Today, if you hear his voice

Ben White's Adventures with softened hearts

Why not? A cell with teenagers

There is one teenager in my current cell. It is very interesting to include him in our discussions and find out how he is working with this cell full of adults, and some adults who are a lot older than him. I started participating in cells when I was a teenager and I thought it was the coolest. I was out from under the shadow of my pastor dad’s leadership and free to experience the Circle of Hope community and my own faith for myself. I would describe my teenage discipleship as fairly ambivalent. I had mentally assented to the story of Jesus in the New Testament but I wasn’t very interested in real discipleship-walking in obedience, praying on my own, or sharing my faith as more than an intellectual artifact. However, being in cells allowed me to hang out with people who I thought were cool who were meeting regularly to express their faith. The gravity of those people’s faith and mutuality kept me in orbit long enough for me to have a real encounter with Jesus. I’m hoping that my current cell mate has a similar experience.

I met about 30 teenagers last night who are part of a Christian based service organization who are in need of some more discipleship. They’re in need of some gravity as they are in similar modes of ambivalence about their faith. The culture leads them in a lot of different directions and teenagers, as a matter of their psychological development, identify themselves most strongly by the groups they inhabit. o went to pitch them the idea of a cell as a way to be a group that identifies with Christ. Many of them  interested in forming a cell with me! They were already part of a group that helped them identify as Christians but they wanted more opportunities to get real and go deep – to have faith that was more than ambivalent. They also liked the notion that it would be whatever we wanted it to be. They would be instrumental in inventing this new cell or it wouldn’t happen.

I think, by and large, teenagers are also just bored and lonely. These particular teens live in neighborhoods where the only thing to do is run the streets with unsavory peers. These kids aren’t into that so they sit in the house all day and reach the limits of electronic communion pretty quickly. They want to connect.

So why not? Let’s make a cell of teenagers. If you’re interested in joining us, let me know. It doesn’t exist yet so you could help make it up with them if you want to act now.

4 Comments

  1. I’m pumped for this. Do it!

  2. Great idea! It would help them express themselves in a positive way.

  3. Here are my ponderances on this: on one hand, I think it’s a great idea. But on the other hand, I think there can be some things to consider – and this is what comes to mind: over the years, in other churches, I’ve heard from a lot of friends that were at some time or another in a cell group that was geared towards a certain demographic, for instance a “singles” cell or a “couples” cell. And the problem that crops up is this: people end up making friends with folks that they want to bring to their cell that don’t fit the prescribed demographic, which then messes up their ability to bring their friends to their thing. So a couple might be wanting to bring a single friend to their cell, but they’re in a couple’s cell. When it comes to a teen cell, I had the issue when I was 13 of not being allowed to come with my 14 year old friends who wanted to bring me to their youth group because I wasn’t yet old enough for their 14 and up youth group.
    All that to say – I think it’s great to have a teen cell while remembering that cell membership needs to be organic. A teen cell might have teens bringing friends who are older or younger than themselves, and may eventually grow out of being a teen-only sort of cell. And I think that would be good, because teens would be learning how to to include other demographics in their outreach, as well as their own. So eventually new teen cells, that might eventually grow out of being teen-only cells, can be restarted, but cells that are still permeable and open to organic growth outside of the main demographic.

  4. Agreed, Heather. I’m open to what happens. We don’t call it a “teen cell” but so far it’s just teens. We’ve met about 15 people and have an average attendance of 8. It’s going great! Thanks for reading.

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