Stages of Development in a Small Group

An overview of the stages a small group goes through.

Small Groups are not static organisms. They go through stages of life like any living organism. Groups have a life cycle from birth through infancy and adolescence to adulthood and sometimes, death. Leaders especially need to realize this. Knowing the pattern will help leaders accept their group wherever it is and press on for further growth and fulfillment.

These stages are flexible and are not intended to inhibit. They are an effort at giving language to Small Group life based on the assumption that there will be a core group and an influx of new people. The range of weeks shown at each stage reflects the 6-12 month life span of a Small Group.

STAGE I — Developing Relationships and Sharing the Vision (6-12 weeks)

During this first stage, the group members are looking to the leader for all direction and vision. The leaders must be outgoing, open, transparent, and provide non-threatening group building/relational activities

  1. Leader actions and attitudes
    1. Displays empathy, warmth, and openness
    2. Clarifies purpose, direction, and goals of the group
    3. Models ministry and transparency
    4. Recruits an Intern Leader if not already in place (ASAP)
  2. Group activity
    1. Group building: testimonies
    2. Ice breakers
    3. Drawing near to God / worship
    4. Social activity to foster relationship
  3. Emotions
    1. Anticipation
    2. Anxiety
    3. Excitement
    4. Insecurity
  4. Group members
    1. Looking to the leader for direction
    2. Development of character
    3. Developing independence
    4. Developing trust—openness for new relationships
    5. Inviting new people
STAGE II — Transition, Trust Development (5-10 weeks)

This is a difficult but significant stage in the development of the Small Group. The members are deciding to be "kin" and let down the walls through self-disclosure

  1. Leader actions and attitudes
    1. Displays empathy, understanding, openness, and flexibility
    2. Models ministry, and prepares members for greater involvement
    3. Encourages others in self-disclosure
    4. Encourages others to minister / Identifies and recruits potential leaders
    5. Continues to clarify the purpose, goal, and direction of the group

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