The Leadership Development Process

A chart that shows the development process of Small-Group Leaders

When you participate in a well done small group leadership training conference or seminar (like Willow Creek's recent Small Group Conference), you are reminded anew that leaders are developed intentionally over time. Intentional shepherding and development includes training—both through instruction and "hands-on" experience.

That's why I appreciated the chart presented by Sheryl Fleisher at one of the main sessions at the Willow Creek Small Group Conference. This chart provides a framework for the sometimes overwhelming and time-consuming task of creating a small group leadership plan for our churches. The left-hand column on the chart lists development components for small group leadership and the right three columns list markers of maturity for "new", "intermediate" and "seasoned" small group leaders in each of the listed leadership development component areas. This chart can be an excellent tool to help you evaluate your training needs for small group leadership at your church.

Development Process of Small Group Leaders

By Sheryl Fleisher

Willow Creek Community Church, Barrington, Illinois

Development Components "New Leaders" "Intermediate Leaders" "Seasoned Leaders"

People Skills

-active listening

-knowing love languages

-understanding boundaries

-conflict resolution

-balance of God's tough and tender love

Discussion Skills

-facilitate through open ended questions

-learning to follow the energy of a discussion

-able to lead people toward personal application

-balance of Holy Spirit prompting, planning and people dynamics

Apprentice Development

-identify, cast vision and "make the ask" of rising leaders

-intentional shepherding

-spiritual reproduction

-coaching leaders of small groups


-share requests and pray

-leading creative ways to pray together

-leading people to pray what's on God's heart; to listen and discern His voice in prayer


-can share testimony

-can share gospel

-Matthew parties (inviting non-believers to your home)

-storytelling and prayer for relationships with lost people


-promoting safety and honesty

-discussing expectations

-forming a small group covenant

-models and leads authenticity in a shared desire to seek God together

Spiritual Formation

-desires to grow in knowledge of Word and love relationship with God

-learns basics of spiritual disciplines

-practicing spiritual disciplines while learning as an ongoing healthy rhythm

-abiding in Christ

-drawing others to be transformed by Him

Vision Casting

-inviting people to the group

-casting vision for the direction of the group

-birthing a group

-leading people wisely through change so they feel honored, blessed and celebrated

Team Building Skills

-Serendipity questions

-play together

-serve together

-pray together

-grow together

-everyone knows each other's personal story while reaching out to new people

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