by Joel Comiskey
During the month of May, we’ve been exploring how God makes disciples through youth cells. In my research, I’ve noticed at least two types of youth cells:
Intergenerational cells (IG cells). IG cells have different age groups present, including youth. Youth in IG cells 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. The best groups rotate responsibilities among the willing members, and youth need to fully participate in IG cells. Two great examples are York Alliance Church in York PA and iRest (Elim Church) in Los Angeles. I give more detail in my new book, Youth in Cell Ministry.
Some cell churches begin with IG cells in which youth are present and then give birth to youth-led cell groups—like Dove Christian Fellowship. Dove wanted to make sure the parents were involved in the decision-making process, so they gave complete liberty for parents to keep their own youth in their IG group or to allow them to participate in the youth cells.
The second type of cell is the student-led cell or youth-led cell. This is the most common type of youth cell group in the worldwide cell churches. Youth led cells doesn’t mean that adults are completely absent. Adults often open their homes, serve as hosts, coaches, and equippers. In youth-led cell groups, the youth are developed to actually lead the cell groups. There are many great examples of youth-led cell groups worldwide, like the Belem Foursquare Church in Belem, Brazil. Key characteristics include:
Youth-led. A cell church pastor in Africa once said about youth cell leaders “While they may be young, the Holy Spirit in them is no child.” The Holy Spirit is the same third-person of the Trinity in youth, as adults. Youth can lead cells.
Participatory. Getting youth involved help them to grow as disciples. Participation is the way that people grow and become disciples. Youth-led cell groups give youth the chance to exercise their muscles and to reach out.
Outreach oriented. Student leaders reach out to their well-defined circle of friends. The youth cell is not just for believers. Rather, lost, hurting and saved students all meet together in the cell. Cell groups reach out to youth in the context of love, care and support.
Vision for making disciples who make disciples. When disciples are formed, new youth cells start. If the group has too many people, youth will start to leave because they are not cared for. It’s essential that new disciples are formed and that teams can naturally give birth to a hurting, lost world.