So this past sunday (Jan 14) we transitioned our ministry model to a cell group model. This was something that I had been praying about and wrestling with for a long time. And It was something that I have gotten some flak and concerns about since this sin’t they way the youth ministry is regularly done.
But I think this is a healthy transformation for our ministry. We have been struggling with Corporate Gatherings everyweek. They were good, but there was something better, and I new it was something that was simple, and would mobilize more people to do ministry.
So enter the Cell Group. This is a model that isn’t dependent upon a lot of set-up. This is a model that gives more people opportunites to build meaningful relationships with students and influence them for eternity. This is a model that does not depend on a single place, a single person, or a single time. This is a model that opens up many, many opportunities to reach many more people, becuase we can take the gospel to them.
One of the biggest concerns that I and others have had is that it will fragment our ministry. And that would really be bad. Another concern is that students wouldn’t feel connected to me as the Lead Youth Pastor, also a valid concern. Let me address those.
Fragmenting – this concern is very valid and very real. The best way to combat this danger is to meet together at least once a month. We are going to do this the first of every month we will have one corporate gathering. The other thing that we can do to create unity is events, so we are going to shoot to do more together, but keep it simple, and keep it fun.
Connection to Me – I know that growing up my Youth Pastors were very influential in my life. But you know who was more influential? the youth leaders who led my sunday school times, the guys who would hang out with me on saturdays and take me out to lunch, the people that prayed with me at Camp. Those are the people who really impacted me.
Part of the cell group model that is so attractive to me is that it gives more people the opportunity to do the best job in the world, influencing teenagers for eternity. The more people that we can get plugged into ministry this way then I feel the more lasting the impact on these students will be.
I tell people that I didn’t get into youth ministry because I don’t have enough high school and jr. High School friends. Because I do. My motivation is not to be popular, or be the person who they all want to hang out with. That’s not my personality style. Do I like to have friends? yes. Do I love teenagers? Absolutely! Would getting more people to love teenagers be more effective than just me loving them? That should be a no-brainer.
I personally believe that it is a lot healthier to spread out the influence. When I look at youth ministries that I have been involved in, the transition between Youth Pastors is crucial. The pastors that seem to be everyone’s friend, don’t really leave well. When that pastor leaves, students bail. but who sticks around? It’s the students who were connected to the support staff. I know that I will most likely not be at Creekside forever, I have no plans of leaving, I am not looking or anything, but someday I’m going to die, or I’m going to be led somewhere else. It’s just going to happen sooner or later. If I am going to be a wise steward of the influence that God has given me, then I need to be building into the people that will be there when I am not. It’s healthier that way. And I am blessed to have some really great youth leaders. They are completely dependable, they are smart, they are fun to be around, and they love students! I don’t know if I could really do this anywhere else, but I know that with this team I don’t have to worry about anything. It’s amazing.
So last week was our first week, we had three students who had never been to any >>beyond>> event. The group I went to had a good discussion, the leaders did well, and I left feeling really good about where God was leading.
Please pray for this new model, pray for our leaders and students, and please pray for me as well. Thanks for reading this really long post. I really appreciate it.
follow-up: read this post from Ben Arment, we have similar thoughts.