Youth Cells: Nuts and Bolts of Student-led Cells

By Joel Comiskey

Excerpts from Youth in Cell Ministry

Youth-led cell groups meet for approximately 1.5 hours. Some might stay longer, but it’s important to have a start and stop time. The meeting normally includes:

  • Ice-breaker. This is an open ended, interesting question that gets students talking and getting to know each other.
  • Lesson. Most youth-led cell groups follow an adaptation of the pastor’s message. Ted Stump, on the other hand, has developed some one hundred youth topics, which include open ended questions, discussions, testimonies, and application to the needs of youth today.
  • Ministry time. Students apply what they have learned during the ministry time. God’s Word speaks to each person and transformation is the goal.

The best youth cells are dynamic and fun. Ice-breakers, the application of God’s Word based on questions, worshipping Jesus and allowing him to speak through each person characterize great youth cells.

Over the years, Ted Stump has become increasingly convinced of the need to prioritize the Spirit’s working in student-led cells. He longs to see healing take place among the students as they pray for one another. He said, “If I could do it all over again, I would spend more time equipping people in the gifts of the Spirit. At this time in my life, I am re-thinking everything and want to emphasize worship and the gifts of the Spirit in an ever-increasing way.

Ted Stump, like many others, has become convinced that young people need to hear and respond to the Holy Spirit in cell ministry.

Group evangelism is most effective when people feel comfortable. This is part of the reason why the majority of youth cells meet in homes. Meeting in homes has the advantage of:

  • Homes are more comfortable, whereas building space is more academic.
  • Homes get families involved. When the student group is in the home, it gives opportunity for the adults to host the group and sometimes coach the youth leaders.
  • Home groups allow more pastoral responsibility for the volunteers.
  • Home groups lessen the driving distance, are more accessible to students, and allow for different meeting nights. Doug Fields, former youth minister at Saddleback Community Church, says, “The strategic positioning of our meeting places throughout the community allows us to reach more students who can’t get a ride to the church property. Meeting in the homes also gives us the freedom to have alternate meeting nights and times.”

Apart from home meetings, some youth will meet in coffee houses, parks, office buildings, and campuses. Some of the most life-changing cell groups in the church I helped plant in Ecuador met at universities. At one time the Republic Church had over thirty cells meeting on university campuses in Quito, Ecuador.

Some youth groups have taken the first step of transition to small groups by breaking up in smaller groups within the church after the larger youth meeting, but this should only be a transitioning step, rather than the norm or ultimate goal. The goal is to meet in groups outside the church building to penetrate a lost world. Like the early Church, youth cells take the gospel where youth live, study, and play.