“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…”
— Proverbs 1:7a

Our Great God

Teaching our children to know and worship our great God.

The 2023 conference was live on August 4-5, 2023. However, you can still participate by watching the recordings of the Live-streamed event, the Keynotes, and the Workshops.
(The Conference recordings will be available through January 2024.)

Watch a preview of the Grow Virtual Conference Workshops!

Plenary Speakers:

Pastor Josh Johnson currently serves as an Assistant Pastor ministering to young adults and young families at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, AL. Josh grew up in the Chattanooga area and studied and played soccer at Covenant College (go Scots!). He and his wife Elizabeth served as missionaries in Trujillo, Peru before attending Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, MS. Josh and Elizabeth have four boys—Bridger (6), Sibbes (3), Holden (1.5), and Kuyper (1)—and they are very tired, but also immensely thankful for the beautiful chaos.

Keynote 1: Yahweh, Promise-keeping God (Exodus 3 & Psalms)

Keynote 3: Jesus Christ is Lord (Acts 2) 

Dr. Stephen Estock is Coordinator for the PCA Committee on Discipleship Ministries (CDM). A former USAF officer, he has been in pastoral ministry for almost 30 years, serving churches in Montgomery, AL and St. Louis, MO. Stephen has also been an adjunct professor at several seminaries, including Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis and Reformed Theological Seminary in Atlanta. His Ph.D. is in education, with an emphasis on competency-based learning and leadership training. He and his wife, Susan, have three children and live in Atlanta, GA.

Keynote 2: Yahweh Yireh, God Provides (Genesis 22) 

Ways to Use Grow Virtual

  • Invite teachers, parents, volunteers, and possible volunteers to a church-wide training weekend. Serve dinner, breakfast, lunch (one or more), spend some time with your own church’s policies and procedures training, and then tune in to these three sessions for resources, encouragement, and how to’s for making disciples. Live MC’s will guide everyone through the main sessions and will include resource giveaways.
  • Invite a smaller group into a home for a more intimate setting on Friday evening for dinner and join in the session together for training. Everyone can watch from home on Saturday morning or you can gather at the church or in home again.
  • Send link to all church members, encourage Friday evening viewing, come together on Saturday morning to discuss at breakfast and view the rest together.
  • Schedule live training using these videos throughout the fall as a continuing education program for parents and volunteers.
  • Send links for individuals to watch on their own and have breakfast, lunch or coffee to discuss the topic(s) that have been viewed.
  • Post the links to these videos on church website or in bulletin as you train your entire congregation to consider and become involved in direct discipleship of children.


Workshops will be available for viewing by the beginning of the conference.

How to Enfold Kids With Unique Needs Into Worship – Ashley Belknap
The first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism is, “What is the chief end of man?” The answer, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” This call for God’s people—to glorify God through prayer and praise and to enjoy Him as He speaks to us in worship through His Word and the sacraments—is rooted in corporate worship. As we set about to train children how to worship, we must remember that there is a greater purpose in view: when children learn to worship God, they learn to glorify and enjoy Him more fully. These truths are for typically developing children and children who have diagnosed disabilities or other unique needs. Join us in this seminar as we discuss how to teach uniquely-abled children to worship. We will focus on teaching parents, volunteers, and pastors the foundational skills that every child needs to worship. We will also explore ways to support extra needs, including movement, noise, and behaviors.

Covenant Theology and our Faithful God – Karen Hodge and Katie Flores
Covenant theology shapes everything we do in the church. It informs the way we interact with God as well as others. Scripture tells us that God has chosen His people for His treasured possession. He is “the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love Him and keep His commandments, to a thousand generations (Deut. 7:9). Join us as we connect covenant theology to why we invest in others, including the children in our churches.

Lots of Styles! (Teaching to Engage a Variety of Learning Styles) – Lisa Updike and Rebecca Griffin
All children can learn, but they may not all learn in the same way. How, then, can we teach our children in a manner that captures their attention and facilitates their ability to learn? In this workshop we will look at Jesus, the Master Teacher, as our example.

Helping Families Gain A Vision for Family Worship – Dustin and Bethany Belue
Our desire is for children to be lifelong worshippers of our Great God. As we partner with parents in the discipleship of children, families must first gain a vision for worship in the home together. Join us as we see in Scripture God’s heart for family worship and discuss practical ideas for helping our families gain a vision as well as take first steps in family worship in the home.

Creating a Classroom Experience that Invites Children to Draw Near to Jesus – Laura Tucker and Kimper Thomas
The Gospels remind us that Jesus wanted the children to draw near to Him. So, we desire to create space, time, and experiences that invite children to draw near to Jesus. Sometimes creating such inviting learning environments requires us to adapt curriculum and activities to fit our context and children’s needs. Join us as we provide some practical ideas to help you think creatively about the ways in which you invite children to draw near to Jesus.

Letting Our Great God Power the Long View of Discipleship – Jimmy Brock and B.A. Snider
This workshop will look to the scripture for our understanding of what discipleship of our children should look like over the whole of their lives (long view). We will also share some crazy fun stories of what we have seen in our years in children’s ministry as well as the covenant faithfulness of our great God. Lastly, we will look at the practical difference this long view of discipleship makes in our week to week ministry—Sunday comes every week.

Developing a Vision for Visiting Families – Justin Huensch and Lisa Young
Having someone new walk into your classroom is an exciting moment and gospel opportunity! Join Justin Huensch and Lisa Young as they explore ways to create spaces of belonging from the check-in to the classroom and everything in between.

God Hears the Little Children! – Laney Stayton and Mary Elizabeth Burton
Because worship through prayer is a correct response to our great God and a way we commune with the triune God, we must teach our covenant children to pray. For some of us, prayer was modeled daily growing up. For others, prayer was something we learned about as adults. Because our backgrounds all look a little different, it can be challenging to teach our covenant children the language of prayer. We, as humans, learn by hearing and observing. This is true for our children as well. We hope that through this workshop, you leave equipped and encouraged with the tools you need to model a life of prayer to the young ones in your life.


Ashley Belknap serves as the Executive Director of Engaging Disability (the Disability Ministry of the PCA). A gifted communicator with a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Reformed Theological Seminary, Ashley has the ability to tackle challenging issues with creative and practical ministry applications. She served for four years as Director of Women’s Ministries at First Presbyterian Church in Jackson MS, where she led a wide variety of ministry initiatives. As the mother of children with unique needs, Ashley has a personal passion to see families touched by disability discipled and enfolded into their church. Ashley and her husband, John, have three children and reside in Brandon, MS.

Bethany Belue is on staff with CDM serving in various roles within Children’s Ministry. Before coming on staff at CDM, she served as the Children’s Director at Redeemer PCA in New York City and Oak Mountain PCA in Birmingham, AL. She currently lives in Mobile, AL with her husband, Dustin, who is the assistant pastor at Grace Community Church PCA. Bethany and Dustin love investing in the next generation from small children to young adults. Life is full with their 2 young children, Patterson and Neely.

Dustin Belue is Assistant to the Pastor at Grace Community Church, where he oversees several areas in the life of the church. Along with leading the Men’s Ministry team at Grace, he guides small groups and Sunday morning Bible studies. He also leads a Young Professionals ministry within the church. He has a great desire to help young men, especially in their 20’s-30’s, to grow as disciples of Christ and nurture an affection for and commitment to the local church. Before coming to Grace, Dustin served in campus ministry discipling college men for nine years and worked with the young families and young adults at Perimeter Church in Atlanta, GA. He is an ordained pastor in the PCA with an MDiv from RTS Atlanta.

He and his wife Bethany have two children, Patterson and Neely, who make life full and sweet. In his free time, he enjoys watching college football in the fall (especially Alabama), reading, working out, and exploring new places with his wife and kids.

Jimmy Brock has been involved in children’s ministry since he was a child himself, serving churches in Virginia, California, Missouri, and Georgia as a Sunday school teacher, camp counselor, camp director, nursery coordinator, and most recently Pastor of Family Ministry. He is now the Church Planting Pastor for Resurrection Community Church in Virginia Beach, VA.

Mary Elizabeth grew up in Alabama and graduated from Auburn University (War Eagle!). She worked for RUF at TCU before moving to Chattanooga, Tennessee in 2016. For the last 6 years, Mary Elizabeth served as the Director of Operations at One Hundred Years. In April she transitioned to Children’s Ministry Director at North Shore Fellowship. Mary Elizabeth loves reading, being outside, tacos and Tom Hanks. She loves talking about her husband, Davis, her boys, Hanks (the sweetest golden retriever) and Ezra (her one year old son), and the best places to eat in Chattanooga.

Katie Flores equips and encourages those who are working to promote discipleship among children in the PCA. She enjoys advocating for children as well as learning from them. Katie and her husband, Bryan, live in Birmingham, AL with their children, Caleb and Grace Anne. They worship at Covenant Presbyterian Church where Katie served in youth, children’s, and disability ministry for a combined 24 years before coming to work at CDM.

Rebecca Griffin works with Lisa Updike at Covenant Presbyterian Church as her assistant and is a graduate of the CDM certification class. She has worked with children her whole life and taught Musikgarten for a number of years. She has a passion for sharing Jesus with the next generation, which has only increased since she and her husband Jeff welcomed their first baby girl in 2022.

Karen Hodge serves as the Coordinator for PCA Women’s Ministry, where she seeks to connect women and churches to one another and to sound resources. She is also having the time of her life serving alongside her husband, pastor and best friend Chris, as they serve at Village Seven Presbyterian Church in Colorado Springs, CO. Chris and Karen have two adult children, Anna Grace Botka and Haddon Hodge. She is the host of the enCourage podcast and authored Transformed: Life-taker to Life-giver, Life-giving Leadership (along with Susan Hunt), and Breathe: The Life-giving Oxygen of the Lord’s Prayer.

In one way or another, children’s ministry has been a part of Laney Stayton’s life–starting as the child of a pastor and missionary, then through volunteering at her local church as a young adult, and now as a mom of three. After taking a quick detour as a certified shorthand reporter in Texas, the Lord called her to serve as the Children’s Ministry Director of her church in Chattanooga, TN. She has always had a love for children and desire to help them grow in their understanding of God through His Word and she is glad she can still do that through her role as a children’s ministry volunteer!

Kimper Thomas is a member of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, AL. She has always felt her purpose was to help people impacted by disabilities which led her to a career as a speech-language pathologist. Kimper is also on the committee for Young Life Capernaum and the Enfold Disability Ministry at Covenant. After years of helping at VBS and teaching Sunday School, Kimper speaks “kid” fluently! She and her husband have two elementary-aged children and she enjoys hiking, working in the yard, and basically anything outdoors.

B.A. Snider has more than 20 years’ experience as a children’s director in churches ranging in size from 200 to 4,000 but finds her passion is the same no matter how many children she’s serving. Show the children Jesus. Teach the kids all of the Bible so they see that the stories from the Old Testament point to Jesus and that the New Testament shows how Jesus fulfilled God’s promises—yesterday, today, and forever. B.A. began her formal ministry as a children’s director and consultant in 1993, but she has taught and led music for children since she was in junior high school. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Tennessee and taught college until the Lord called her to seminary and full-time ministry. She graduated with a master’s degree in Christian Education from Columbia International University. Speaking at conferences, consulting with leadership, and training teachers brought her to Great Commission Publications (www.gcp.org) in 2014 as the Children’s Ministry Consultant and Marketing Director.

Laura Tucker is the Children’s Ministry Director at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, AL. Laura grew up in the church and spent many summers there and at camp preparing her for a children’s ministry full of fun activities and time in God’s Word. Laura served as the nursery director before her role over preschool and elementary students. She is married and has three children who keep her involved in volunteer ministry to the youth as well. She enjoys time at the lake, playing tennis and cheering on the Dawgs.

Lisa Updike is the Director of Children’s Ministries at Covenant in Harrisonburg, VA and doesn’t remember a day when she didn’t love Jesus. Her ministry experience includes teaching, special education, leading children’s choirs, and writing. Several of her books and curriculum are available through the PCA bookstore. She and her husband, Kevin, have been married since 1989 and are blessed with 4 adult children, 3 of whom joined their family through adoption. Lisa and Kevin stay busy with church activities, creating art,  and best of all, doting on their two grandsons.

Lisa Young – Originally from El Paso, TX, Lisa has lived in St. Louis, Missouri for the last 10 years where she has been serving in children’s ministry at Chesterfield Presbyterian Church. Lisa loves working with children and teaching the gospel to the little ones at the church.  She just completed her Master of Arts in Ministry from Covenant Seminary in May 2023.

Includes Access to Workshops from GROW 2022

  • Teaching Jesus in All of the Bible – John Kwasny
  • Using the Teach Me to Worship Curriculum – Laney Stayton and Laura Tucker
  • Preparing your Elementary Lesson – Sue Jakes
  • Preparing your Preschool Lesson – B.A. Snider
  • Discipleship in the Nursery – Tammy Hall
  • Classroom Management – Jimmy Brock
  • Scripture and Catechism Memory – Lisa Updike and Rebecca Griffin
  • The Joy of The Rotation: Sammy and His Shepherd as an Outreach Event – Sherry Kendrick
  • Creating a Good Environment for Learning – Joseph Parker and Dana Russell
  • Object Lessons and Games – Becky Sinclair