Charting the Journey

Each small group goes through stages of development—here's what you can expect.

My mother is a college professor in the discipline called Child Development. When our daughter Sarah was young, we would often call my mom with urgency in our voice, "Is it natural for Sarah to act like this?" "Yes, dear," my mother responded. "In fact, you can expect her to manifest these characteristics." Almost mystically, she would predict Sarah's tendencies for her age period. My mother's advice was founded in the scientifically based patterns of children that age. Certainly, there are exceptions, but the general rule is that children who are Sarah's age will consistently act a certain way.

As a cell leader, you'll benefit by knowing how small groups operate, the various stages. The experts in small group dynamics have analyzed these stages (called by a variety of names), and you can find reams of material on this subject. This condensed article will provide a starting point.

Getting-to-Know-Each-Other Stage

"Is this the type of group I want to get involved with?" Tom asks himself during the first few weeks of Jim's cell group. Most of the members in Jim's group are asking the same questions. Roberta Hestenes writes, "When a group first meets, each member tends to experience conflicting feelings of attraction and repulsion. While having chosen to be there, they are still testing the group to see if it can be a satisfying and worthwhile experience for them. Each wonders whether or not he will be accepted."

People really want to know if this group is the right fit for them. A young couple will be seeking like-minded fellowship. Take John and Mary. They are a yuppie couple looking for fellowship with other such couples. Yet, they notice that the cell group mainly consists of older couples and even a few older single divorcees ...

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