like sharing memories…and it gives me a glimpse of what they’ve experienced.

  36. Matt Pilla says:

    If you could go back and change one thing about this week, what would it be?

  37. Amber says:

    I’m a new & learning/growing Mom (that’s why I like to read this blog) of 1, 3 & 14 yr. old sons. (The 14 yr. old is my step son as of this month).
    I think I will try this one with my 14 yr. old today: “If you could fly anywhere in the world, where would it be & why?”

    • Thanks for sharing Amber. I’m always happy to hear from Moms. We need more good ones on this planet.

      Great question. I find it fun to add to it, “…and who would you bring with you.”

  38. Phil Ball says:

    Youth Pastor
    On occasion, we’ll put someone on our “Hot Seat” for a quick interview in front of our youth group. One of the questions our students enjoy is “If you were a vegetable, which one would you be and why?”

  39. Nancy Head says:

    “Groundhog Day”… if you could do today over again, what one thing would you do differently?

  40. Youth Pastor.
    What is one thing you wish people knew, or understood about you, but you do not think they do?

  41. Nancy Head says:

    Here’s another one… or two… (it’s like telling knock knock jokes, there is no end)
    1.When you get older, do you think you’ll stay in this area or head for some place far, far away?
    2.What is it that easily embarrasses you?

    • Nancy… #1 is a great small town question. When I was a kid I lived in a 1-high-school-town where pretty much, everyone stayed! That’s a good question to see their feelings on that.

  42. Chris Childs says:

    Youth Worker
    Here’s a question that seems too simple to work, but never fails:

    “What’s your favorite type of cheese?”
    I get all sorts of answers like American, Cheddar, Gudda, Bleu, Mozerella, Cheese Sticks. Then I usually ask them if they’ve tried Chocolate Cheese.
    The conversation never goes deep, but it breaks the ice well for the next 15 minutes and allows for future deep conversations.

  43. You’ve just sat down to used the restroom when you notice there is no toilet paper what do you use and why?

    When replacing the toilet paper do you choose to have the paper dispense from over the top or underneath?

  44. Carl Eliason says:

    Full time youth minister

    If you were stuck in an elevator for 24 hours with one person, who would you like that person to be?

    OR

    If you knew Jesus was coming back tomorrow, who would you want to make sure knew about Him as the Savior today?

  45. Ryan Klein says:

    Youth worker – What do you call it…soda, pop, soda-pop, carbonated beverage(for those sophisticated folk) or everything is called coke?

  46. Craig says:

    I’m a youth pastor. If you could dispense any condiment out of your pinky finger, what would you choose and why??

  47. tpass says:

    I am a YM.

    Which is worse, failing or never trying?

    What’s something you know you do differently than most people?

  48. Josh Nelson says:

    Youth Worker – If you were a toiletry item, what would you be and why? (Example: “I would be a straightener because I’m hot” or “I would be lotion because I’m smooth.”)

    Gotta give props on this one to MY youth minister!

  49. Stephen Swan says:

    I usually ask, “What’s the best thing that’s happened to you in the past week?” If a student takes an especially long time to answer, I know they probably need some extra encouragement and love. I’m a youth pastor and parent.

  50. Jim Matteri says:

    I’m a youth pastor with World Impact.
    My questions is a gross one.
    “Would you rather be vomited on by a stranger or be the one vomiting on a stranger?

  51. Karyn says:

    I am a youth worker.

    If one synchronized swimmer drowns, do they all drown?

    If you were a crayola crayon color, what color would you be?

  52. Karen Thompson says:

    I am a parent of a Freshman and a 6th grader. I like to ask every now and then “If you could live today over, what would you change or do different and why?” I have gotten some great answers with this one.

  53. John Pearson says:

    I’m a middle school teacher, parent of two teens, and former youth pastor.
    Two games that I love really open kids up to the rest of the group, and these can be used to spark fun discussions in youth groups, classrooms, etc. One is Mystery Person. Every student describes on a 3×5 card an unusual incident, embarrassing moment, award they won, funny situation, unique travel experience, etc. from their own life. I then read one card every time we meet and everyone in the group gets a chance to guess who that person is. The other game is Two Truths and a Lie. Everyone writes down two interesting things about himself/herself that are true and one that is believable and realistic, but not true. After reading a card each time we meet, students have to guess which statement is not true about that person, and then the truth is revealed. This is a really fun way to find out more about your kids, and for the kids in your group to really get to know one another — and you can lead these statements right into a discussion — e.g. so who else has been in this kind of situation? Has anybody else here ever been on a championship team? So who else in our group has been to Asia? What was that like for you?

  54. Beaty Bass says:

    High School Campus Minister – Do you believe in coincidence or a sovereign event?

  55. Beaty Bass says:

    High School Campus Minister – Has anything bad ever happened to you that turned out to be for the best?

  56. Beaty Bass says:

    High School Campus Minister – Is it more important to develop beliefs or gain knowledge?

  57. Beaty Bass says:

    High School Campus Minister – What did you get into trouble for most when you were younger?

  58. Beaty Bass says:

    High School Campus Minister – What makes a house an actual home?

  59. Beaty Bass says:

    High School Campus Minister – What was the last thing you cried about?

  60. Beaty Bass says:

    High School Campus Minister – What historic time period would you most like to visit?

  61. Beaty Bass says:

    High School Campus Minister – Would you rather live near the beach or the mountains?

  62. Beaty Bass says:

    High School Campus Minister – If you could relive your childhood, how would you like to be different?

  63. Bob Ritchie says:

    8th Grade PSR and Confirmation teacher; Around Christmas time ask, What was the best gift you received for Christmas and what was the best gift you gave?

  64. Justin Pack says:

    If I were to grab your iPod/iPhone and hook it to the sound system and hit shuffle and play, how many of you would be nervous as to which song would come up? Why? and Let’s do that… Pass your iPod’s to the sound booth.

    • Justin Pack says:

      oh, and I’m a parent and a youth worker

    • I like this one. I think the iPod can be a great conversation piece, especially for our kids that are leaders and strong believers. I’ve often asked a kid, “Can I see your iPod?” It’s interesting how hesitant some kids are. The iPod is the window to the heart.

      With outreach kids you can learn a lot from the iPod as well. We just have to be careful not to be judgemental with them. A lot of them don’t know any better. I love to give all my adult volunteers a “double jack” on trips so they can sit next to kids and say, “Hey, let me plug in and listen with you.” It’s fun to peek in on what a kids is listening to. Often kids will want to give you “a tour” of their favorite playlists, etc. Fun stuff.

  65. Courtney Birnberg says:

    I am a Younglife Leader…

    If you could be any super hero which would you be and why?

    Who is your best friend and what are some reasons why they are your best friend? What makes them the best?

  66. Kerri S says:

    Hi! I’m a youthworker. Some questions that have started good discussion with my group…

    If you could change one thing about your high school, what would it be? (often find out a lot of surprising things that go on in high schools)

    If you could go back in time and tell yourself one thing before you started high school, what would it be? (good to ask seniors and share their answers with incoming freshmen)

    What do you think is one of the biggest misconceptions people have about teenagers? (helps them think about how teens are portrayed and how others perceive them and whether or not they think those judgments are fair and accurate and how they can change them.)

    Complete the statement- My life would be better if… (good for discussion on what we think will bring us happiness and also for recognizing the blessings in our lives)

    • Wow… I don’t want to jump the gun a day early and say that Kerry is a winner… but these are ALL good questions! (Would you prefer Dumbo or one of my books? Just curious… it’s not like you’re a winner or anything.)

  67. Jeff Hume says:

    I’m a youth pastor.

    If you could be anybody besides yourself, who would you be?

  68. Jenn Peters says:

    I’m a youth pastor.

    This is how the conversation goes…..
    Me: “Bobbie! Quick! Look at me!”
    Bobbie: “Geez! What?!”
    Me: “Don’t look! Cover your eyes!”
    Bobbie: “Oh my gosh… ok…”
    Me: “Now tell me… what color is Jane’s (girl next to him) shirt/eyes/shoes today?”

    Gets the kids to take notice of each other. Eyes is the best one. Wouldn’t it be great if all the boys actually looked into the girl’s eyes when talking? lol

  69. Kevin Hand says:

    Student Pastor

    I like to ask these questions:
    1. If you were stranded on a desert island and you could take 3 items, wha items would you take and why?

    2. If you could have any occupation in the world, what would it be and why?

    3. If you could cahnge one thing about your school, what would it be and why?

    4. What is one thing you like in someone as a friend?

  70. Julie J says:

    I ask my kids every night at dinner, “What was the best thing that happened today?”. I also ask that of my small group at church, “What was the best thing that happened this week?” Not very creative, but it gets us talking which is the idea.

    I am a youth worker.

  71. John Fearnow says:

    I am a youth worker.

    What is one thing that you admire or like about the person sitting to your right?

    Another good one I used once was:
    What is the most disgusting thing you ever ate?
    I followed up by having a “taste test” game using some of the items mentioned in a later youth meeting.

  72. Jim Matteri says:

    I am a youth pastor.

    If you could have any super natural power, what would it be and how would you use it?
    If you could ask God any question, what would it be?
    If you could erase something from your past, what would it be and why?
    If you could repeat any day in your life, which day would that be and why?
    If you could hang out with a cartoon character, who would you choose and why?
    If you could visit anywhere, including fictional places, where would you visit and why?

  73. Dan Miller says:

    I heard this one from another Youth Worker, “What are you listening to on your ipod?”

  74. Dawn Doerr says:

    Youth Worker

    This is a favorite one of my husbands – What was your best smell of the day? What was your Worst?

    Of course for backup we have your favorite superhero and why?

  75. David Skidmore says:

    “Let’s form a Justice League of Not So Super Heroes. We will choose five members who have extraordinarily lame super powers. Who are they and what are their not so great powers?” (then move into 1 Peter 1:3-8 about the “qualities” (true super powers) his “divine power has given us” that keep US from being “ineffective and unproductive.”

    You can then enagage “artistic” teens by having them draw pics of them in “comic book” fashion.

    I am a parent of three (SUPER) daughters AND a Youth Minister in Tennessee.

  76. Ben Snyder says:

    What was your favorite toy when you were a kid?

    Just used this last night as an intro into talking about why the toymaker designed the toy which led to why God designed us. Great discussion!

    Youth Pastor

  77. Ryan Smith says:

    YP–If you could be God for a day, what would be the first thing you do and why?

  78. Susan says:

    Hi, my name is Susan and I am a youth leader.

    Question for conversation starter. If you could tell anyone your deepest secret and knew that there would be no punishment or judgement for sharing, would you choose your parents or a friend to tell, and why?

    I believe this gives insight as to whether the student really doesn’t want to share their mistakes and/or fears with their parents, or it is just the punishment and/or disappoint by the parents that is the problem. Helps differintiate trust issues from less important discipline issues.

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