GATHERED IN MY NAME
HOW TO TRANSITION A PROGRAM-BASED YOUTH MINISTRY INTO A RELATIONAL, STUDENT-LED CELL GROUPS
BY TED M. STUMP
That night, six out of thirteen students shared how they had attempted or strongly considered committing suicide. The cell topic was depression and suicide. The leader was a sophomore in high school who had been leading cell groups for over a year. The students looked like your “normal” mix of kids, most involved in sports. One by one, they shared painful experiences in life that caused them to contemplate or attempt suicide. The whole room was brought to tears on several occasions due to the pain shared by their peers. The Holy Spirit lovingly ministered to this dear group of youth. The next day, the leader’s mom shared how greatly impacted her son was by the testimony of his friends; he will never be the same.
There will never be enough “professional” youth workers to reach the multitudes of youth in our world, but there are enough students with a heart for their peers that if equipped could reach their peers.
Take a good look at your current youth ministry model. Are you running from one event or program to another? Have your ever sat down at the end of an event and asked yourself what did we really accomplish? Do you feel you must always do things a little bigger and better each time?
There is a movement happening all over America and around the world. God is restructuring His church into a relational cellbased ministry. This article will deal with how to transition an entertainment or program-based ministry into a relational student-led cell-based ministry.
So how do you make the leap from one model to another?
Seek the mind of the Lord. Has he called you to a new work? Until you have God’s peace to move on, stay on your knees.
If you view this as just another program or church growth principle, then you will give up on it when the next “hot idea” comes along.
Take an honest look at your ministry. How is the Lord working in your midst? Are you producing disciples who will dedicate their whole life to His service? How do you invest your time, in programs or people? What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Do Your Homework
There has been little written specifically on student-led cell groups, but a great deal has been written on adult cells and the cell church movement world-wide. The strategy and structure for adult cells will be your best starting point. Adapt what you can from adult materials to make it work – but don’t let a lack of youth material stop you – the New Testament church didn’t have materials and they did miraculous things through faith-based determination and being led by the Spirit.
Develop Your Strategy
• How will you select and train your leaders?
• How will you disciple your leaders, and new converts?
• How will you track the success of your cell groups?
If you do not have a well thought out system, your ministry will unravel due to the rapid growth of youth cells.
People tend to be down on what they are not up on. A youth minister in Florida recently said, “We didn’t want to rush things and end up shooting ourselves in the foot. We knew when we started we wanted to have the best start possible. Months ago, we shared the concept of cell ministry with our commission for youth and families. They got excited about it and voted to support it in whatever way necessary. From there, I took the plan to the youth leadership board who also got excited and couldn’t wait to begin.
“From there we talked the ministry up to individuals, adults, youth, and just about anyone who would listen. Once we had enough general excitement we held an introductory meeting open to all youth and adults.” This youth pastor went on to talk about his strategy to accomplish his transition.
Model Cell Life
For most of us, a shift from programs to relationship building will be a jolt. At the same time, it can set you free. A youth pastor at a recent conference reported, “I learned more in an hour and a half of a model cell group with my youth than I did in a year and a half of ministering to them with my program format.”
Draw in Your Potential Leaders
Model cell life for both students and adults alike. Help them develop their gifts and talents and minister to their needs.
Train and equip your student and adult leadership. Develop a strong prayer base, model cell life and let your first leaders lead in a
training environment. Help them succeed as leaders. Do an all day training event to bring everybody up to speed on where you are going and how you will get there.
Go for it! Realize that failure comes with the territory. You will learn more by failure than by success. If you have truly been called,
He will help you through the transition and equip you along the way. Begin your first cells.
You can only grow as large as the leaders you produce. Pour your life into potential leaders and current leaders.
Students today face incredible challenges. Are you structured to impact their life? You cannot do it alone – train and equip the students. God gave you the love of Christ and the Gospel to take to this generation of “walking wounded.” Make a strategy today!
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY TOUCH OUTREACH MINISTRIES, 2000, “CELLEBRATING CELLCHURCH MAGAZINE”, PAGES 183-185.
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