By Joel Comiskey, check out: Children in Cell Ministry
Myth: Start Cell Ministry with the Youth. This seems logical. After all, aren’t youth the future of the church? Isn’t this the logical place to start? Granted, many churches are overly concerned with adult ministry. But it’s my conviction that if you start cell ministry with the youth, you’re probably too late.
Truth: Start with the children. They are the future of the church right now. Children are human beings. They can minister, pray, and lead others to Christ. They have gifts of the Spirit, just like adults. And they are moldable and ready to learn.
I like to joke that the secret in the cell church is that there is no secret, and this is true. But if I could pick one secret, it would be starting with the children. Cell churches that are hitting home runs see their future in the children. They treat children as disciples who need to be molded, shaped, and released.
They get children involved in normal cell groups (not just on Sunday morning). These children do everything an adult would do in the cell group. They minister, plan, evangelize, worship, and so forth. Granted adults/youth are also present but the focus is on the children. In 2018, Celyce and I ministered to 1300 children’s cell leaders at the Elim Church in San Salvador. 80% of them were youth who were converted as children in children’s cell groups. Now they are just continuing the process.
Churches that disciple the future generation now are constantly thinking ahead. They live with the future in view, knowing that the present children will soon be in their early teens and will quickly graduate to the youth ministry. The preparation is not complete unless they graduate to the next stage of their development in youth ministry and beyond. The Vine Church in Brazil, for example, has a special ceremony for those graduating from the children’s ministry at the age of thirteen, and they carefully shepherd the graduates into youth cells. Since the children only know the atmosphere of the cell and celebration, they are like fish in water—it’s the only environment they have experienced. Children are ready and eager to meet with their peers and continue the process of discipleship.
Perhaps you’re a church plant, starting with a single cell group. Even though you might be in the initial stages, start your church with children in mind—involve them from the very beginning. If you’re transitioning the church to the cell model, don’t just begin with a pilot group for adults. Plan the first pilot group with children in mind. Allow the first families to invite their children, creating an atmosphere much like the early house churches. Think children and the future will be bright and God-pleasing. Making disciples of those who will be the future generation will provide rich rewards very quickly.
If you’d like to know more, I lay out all the details of why we should prioritize children and how to do it in my book, “Children in Cell Ministry.”