Youth Cells: Mistakes in Youth Cell Ministry

By Joel Comiskey

Excerpts from Youth in Cell Ministry

We think of Peter as the great apostle and leader in the early church, but we forget how he arrived at that place. One key reason is that he was willing to step out of the boat and try. Yes, he failed. He sank. But at least he tried. There were eleven bigger failures sitting in the boat. The worst failure is not to sink but to fail to get out of the boat. We all make mistakes (James 3:2). The key to success is to learn from mistakes and not to allow discouragement of mistakes to take control.

Conflict with the Lead Pastor

Although team ministry is the norm of the New Testament, one person has to be responsible to make the final call. In the local church, this person is the lead pastor. Yes, there’s always the possibility that the youth pastor plants a new church and assumes the lead pastor role, but until that happens, the youth pastor must be fully supportive and encouraging of the lead pastor’s vision.

Youth workers can falter when they expect too much attention, more money, or begin to gossip about the “problems in the church.” By demanding attention and complaining for the lack of it, the youth leader is opening up the door to a quick departure.

Being Overly Concerned about Size

Jesus attracted crowds but he was seeking long-term personal commitments (Mt 23:37), not temporary relief because of the miracles he performed. Unless the crowd embraces core biblical truths, true discipleship rarely happens. The reality is that there is no direct correlation between crowd size and whether those in the crowd are becoming disciples of Jesus.

Often youth ministries are bent on maximizing Disney-like experiences. Everything needs to be perfectly synced to ensure that people come back. The planning shouts loudly that there is one goal in mind: attract and keep young people in the youth service.

If the size of the crowd is the goal, the youth leader can easily revert to programs rather than to developing disciples. Large events do have their place, but they should never be a substitute for intentional discipleship. The youth worker needs to always remember that the primary motivation is fulfilling the Great Commission to make disciples who make disciples.

Not Working with Parents

If those in youth ministry plan to effectively minister to students over the long-haul, they need to humbly ask parents to be involved in the process. After all, the primary youth ministers are not church workers; they are parents.

Parents have a head-start in teaching their children from an early age through devotions, Bible memorization, and especially exemplifying the Christian life in a meaningful way.

Lack of Consistency

Youth pastors tend to come and go. They’re ready to change the world, but then they may leave just as quickly because a new, better opportunity opens up somewhere else. Those who are effective with youth stay long enough to get to know the youth, gain their trust, and have significant ministry time with the same youth. It takes a while for the youth to develop a meaningful relationship with the youth minister.

Not Praying

The reality is that youth ministry is spiritual warfare. Satan and his demonic following would prefer that the church not prioritize youth. The enemy of our souls does not want to see youth formed by the Spirit of God. If the church is not praying, the battle will be too fierce, the devil will deceive too readily. We must not forget the importance of prayer. It is all important.

Only through prayer can the church break down cultural resistance and live New Testament lifestyles in community with one another. Only through prayer and an emphasis on spirituality will members be willing to dedicate volunteer time to prepare the future generation now.