Scenic view of trees at camp

A Better Way to Break the Ice: The Five H’s

by Valerie Morby

Five H

“Okay, everyone! We’re going to all go around the circle and share our name and a fun fact about ourselves!”

Fun fact… fun fact… uhh, that time I broke my arm? Is that fun? The fact that I like to dip Oreos in peanut butter? I’m so stressed. Is it my turn yet? PLEASE LET THIS END.

Have you ever been there? Felt that? It’s the dreaded “ice breaker” time when a group first gets together, be it in a classroom, Bible study, or book club. It’s not really a great way to get to know anyone, and yet we continue to trot it out time and time again. Oh, I need to think of another fun fact. Cool. Can it be the same fact as before? Would anyone know? Why am I sweating? 

What if there were a better way? What if there were a simple method for diving into the deep end of meaningful conversations that enabled groups to cultivate enriching relationships sooner? And what if it was something that people actually enjoyed?

There is, in fact, a better way, and we’re here to tell you all about it! Enter: The Five H’s

The Five H’s are a simple relational tool developed by Carrie “Duchess” Langemeier that she has used for nearly 20 years to get to know camp staffers on a deeper level. Beginning with a few light topics, the Five H’s then move into a place that necessitates more vulnerability, and finally ends on an exceedingly hopeful note!

The Five H’s

  1. Heritage: Your personal history. What type of family did you grow up in? Were you brought up in the faith? What is significant about your heritage that has shaped who you are today?
  2. Heroes: Who has impacted you in a significant way? Who do you look up to?
  3. Heartaches: What things have broken your heart? A parent’s divorce? The death of a friend? Deep rejection at school? This is a safe way to allow a window into your soul.
  4. Highlights: What are a few things in your life that you’re most proud of? This is a fun way to share what you are really passionate about and what makes you soar. It can be anything from academic achievement to athletic success to getting the lead in the school play!  
  5. Hopes: What are some hopes you have for life? To what do you aspire? What are you expectant on the Lord to do or bring forth in your life? 

An image with the Five H’s that you can save to your camera roll for easy reference is at the bottom of this article.

Once put into practice, you will quickly realize this tool is an amazing way to bond a group together and show people they are not alone! Through shared stories of struggle or similar desires, group members will identify with one another more quickly and be drawn together in Christ.

Carrie has used the Five H’s as a way to connect with college staff, family camp moms, Bible study participants, and even with strangers sitting next to her on airplanes! She explains, “I have found that people are actually desperate to be ‘known’ and they just sometimes lack a way to let people into their lives without it being awkward.”

Anna “Prestigee” Birch has also employed the Five H’s many times, most recently with her small group at church. 

“By using this method, many of the women shared stories of their past and even their present that I know would’ve taken months for them to be comfortable to share otherwise,” Anna says. “We were all in tears relating to each other’s hurts, amazed at the healing that God had done, and excited about the intimacy that we felt by sharing from the heart. It has continued to positively impact our small group by creating true unity and the feeling of being known by others in a safe place!”

After everyone has had a chance to share, Anna recommends reminding the participants that no matter their background, God’s grace is evident is all stories! Our life experiences may look different, but comparing stories is not beneficial. “The truth is that we all are sinners in need of a Savior and we all have experienced hard things. Grace upon grace,” reminds Anna.

You may find setting a few parameters beneficial, such as a two-minute time limit per H. You can also use the Five H’s time as an incentive for group members to show up to meetings on time!

Carrie has done exactly that. “I used it in a Bible Study group I was leading as motivation for the ladies to arrive on time. Some people use food, I use connection! Every week a different person came prepared to share their Five H’s first thing. I allow 10-12 minutes… and nobody wants to miss!”

However you decide to use the Five H’s, we hope you’ll find them valuable and life-giving. Whatever your group looks like, this method is a wonderful way to get to know the hearts and hurts of one another, which will bring you all together closer, richly bonded in the Lord. 

May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. Romans 15:5-7 


Posted Nov 12, 2019

Valerie Morby

Social Media and Copy Manager

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