Youth Cells: What They Are

by Joel Comiskey

Time flies so quickly, Just this month, Celyce and I began to experience the empty nest. Many of you are going through the same thing. You know as well as I do that there’s just a brief moment between childhood, youth, and adulthood.

Sadly, many youth drift away from the church for lack of interest and involvement. I’m convinced that if a young person is intimately involved in cell ministry, there’s a far greater chance that he or she will continue to follow Jesus. So how do we get our young people involved in cell ministry? And an even more basic question is, “What is a youth cell?”

A youth cell is like a normal adult cell. It meets weekly. It focuses on evangelism, discipleship, and multiplication. It must remain small and intimate, and it’s normally led by a young person that’s a bit older than the majority of the group members (there are always exceptions to this rule). One common youth cell order is:

  • Refreshments (15 minutes)
  • Greetings and Announcements (5 minutes)
  • Ice Breaker (10 minutes)
  • Brief Testimony (3 minutes-optional)
  • Vision Sharing (5-10 minutes)
  • Worship (10 minutes)
  • Discussion (limit to 25 minutes)
  • Prayer Time (15 minutes)

It’s best if the youth cell meets outside the church building. The best place is the home. Some youth groups have taken the first step of transition by breaking up in smaller groups within the church after the larger youth meeting, but this should only be a transitioning step and never the ultimate goal. The class-room atmosphere of the church doesn’t compare to the family atmosphere of the home. Many cell churches encourage the youth cells to meet in homes during the week and have a corporate youth gathering at the church facility on a regular basis.

Those planting a cell church will most likely begin with family cells that will eventually give birth to a youth cell. The first youth cell leader would be cared for and discipled by the family cell group leader, becoming part of his or her leadership team. The youth at Dove Fellowship (Larry Kreider) attended the inter-generational cells until God birthed in them the desire to start their own youth cells. Brian Sauder and Sarah Mohler describe Dove’s experience:

Youth cells became an informal, casual place youth could take their friends. We were careful not to imply that these youth cells were better than the adult/family cells. As they expanded, we did not require the youth to attend youth cells. They were given the freedom to go with their parents to the family cell or get involved in a youth cell, whatever met their needs best. We felt it was important that the youth felt affirmed and not forced into one pattern. Eventually, however, most of the youth got involved in the youth cells, along with some of their friends who got saved. A cell group of peers was just too exciting to pass by! (Youth Cells and Youth Ministry, p. 20).

Many conventional churches already have separate youth ministries. To start youth cells in this setting, the best way is for the youth pastor (or key youth leader) to ask the first batch of potential youth leaders to meet with him for about six months. From there, the new youth cells would form and these new leaders become part of the leadership team of the youth leader.