Stages Of Group Life

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Small groups are like people.They move through stages of development, through identifiable
stages of “growing up.” Each group develops over a period of time, creating its unique identity
and personality. Since a group is made up of people, it only makes sense that its development
closely models the phases of human growth.

There are several reasons it’s important to understand the different stages of group life:


It will give you the tools to develop a strategy for effectively moving your group through each stage. Instead of simply reacting to changes when they occur, you can have an understanding and the necessary tools to develop a strategy for navigating your group through potentially rough waters.

Group Development

It will help you nurture your group’s development. Rather than simply watching your group grow up, you can actively and intentionally nurture your group’s development. All parents know there are some predictable seasons they need to understand, so they can assist in their child’s development.

Similarly, there are predictable seasons in the life of a group.

Avoid Surprises

It will help you avoid many pitfalls and headaches. Being forewarned reduces the shock factor when a problem does occur and prepares you to handle it. A leader can wrongly be blamed for changes in the group’s dynamics when they are simply the result of a shift in the group’s development.

Please note, the stages are only meant to be a guide through a group’s maturation.They are not presented as absolutes.Much of the information listed below is adapted from a chart found in the Small Group Leader’s Handbook by InterVarsity.

Stage 1:

Formation – Infancy Stage

# of Meetings in Stage: 4-6

Member’s Questions

  • Who is in the group?
  • Do I like my group?
  • Will the group be worth it?

Member’s Role

  • Learn and share personal stories
  • Get to know other Members
  • Learn and share expectations for the group

Leader’s Role

  • Promote sharing
  • Communicate vision
  • Define covenant

Stage 2:

Exploration – Childhood Stage

# of Meetings in Stage: 6-8

Member’s Questions

  • How is my group doing?
  • Do I fit here?

Member’s Role

  • Share information about self
  • Accept others as they are

Leader’s Role

  • Generate trust
  • Promote sharing

Stage 3:

Transition – Adolescence Stage

# of Meetings in Stage: 4-8

Member’s Questions

  • Am I opening up?
  • Am I growing?

Member’s Role

  • Give feedback
  • Express any frustrations to Leader

Leader’s Role

  • Clarify expectations/covenan
  • Stay flexible
  • Be patient

Stage 4:

Action – Young Adult Stage

# of Meetings in Stage: 10-20

Member’s Questions

  • Will I take risks with other members?
  • What can I “do” to promote community?

Member’s Role

  • Express feelings
  • Take ownership
  • Use gifts

Leader’s Role

  • Celebrate progress
  • Provide ideas (trip/service project)
  • Identify Apprentice(s) within first 6 mo.

Stage 5:

Multiplication – Adult Stage

# of Meetings in Stage: 4-8

Member’s Questions

  • Why should my group multiply?
  • Will the group survive the transition?

Member’s Role

  • Express and discuss concerns
  • Give blessing

Leader’s Role

  • Cast vision
  • Train Apprentice and inform group
  • Pray

Stage 6:

Conclusion – Legacy Stage

# of Meetings in Stage: 2-4

Member’s Questions

  • Was the group worth my time?
  • Will I join another group?

Member’s Role

  • Express gratitude
  • Affirm relationships

Leader’s Role

  • Celebrate personal growth
  • Bring closure
  • Successfully transition