By Joel Comiskey
Excerpts from Youth in Cell Ministry
Effective youth cells expect everyone to be a minister. They embrace the apostle’s exhortation in the last book of the Bible, “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen” (Revelation 1:5-6).
This is one main reason why Jesus chose the small group atmosphere to impart knowledge to his own youth cell. Christ wanted the information to be disseminated into the lives of his disciples, so as he journeyed with them each day for three years, he not only taught them, but asked them to interact with others and apply his teachings. Sometimes Jesus would allow them to make mistakes in order to teach them important lessons and offer practical application of his teachings (Matthew 14:22ff).
Young people hear many sermons, but those messages are often difficult to apply until they are discussed. Small groups allow for discussion about how truth can be implemented in students’ lives. For example, if the church teaching is about witnessing for Christ, a student in a small group can talk about particular ways he can share Jesus with his classmates. The teaching moves from an impersonal, platform presentation to the small group and into the student’s lifestyle.
Many youth are not challenged. They are caught up in the vicious cycle of low expectations. They are not asked to do the hard things. No one expects much of them, and they even expect less of themselves. Cells are uniquely positioned to challenge youth to grow in their faith, develop relationships, disciple other youth, and reach a lost world for Jesus.
Alex and Brett Harris wrote a successful series of blogs called The Myth of Adolescence that eventually turned into a bestselling book entitled Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations. They point out that teens desire deeper meaning and should be challenged to fulfill their dreams.
The Holy Spirit is able to do amazing things through young people who trust in him and are willing to step out. A cell church pastor in Africa, referring to student leaders, said, “While they may be young the Holy Spirit in them is no child.” The same Holy Spirit works just as powerfully in youth as he does in adults.
Thayana, one of the youth pastors over cell groups in a Foursquare church in Belem, Brazil, is helping to break the mold of traditional youth ministry and showing others that youth can accomplish a lot. Thayana led her first small group at the Foursquare church in Belem when she was fourteen. She excitedly talked about Jesus at her school—inviting her friends to her cell group. Her group led so many people to Jesus and water baptism that in one year it had multiplied into two groups and then two more the next year. By the time she was sixteen, she already had five small groups under her care. When Thayana was nineteen, she became one of the network pastors. There are now more than 200 small groups from the one she started. She personally supervises a network of eighty-three cells.
Thayana is exceptional in her leadership and coaching skills. She is also in a church that allows youth to thrive. All Christians are encouraged to actively participate in cell ministry. In fact, youth cell ministry stands against the idea that only the youth pastor does all the work while the rest of the youth sit and listen—and perhaps engage in a few programs.