Year of Discipleship & Training (YDT)

"My YDT year was both the hardest and greatest year of my life so far! My faith and my relationship with God were taken to new levels that I could never have imagined." - Ruth, 21

What is the YDT?

The Year of Discipleship and Training (YDT) is a unique gap-year experience for young adults between 18-25 years of age. The program runs for 12 months, beginning every January through to mid-December. There are several term breaks throughout the year, giving time for students to travel and see Australia, or to visit friends and family.

Students live on a magnificent historic property in Menangle, called ‘Gilbulla’, on the outskirts of Sydney, and join the Ellel Ministries’ team to help run a busy centre, whilst also studying to receive a 10742NAT Certificate IV in Christian Ministry and Theology. Training is delivered under the auspices of Unity College Australia RTO 6330

International Students are welcome to participate and study the same material but will not receive the Certificate IV qualification at the end of the year.

What is the heart behind the YDT?

The YDT is designed for students to both identify and overcome areas of wounding and character blockages to fully realize their identity as beloved sons/daughters, and to truly own their faith through experiencing Father God in ways that create intimacy and trust. 

The purpose of that is to raise and equip whole and mature leaders for the future; young men and women of calibre who can make a Kingdom difference in the world around them and who are better able to cope with pressures, stresses and challenges in life - within the Church, their workplaces and the wider community.
“God has helped me overcome some of my biggest fears. I have built real friendships with like-minded people who have a passion to become more Christ-like. I’ve been able to grow so much in my femininity and am now able to believe that I am truly beautiful.” - Joanna, 18

ydt fun

What makes the YDT unique?

1.  High Intensity Training
In many schools, universities and colleges training is often restricted to the classroom where students study for several hours a week. Here at Ellel you will receive input through your trainers, mentors and peers nearly seven days a week, as we use every aspect of the program to grow you. This enables you and your peers not only to bond more with each other but to receive greater depth and healing in your training, because you are constantly being encouraged and challenged. Through that you will also learn to live by Kingdom principles in every aspect of life, rather than just at certain times or in specific situations. Everything you will do – whether it’s studying the Bible, washing dishes, welcoming guests or praying for others – is a vital part in the process of discipleship training.

2.  Small Student Numbers

All training happens in small classes in order to foster intimacy amongst you and your peers, encourage openness and acceptance within the class, and ensure content taught is directly applied to your lives. A great deal of growth and development happens when learning to work together as a team, supporting each other in various activities, and opening your hearts to one another in group situations. The small and intimate classes also highlight areas that require greater maturity through your interactions and attitudes toward one another and allows the time to work through them properly.

3.  Focus on Mentoring and Character Building

You are getting personally mentored towards maturity in your relationship with God and are encouraged to develop a strong, consistent prayer life and personal devotional habits that will change your heart and affect many lives around you back home. All mentors are highly involved in the training you receive and journey closely with you for the entire year, ensuring that you are always appropriately supported and inspired. This creates an environment where you can be honest, vulnerable and receive truth that leads to breakthroughs in your life, strengthening your character to become more Christ-like.

4.  Strong Involvement with Ellel's Ministry Call

You will be immersed in the life, culture and vision of Ellel Ministries. The most unique aspect of the program is that you will both receive personal prayer ministry and get trained to confidently minister God’s love to your fellow peers, as well as guests who attend our weekend courses. After finishing the year, previous students have found it very helpful to use those skills to support family members, friends and other Christian communities in their life.


How is the YDT structured?

The program is split into a Training and a Service component.

The Training component includes not only the Certificate IV study, but participation in our Explore School [encompassing 10 weekend seminars over the year], other selected Ellel events, prayer ministry workshops, team challenges, investment from various guest speakers, pastoral care through mentors, times of personal study and more. All these aspects will help you to develop a deeper understanding of the Bible and how to apply its principles in your everyday life.

Training also includes learning life skills such as -

      • Finance and Budgeting
      • Workplace Health and Safety
      • Food Preparation and Hygiene
      • Effective Teaching and Leadership Skills
      • Relationship Skills such as effective communication, conflict resolution and emotional intelligence
      • Faith Skills like communication with God, developing a consistent prayer life and personal devotional habits
      • Prayer Ministry Skills
      • And many more…

"The study side has been good in practically applying Biblical truths, and in this I have grown in maturity, being able to react in a Godlier way in pressured situations. I have learnt and grown in many areas, like worship leading, teaching and prayer ministry. I now feel like an asset to a church or ministry." - Sarah, 20
The Service component includes many jobs that involve working behind the scenes; such as cooking, cleaning and preparing rooms, washing up, grounds work and maintenance. Other jobs put you in direct contact with our guests as you welcome them, serve their meals and make them feel comfortable and loved. Service is where you learn to work within a team, work under authority and gain experience in leadership on a variety of projects and tasks.
Serving in these areas also allows us to significantly reduce the YDT course fees, keeping them well below what would be expected for any full-board accredited course of study.
10742NAT Certificate IV in Christian Ministry and Theology

The following subjects will be studied over the course of the year:

      • Practical Christianity - gaining a deeper understanding of who God is, and how we can practically apply the truth of the Bible in our everyday lives.
      • Identity in Christ - understanding our identity as men and women in Christ, our capacity to be image bearers of God's presence.
      • Introduction to Old Testament - an overview of the Old Testament, from Genesis to Malachi.
      • Introduction to New Testament - exploring some of the NT books including the Gospels, Galatians, James, John's letters and 1 & 2 Timothy.
      • Foundations of Christian Belief - looking at a variety of issues facing Christians today, providing Biblical and theological insight and understanding.
      • Prayer Ministry Skills - developing the skills, experience and theological understanding required to pray for others in a ministry situation.
      • Team Building, Leading and Communication Skills - developing the skills and competencies required to work, lead and communicate in a team situation.
      • Teaching and Presentation Skills - learning to engage an audience and communicate Kingdom truths in an effective and creative way.

For more information download our Student Handbook here.

YDT fun

What will it cost?
Academic Fees AUD$2,500
Live-in Accommodation and Food AUD$4,000
Total Cost (2020) AUD$6,500
Please note that as an international student, as well as the above costs, please take into consideration the cost of your flights, travel insurance and visa.

Ellel Sydney's YDT course is government accredited, so if you are an Australian student you can apply for government assistance. Please visit the website below for further information:
Why do people come?

Some people come to learn practical skills and to experience an amazing adventure while making deep, new friendships with like-minded people from all over the world who will stay in their life no matter what.

For others it’s a time to put life as they know it on hold and give everything to God, allowing Him to shape and mould them as He wills, to break up the hard ground of their hearts or turn lukewarmness into a passionate, reverent love for His Kingdom. For many this is also a journey of healing, wholeness and restoration.

Student’s often defer university, take leave from employment, or lay down romantic relationships, (if not married) in order to focus on God during their YDT year.

"During my YDT year passions and dreams have been discovered and reawakened that I had either lost, or had no idea were there in the first place." - Julia, 19

What's the next step?

The YDT is often considered to be one of the hardest years in a person’s life, but also the most significant in shaping who they are in the years ahead.  Have a read through the testimonies below to see if this is what you are looking for.

If you have any questions or prayer requests, please feel free to contact us either by emailing or by phoning +61 (02) 4633 8102

If you're wanting to apply for the Year of Discipleship and Training in 2020, please click on the links below to download the application form and character reference form, fill them in and send them back to us. We will send you a confirmation email once we've received your application, so you know that we are processing it.

We are looking forward to hearing from you.



More Testimonies...

"Coming to Ellel Sydney and doing the YDT program has changed my life forever. From a very early age I became very focused on becoming a professional athlete. In my pursuit of a career in sport I lost myself. My identity was consumed by an idea that I thought would fill the empty hole in my heart. As I moved towards my goal injuries struck and I felt that I would lose what I thought was my purpose. I turned to alcohol and women to mask the pain. My family and friends could only watch as I spiralled downwards. Hopeless, depressed and stripped bare, I found myself with no option but to surrender and get help. I was encouraged to consider the YDT, which I wasn’t too fond of to begin with. I thank God every day that He changed my heart and convinced me to apply. Since coming to Ellel and doing the YDT program everything has changed. I now believe in my heart that God is close to me and that He has been my whole life. He has shown me that He is a loving heavenly Father, that I’m accepted and that I belong. I no longer feel depressed, or alone, or without purpose. I have a greater sense of my true identity in Christ and that has allowed me to walk into the future with hope." - Cody (25 years old)  

 "There has been a lot of brokenness in my relationship with my father since I was young, and we hardly would speak to each other for 5 years or so. But over the course of being here at Ellel this year, one of my biggest desires was to actually start to gain a relationship with him and that has been a reality, because I have become much more secure in myself. My dad and I have started to be able to have conversations where I feel like I am a daughter and I’m not threatened by him. I don’t feel like I have to suddenly run and hide, it’s starting to develop and built upon strong foundations of God. And so, it’s honestly by His grace that this relationship is strengthening!" - Jasmine (18 years old) 

"The year was not only fun, but full of challenges. What I liked especially was the simple and practical examples of how to apply biblical principles in my day to day life. I was able to find out much more of who God really is and how I could have a personal relationship with Him. Before I came, I lacked the motivation to really pursue God – I just went to Church on Sundays. However, the YDT year stirred up my excitement for the future and how God will use me for His Kingdom. I also realised how important it is to put some time aside every day to connect with Him. As my year came to an end, one of my biggest fears was to just fall back into old patterns once I returned home and revert back to being the person I was before. But God showed me that I didn’t have to fear. I have been able to stand up for my faith and be confident in it." - Michael (22 years old) 

"This year has been truly life-changing. I came feeling pretty defeated by life and not expecting much for my future. But during my YDT year I have learned that depressing my emotions has led to depression and the key to healing is to allow God to help me express those emotions in a healthy way and to deal with hurtful memories. I now know whose I am in Christ and the authority He has given me to overcome the enemy’s assault on my heart. I have learnt to discern where the thoughts in my head are from, if they are from God, the enemy or simply neutral. This has helped me to be able to focus on listening only to God’s voice. I can now hear Him when I talk to Him. God has given me words about myself that I would never have spoken over myself. I am much more confident in who God created me to be and in my ability to be used by Him. I do not leave the same person I came here as, thanks to the constant support, encouragement and belief in me." - Amalee (24 years old)

"One of the biggest changes for me was my perspective on playing guitar. I think there were two things which defined the way I played music, it was insecurity and pride. Pride was my cover up for the insecurity. There was a point at the start of the year where God led me to stop playing guitar for my own enjoyment. And throughout the first 6 months of the year that’s what I tried to do. It was hard at first because I loved playing guitar. As time went on and I got to know God’s love more, it was like it didn’t matter. It got to the point where my guitar skills didn’t define my value anymore. I have come to a place where I can actually play freely, without wanting to look good or worrying what others think about me. I’m really grateful for that." - Lochie (18 years old)

"Throughout my life I have learnt to be careful with vulnerability, trust and struggled believing that I am truly loved and precious.  Being a missionary’s child, my parents were pretty absent or disinterested for a lot of my life. But three aspects of father wounding gave me a very wrong image of God which I am only just starting to realize. Firstly, that God was absent or disinterested. I tried my best to have a relationship with God and I would never understand why he always felt far away. But the truth was, that I was putting my view of love that I got from my father onto God, as most people do. Secondly that I was not loved as an individual, I was just another sheep in the flock. God didn’t really see me as precious and want an individual personal relationship with me. I couldn’t connect with him on a personal or emotional level mostly because I never truly accepted that I was deeply loved by him. Choosing to accept that would mean being vulnerable and I might experience feelings I couldn’t control. I was living unloved. And thirdly that while I didn’t have to work to earn Salvation, I did feel that I had to work to please God. I didn’t realize that being a beloved daughter was more than enough for him. I didn’t realize that God didn’t need me to do anything with my life, all he wanted was me! Beautiful, wonderful me! So I think for me, this is the start of my journey with God and it came from choosing to be boldly vulnerable with him and choosing to believe that I am truly, deeply and wildly loved by an awesome father." - Liesl (25 years old)    

"This year, I was challenged (I’d say to my core) as to what I believed leadership was about. I have had a desire for most of my life to lead and I have often naturally lead in certain times, whether it be a competition at school or when working together with those around me. And it was from all these experiences in which I would have defined myself as a good leader. But through my time here at Ellel I have realized that the sort of leadership I was striving for was already corrupt and wrong. I was sometimes wanting to lead so that I could be in control, because it was when I was in control that I would feel most safe. I was also usually leading so that I could feel that I had worth, because in those times I got a lot of praise for my leading style. During my leadership opportunities this year, I have found that there is not as much of a desire to lead from selfish gain anymore, as I am starting to find my worth in who I am as a son of God. I have finally been able to be vulnerable and let God transform me into who I was created to be, and I already notice how other people around me get positively impacted by that in the present." - Alec (19 years old)

"Before I joined the YDT, I was seeing a psychologist for 7 years, I went to rehab to stop drinking, I was admitted into a psychiatric ward, I tried all the treatments the world’s way and nothing changed, in fact it made it all worse. I was to the world’s standards, a lost cause. I didn’t know God was someone who is willing to look at and through the mess for the sake of my heart, who is not judging me on what I show to the world but is in fact captivated by just being me. I realized that we were not created to be slaves, minions or perfect Christians, but that he created us, solely to be in a relationship with him. So I began to invite God into every small situation and every time I invited him into my chores, my struggles, my relationships, my life, I began to see Him and His character more and more. He showed up, He romanced me, He made me come alive! I am slowly learning to give Him my heart, trusting Him with the process of healing He wants to take. Since then I have noticed a peace, a trust and connection grow between us that I have never experienced before. God has helped me quit smoking, drinking and I’m no longer on anti-depressants. He is a Redeemer if I’ve ever known one. Now that’s not to say that it hasn’t been a long journey of healing, and a long journey to go, but slowly in His timing He’s mending me, and its changing everything. He’s not forcing me to change, instead I choose to be changed by Him." - Kate (19 years old)

"What has impacted me the most during my YDT year are the following areas: I have a voice! I was born the youngest of four, and never really had my own opinions. Throughout high school, I was good at talking without saying much at all. When I first started doing worship out the front during my YDT year, I was like: “No way am I going to even touch a microphone, I don’t want people to hear me.” But God never ceases to amaze me with worship and how He rocks up every time and does something beautiful with it. Even though my hands might be shaking, which they don’t do as much anymore, and my throat is going dry, my heart will be at peace and my spirit will just be so content because I know who I’m doing it for. I know that I’m singing for my King. I also really dreaded YDT classes because it meant talking out loud about what I personally thought about a topic. I have had a lot of ministry into this, and now I’m on this amazing journey of being comfortable in speaking. I now recognize my own voice and know that I have something worth saying. I am beautiful! I once read something that said a woman who knows she is loved is beautiful. Without that love, she wilts, because she needs it to flourish. Growing up, and until this year, I didn’t know I was beautiful because my dad didn’t tell me I was. One of my sisters has always been one of the most beautiful women I know, but because I looked up to her so much and compared myself to her, I never put effort into how I dressed. I thought, what’s the point; why bother when you’ll never look like her. So I wore a lot of unfitted grey T-shirts and acted like it didn’t bother me.
Throughout primary and high school I was also bullied about my legs, so of course I hated them all through my teenage years. But especially since exploring more about true femininity, and having so many people at Ellel compliment me all the time, I’ve begun to see that there is something in me that is beautiful. I’ve never felt more me, nor more comfortable with who I am." - Sarah (20 years old)