The Diocese of St Albans: The Working with Children Course

The Working with Children Course: Supporting children to become active disciples.

The Institute for Children, Youth and Mission (CYM) is providing training for vicars and church leaders that want to support their church to engage with first of the three strategic priorities of the Church of England’s Strategy and Vision in the 2020s. The Working with Children Course aims to support churches and their leaders to actively consider how they can support children develop a personal, living, and active faith of their own.

The Working with Children Course will provide the opportunity for senior and ordained leaders in the Diocese of St Albans to work with Ali Campbell, a CYM trustee with experience as youth minster at St Paul’s Ealing, and Adviser for working with children and young people in the Diocese of Chichester.   Ali is also the founder and Development Consultant for Paraklesis - The Association of Children’s, Youth and Families Ministers.

The course is made up of five, two-hour sessions delivered through online teaching and facilitated activities which will also provide the opportunity for you to be supported through peer coaching activities. The course is designed to enable senior leaders and clergy to learn about discipling children. In between sessions, participants will have a few hours of video content, reading, or reflection activities to help them explore and develop their strategic plan.

Over the course, participants will be supported to discern what growing younger looks like in their specific context and will develop a strategy plan for encouraging children and families to embed within their church communities. Drawing on new learning and insights as well as the support received through the small group peer coaching, you will be supported to create an informed, unique strategy for your specific context which will help your church in working with children, particularly in the ways your children become active disciples. For some this may mean that you look at beginning engagement with children, for others it may provide the opportunity to take a fresh look at established ministries and consider how these can be shaped to further deepen the discipleship of children.

Photo of Ali Campbell

Ali Campbell

Associate Tutor

Ali Campbell has worked in children’s and youth ministry for 27 years. After a career in the Ministry of Defence Ali studied for a Certificate in Youth Ministry with OASIS (1996 - 98). Ali went on to be a youth minister at a large church in West London during which time he was also leading children’s and youth work at the New Wine summer events. For nine years Ali was the Adviser for Children’s and Youth Ministry for the Diocese of Chichester, during which time he gained a Masters in Reflective Practice and Applied Theology. In 2014, Ali established The Resource - a Youth and Children’s Ministry Consultancy, to serve the local church through training, equipping events and mentoring and support for those working with children, young people and families. Ali has taught at various academic institutions over the last decade including, Reign Ministries, St Mellitus, Emmanuel College and Cliff College (where he was an adjunct tutor from 2019 - 2023). In July 2022, Ali was the founder of Paraklesis - The Association of Children’s, Youth and Family Ministers. Ali is married to Lisa and they have two teenage daughters."

How will the course be delivered?

Online with a mixture of self-study and group coaching sessions.  Our team will be in touch ahead of the course start date to confirm online platform codes.

When will the course be delivered?

In order for this course to be light and do-able within the busy life of a leader, the sessions will be held once a month.  The training will begin on Wednesday 4th October 2023, 10am-12noon, and continue on the first Wednesday of the month (1st Nov, 10th Jan, 7th Feb, 6th Mar).

How much does the course cost?

This course is funded by the Diocese of St Albans.


Course Outline:

SESSION 1 - Exploring the Basics

Often what hinders church leaders from embracing the growing younger journey are assumptions they hold and experiences they have had in the past in relation to the discipleship of children. Using current research, we will look at how children are discipled, theologically and practically, and explore the biblical model of how a faith community grows younger while embracing all generations. At the end of the session, church leaders will have been encouraged to consider their localised and unique expression of engaging children with their church.

SESSION 2 - Embracing the everyday

The first layer of children discipleship considers the everyday, households and family structures that children are in. This creates a massive opportunity for churches to not only disciple the children but create self-repeating patterns of generational discipleship. If we want to grow younger, then we must centre children and their households at the heart of our work. This session will explore current parental culture, effective methods of communication and equipping parents and carers in their spiritual roles, and how to disciple parents and children alongside each other.

SESSION 3 - Enveloped in the Story

What children and young people need to flourish spiritually. The church plays a vital role in not just supporting children and their households, but creating moments for specific engagement with children. The church programmes offer unique opportunities for spiritual discipleship that are significant if the church is to grow younger. This session will explore how the church is positioned to empower children in their role within the faith community, develop intergenerational relationships that benefits all ages, and how to enable children to encounter God and people who love him and explore their faith.

SESSION 4 - Experiencing community

It takes holistic whole-church approach to grow children as active disciples. If our churches are to grow with more children and families, then a culture that seeks to foster and empower the whole church to be engaged in the discipleship of children. Establishing an approach that engages all the generations within the church community in the discipleship of children is key. This session explores models of change that support the congregation to all engage in the discipleship of children at various different levels. We will also look at the skills we can give our congregations to feel confident and effective as the church adds children and families.

SESSION 5 - Expanding the vision

Using what we have explored so far, this session will look at each participant identifying the next steps for their church and ensuring they have everything they need to take those steps well. We shall lay out strategy, troubleshoot concerns, and ensure the pathways are clear for participants.


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