by Joel Comiskey
I believe in youth cells. I began my ministry as a youth cell leader back in 1975 when I was nineteen years old. I learned so much in the process even though I was over-zealous and under-educated. I eventually branched off and began leading small groups on high school campuses. Many years have passed and one of my greatest joys is to see each of my three daughters do the same thing. They began leading children’s cell groups which were connected to our family cell and eventually began youth cells. My youngest daughter just turned over her weekly youth cell at my house to her intern while she went off to YWAM in Mexico for five months. Some of her key supporters are those from her youth cell group.
Most of you reading this blog also believe in the power of youth-led cell groups. I think of Kyle Coffin who began his youth ministry in a traditional church in Big Bear, Ca. God showed him that his main role was to prepare God’s people to do the work of the ministry, rather than doing the work of the ministry for them. He started preparing key youth leaders in his home, modeling cell ministry, while continuing the Wednesday night congregational youth service. Then as a transitional step he asked those youth he was training to lead young people in the various classrooms after the youth service.
Eventually the youth (9 th through 12 grade) began leading weekly cells in homes throughout Big Bear, California. Fourteen cells were started with over 140 in attendance. Kyle, believing that team ministry was the best style, placed a girl and guy student together to lead mixed cells, although four of the cells were gender specific. One of those leaders I interviewed spoke of the incredible spiritual growth he experienced in stepping out by faith and trusting God to help him prepare the lesson. Kyle maintained the weekly Wednesday night youth congregational service, which grew to record numbers.
One of the best examples of youth cells is at Antioch Community Church in Waco, Texas. Jimmy Seibert, the senior pastor, started the church as a result of the success he was having with youth cells at Baylor University. Youth cells still play a key part in reaching the future generations at ACC. Carl Gulley, the youth pastor at ACC, reports that both junior high and high school cells meet in gender specific groups on a weekly basis in different homes (they call them LifeGroups). Carl writes, ” Our cells meet weekly because we want them to be the backbone of who we are. In the summer, we merge our cells together a lot due to people’s travel, but we keep them going.” The junior high cells meet on Wednesday nights and the high school cells meet on Sundays. Pastor Carl reported that they tried meeting on different nights but because of being in the Bible belt, they came to realize that those were the only days that seemed to work. Those that lead the junior high cell groups are college age or above. The high school groups are student led with an older person present (normally hosting the group). The goal, however, is for high school groups to be student led.
And what about you? What has your experience been with youth-led cell groups. Feel free to comment