By Joel Comiskey
Excerpts from Youth in Cell Ministry
While reading the literature on youth ministry in preparation to write this book, I felt overwhelmed at times with the reams of suggestions about how to keep youth interested, attract new visitors, and run a smoothly functioning youth group. But I also noticed another thread in modern-day youth ministry that is moving away from youth as a separate entity and trying to connect youth with adults and parents.
Many of the youth experts of a bygone era are now repudiating the very youth programs they once advocated. As these youth specialists have aged, parented their own children, and then reflected back on youth ministry, they have acknowledged the inadequacy of youth events and programs to make disciples. The new trend is for youth ministers to connect youth with the adults in the church and to involve the parents more intimately in ministering to children.
Intergenerational cell groups provide an important answer to connect youth with older, more mature saints and also to establish long-lasting bonds of connections. Youth and adults interact each week, and when the youth go off to college, connections are maintained. Youth have a need for elder mentors, and the adults need the vitality of the youth.
IG groups are like normal cells. They follow a similar order, meet in homes on a weekly basis, and last about one and one half hours. Refreshments and fellowship follow. IG cells might rotate from house to house or have one permanent one. They normally follow the 4Ws, which include Welcome, Worship, Word, and Witness. If children are present (ages 4-12), the children would stay with the entire group for Welcome and Worship and then separate into another room for the Word and Witness time.
Youth in IG groups participate with the other adults from beginning until the end. This requires that the adult leaders are sensitive to the needs of the youth, allow them to participate, and even give them special responsibilities, like leading the worship, the lesson, the prayer, and so forth. I personally think the best groups rotate responsibilities among the willing members, and youth need to fully participate in taking their turn.
The cell is the ideal atmosphere for people’s lives to be reconstructed and for them to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. In the small group, the Holy Spirit, the Master Craftsman, challenges and changes people. The intimate atmosphere of the small group makes it possible for this edification to take place.
Youth should be full participants of all aspects of the cell. Although an adult normally leads the IG group, it’s possible that youth might lead the group as well.