July 20, 2011

Questions for Young Guys

I'm working with a couple of groups that are doing Rite of Passage weekends. A young male graduate of that experience earns the title of Journeyman. It signifies, while he is not yet a "man," he has left boyish things behind and has been intentionally launched on his journey toward the man he wants to become. After the initiation weekend, in addition to other events, the Journeymen (J-Men) participate in monthly meetings called J-Group.

J-Group often starts with a fun activity, flows into some food, and then the J-Men and men settle in to a circle to talk about what is going on in their lives. If you happen to be working with young males and have occasion to invite them into a similar circle, you may have discovered as we did, that it can be a challenge to get them calmed down and focused up. One way to do that is to start the meeting with a check-in question.

Check-in questions invite everyone to participate, and increase both familiarity and acceptance of one another. Below are a few sample opening questions. Some of them are simply conversation starters and others invite some degree of personal disclosure. The more personal truth the questions requests, the more the guys are invited to be vulnerable and open in their responses. This has the benefit of increasing intimacy and trust in the group while setting the tone for a good meeting.
  • Describe your favorite (or most hated) food and when you remember first eating it.
  • After one minute of total quiet, describe what went on in your head.
  • Name a little thing someone does that really bothers you.
  • Tell us something you really like (don't like) about this group.
  • Describe a time when someone betrayed your trust.
  • Describe a time when you were put down and handled it well (or not so well).
  • Describe a time when you got away with something you don’t feel good about.
  • Tell the group 3 things that make you really happy (sad).
  • Name a man you admire and tell us why.
If the guys are stuck, and you’ve waited a while in silence to give them plenty of opportunity to step up, try having one of the men present volunteer to go first and answer the question. Early in the life of a group, you may want to start with less challenging questions. Once the guys are comfortable with the people in the circle and have experienced sharing "truth," they will like the process.

You can download a PDF copy of these and a few more questions at this link. If you use different questions, or have another strategy for getting these groups started, please share it with me here or add it to the comments section of this post.

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