By Joel Comiskey
Excerpts from Youth in Cell Ministry
Ted Stump has dedicated his life to prepare students to become world-changers. Stump was considered a successful youth worker in the mid-1980s because thousands of kids were coming to Christ through his ministry. Yet, he was also increasingly frustrated by the lack of discipleship. If thousands of kids came to Christ during a three-day crusade, only a small percentage followed through with their commitment. But this was the only method Stump knew at the time. It was the typical way to reach youth back then—heavy on the flashy entertainment and low-key gospel messages and light on follow-up and nurturing. Stump saw kids having fun, but he also saw little depth fostered in them.
Then Stump heard Ralph Neighbour of Touch Outreach Ministries talking about cell groups. Neighbour said the cells never grew larger than fifteen members, they met in homes, were focused on evangelism, and were discipleship oriented. Something inside of Stump exploded. “That’s the answer to the follow-up question!” Soon he was studying the cell movement and ended up traveling to thirty countries where there were large, exemplary cell churches.
Stump applied what he learned to youth ministries. He trained committed student leaders to facilitate, follow-up, and nurture the groups, just like the adults in the cell church model. Stump and his ministry, Student-Led Cell Groups, have now trained thousands of youth and youth ministries in how to develop youth to lead youth cells. He has worked with some 2,000 youth ministries to help transition them to cell-group oriented youth ministry.
In youth-led cell groups, the youth are developed to actually lead the cell groups. The host of the group is often an adult, but those leading and attending are youth. According to Stump, it’s best to have a leadership team that consists of:
- student leader
- student co-leader
- adult mentor
The adults pour their lives into the student leaders by encouraging, equipping, and building them up. The adult does not lead the group but focuses on mentoring and discipling the student leaders and addressing any difficult questions and situations that may arise. Stump says, “The adult is only there to mentor, disciple and equip; they are not leading the group in any way, shape or form.”
Only if students step up and lead their peers will the cells reach their full potential for evangelism and discipleship. Youth have a special ability to reach other youth. While adults have to think and act like youth to reach them, youth are already there. As youth are developed and trained through cell groups, they become prepared to move into adult-led cell groups. If a student can lead a cell with peers, he or she is much better prepared for those adult years.