Reaching the Next Generation Outside the Church Building

By Joel Comiskey, Youth in Cell Ministry, 2022

Youth reaching youth through cell ministry has the potential of discipling a new generation for Jesus. Youth know their generation and can best evangelize those in their age group through meeting needs, building relationships, and establishing friendships.

Surveys have consistently shown that 75-90% of converts to Jesus come through a friend or relative. So when it comes to reaching students for Jesus, it is most effective to develop a friendship with the non-Christian and eventually invite him or her to the cell. In the New Testament, the gospel spread through these household and extended family relationships as the church met house to house. Applied to youth evangelism, oikos relationships are with those people who the youth know the best, come in contact with most frequently, and who God has placed in their path. In other words, God gives youth relationships with others, and then reaches those people through friendship evangelism.

Group evangelism is most effective when people feel comfortable. This is part of the reason why the majority of youth cells meet in homes. Brian Sauder and Sarah Mohler write, “The primary method that is used in youth groups is to have the youth cells meet in homes during the week and have a corporate youth gathering at the church facility regularly” (Youth Cells and Youth Ministry, p. 24).  Meeting in homes has the advantage of:

  • Homes are more comfortable, whereas building space is more academic.
  • Homes get families involved. When the student group is in the home, it allows the adults to host the group and sometimes coach the youth leaders.
  • Home groups allow more pastoral responsibility for the volunteers.
  • Home groups lessen the driving distance, are more accessible to students, and allow for different meeting nights. Doug Fields, former youth minister at Saddleback Community Church, says, “The strategic positioning of our meeting places throughout the community allows us to reach more students who can’t get a ride to the church property. Meeting in the homes also gives us the freedom to have alternate meeting nights and times” (Purpose Driven Youth Ministry, p. 152).

Apart from home meetings, some youth will meet in coffee houses, parks, office buildings, and campuses. Some of the most life-changing cell groups in the church I helped plant in Ecuador met at universities.

Some youth groups have taken the first step of transition to small groups by breaking up into smaller groups within the church after the larger youth meeting, but this should only be a transitioning step rather than the norm or ultimate goal. The goal is to meet in groups outside the church building to penetrate a lost world. Like the early Church, youth cells take the gospel where youth live, study, and play.