Like any other human group, a religious community goes through different stages of development from its inception to termination. This process is evident if we observe the three year term of service common in many Claretian communities. Each time there is a transfer the community is re-born and the dynamics of dependence, independence and interdepence begin to unfold. The stages  of group development are presented here in eight identificable stages. It is also possible that a community may remain arrested at one stage or regress to an earlier stage or progress ahead towards pooling energy to fulfill the mission of the community. 

Stages of Community Development




Expressed Feeling or Behavior


Predominant Need


Function of Leader


Tasks of Leader




Anxiety, fear or insecurity

Safety and security

Create a climate where people feel safe and secure

Clarify expectations




Fight, flight or neurotic behavior




Help those alienated to experience a sense of belonging

Encourage those who feel alienated discuss their perception








Initiate a process that fosters personal value esteem

Utilize a gift discernment process





Avoidance and denial

Safety and esteem

Encourage the community to deal with the conflict

Model a willingness to deal with conflict





Peace and trust, tendency to nest




Call the group to its mission

Challenge the community to focus beyond itself






Safety and esteem

Invite the community to engage in faith-sharing



Model faith-sharing




Struggle to find a comfort level


Love or affinity

Aid the community to clarify expectations of intimacy

Invite members to discuss expectations of intimacy





Sadness and anger



Help community process the experience of loss

Assist the community with the process of grieving


This chart is adapted from Loughlan Sofield, Rosine Hammet and Carroll Juliano, in Building community (1998). You will fine more details on the stages and its characteristics in the works of these authors.