Cell Groups with Youth

April 13th, 2014

Great leaders and churches take seriously the importance of small group interaction. Take Jesus, John Wesley, and many of today’s churches in Korea and North America as examples. Whether they worked with twelve disciples, bands and societies, cells or small groups, each one discovered ways to unleash the inherent energy within.

Today, most cell groups are founded on the premise that youth groups become larger by becoming smaller. Now, before you think this is another numbers gimmick, please consider this: Cell groups are more concerned about intimacy than numerical growth. The larger an organization becomes, the more difficult it becomes to provide the warmth and one-on-one care that is required. In order to address this potential dilemma, as well as fulfill the call to evangelize, cell groups are often formed.

Of course, the question arises:

Who should lead youth group cells?

If youth are truly going to be the leaders of today, then why not give them the training, trust, encouragement, and vision of nurturing friendships and reaching new youth themselves through cell group ministry?

A cell is the basic building block of life. Its function is to survive, thrive, and replicate. Cell groups are "cells" (in the truest sense of the word) because participants are empowered to survive in an ever-changing world, to thrive as faithful followers of Jesus Christ, and to replicate by the creation of new cells. Incidentally, the words cell and cell group are often used interchangeably.

Benefits of Youth-Led Cell Groups

  • Equips teenagers for personal ministry
  • Affirms the legitimacy and power of peer evangelism
  • Provides teenagers with a safe, open, and loving environment for study and fellowship
  • Connects teenage leaders with adult mentors
  • Recognizes the need for small group intimacy but allows for exponential growth
  • Allows teens to be transparent and honest
  • Assimilates teens into the fellowship of the church
  • Demonstrates trust and confidence in teenagers as emerging leaders
  • Grants opportunities for teenagers to discover and develop their spiritual gifts
  • Serves as a non-threatening entry point for new youth
  • Supplies a setting in which friendships can be made and nurtured
  • Challenges teens to develop a deeper, more meaningful relationship with God
  • Showcases teenagers as viable servant-leaders of today’s church
  • Furnishes teens with their own outlet for encouragement and mutual support

A Cell Group Gathering

A typical cell group gathering includes the following:

  • Light refreshments and fellowship time
  • A gathering or centering exercise
  • Topical Bible study led by the cell leader
  • Prayer and announcements

Cell group gatherings should take place in an inviting home and last no longer than ninety minutes. Set a date and time that is convenient for your group.


As the number of cells increases, maintaining a sense of large group identity and unity can become a problem. This can be addressed, in part, by scheduling large group events for all of the smaller cells to attend. CELLebration can be a time of worship, encouragement, instruction, affirmation, and the forming of new cells. Energetic music with group singing and inspiring messages should be two of the aspects of your CELLebration experience.

Cell Connection

As cell members develop deeper relationships, additional opportunities for interaction may be requested. One way this need can be addressed is through cell connections. With social media, groups can develop their own email groups for week-to-week study, encouragement, discussion, and prayer. In consultation with the Cell Mentor, cell groups may decide to schedule Cell Connection group activities or outings as well.

Cell Mentors

The adult cell mentor works one-on-one with the cell leader and his/her assistant. The mentor provides training, guidance, accountability, and a lifestyle of Christian servanthood. Great care should be taken in the selection of mentors! Mentors guide by example (see Safe Sanctuaries).

Cell Coordinator

A cell coordinator, usually an adult, oversees seven to twelve youth-led cells. The cell coordinator provides support, encouragement, problem-solving suggestions, information, and a sense of accountability to the groups. They would also meet regularly with the cell mentors and sometimes the cell leaders or cell assistant leaders for planning and evaluation.

Cell Assistant Leaders

Selected by the cell leader and trained by the cell mentor, the assistant leader attends every cell gathering and is prepared to "spin off" with a new cell group as needed.

Cell Leaders

A youth is responsible for overseeing a group of seven to twelve teenagers, selecting an assistant leader, reporting to a mentor and coordinator(s), leading the cell group sessions, and maintaining the vision of cell group ministry.

Cell Ministry Director

This role is best for the youth director. The cell ministry director oversees the youth-led cells, works with the cell coordinators, and maintains the vision of cell group ministry. He or she also provides organizational oversight as well as cell mentor training. The cell ministry director provides support, encouragement, problem-solving suggestions, information, and a sense of accountability to the groups. He or she would also meet regularly with the cell mentors and the cell leaders or cell assistant leaders for planning and evaluation.

The Purpose of a Cell Group

Not unlike living cells, cell groups exist to survive, thrive, and replicate. They help cell group members:

  • survive in an ever-changing world;
  • thrive as faithful followers of Jesus Christ; and
  • replicate by the creation of new cells.

Cell Group

A cell group is a gathering of teenagers meeting in homes to develop a deeper relationship with God, each other, and their ever-changing world. Once a group reaches twelve to fifteen in average attendance, the assistant cell group leader is deployed (along with half of the group) to begin a new cell group. A cell group, therefore, is always both inwardly and outwardly focused.

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