by Joel Comiskey
Most youth minsters work under the direction of a lead pastor. Local churches have a leadership team and a lead pastor or elder over that team. Youth pastors/leaders make up part of that leadership team and oversee the cell groups, along with other team members. Scripture tells us to respect those who have authority in the local church, “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account” (Hebrews 13:17).
Some cell churches have grown large enough to have a person designated as youth pastor, but most will start with volunteer youth leader who will begin to supervise cells and become part of the pastoral team. As the cells multiply and the church grows, the youth supervisor will be asked to be part of the pastoral team. The youth pastor will then oversee the youth cells and youth congregation, while others pastor supervise/coach family cells, men’s cells, and so forth. The youth pastor or key youth lay leader should meet regularly with the lead pastor to guide and direct the youth cells.
Youth cells should have the same characteristics as the other cell networks. When the ministerial team meets with the lead pastor, the youth cells and youth ministry should be reviewed with the same rigor as the adult cells. Youth cells, in other words, are part of a cell system that includes coaching and equipping. It’s an error for youth to do their own thing, and follow their own orbit. The local church needs clear leadership and direction and a united path to follow.
The youth cells usually gather together for a youth service. Normally, the youth service doesn’t replace the Sunday celebration service, but in some cases it does. The youth at Antioch Community Church in Waco, Texas meet in a congregational setting on a weekly basis. The junior highers have their own congregational service and the high school students meet separately on Wed night. All youth are encouraged to go to the celebration service on Sunday morning.
Some youth groups will find that a monthly congregational meeting (all youth together) is best. Our youth ministry in Ecuador found that weekly meetings were too time consuming. We decided that the youth congregational meeting would be once per month, but that the youth cells would meet weekly, and that the youth should be expected to come to the celebration each Sunday.
Youth cell, congregation, and celebration work hand in hand. The youth congregation might meet weekly, every other week, or once a month. Some youth congregations have converted into a regular celebration event (i.e., the youth have their own “Sunday service” and do not attend the celebration of the rest of the church). The Yoido Full Gospel Church in Korea is an example of Sunday youth services. YFGC has two Sunday celebration services dedicated specifically for youth.