Seminary level training in children’s, youth and family ministry. An opportunity to equip all those serving children and young people in the local church.

The Growing Young Disciples Academy offers a unique opportunity to equip and empower all those dedicated to serving children and young people in their local church communities.

Accessible entirely online, our comprehensive programme delves into essential topics such as the biblical foundations of children’s and youth ministry, the spiritual growth and development of young hearts, and the crucial aspects of pastoral care for children and adolescents.

But that’s just the beginning. With Growing Young Disciples Academy, you’ll explore a myriad of invaluable insights and practical tools designed to enrich your ministry and amplify your impact.

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Overview of the GYD Academy Course

Year 1

  1. What does God want us to do with the next generation?
  2. The history of children’s and youth ministry
  3. How does scripture shape our ministry methodology?
  4. A biblical model of children’s and youth ministry
  5. Engaging with current children’s ministry models
  6. Engaging with current youth ministry models
  7. Children’s and youth ministry in the context of the church
  8. Considering curricula
  1. The doctrine of scripture
  2. Word ministry – Part 1
  3. Word ministry – Part 2
  4. Effective illustration and application
  5. Teaching to reach the heart
  6. Writing a Bible talk
  7. Communicating in children’s and youth ministry
  8. Tips for communicating with children and youth
  1. Understanding children’s spirituality
  2. Spiritual development by age and stage
  3. Spiritual development and the family
  4. Factors affecting spiritual development
  5. Faith development theories/Towards a biblical model of spiritual development
  6. Towards a biblical model of spiritual development
  7. The discipleship of boys and girls
  8. Spiritual development and the sacraments

Year 2

  1. God
  2. Trinity
  3. Jesus
  4. Imago Dei
  5. Sin
  6. The Church
  7. Teaching doctrine to children and young people
  8. The role of catechesis in ministry
  1. Christian character
  2. Leadership dynamics
  3. Leadership skills
  4. Developing and communicating a vision
  5. Building and managing a team
  6. Training a volunteer team
  7. Caring for yourself in Christian Ministry
  8. Leadership on the ground
  1. Developing a model of pastoral care
  2. Child protection in pastoral care
  3. Caring for children and young people through bereavement
  4. Caring for children and young people through separation & divorce
  5. Caring for children and young people with image disorders
  6. Caring for children and young people with addictions
  7. Young people and sexuality
  8. Young people and mental health

Year 3

  1. Understanding worldviews
  2. Building a biblical worldview
  3. An introduction to culture
  4. Engaging with Tik Tok
  5. Engaging with Gaming
  6. Engaging with the Selfie
  7. Engaging with Fan Fiction
  8. Training parents to engage culturally with their kids
  1. Understanding Gen Z to reach them
  2. Understanding Generation Alpha to reach them
  3. Teaching truth in a post truth world
  4. Planning evangelistic events
  5. Writing evangelistic talks
  6. Apologetics for crossing youth cultures
  7. Training children and young people to be apologists
  8. Raising world Christians
  1. Parent and toddler’s groups
  2. Working with the under 3’s
  3. All age services
  4. Holiday Bible clubs
  5. Weekends away
  6. Caring for children with special needs
  7. School’s ministry
  8. Final Big Q & A


Mel Lacy

Mel originates from Dublin but has been enjoying the hospitality of the U.K. since 2005! Mel has been in fulltime ministry for 22 years and many of those years have been dedicated to families, children’s, and youth ministry. Mel has taught and trained in many contexts and countries and is passionate about equipping the local church to raise the next generation for Jesus. Mel served as the Director of the Children’s and Youth Ministry Course at Oak Hill College for 11 years and now is on the faculty of Crosslands Seminary, heading up the children’s and youth ministry track. Mel regularly has the opportunity to teach at gospel partnership training courses, conferences and events, and a number of theological training institutions in the U.K. and Europe. When not working you’ll usually find Mel on or in water!

Peter Wright

Peter is married to Linda and they have two children, Tobias and Eden. He has been involved in youth ministry for 15 years, as well as teaching and training others in Bible Centred Youth Ministry for many years. He has taught on the Youth Ministry track at Union Theological College in Belfast and on the Presbyterian Church in Ireland Youth Ministry Course. He has also been an occasional lecturer at the Irish Baptist College and is a Tutor for Crosslands Seminary. He holds a Bachelor of Divinity degree and a Masters in Theology, both from Union Theological College in Belfast. As well as ministry to young people, Peter enjoys reading, playing golf, good coffee and watching his beloved Leeds United!

Caz Petersen

Caz joined the Growing Young Disciples Team in 2021 and is now the Director of the Academy. After many years in further education and a MSc in Occupational Therapy, she worked as a ministry trainee at Carlisle Baptist Church whilst training on the NWGP Ministry Training Course. Keen for further theological training she studied Theology (for Children’s and Youth Ministry) at Oak Hill College, before working as Families Worker at Church by the Bay in Morecambe for 3 years. Caz has been involved with training others in families, children, and youth ministry for 7 years both in the local church and at larger training events.

Caz is married to Ben, Assistant Pastor at CBTB, and they have a 2 year old, Anna. Together they are preparing to move to North Wales to plant a church with the IPC.

Academy Fees

Pay for the full 3 year academy course


Pay for year 1 of the academy course


Pay per module


2024–2025 dates

Monday nights on Zoom from 7–9pm

Autumn Term 2024

23 Sept • 30 Sept • 7 Oct • 14 Oct • 11 Nov • 18 Nov • 25 Nov • 2 Dec

Spring Term 2025

20 Jan • 27 Jan • 3 Feb • 24 Feb • 3 Mar • 10 Mar • 17 Mar • 24 Mar

Summer Term 2025

28 Apr • 12 May • 19 May • 2 June • 9 June • 16 June • 23 June • 30 June

The Academy course as a whole works best through shared, accumulative learning. There are no assessments, however approximately 2 hours of additional (optional) reading is provided for those seeking further engagement. We don’t have any formal accreditation at present but there will be a certificate for those who finish the 3 years. In terms of commitment we ask for at least 80% attendance online each year.

Academy Enquiry

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Growing Young Disciples has a threefold mandate: to train, resource, and advise…

Meet the team…

6–9 January 2025.

Yarnfield Park.

Conference 2025

This year, our theme is ‘Christ: Prophet, Priest, and King’. We will use the traditional categories of Jesus as prophet, priest, and king to enhance our understanding of his life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. Be prepared to be blown away by the majesty and beauty of the Lord Jesus!

Seminary level training in children’s, youth and family ministry.

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